The Greater San Fransisco Area

Continuing my quest to travel the world.

It has been my quest to cycle around the world for a very long time, although I have ticked off 16 countries to date, I still haven't achieved the ultimate goal of cycling the world. I cannot wait any longer for the conditions to be perfect, age is catching up with me, so it is now or never.

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia
After our trip to Vietnam in 2012.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Year of Adventure.

"Have a good summer and a year of adventure", so the non Christmas - Christmas card from my sister said. She really understands me.

Well the "good summer" isn't hard to achieve as it's a heat wave at the moment, and despite the council imposed water restriction, I spend hours watering every day to keep the garden from dying. The Well is on the edge of running dry, but still has water in it - just. Luckily the water storage tanks are full.

It's just past the longest day and I've actually noticed it. I have taken up walking for an hour after dinner in the evening. I love watching the clouds turn pink and the evening coming on. It is so tranquil and quiet. It is getting darker fractionally earlier, but I still have light till 9.30 pm.

An exact replica of my old bike.

As for "a year of adventure". Well that looks very likely. Now that I have my touring bike rebuilt and replaced, I am keen to break the spell of bad luck that has plagued us this year, with a tour across Canada. The route is planned and I am busy saving again. Surely we can't have another year of a bike being lost by the airlines for a week, and even worse having one stolen. We have learnt from this misadventure, to be more vigilant with locking them. And racing a bike around the world is not the best way to stay stress free, if you want to travel this way, it  is best to be a bit flexible, so that airline delays arn't so devastating.

Actually we are seriously considering attempting Niel cycling around the world again. Why? I feel like it is his destiny to do this, and he'll regret it forever if he doesn't, especially when other less capable cycle tourists achieve it. I also feel like it is my destiny to make it happen. I'm a great trip planner, and as his wife, I want him to have the life he dreamt of for himself. His Father always wanted  a life of yachting adventures and it never happened, There is no reason why we can't make this world trip a reality. This time though, he doesn't want to do it alone. It would not be a race, with all the associated rules and regulations. However he does want to do a respectable time and not be away forever. The big factor is finding someone that wants to do it too.

Well Christmas is over for another year. Whether you celebrate it or not, it is still the season of hope and goodwill to others. I have many hopes for humanity. There are such a lot of humans in the world, collectively we could do a lot of good for the world, but we don't. I certainly had reason to hope when I was a fundraising collector for an anti animal cruelty campaign last week. Dressed in a fluffy pink pig hat, I walked the streets with a bucket. Yes I know I looked stupid, but it was a choice between the hat or the full costume. I got kids yelling " oink, oink at me without full costume. So many people gave money saying they loved their animals. Perhaps they just felt sorry for me looking like an idiot. After 2 hours my bucket had $100  in it.

Today it has turned cooler, a great day for a bike ride, as Bilbo Baggins says in "the Hobbit" movie: I'm off on an adventure".

So happy summer everyone, and have a year of adventure.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

I've still got the bug.

My knee is causing me problems again, will this ever come right? So I had another appointment to see the Specialist in Christchurch. But it is Spring now, in fact it is almost summer, so I decided to cycle to Christchurch. Niel decided to come with me, and to make the whole trip a bit faster, we made it a Vespa / Bike trip. We had to do 200 kms a day and shared the Vespa and bike riding. It worked out really well and we managed to do 900kms in 4 days. So 4 days of riding in the sunshine made us keen for more.

My turn to cycle along the Kaikora Coast.
Beautiful scenery.

Unbelievably I have yet another acute Cartilage Tear in my knee. That is 3 tears in one knee!! The surgeon reckons it is from my bike crash in Vietnam. So I have to have another MRI scan and we will see what can be done following that. Luckily I can still ride, and ride well.

My new bike is taking shape thanks to Niel.

We have had some great rides since coming home, always over 100 kms and on sealed roads, as my road bike isn't built for rough gravel. But my new bike to replace the one stolen in Saigon is almost ready. Only the handle bars with brake and gear levers on, and a saddle to go, yeah I can't wait. I still miss my old stuff, and despair at what it is going through, but I am moving on mentally at last.

Rows and rows of Boysenberries, we will be eating them in a month, everything is so lush.

Yesterday as I was cycling home from the garden centre with a 40 kilo bag of compost on my bike trailer, I passed a family cycle touring. The first one I passed was a boy of about 12 years old pulling a trailer and he also had rear pannier bags. Then I passed the Mother also pulling a trailer  and with front and rear panniers. Then a child of about 7 or 8 years old with a large dry sack on his carrier. Ahead  of him was his father and the youngest child on a tandem with front and rear panniers. I admired them enormously especially the children carrying their own gear. I heard them making comments as I passed pulling my own trailer. I got home and told Niel about them, and then it dawned on me that I was jealous.

