Seven years ago and with our sixties approaching at frightening speed, we decided to get back onto bicycles having not ridden them since our childhood.
The initial concept was a bit ‘hair-brained’. We purchased fold-up bikes that we could theoretically carry around on Agnes (our launch). That never happened but we did ride them and the joy of getting along at a slightly faster pace than we walk was something that resonated with us.
In the last seven years bicycles have taken us from the Otago Rail Trail to Angkor Wat and quite a few places in between. We were recently asked what the best and worst experiences were and what we had planned for the future. When we reviewed the rides we came to the conclusion that in there own way they were all great rides and there probably wasn’t one that we would never do again. For the record here are our Detours Cycling Awards.
Best Day Ride: The top five have been:
Best Multi Day Rides
A great way to see a country. We cannot recommend this mode of transport highly enough although Ruth’s endorsement comes with a caveat – “as long as there are no hills”.
We budget on traveling at an average speed of 10km an hour which sounds rather pedestrian but this includes multiple stops. The aim of the riding is not to get from start to finish is the shortest possible time. You are passing through new and interesting environments and part of the adventure is taking the time to stop and enjoy.
We usually rent bikes in most of the destinations (unless we are hauling our bikes around NZ). Cycling is not the sole focus of our travels and hauling our own bikes on and off transport connections would very quickly negate any advantages there may be for taking your own. We have found the rentals to be adequate with the best rentals being in New Zealand (Trail Journeys) and the worst in Burgundy in France where both of our bikes were soon found to be pretty dodgy. We did have rentals in the Mekong Delta that we also very dodgy. Cliff’s had only a hint of any brake pads which resulted in some interesting methods for stopping in a hurry.
We learnt early in our biking to carry a first aid kit with us and it has usually had some use, especially on the multi-day rides.
The things that I don’t like. Turn by turn instructions. Take your smartphone with an offline map app – when the instructions drive you crazy, or, as is often the case with us, you get lost, you can find your own way using the App Map and GPS.
Code for – the riding that was not Ruth-friendly
The future? Who knows, we tend to take it year by year. We have a number of day rides planned for Melbourne, Chaing Mai, Laos and Cambodia in early 2018 and have been exploring the possibility of a Nairobi to Dar es Salaam in mid 2019. In the interim, there are still some paths waiting to be explored here in NZ. Stay tuned.