I had dreamed for years of circumnavigation of New Zealand. I made the date, checked my frequent flyer account for enough miles, saved a buck or two and planned a departure date of January 6, 2014. A week after I made my plan, I met a man whom within days, I fell madly in love with. I didn’t leave, I got married instead.
Nine months later, including a move to Montana and one month into our marriage, my new husband looked at me and said, “The difference between a dream and a plan-is a date”. Cashing in a zillion frequently flyer miles –we bought two tickets. New date: we departed October 19th and arrived on the 21st.
This husband of mine, an engineer by trade, has never toured and in reality doesn’t ride a bike. He is however, strong, fit and extremely competitive. He is a Montana native and will “Cowboy Up” to complete this ride, every single mile, if it kills him.
I, on the other extreme, am an Oregon “hippie” and am all about “the journey not the destination”. I have completed several 400-500 miles rides but never a ride lasting for four weeks.
We could not be more different and this will be an interesting ride.
New Zealand = Training
A big ride such as this New Zealand tour requires planning at many levels. I had to focus on a lot of body work. The plan was to not bike the day of arrival. Do 25 miles the second day, then 30, 35, 40 etc. on each subsequent day building to 50-55 miles per day taking every 4th or 5th off (or no more than a 25 mile ride). The building of miles allowed a body to catch up from jet lag and build strength.
My training involved riding about 25 miles daily with a mile swim every other day. The thing stopping me was my neck. I couldn’t seem to tolerate more than two hours on a bike without my neck screaming in pain. I ordered a new set of handlebars which will allow me to sit straighter. Hoping like heck this works!
This tour, as planned, should burn about 5000 calories per day, (after the first week). For the last few years I have been fighting the “battle of the bulge”. Sometimes I think I’m doing this ride as a way to get into shape.
Planning and Re-planning
Big tours like all large events really require a serious amount of planning, Well, not serious like dire or somber, but serious like a short-ish anthology of lists. Lists of gear, lists of things that must be done if I am out of the country leaving a home empty for 5 weeks, lists of gear for my partner, (he has never done this before), lists intellectually interesting essays and books to download so I can listen to them while I ride a thousand miles, lists of bike repairs/upgrades/modifications for both bikes. However the most important list is shortest and the hardest to define… It is a list of the reasons I am doing this. Why, when there are trains and busses and ferries and boats and planes and cars would I choose to ride a bike?
The reason is there is nothing else like a bike ride that lets, no, makes, you smell the land, feel the sights and bores a hole into your heart full of memories. Nothing like long bike rides that allow your mind to think. To crank down a long stretch of road and your body has nothing to do but repeat the up and down cadence allowing the mind to ponder. When the body is engaged, the mind can take a simple idea and turn it over a dozen times exploring every side. I developed the whole idea of the Carbon Comfort bike seat while I was riding. In my mind I could see the whole finished design. It still took me seven years to get the actual physical product, but the design was one long day’s ride.
I have dreamed of a writing a book. Maybe I can start, or at least write one lucid page of prose…or a lot of haiku would be alright too.
Puttin’ out the call
New Zealand Tour 2014
Epic biking at its best in one of the world’s greatest outdoor playgrounds.
Glaciers meet rainforest meets crashing ocean coastline.
Join us of all or part of the Tour!!
Via Facebook and emails, I put out the call for people to join the us on this New Zealand tour. Many respond with “gee wish I could” but no takers.
Twelve years ago I started bleeding from between my legs. Unexpected, bright red blood seeped out. I went in for testing. “I think it is a benign tumor in the uterus” my Doctor said. “However, we have scheduled you for surgery tomorrow.” Waking up from the surgery I was told the tumor was three inches long and it was removed. However additional cells, in a second location were noticed. A sample of those cells was collected for testing. Three days later a call from my Doctor, sent me reeling, they told me the tumor was indeed benign but I had stage three cancer cells in a different location. A second surgery the next day was set followed by radiation.
Two surgeries in a week, libation and radiation were followed by being served divorce papers from my then husband, trying to take advantage of my illness.
It may sound odd, but cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I had to choose to crawl my way back. Weeks in bed and months in court-I fought my way back to life. And it changed my life forever. That bucket list we all have? I started checking them off!
When I hear “gee wish I could”, I always understand, yet also know just how frail our hold on life can be. I choose to “just do it”. To do it now while I can, while I am here on this earth.
I have been riding with drop bars since I was 14. I’m 56 now and just can’t seem to manage the body position. New bars arrived a few days prior to departure. In the meantime, I outfitted the bikes with RideOut’s urban touring bags, FireFly handlebar grips, Kevlar tire liners and take the bikes in for a complete tune, trueing wheel spokes plus refitting the dust seals on the crank and wheel axels.
Departure plan and Gear List
To compound matters, prior to departure my husband was at our home in Montana, I was at our home in Boise Idaho. He drove to Boise to join me for a week of training rides, (it was already cold in Montana). Then we drove to Gig Harbor Washington for two nights of visiting with my kids before we flew out. I have a travel trailer there and some things we wanted were in the trailer.
Jeri’s full gear list as of 9/22
Compression tights x
Riding shorts x x
Green tee, lightweight x
Sleeves, compression x
Socks, long and short x
Toothbrush, toiletries x
Pills Aleve, Vit. D, Benadryl thyroid pills
Bike shoes purple
Flip flops in Gig Harbor
Sleep Sack x
Titanium bike lock, (very thin) x
Bike computer try to fix existing
Lights, front and rear x
Bike pump and patch kit x
Water bottle, 2 x & in Gig Harbor
Water bottle holders, 2/bike 1 1 to bring
Thermos, 2 x
Allen set metric
Sunglasses & reading x
Swimsuit x small brown 2 piece
Underwear 2, thin brown seamless
Bug repellant x
Chamie towel x
Coffee filter/maker, coffee x
Headlamp x (I hope) if not
Food x bars
Extra battery for taillight x
Stove I hope in Gig harbor look for it
Cooking pot in Gig harbor
Cooking tools, in Gig harbor
Dehydrated meals x
Packable eating utensils x
Iodine purification tablets x
Long sleeve white polypro shirt x
Bike gloves x
Egg beater pedals x
Sports bra, w/ hooks, white x
Ec3d black compression cami x
Shampoo, 2 small bottles x
Dress bra x
Orange sundress x
Taupe silk nightie x
Ball cap x
Snorkel & mask x
Electrical converter x
Business cards x print for Ray
Sunscreen, Neutrogena, 100 spf x
Pillow, camping x (maybe) if not
Sleeping pads x
Pain killer/muscle relaxant x
Neosporin & first aid kit, baby wipes x
Blister shield x
Ear buds x
My riding partner, (and husband) decided to haul our gear on a bike trailer rather than use panniers. We started our first training ride and took off for a 28 mile hilly route. He was pulling a BOB trailer with 40 lbs. of weight behind his bike. Coming downhill and doing about 30 mph he nicked a post, sank into the green belt, and flew over the handle bars.
There was the most gut wrenching sound as he hit the pavement.
His gear did its job. Cracked his helmet, (it did its job) tore out the back of his jerseys, (they did their job) and broke his collar bone. Road rash above and below his gloves. Luck was with him, he did not break his neck! He is now cleaned up, on pain meds and gin! The trip to New Zealand I had been training for was in serious question. We were to depart in 2 1/2 weeks.