I still have the touring bug. Now that I have got over the calamities of Vietnam, I am ready for more again. This time it had to be somewhere civilised where I don't have to worry about being distressed every day by what I was seeing, and less likely to be the victim of theft. So Canada - here we come. Although this time we will do it Vespa assist. One day cycling and the next on the Vespa. Canada is the second biggest country in the world behind Russia, so we needed to have a way of getting across a bit faster. So now I am busy planning the logistics and how much time it will take us.I may not be able to walk, but I can still cycle, and there is no stopping me.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Replace and rebuild started.

I have searched accounts and visa statements to try and find record of my owning the stuff I am claiming for as being stolen. I pay for a lot of things by cash, so I don’t have receipts for those things. But I have managed to find a surprising amount of receipts even the one for my expensive camera. The bike was tricky, but the shop I bought it from, had record of me buying it and gave me a replacement quote including all the things I added for the trip like carriers and pannier bags.  So the rebuild has begun.

I have a frame and forks and wheels. And bit by bit I am ordering components as I can afford them. So far I have a Chain wheel and Crank set l, front and rear Derailleur’s. And I have ordered some replacement cycling sandals – ideal in hot climates and when my feet get sore and need a break without having to stop cycling for a complete break.  Next order will be pedals and chain and cables. Then a saddle with saddle bag complete with puncture outfit and high pressure pump. Then last of all is my handle bars with all that they entail. Niel even found a handle bar bag mount, so my bag is no longer useless. And before next winter I’ll need to replace my lighting set and reflective winter jacket.

My frame, forks and wheels. The start of my new ZUM bicycle.

Actually this last week has been very frustrating, as I have had the flu, and been out of action. I tried to go for a ride when I started to feel better – big mistake -I went back to square one and was as sick as a dog.  A week and a half later, I am a bit better and feel I could try to do another ride, but the weather has been crap. Snow and heavy rain, winter is reluctant to give up to summer too soon. I know it will get better eventually, just like my health; meanwhile my hard fought fitness is disappearing.  There is supposed to be a break in the weather in a couple of days, so Niel and I will be out trying to do a ride in excess of 100kms. And if all goes well, then another ride the next day before the weather is forecast to crap out again.

I applied to be a volunteer for the Nelson SPCA. It is a small thing I can do for animals, I am still distressed by what I saw in Vietnam, and am thinking about returning to try and help the strays in some way, I’d love to open an animal shelter, but I’m not made of money, and it really is in the too hard basket. Perhaps I can feed the strays, or something. I know that I can’t just forget about it.

In the meantime I have to work and save money to replace everything. If I get anything from the insurance then that would be great, but I don’t have a lot of faith in insurance companies paying up.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Home and pondering our future.

We are at home and going through a gauntlet of emotions. Is everything that has happened to us this year a message? Are we past cycle – touring now?  Is this the end or is it the jump start we need to change tack and try a different sort of cycling holiday? We both love cycling and it’s our life, but has touring done it’s dash and we try overseas cycling events? Do we do cycling tours with a company where you are safe and more secure? We don’t know.

I still despair about what is happening to my stolen bike and all my gear. I’ve resigned to the fact that I’ll never see it again. I’m trying to replace my clothes in order of priority and need, as I can afford it. I have a doctor’s appointment today to replace all my stolen Asthma huffers .  I need to start an insurance claim, but need to buy a computer printer first, as we have always managed to do without one, but now need to download and print off claim forms and receipts for expenses. So everything is money, money, money right now.


I have my job back – thank you Jim – you really are a great employer. Niel appears to have his old job back too, but he has yet to confirm that.

One overseas cycling event we definitely want to do and train for, is the next Paris – Breast –Paris. It is an endurance event of 1,200 kms held over 3 and a half days. That is an average of about 350 kms a day. It is held every 4 years like the Olympics and the next one is in 2014. It is well organised with schools and gyms and town halls being adapted for cyclists to bed down for a sleep. You can do it how you like, racing it to do it in the shortest time you can, or pacing yourself and sleeping when you need to, and taking the whole 3 and half days. It is very popular, with thousands entered every time. But you need to do official qualifying rides to prove you can do it. That will probably be our next trip.

Another outcome of our Vietnam trip is my concern and despair for the animals over there. I can’t do anything about those poor animals as I don’t have millions of dollars to set up animal shelters, but I’ve realised I can do something on a small scale here and advertise their plight, and volunteer in our local SPCA. If you want to act globally, you need to start locally.   

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bicycle and all my gear stolen.

