Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 2 - Differences

Today was a needed day of rest. We crashed hard last night at 7:30 local time and slept in until 7:30 this morning. Sleeping on a plane just doesn’t cut it. The agenda today pretty much revolved around food. We got up and cruised on down to our new favorite bakery. We both ordered large tall blacks for coffee. Unsure of what they were we were pleased to find out they were just strong americanos. Our other choices were short blacks and flat whites. It is taking a little bit to get used to the lingo here.
We then walked back to the accommodations and grabbed our trusty steeds to go to the grocery store. I love to go food shopping in other countries. No matter what the cultural differences are, we all still have to eat. The components of a grocery store are all still there, just different parts making them up. We ended up buying a little conservative, but I did manage to slip in a tin of corned beef. They pretty much can any meat down here (any fish, lamb, pork, beef), but tuna and corned beef won out this round.
The store was in a Maori neighborhood so there were some choices that you wouldn’t get at other stores in New Zealand. There were several types of taro root (starchy root that resembles a large turnip of sorts). My goal is to try and figure out how to fix it before we leave. The market outside also had quite a few choices of greens, bananas and believe it or not, kiwi fruit.
We stuck out like sore thumbs at the market, but people are always so friendly. A butcher pointed us to the bike rack that was inside a courtyard near the market. Leslie and I both became involved in a soccer match between two young kids using that corner as their field and I finally got a comment about my height from a youth hanging out with his friends. It is rare to go too long in another country with out someone saying something.
Until next time ponder this quote by Carl Jung I read on the back of a cereal box:
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

Day 1 - Arrival in Auckland

We arrived safely in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday about 5 am. The flight was smooth and our entry through immigration and customs had a few bumps. The immigration official wasn’t too sure about our 6 month visa without a permanent address. She asked “where are you going to stay?” to which we replied “in a tent”. She looked at us like we were a bit crazy. We had to declare a few items in our luggage for customs – we didn’t want to take a chance with any fines. They have very strict bio-security regulations here since New Zealand has an island ecosystem. In the end, they took our Honey Stinger energy gels (because the main ingredient is honey) and closely inspected our tent.
We decided to book a motel room the first couple of nights so that we could get ourselves together before starting out. After we settled in by 10:30 am, we assembled the bikes. We had completed the bikes by about 12:30pm and realized that we needed to get out and about. We didn’t dare go to sleep even though we were getting tired. So, figured out the bus system and schedule and headed into the city center of Auckland. We spent the afternoon walking around looking for some more detailed maps of the North Island. The bus ride back was long and uneventful and we tucked ourselves into bed about 7:30pm. Thursday we will spend getting supplies and find a route out of Auckland.

New Zealand Info
Population: 4.1 million people, 39.3 million sheep
Area: 268,680 sq kilometers, about the size of Colorado

Number of international visitors in 2005: 2.4 million
Number of wineries: 463 (2004)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The World

It's finally here. I'm writing on the eve of our trip. I don't really feel nervous or rushed. I feel like tomorrow is just another day in our new life. It's been about ten years in the making and it just seems like time to go.

We've made and had many phone calls tonight. It still doesn't seem like goodbye, just farwell for awhile. We'll let everyone know when we get to Auckland.

So now we get to start Bicycle Geography. The bicycle thing is fairly straight forward, but the geography thing might be a bit unclear. It's hard to explain in a short sentence eventhough it is the most simple part of the trip. We will be experiencing geography every day, all day. From the people we meet to the landscapes we ride through, geography will be all around us. We're essentially a classroom on wheels. We will be the students and (hopefully) the teachers.

So let's begin. Since I am a cartographer, I like to start with a good map whenever I go to some new location. I thought I'd start us off with a world map this morning. It's an overview of the world and its major components. Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Floyd is Innocent

I saw it on the news last night. Floyd Landis was given a two year ban from cycling and stripped of his Tour de France title. I've been following this ridiculous witch-hunt since Floyd won the tour. Floyd proved (with science) that he didn't cheat. It doesn't matter - there are higher powers that don't subject themselves to science. The only thing that USADA proved was that they can make the rules, interpolate the rules and choose people to enforce the rules. The system is most definitely flawed.
Here's what I think. They railroaded Floyd because it was safe. Cycling is not a popular sport in the US like football, baseball or basketball. The USADA had the opportunity make an example out of a big name athlete without having catastrophic backlash. You would never see anything like this happen in the NFL, MLB or NBA.
My hat is off to Floyd Landis putting on his ass-kicking shoes. He has great commitment and character and has become a great advocate for other athletes who don't have the resources to support their own battles.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Profile: The Riders


Quote: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world"
iPod – Anything Jack Johnson
Last Good Book – Positively False by Floyd Landis
Food/Beverage I will miss the most: Iced Tea
Countries that I’m most looking forward to: New Zealand, Vietnam
First Bike: Yellow Schwinn with pink flowered banana seat
Most Favorite Bike Trip (so far): 2nd Annual White Rim Trip – the one where it rained and we got to see all of the waterfalls.
Worst Bike Wreck: The B.O.B Trailer Incident
Longest day on a bike: 2002 Vail Ultra 100, 100 miles, 12 hours, 53 minutes and 17 seconds
Bike for this Trip: Ibis Mojo steel hardtail. I’ve had it since 2000. The bike is in its third life, previously serving as a race rig and first generation singlespeed.


