The Kiwi bike trip: Time for the rubber to hit the road

The talking is over and now we need to knuckle down and do the hard yards. All the bullshit that I have fed to Ruth over the last six months will now be put to the test. “73km is not that far if most of it is down hill – 60km uphill should be fine (as long as we don’t have a head wind). 23 days in the saddle is a breeze compared to riding a horse across North America or dragging a sled to the South Pole. Battery degradation is the talk of fossil fuel enthusiasts”. Well folks we will find out!

After a few days camping with two energtic lads we should be ready for anthing!

If I am honest, I have to fess up that as I was looking through the daily schedule, I was a little shocked that one particular day had slipped a little under the radar. Maybe I was under the influence of an additional glass of red wine that night but it is going to test the limits of our battery. 60km all up hill. Now for hardened Mamils that is a breeze but for Gono’s (geriatrics on Onya’s) that is a challenge.

Let the kids be an inspiration – anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

The last few days have been spent going over those last-minute adjustments. Do we need a spare tyre, do we need a spare chain, do I need life insurance in case Ruth pushes me over a cliff (wow, Cliff goes over cliff – a headline made in heaven)?

I was a little concerned at how many of my previous ideas seemed totally impractical at the 11th hour. The gear that I see everyone using on their bike tours, but which is impossible to source in NZ, meant that I had to improvise. Don’t you just hate that word. Well if you know my improvisation skills you would. Ruth is certainly anxious about my improvisation skills. Using my old Sony SLR camera bag as a front wheel bag for example. Great idea, but challenging to get it to behave in a way that does not look totally ridiculous. I think that I have mastered it but who knows. Our luggage: at the last-minute Ruth decided that two pair of rather old bicycle shorts may be optimistic. I decided that my cooler weather casual insurance may be a little heavy and winter like. A trip to the local mall has hopefully addressed those concerns. We have managed to squeeze it all into our bags and have a little left over for now. Woohoo.

I am sure that the tyre will squeeze into the bag.

Then there is the question of the bus station. How quickly can you disassemble the bikes and get them in the bags Cliff? So, in other words, how early do we need to arrive at the said bus station. I have that uneasy feeling of being some great pre-trip entertainment for my fellow travellers – similar to how a crowd always gathered at the jetty when I was trying to enter our berth Agnes.

Accepting bikes is at the discretion of the bus driver who may, at his or her discretion, charge you $10 for oversize items. Pay the driver in cash or they may tell you to find another way to Rotorua. That sounds a bit dodgy but we are hoping that if all else fails, bribery will work and my plan b (what plan b?) will not be necessary.

it really does look like a ‘jury rig’.

Our first day is easy – Pack up bikes – cycle 2km to the bus station – disassemble bikes – bribe bus driver – relax – reassemble bikes –  bike 1.3km to first night’s accommodation. It is a breeze compared to the other 22.

Our usual weather woes look to be on hold for the first week with a pretty good-looking forecast. I have also just shared an inspirational Ted Talk with Ruth as a motivational exercise. Now we are ‘pumped’. Well let’s just say that we are looking forward to getting under way. Whatever comes our way over the next three+ weeks I am sure that we will handle it. Stay tuned to find out.

Ruth looks totally relaxed during a 30km shakedown on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. We only hope that the coffee and tea is better where we are heading. The sign in the background was not a packing list.





  1. Ruth certainly knows you well enough to have a healthy suspicion of your plans. And as you point out, you are the one most suspicious of all your well-laid plans. It will no doubt work out, but if not, it will be a great story to tell and blog post. We look forward to all the details.


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