Introduction - New Zealand 1991 - CycleBlaze

February 13, 2014


This is another of my old journals I dredged up out of the closet and decided to post so I could share it with others and also be able to find it more easily the next time I want to remenisce a bit.  It's pretty much word for word as I wrote it at the time.

All bicycle tours are special, but this one is a bit more so to me than many of the others.  It was our first overseas cycling tour, and Rachael and I were both fresh with the excitement of doing something that felt very adventuresome and daring.  We were inspired for this trip by Bruce Ringer's great Cycle Touring in New Zealand, which had just been published the year before we started planning.  New Zealand was actually a fallback idea for us though - our original vision for our first overseas tour was to cycle from Paris to Athens by way of Switzerland, Italy and Yugoslavia.  That trip fell apart with the beginning of the Balkan wars and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, something I've always viewed as a personal loss - it would have been remarkable to pass through Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia before the region fell into chaos.

Back then, Rachael was still riding the first bike she ever owned - a pretty standard Miyata road bike that we had gotten her just 3 years earlier.  She was an amazingly quick study - after not riding a bike since her childhood, she went on a 50 miler that weekend and joined me on a 3 day overnighter in central Oregon just a few weeks later.  I was on a Trek 520 if I remember correctly, but I didn't keep good enough records to be certain.  We're not very techical, so we didn't do anything special with the components or keep track of what we had - we pretty much wheeled them off the rack and down the highway without modifications.

To point out the obvious, we were much younger then, and times were much different too.  Some of the more significant differences:

  - we covered more distance than we do now.  Not only were we more energetic, but we were more driven to cover ground and see everything.  I'd say that now we take more time to slow down and smell the flowers, except that I've never had a sense of smell anyway.

  - we were still touring with tents and sleeping bags.  This was the last extended outing we have taken with them, although I've been wondering lately whether we should dust off our gear, slow our pace even more, and try it out again.

  - we got by on a leaner budget, spending very little for lodging and eating out a lot less.  It was great then, and it's great the way we do it now.  I still think that touring by bike, however you can do it, is the best way to see the world; and that the bicycle is one of technology's greatest creations.

  - this was before the internet, ATM's, digital cameras, and the electronic device explosion; so we hauled along a ton of books, maps, rolls of film and so on; carried travelers checks; and sought out interesting postcards and post offices to let our family know that we hadn't fallen off the map.

  - we didn't take nearly as many photos, and the ones I did take then I'm less happy with than more recent ones.  It's hard to remember back now to what it was like to nurse your film and be careful about what to shoot so you didn't run out, and to wait with excitement a month later after returning home for everything to be developed at once and discover what you'd managed to bring back.

I've really enjoyed dusting this off and reliving the journey a bit.  Hope you enjoy some of it too.  Here's what we looked like back then:

Basking in a rare patch of sum, Runaway Bay
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Living the good life, Pelorus Bridge
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