Quote: "I never try anything - I just do it."
iPod – Ziggy Marley: Love is my Religion
Last Good Book – State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Food/Beverage I will miss the most: Fruit smoothies
Countries that I’m most looking forward to: Vietnam, China
First Bike: black garage sale hybrid with a banana seat seat and bmx bars
Most Favorite Bike Trip (so far): Failed attempt to ride from Gypsum to Ouray for my dad’s wedding.
Worst Bike Wreck: Asphalt sampling on US Highway 6 near Gypsum.
Longest day on a bike: Basalt to Taylor Reservoir, 60 miles, 9 hours and Taylor Pass
Bike for this Trip: Strong Frames custom steel hardtail - built in Bozeman, Montana. The Strong made the transition back from being a singlespeed relatively easy; it was the rider who had a hard time letting go…

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bikes in Boxes

Today was packing day. The bikes have been dismantled and put into their own boxes. Thanks to Performance Bikes in Littleton for the boxes. Thankfully, we won't have to pay extra for the bikes. Air New Zealand has a very reasonable way of handling this type of oversized baggage. As long as you meet their requirements, you can count a bike as one piece of checked luggage. We have a feeling that this may be the exception not the rule.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Less Than One Week!

We're now down to less than a week to go. Pretty crazy...
The gear and bikes are ready to go. We hope to start packing the bike boxes tomorrow. Today was spent sorting and packing "stuff" to store away for the next two and a half years. I'm amazed at the things we're keeping, but at least we have it down to a closet, one dresser and a 20'x7' area in my parent's crawl space. Not bad...
The most emotional part of the last week has been the beginning of the goodbyes. I guess it's bitterweet. It's not like we going away forever but it will be over a year until we see most of our friends and family. I'm sure it will seem like just a blip once we're back next November for a break.
I'm really excited to share that my 91 year old grandmother is reading one of the books I read as preparation for the trip. She's been engrossed in "Miles from Nowhere", a hilarious tale of bicycle touring around the world in the early 80s. My grandma also has plans to hang the world map we gave her above the couch so she can track us as we travel. She was a major influence in my becoming a geographer. I can't tell you how many times we've stared at maps together...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bon Voyage Parties

We've been honored with a bon voyage party each of the last two Saturdays.
Last weekend we spent in Vail with our Eagle County friends. As the sun set over Nottingham Lake, we enjoyed a picnic and an exciting croquet match. Thanks to our very good friends, Sean and Jennie, who organized a wonderful send-off. We will miss them both very much and we look forward to the possibility of them joining us later in the trip.

Yesterday we had our second bon voyage party - this time the venue was Leslie's parent's house in Denver. We had a chance to visit with both of our families and some long time friends. Chris' mom drove from Meeker to join the festivities. It was great to spend some time with her before we take off.

We'd really like to thank everyone for their love and encouragement as we embark on this grand adventure. It gives us confidence as we jump off into the unknown. It's overwhelming at times to think that so many people are thinking of us - we will carry all of the good thoughts and wishes from home with us as we pedal our bikes. We look forward to bringing back, what we hope will be, wonderful and intriguing stories.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Field Testing

Ten days to go until we set off on our adventure....

We've been doing a lot of field testing the last two weeks. Last week we did our first ride with all of the gear. Chris' bags weighed in at 55 lbs while my bags registered 34 lbs. It was easier than I thought to ride with the panniers. I was still a little gun-shy from the B.O.B trailer incident. We rode about 20 miles in just over 2 hours - not bad. Aside from redistributing some weight, we feel pretty confident in our setup.
This morning we tested our new Brunton GPS unit and I have decided to use it as my "bike computer". I should have all of the same functions and we can save points to download into a map.
This afternoon we took the bikes out to procure the last few items of gear. It was such a pleasure to not be in a car driving around Southwest Denver. It's amazing how bicycling can be very stress-free and very productive at the same time.
We are definitely looking forward to the next week and a half. We'll be making the final preparations and visiting as much as possible with family and friends. It's hard to believe that we're finally on the verge of this global journey - we cannot wait to get started.