After successfully obtaining our visas for Cambodia, we negotiated the rush hour traffic to get out of Ho Chi Minh city in the direction of the Cambodian border. After 30 kms we stopped for our first drink. It was a stall or as the call them in Vietnam a Cafe. We left our bikes leaning one on to of the other, with mine on the outside, on a low brick wall by the entrance, we sat no more than 2 meters from the bikes. A salesman on a bike tried to sell us some dried food which we didn't want, and when he was gone so was my bike. If the thief had ridden past the entrance on my bike I would have seen them, but they didn't, so I can only assume that someone local, saw that we were distracted by the salesman and took my bike being the one on the outside. It happened so fast that it was unbelievable.

After a quick search by Niel and the stunned cafe staff to no avail, they phoned the police for us. I got a ride on the back of the policeman's scooter to the police station, and with the help of an interpreter, who tried her best, but wasn't very good at English, wrote a report about what happened. after writing 4 reports - some translated into Vietnamese by the interpreter, I asked for a copy for our insurance claim. When Niel lost his bike earlier in the year, we realised we needed a copy to make a claim. They refused to give us a copy. Apparently it is against the law to give copies of police reports, We said that it was the law in New Zealand to have written evidence of lodging a report with the police. The police man made me write it all out again NOT on letterhead paper, but it needed his superiors signature. His Captain was in a meeting. 7 hours later, we had to give up waiting and go back to the hotel in a taxi. They said it would be ready to be picked up at 8.30 the next morning.

At 8.30 the Captain was still in a meeting and to phone back at 2pm. At 2pm he refused to sign as he didn't believe me, as it happened too fast. At 4pm he said he'd sign, So after one and a half million in taxi fares , and writing out my report yet again, translated yet again,it was finally signed.

The ploiceman, interpreter and I.

All this time no one is out looking for my bike. I am gutted as my bike has been to 7 countries with me, I really love my bike, and my gear means a lot to me. It is useless to any one else as it is mostly clothes, and camping equipment, my personal medications, and 2 pairs of shoes, and my walking stick - useful since my surgery. The only thing of any value was my camera. Luckily most of my photos had been down loaded onto the computer. My clothes were special to me as they were either brand new for the trip or collected over many years from overseas trips, some were birthday presents. They wouldn't fit anyone here as all Vietnamese people are tiny and my bra size is 18 double D - who is going to benefit from that. So really the thief as not benefited much at all and has devastated me, cut my trip in half, and put Vietnam in a bad light. Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore no longer get the benefit of our tourist dollar. So they loose out too. All for the benefit of what?

I would not recommend Vietnam to anyone now, and I can't wait to go home. This has also made me reevaluate whether I want to carry on travelling anymore.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Cambodia here we come.

filling in our visa applications at the Cambodian Embassy.
After a dreadful ride into Ho Chi Minh city, to obtain our Cambodian visas, we are now looking forward to trying a new country. Why was it so dreadful? 80kms of non stop city with traffic to go with it. The god awful bus drivers blasted their horns at us so they could undertake in our lane which wasn't a lane but the verge. Add in insane amount of scooter riders who were so numerous they were using what footpath there was for a lane, and factor in the idiotic scooter riders who were riding on the wrong side of the road against oncoming traffic and tooting at us because we were in their way!!!

This is a two way road, but both sides are filled with scooters trying to go in one direction - this is what we were trying to cycle against. add in the buses, and you get the picture.

Need-less-to-say, I was irritable to the extreme and swearing at  bad drivers and yelling at them to get licences. No one must have a licence in this country as no one has any idea about road rules, it is NOT the more you blast someone with your horn the more  they should give way to you. Actually the authorities must know about this overuse of the horn, as we saw big billboard signs with a picture of a horn with a line through it. As we saw this sign, a bus driver went past tooting a tune with his horn!!

Today is my birthday. Niel got me a lovely yogurt and blueberry cake from a fancy bakery. It is lovely. The very nice ladies at the reception, who have our passport details, saw it was my birthday and put a plate of fruit in our room. And to top it off, we got our Cambodian visas.
My yogurt and blueberry birthday cake.

I have seen more stray dogs coming into Ho Chi Minh than in the whole of Vietnam so far, that is really saying something. They broke my heart as they looked so scared and miserable. some were only puppies. If I had millions of dollars I would set up an SPCA in this country and do something about all the abandoned, non stop pregnant females, starving and ill and injured animals here - especially the dogs. If they like to eat dogs, why don't they eat the strays to end their misery.

Vietnam hasn't been the delight I had hoped for, although there is no denying their friendliness. The potential is there, but they have a long way  to go to be a good tourist destination. Roll on Cambodia.

Friday, 14 September 2012

We are so spoilt.

Westerners are so spoilt.

We are 2 days away from Saigon, or Ho Chi Min City. The bottom of Vietnam is poor and full of roadside rubbish, but the people are friendly as always, sometimes too friendly and it can get too much. What I am impressed with, is the children. They are so happy and unspoiled. So many of them ride adult bikes that are too big for them. They can hardly touch the pedals, yet they dub their little brothers or sisters or even their grandmothers around as though they do it every day. It makes me ashamed of our western children who are so spoilt and always want more.

Two girls on a bike.

Actually the children here are a delight, always yelling out ‘allo’, sometimes desperately, as if they are scared you haven’t heard them. They are beautiful and a delight to watch. A teenage girl  yesterday, tried to sell me a pen that she had covered and embroidered – how very enterprising. I think they are taught at school to say ‘Allo, what is your name”. As they all say it to us. They giggle like mad when you respond to them. I am often rude to bad drivers and being tooted at for no reason, but I always try to be nice and respond to the children.

Nha Trang from our hotel restaurant.

The rainy season has started and we are getting rained on a fair bit now. But actually we like it. It reduces the temperature. The other day we were riding along and the road was bone dry, and there was a curtain of rain in the road just ahead of us, it was so heavy it was bouncing back off the road, but we were dry at least until we hit that curtain of rain.

In Ho Chi Min City we have to get our visa for Cambodia, we are not too sure where to go to get it and how long it will take, hopefully it will be easy, and we will pass over into Cambodia, where I’m sure the children will be just as unspoilt.   

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pale skin? Not me.

Pale skin? Not me.

We are 1,500 kms through Vietnam now, and we have a week left until we cross into Cambodia. Today is our second day off, and our bodies and bikes need it. Our bikes are filthy, and my wheels need trueing from my crash I had  5 days ago. Our bodies need a break from the constant sun and heat, and from getting sunburnt. And we need to give our bodies some decent food. We have lost weight, well size anyway, and have foregone any lunch since our first day out of Hanoi, only eating ice creams and / or yogurt when we can find it. If we can find both Coca Cola and ice cream, then we make ‘spiders’ by mixing them and they go down a treat.

Cooling off after arriving at our hotel each afternoon.

The women here are obsessed with being as pale as possible. They cover themselves from head to toe in hoodies, with hats on top, and sunglasses, long sleeved tops, with woollen gloves (  no matter how hot it is), longs, with socks under their jandles. I am constantly told to cover my arms and they shake their heads at my burnt arms. I saw the ‘Miss Vietnam’ programme on TV, they were all very white. I know it is healthy to be white, but I like having a tan, as most white people do. It has nothing to do with being  Muslim and everything to do with cultural norms.

Drying fiber on the road side. I guessing it is for weaving into mats.

There are some things that really annoy me about this country, the mistreatment of animals and the constantly being tooted and blasted at by trucks and buses, for no reason, all day; but there are some things I really like about Vietnam. I like the way the women are all treated as equals with the men. They definitely are not subservient. They are hard workers. I  saw an old lady using a pneumatic bolt remover of truck wheels the other day.


The other thing I really like is their prowess at growing food. They are the best Horticulturalists I have seen, I suppose it comes from years of providing food for their families in tough times, but I bow down to their skill. I think every rural house has a rice field, as they are drying their rice on the sides of the road and in every driveway and even the intersections of roads.

using the interections to dry rice.

And, as a flower lover, the Vietnamese also love flowers. There are Florists in every village and they are skilled flower arrangers, something I totally approve of. I often see scooters laden down with enough flowers to fill several shops. Actually the laden down scooters are a constant source of amazement.
This load was particualrly amusing as we cycled by, do you see Niel?


We saw our first other cycle tourists a couple of days ago. They were Dutch, and had a child with them. Now the ladies here - would have been horrified at how brown they were. They really would have attracted attention skimpily clad, brown as berries and white blond hair. Whenever things were not up to their standards though, they just put all of their stuff on a bus, and went somewhere else. Never the less it was great to see them and to compare notes.

A bit of coastline for the first time.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Adventure or is that Mis - Adventure

A truck load of dogs of to the meat market.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, things just don’t go according to plan. I’m really happy with how I’m cycling and I was thinking that all I have to do is loose some weight and everything will be perfect.
Harvesting the rice by hand.


