Psychlo-Identity – Jutta’s take as we approach Cape Reinga

Time for another word from the stoker.


And the Universe said, all will be well.

I have to admit to feeling something of a fraud.

Prancing about in high-tech lycra-merino profi-gear enrolling loads of people’s goodwill to get these long-distance travellers with their long bike and awkward-sized panniers accommodated, while all we have done so far is cycle to and from stations, airports and bus stops.


Bikes being stored at a stopover

Our longest ride has been from Liverpool Street Station in London to Heathrow Airport, i.e. 20 miles.

On the other hand, it’s good to know that however absurd I feel I might look, we’re also doing this for a Higher Purpose, raising money for the so very worthwhile Rory Peck Trust.

And, we certainly  scatter joy wherever we go!

People wave to us, stop to talk to us, and the customs guys at Auckland seemed to quite relish our appearance, and didn’t insist on shrinking the tandem into their X-ray machine.


Reassembling Daisy on arrival in Kaitaia

So, why travel all the way to NZ to cycle?

Well, the biggest difference to England is that the rain is WARM!

As we pedalled into Auckland city from the airport, a lady in a floral strapless dress joyously chirped “Isn’t it wonderful that it’s raining and has finally cooled down a little.”

Hmmm, yeah… Minutes before we had succumbed to the downpour and stopped to don full rain gear, consoling ourselves that it could only get better.

Which it has. After two bus legs from Auckland to Kaitaia, we’re about this morning to clamber aboard a tourist coach (hooray, in civilian clothes!) for the final 100-km stretch right up to Cape Reinga, camping near there overnight before, tomorrow, we actually start our sponsored tour south to the opposite end of this amazing country.


Dawn and Daisy, all ready for the final 100-km leg to Cape Reinga

Tour Aotearoa can begin – we’re safely in NZ

Safely arrived in Auckland and delightfully quartered with Warmshowers friends Steve and Annette Thoms (latter helpfully also President of Auckland Cycle Touring Club), we’re nearly ready to get going on the Tour Aotearoa.


20160204_221121Flew over Ayres Rock/Uluru in the middle of Australia at 40,000 feet on the way (evidence pictured), and rather more important, