Since returning from our last trip I have been cycling sans Ruth each time I have headed out for a circuit of the countryside around Kerikeri. I was riding for the exercise and she was going through the usual post trip “I am over biking” phase. Not that I am one of those Lycra-clad bodies that you come across in annoyingly large groups while driving along narrow roads. I am the guy you have a bit of a giggle about and mutter “silly old sod”as you drive by.
This morning I suggested a longer cycle along the Coast to Coast trail which is a short drive out of the town.”Let’s do it” was the enthusiastic response and so we headed off for our 2 hour ride on a pretty warm summer morning. The positive response to the suggested ride was exciting on several levels.
A few years ago the ride today would have seen us struggling up the slopes and cursing the heat. Today we cruised through the short 26 km with ease and even spied a new extension to the track which we have marked down to explore in the coming weeks.
Riding along, I did wonder why we deserted the bike in our youth. I had lived on my bike as a kid and had many adventures that I still remember today. No gears, only a chain brake and a chain that regularly came off. I think that was where my body became conditioned to crash landings, well the bones anyway, I have still not found a solution to skin being removed rather violently when you take a tumble over the handlebars.
Getting back into the countryside this morning bought back the great memories of the many cycle trips we have enjoyed since our short cycling renaissance started in March 2011 with The Otago Rail Trail. We don’t want the gap between our adventures to be too long this time.
The bicycle allows you to experience your surroundings, stop when you please (no laybys, train stations or airports needed) and the travel from one destination to another is your travel experience. There is so much to enjoy between villages and towns (and in them) that most of us simply miss out on when using other forms of transport (other than walking of course). Better still, the cost is limited to the food and drink required to power your vehicle along the road.
We enjoy cycling together but it does take a little initial persuasion to get Ruth to participate. There are strict requirements that our next bicycle trip that must meet. The following is an extract of some of the questions that I will be asked under the beam of a high powered lamp, it pays to have some answers prepared:
Q: How far do we have to ride each day? A: Nothing you can’t handle, you breezed through the 310km in Germany in 2013. Some of those days were over 60km. Tip: When using an example use one that brings back really fond memories.
Q: Will we get lost like last time? A: Nope, I have the art of following written directions nailed now and of course we have our maps app. Those other times were only because the instructions were vague, especially in Burgundy. It was also very misty in Cornwall, hard to read the signs at speed.
Getting lost in Cornwall was easy but we got to find all sorts on interesting places, fortunately the rain had eased the day before so we did not have to ford this river in a flooded state
Q: You will probably fall off your bike again, I worry about you sometimes! A: I don’t deliberately hurl myself off the bike. Provence was an act of god, you can see his hand in the video below. Truro was the rain, the cobbles were slippery.
Q: Will it be hot, cold, wet, windy? A: I don’t think so but hey you have biked in 30+c temperatures before. That heat in Provence was because the flat tyre delayed our start, in Cambodia and Vietnam you hardly broke into a sweat.
Q: Will I have time for shopping? A: There are many towns that we will be passing through, you will be “shopped out” by the end of the first day.
With any bike ride (or hike), the answers are never black or white. Rain, heat, cold, wind, blackberries, stinging nettle, hills, dust, can appear when you least want them to. In the end, it will all be part of the adventure, the memory of getting drenched by freezing cold rain on the first day of our first ride has not put us off going back for more. The advantage of biking when you are older is that you quickly forget things especially as you are less likely to take photos of the less enjoyable moments.
As I mentioned, Ruth usually finishes each ride vowing that it is her last but as we flick through our photo collections on the screen in the lounge, I look for the little (disguised) misting of eyes, it is at that moment that I starting looking for our next adventure.
Guess what I am doing when I finish this blog?