I must have eaten or drunk something that Niel didn’t, and I got the dreaded travellers’ diarrhoea. After some antibiotics and anti – diarrhoea, I felt better, but lost my appetite, and couldn’t stomach any unfamiliar food. Next day, all was going well, we had made it to our destination in good time and we were looking for a hotel. Niel said don’t stop at this one, so I rode slowly by, when I turned around he is nowhere to be seen. I wait about 5 or 10 mins, and head back to the hotel I last saw him, where he told me not to stop. Meanwhile he had given up waiting for me and ridden on as he thought I had gone on without him. We didn’t see each other as we passed on opposite sides of the road.  I waited 3 hours for him to come back to the “last place we saw each other” (our golden rule), He went 30 kms on to the next town, realised I could be anywhere and came back the 30 kms back to the place where we last saw each other. He was livid, that I hadn’t looked back to check he was behind me, so it was all my fault, what do you think.  The next day, it rained all day, very heavy at times, and a few kilometres before our destination, after a day of rain, we were bumping along a very rough road, full of pot holes. You couldn’t see how deep the holes were, and I hit a very deep one, I went over the handle bars. I hurt my knee, right on the spot where I had had key hole surgery a few months ago, and fainted. So there I was sitting on the gravel and mud in the pouring rain with my head between my knees trying to remain conscious, while Niel fixed my bike. Thank god the next day – nothing untoward happened.

Me with my bloody knee.

On the plus side, we have completed our first 1,000 kms, and we are half way through Vietnam. We have also reached the touristy part of the country, so there is more people that speak English, and more Hotels.

At the top of our biggest hill so far looking down to Da Nang.

Tonight we are in a 5 star hotel and in the lap of luxury.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Animal Cruelty.

Animal cruelty has turned me off meat.

As an animal lover I have been shocked to the core by what I have seen here. I know they eat dogs, but do they have to torture them first. The only animal they treat with any respect and attention is the cows. Even the atrocious drivers will slow down for the cows on the road, but not for anything else. Even Niel got hit by a truck while walking alongside the road – on purpose. The driver was aghast when he realise he’d hit a white person. However if he had been a dog , he would have been ignored. No, Niel wasn’t hurt. What I find the hardest to bear is the dogs approximately 10 to a tiny cage, all pushed in so tight that there is bits of dog body pushed out through the bars. They are dehydrated and salivating to try and reduce body heat in the 38 degree heat. These cages are on the back of scooters.

There is nothing I can do about it, except bring it to the worlds attention.

How to keep cool.

In the first week of cycling, we have worked a few things out. We now know that the word for ice cream is Kem. We now know the way to cool down in the oppressive heat is to use the hose at petrol stations and completely soak ourselves before letting the breeze cool us off.


They might have no respect for animals, but they love their children, and are generally  very friendly.

Today we are having our first day off from cycling as I have the runs, combine that with the 38 degree heat, left me very drained.

The only other white people we have seen is an American group here to reclaim lost bones of old vets. We haven’t seen any other cycle tourists.  We have heard of so many people that come here to go cycle touring, but where do they go, we haven’t seen anyone. Lei - the lady here who speaks English says they don't get tourists here, that is why we are constantly stared at, followed, touched in shop queues, and said hello to all the time.
Actually I have discovered a great ploy. When you get sick of the people cycling beside you or scootering beside you and you can't get rid of them, you put the brakes on and they go flying past. It works a treat. 


Monday, 27 August 2012

Coping with heat

Coping with heat.
Pineapple shelters - yum

35 degrees and  85 % humidity, is hard to cycle in. We have noticed that we need a break every 20 kms to cool down or you feel quite sick. It’s too hot to eat, so we drink copious amounts.
although we’ve discovered the shelters that cut up pineapple for you today.  That was excellent. The “sugar lump” karst limestone hills and islands around Halong Bay were very beautiful, although it was hard to get a decent photo as they were sort of misty with the humid air.
Halong Bay

At one point the road ended in a inland estuary and all the scooters and bikes had to cross by ferry, incidentally a little later we had to cross a large bridge coming into Haiphong. There was no cars at either of these crossings, where did they go ?
Waiting for the Ferry.

Karst Limestone hills from the Ferry.
Cycling into Haiphong.

We are hoping in the next few days when we get next to the sea, that we can go for a dip in the water. That would be awesome.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hanoi Madness

Hanoi madness.

I dropped an unhappy Bob off at the cattery. It breaks my heart leaving him, but he’s safe there.

After finishing the chores around the house, Niel and I cycled off to the airport. He decided not to use a helmet in this trip ( I am), so we had to stick to the cycle ways so that the powers that be, don’t issue him a fine. Everything went to plan except for our gear being overweight. Our on board bags were under weight, so we spent half an hour trying to reduce our weight and juggle things around. Niel tricked the ticket lady by holding some of the weight off the scales so that we got within our 23 kg weight restriction.
$200 NZ = 5000,000 Vitnamese Dong

It was hot when we got to Kuala Lumpar, and we spent our time looking around the terminal shops and took the sky train, to and from the terminals 3 times to entertain ourselves.


