Auckland to Geneva - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

May 21, 2018

Auckland to Geneva

Our 2018 cycle tour begins.

It’s been over 18 months since our 2016 cycle trip across France, Germany and Italy and at last ready to tour again. While our 2017 cycling was confined to NZ trips, this promises to be more ambitious.  The plan this trip is to cycle the Via Rhona, the Canals to Bordeaux and then the Via Francette to Caen and a channel crossing to Portsmouth, Sustrans routes to Mid Wales via Salisbury Bath and Bristol and Hadrians Wall from Carlyle to Newcastle on Tyne. From there we will cross to The Netherlands and follow the Maas and as it becomes La Meuse continue down into Belgium and France as far as Dijon. From Dijon, our route hasn’t been completely determined though we are decided on the final leg, the Alpe-Adige Salzburg to Grado trail. We have toyed with following the Bodensee to Konigsee trail in order to take us eastwards from France to Bavaria and The Tyrol.

Our equipment has changed little since our first trip – camping gear: Marmot Tungsten 2 tent, lightweight sleeping bags and mats, Jetboil with a couple of pots for cooking, solar charger, clothing- each article rendering us presentable in up to three social settings, from tourist to opera goer to cyclist of course.

On the basis of our 2016 cycling experience we’ve switched allegiance from our Merida hybrid steads to something different. I’ve opted for a Kona Sutra tourer. So far, I’ve found riding a really different experience. The Merida was a great commuter but had too much flex in the frame to work well for touring. By comparison, the Kona is remarkably steady, positioning me further forward over the handlebars, the Brooks saddle is beginning to achieve the famed ‘anatomical fit’, to the extent that padded shorts are a thing of the past and the bar end shifters have been a revelation in gear change and much easier to manage than I had expected. I like having two comfortable hand positions also. Grasping the hoods is great for control and the dropped position fine for long straights. Ann has a Giant Liv, which though still a hybrid, has a better gear change and more comfortable seating position. It also has hydraulic discs and tubeless tyres. Without wishing to appear the cycling equivalent of Luddites, we’re a little wary as to whether these innovations are likely to present problems in a touring situation.

Dismantled and boxed securely, weak spots in the boxes reinforced.
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Luggage organisation.
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Bikes packed and ready to go, we board the shuttle for Auckland airport in plenty of time for our non-stop Emirates flight to Dubai. Our bag allocation is carefully organised – holdall bag for tent camping gear and one pannier plus bike in box, comprises our two permitted pieces. The other pannier is for cabin baggage and a foldaway pack constitutes my ‘manbag’. Ann has the same. Weight is now the only issue, but we are fine and it’s a smiles all round, painless getaway.

A one night stop in Dubai- the discombobulating experience of soaking up heat beside a pool, while the call to prayer echoes skywards from the buildings below, is an unusual one. The hectic visit to the rather vacuous mall convinces me I should have remained beside the pool.

One hump or two? Strange meeting in Dubai.
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 The best thing about Dubai is that European destinations are only about six hours away, mercifully short after our 16 hour haul from Auckland.  Before long we are Geneva bound.

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