We thought we would take the opportunity over the christmas holidays to get some good quality NZ dirt on our shiny new travel equipment, remove the ‘newbie’ look and do a ‘test run’ to figure out the finer points of the set up. We broke the task into a couple of different trips. Primarily because we don’t have the correct sized bicycles for the trailers so can’t carry all the camping gear yet but also because I didn’t want a complete ‘FAIL’ on the camping experience that may potentially put the Husband off the whole idea.
First, after a mad scramble to renew our expired driving licences, we took the camping equipment up North in a hire car. Luckily the weather delivered sunshine, rain, thunder and lightening, and wind … and the tent performed admirably in all conditions. Excellent!
My sleeping equipment was also a success and was fabulously comfortable. I have to say the mattress and pillow are truly revolutionary. I would have slept like a baby if it were not for an exuberant local rooster who kicked off at 4am each morning, and the grumbles and constant thrashing from the Husband due to equipment ‘issues’. Unfortunately, the Husband was not experiencing the same camping epiphany that my equipment had delivered. Luckily, these ‘issues’ are not insurmountable but from the amount of vigorous sighing and desperate thrashing, one would be forgiven for believing the end of the world was nigh … this pure torture was caused by his pillow being too small! Horrors!
Luckily, by the light of day after much stretching and groaning to release an unbearable pain in the back
side, the ‘issue’ was pronounced to be a manageable glitch and not a deal breaker (deep sigh of relief on my part!). A temporary fix mitigated the ‘issue’ for the remainder of the trip but a permanent solution will need to be found to promote marital harmony on the actual ‘Trip’.
Secondly, we went on a short overnight cycle trip to Clevedon to test out the other critical piece of equipment … ourselves! It was really just a nice opportunity to get out of the city and we took a very leisurely approach to the ‘mission’.
Bike selection was a bit difficult as we don’t currently own the Bromptons we intend to tour with. After some consideration I took my 1950s Triumph (my ‘best’ bike) rather than my 1970s Peugeot and the Husband took his Nashiki racing bike rather than his BSA. In both cases we went for reliability – my Peugeot is very ‘French’ in that it is very temperamental. I tend to ride it as a single speed around town as changing gears is like cracking a safe and all of the parts are ‘special’ sizes so could create a problem if anything went wrong. The Husband’s BSA has a tendency towards funny noises, generally followed closely by the shedding of a bolt or some other part. This left me with the Triumph which is a total joy to ride on the flat but is a very heavy bike and requires extra excursion to get it up the hills. However, I figured I’ll be hauling a lot more weight than that on the trip. With the Husband on his racing bike (and stronger thighs) it created a bit of a ‘tortoise and the hare’ scenario but it worked surprisingly well – interestingly, the Triumph was built as a touring bike for the 1950s British cyclist. I have since been inspired to start reading a ‘Famous Five’ novel where they go off on a cycle tour with egg and cress sandwiches and lashings of lemonade!
All in all the trip went very well. There were a few problems with the fact that I was trying to make my coffee holder function as a water bottle holder and it kept drooping.
… but after a quick fiddle with the multi-tool, the Husband seemed to have it licked and the bottle remained perkily upright for the rest of the trip.
It ended up shorter than we expected because the strong headwind sort of put the brakes on and we decided to do less distance than planned. But it did give me the opportunity to put the bike computer through its paces and learn a few numbers that will be useful for planning the trip itinerary. We cycled 54km in the two days with the first 27 km on day one taking about 2.5 hours, due to the headwind, and the remainder on day 2 taking about 2 hours. My maximum speed was 40 kph and we averaged 13kph over the two days. I learned that on the flat in open countryside I go at about 18kph rather than 15kph as I do in the city.
I have blogged about the trip over on Cycling in Auckland if you would like to hear the finer details.
I also created a cycling garter after hearing the weather report to keep my skirt in check in the ridiculous wind we set off in. I will post details of this on Auckland Cycle Chic, if you are interested in how I made it.
So what I have learned from both of these trips is:
- Remember to take enough tent pegs – doh!
- The Husband is not the strong SILENT type when faced with discomfort
- A small ground sheet would be very useful
- The weakest link in all this is the squidgee bit riding the bicycle. The high-tech gear massively out-performs the rider!
- My cycling outfit was very comfortable on both days – cotton shirt and skirt on day one, cotton dress on day two – However, for longer distances I think I will need to rethink the shoes as there was not quite enough cushioning in the sole.