We thought KL was hot Hanoi was stifling. Over 30%C, and humid.  It was fine though and not raining. We took a taxi the 40 kms into Hanoi. It was total madness. 4 million people live in Hanoi, and I think all of them are on scooters. No one gives way to other traffic, people merge and swerve all over the place and constantly toot at each other. It is total chaos and very noisy. It was unbelievable the loads these scooters and bicycles carry – everything from whole families to huge loads of say bricks or even whole carcasses of animals. We saw one scooter with 3 pig carcasses on the seat in front of the rider, it was so overloaded the trotters were almost  dragging on the road.
Scooters galore


We tried to get some sleep in the afternoon, but it  was almost impossible with the nonstop noise through the open balcony door. It’s night now, but the noise and traffic hasn’t abated.   To be honest, I’m not looking forward to cycling out of Hanoi tomorrow, but I am looking forward to the country roads.


crazy wiring outside our balcony window.

Hotel Reception has warned us about a storm that is coming in a couple of days, they have closed all tours of Halong Bay when we will be there. We will just have to play it by ear, and take it as it comes.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

I've come full circle.

This time last year I was in such pain, that the only way I could carry on cycling was to take the cleats off my cycling shoes, and take my clip - in pedals off and change them for toe strap pedals without the straps. One year has passed, two operations endured, and I have put my cleats back on my cycling shoes, and now ride with clip in pedals again. This has obviously made me very happy. Not only can I ride again without pain, but my operations were a success.

All three bikes with clip in pedals and a coating of winter mud and grime.

It has cost all my savings, but been well worth it. Thank God for 2 years worth of holiday pay owing, or I wouldn't be having a holiday in 2 weeks.

It has rained almost constantly for 2 weeks now. It is cold and dreary, but we know we will be rained on in Asia so we have been out in the rainy muddy conditions training, and getting used to being wet.I am sure the warm tropical rain will be much nicer than winter conditions, so we should be well prepared.

Asia here I come. I have been looking through my photos, and reading the diary of our trip around the US in 2010. It has helped me get in the right mind set. All the ups and downs - literally. Cycle touring is a roller coaster of emotions. It is also amusing to watch me slim off. I lost 20 kg cycling the US. I'm sure in the tropics I will lose weight again, from sweat as much as from exertion. You will need to follow my progress to see.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Extra daylight hours.

I seem to have been very busy lately. I know, I know....... who hasn't. The short days of winter restrict the use able hours down to between 11am and 4.30pm. Getting things done in these hours are a bit of a rush. When out on a bike ride, you know you have to turn around and head home no later than 2.30 or 3 at the latest, or you get caught in the very cold and dark of early evening

The setting sun a few kms from home.

I had to make a rushed trip to Christchurch last week to see the surgeon for my post op check up. It was lucky I managed to get there. Both highways out of Nelson were closed due to flooding and mudslides. The powers that be, managed to get the northern then eastern route through Blenheim and Kaikora opened just in time for me. It was very dramatic with paddocks under water and debris stuck in the top rungs of the wire fences. The river was huge and wild. There were still patches of flooding to drive through. There were uprooted trees and forestry logs all over the road and 3 expensive looking cars who had tried to cross the flooding and had floated away into the paddocks and into the edge of the river. All of them were festooned with debris and mud. On the way back home again the other road was open again, so I went that way via Lewis Pass. The paddocks were muddy quagmires with no blades of grass left. There were a great many mudslides. The bizarre thing is how localised it was. Nelson was unaffected by the rain, and the east coast was warm and sunny.

My little rental car and the warm and sunny Kaikora coastline.

The top of Lewis Pass with my walking stick.

The normally placid Maruia falls after the flooding.

My trip was followed by a full week of work, covering a work colleague on holiday. It's been a busy month, no wonder my leg's are more swollen than they should be. Never-the-less, I am cycling well, doing good distances and plenty of hills, I would like to get strong enough to ride off the saddle.

Yesterday Niel and I did a lovely ride of 90 kms in perfect winter weather over 12 hills of various sizes. I'm feeling strong and the important thing is I have no pain what so ever, which means the operations have worked. I can now use the ball of my feet again. I can't wait to see what I will be able to achieve now.

Niel and I having a break at our turn around point, Riwaka wharf.

The view behind us - looking across Tasman Bay back to Nelson.

The days are definitely getting longer. But in just over 3 weeks we will be in S.E. Asia and back to short but tropical days.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Getting Better.

I want to get better so quickly, that I've done too much this week and my leg, ankle and foot have ballooned up to twice the size of the other leg. I once said I don't make a good sick person, ditto with being physically impaired. It's only been 2 weeks since surgery and I've been standing on it for up to 6 hours a day and that has really slowed down my recovery. Strangely enough cycling on it loosens it up and makes it feel better. What would I do without my bike? I know in a weeks time I will be heaps better and not be feeling so frustrated.

Our tickets to Hanoi and home from Singapore have been paid for, they are non refundable special fares, so there is no changing of minds. S.E Asia has the delight of being always raining somewhere. If it's dry in the north then it's wet in the south and vice versa. Let's face it we are going to get wet. It's also tropical and even doing nothing will bring you out in a sweat. So I have bought myself a cape or rain poncho.

My new rain poncho, but where is the rain? Notice the "moon" boot on my right foot.

What is it like being married to a mad cyclist? here is a snippet of my life. I prewarmed the oven to bake a cake. I took the cake tin over to the oven, and Niel yells "just a minute" and pulls his forks out of the oven!! [He was drying some paint on them.] Even the kitchen gets taken over by his bike stuff - now the tea towel has bicycle grease on it.

Niel taking over the oven with his bike bits.

I'm about to leave on my bike to town over the new cycle way and cycle suspension bridge that only opened yesterday. I am off to the travel doctor for my first lot of vaccinations. Rabies for example takes three injections, so you have to allow time to get all these done, and it's only 6 weeks till we go.

That will be a 65 km round trip, If my leg handles that I'll do a 75 kms ride later in the week. You can see how impatient I am to get better.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wonder Woman.

Yes, you're right, I've been quiet lately. I may not be bionic, and I'm not exactly the 6 million dollar man, or woman in this case, and I'm not wonder woman .......... yet. But I've been 'rebuilt'. Both knees and both feet are now fixed. Hooray. It's taken 3 years of countless Doctors, Podiatrists and Specialist's appointments, x-rays, MRI scans and even a visit to Accident and Emergency at the hospital. I've had many ups and downs, and it's cost a lot of money, but I'm finally able to carry on with my cycling trips , and physical ambitions. Life is too short to put up with pain. As I said 6 months ago, if I'm willing to pay thousands to fix my poor cat, then why not myself.

It's just past the shortest day. It may not be getting any warmer, but it's always a milestone I'm pleased to get to. Spring can't come soon enough. There are small signs of the Spring in the garden. The little Jonquil Daffodil's are flowering and there are big buds on the fruiting trees. The 'Autumnalis' cherry tree is in flower, so named because it always flowers in Autumn and carries on flowering till Spring. These are only small signs, but I like seeing the seasons progress - reflected in the garden.

And of course Spring is special to me this year as it means cycle touring S.E.Asia. We can start looking up airline prices, now that I am 'fixed'. Niel may already have had his vaccinations and his Visa to enter Vietnam, but I will have to do mine.

I might be bandaged up and on crutches, but I'm felling happy and content that the process of eliminating my pain is finally over, and that's wonderful, so perhaps I am wonder woman after all.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Look out world.

2kms, 2 1/2, 3, 5, 12, 22. Every day since i could bend my knee enough to do a rotation of my bicycle pedals, I have gone out on my bike. Initially I wasn't really pushing with my injured leg, just letting it follow the pedal rotation. 5 days later I am actually using my leg to push [all be it slowly], and the swelling has reduced so much, my toes no longer resemble chipolata sausages. And it's only been two and a half weeks.
My first tentative trail on the bike.

I'm pretty happy with the progress so far after just two and a half weeks, and now know I can plan our S. E. Asia trip with confidence that I'll be recovered from both legs being fixed and regaining my lost fitness. Watch out world, Vespa Chick is coming and she has years of pain eliminated and has something to prove. I can't wait. It's given me an objective to get me through winter.

Watch out world - I've  got something to prove.

Niel is happy to be home and has no regrets about not continuing the round the world race. "it was no holiday" he says. Cycle touring together - sharing the experience - is what we do, it's what we should have done from the start. But what Niel achieved was awesome.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

What really happened.

After weeks of waiting, everything happens at once.

I had to go to Christchurch for a specialist appointment about my feet and knees. It was awesome, the specialist was better than the one on Nelson. He saw all the problems straight away, and agreed the knee problem was caused because of the foot problem, and it was only sensible to fix both at the same time. Surgery was booked for 5 days later. That put me on such a high. Two decades of pain finally getting fixed. I was so ecstatic I didn't mind the long trip home.

12 hours driving in one day is a lot, but the high stopped me getting tired at the wheel. Never-the-less, it was a long day, only to get up early for the early shift at work. So with my bike in the back of the hire car, I dropped it off after work, and cycled home via the supermarket to do the weekly shop. I was very jaded. So after dinner I thought I'd check for emails from Niel before going to bed.

Help! Where are you? I need HELP.

oh my god! What had happened. Niel had made it to Casablanca in Morocco, but nothing else had.He was trying not to bawl his eyes out. His beloved bike and all his gear was lost, gone, disappeared, or - god forbid- stolen.

Now let me explain something here. Niel LOVES HIS BIKE. It's his best friend, a piece of art and a useful means of getting around sure, but more than anything, it's his alter ego, loosing it was like loosing his soul. Yes his gear was gone too, he didn't even have a toothbrush, let alone a jacket to put on in the chilly 14 degrees Celsius.

He pleaded for me to try and find it by computer. It boarded the plane at Rio De Janeiro, there was no record of it on the plane from Heathrow to Casablanca. British Airways had lost it. A lost luggage report was made, but true to form British Airways lost luggage computer site had crashed and there was no way of getting through.

You think this was straight forward enough. Think again. Put yourself in Niels shoes. Stuck on the opposite side of the world in a foreign country where nobody and I mean NOBODY spoke English He was dog tired with jet lag, stressed to the eyeballs and in total despair. On the plus side, he had a hotel, and his net book, and his wallet, and thankfully the hotel had WIFI, so he could get in contact. But the contact was tenuous and kept cutting out. Add to that our travel agent couldn't be gotten hold of as she was overseas.

OK that's Niels side of the story. I was working everyday until my surgery booked in 4 days time and I had to hire a car, pick up the car, get sedatives for the cat to take him with me, there was no way I was leaving him.

OK now you have a better picture. Massive stress on everyone's side.

In absolute despair and, while I still had time to organise it, an emergency flight home was booked [through another travel agent]. People don't realise that it was really the only option we had. Niel had to end his cycle race around the world. How can you cycle without a bike? I had to work all hours of the day organising my trip to Christchurch for surgery [ with the cat], go to my job and be on the computer virtually 24 hours a day to try to keep Niel from going insane.

The day before he flew home, his bike turned up. No explanation, no apology, nothing. I think that is appalling, surely someone knows what happened to it. Do they realise they destroyed a man's dream.

The minute I'm being administered general anaesthetic, Niel plane lands in New Zealand. He was there, when I opened my eyes back in my room. Sounds romantic, but I was in lala land. We were both so tired. Niel from stress and jet lag, and me from stress and anaesthetic. We've been sleeping 12 -13 hours each night.

A few days later, with Niels bike, gear, and the cat on board, we drove back to Nelson.

How's that for a busy week?

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I've been quiet lately, I've been waiting. It's seems my whole existence involves around waiting at the moment.

Niel and the World Cycle Race contestants wait for their next food and drink stop,  it can never come soon enough.

Some people wait in queues.

some people wait in traffic jams - not me.

What am I waiting for?

Well you all know of my battle with the health system, waiting for appointments, that never led to any solution, just to more waiting for more appointments. I've reached the end of my tolerance for waiting. After talking to my Mother, 400kms away in Christchurch, she was convinced things would happen faster for me there. So leaving it in her capable hands, I now have an appointment to see a specialist  and even a surgery date, in the space of 2 weeks, not 6 months as it is here at home in Nelson. Thanks Mum, you're a gem.

I've also been waiting to hear from Niel. That wonderful man of mine has completed his crossing of the South American continent, from Lima in Peru to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. If you've been reading my blog, you will know it hasn't been easy for him.Snow blizzards and endless mountains in the Andes. Then tropical heat over 30 degrees Celsius. Deplorable roads that turn into mountain bike tracks for 200 kms. Dodging scary animals. Going hungry and thirsty and foregoing meals just to make the distance before loosing the light in the short tropical days. Not to mention blistered lips and 2 bouts of food poisoning. Then there's the loneliness and communication problems. But he's done it.

At times he couldn't contact me, and my imagination worked overtime. I imagined  him kidnapped and held for ransom in the mountains, or mugged and left in a ditch, or bitten by a snake or crocodile, or hairy spider and left dead or dying somewhere, I wait and try not to fret and then I get an email and I can smile again.

This is playing havoc with my levels of tolerance and patience. I can't be patient with stupid, annoying people at the shop. And there is plenty of people who are stupid and annoying.

Then I have to begin waiting again. I've decided I'm not pshycologically disposed to waiting.

I'll tell you something funny that happened today. I was late for work. is that funny you're thinking, well no, whats funny is why. I had Bird trouble. What?!?

The chicken wouldn't get out from under the dining room table, in the end  I had to get the broom and push the chicken towards the open door. Just as she goes out the door a fantail flutters in. A fantail for those that don't know, is a small native bird that has a tail that fans out. They torment cats because the expertly flutter around them without the cat being able to catch it. So, I had to open the door again to get the  fantail outside, the chicken trots in again. Arrgh....... Out comes the broom again.

When I get to work and explained why I was late, my boss said: " If anyone else had used that as an excuse, I wouldn't have believed them".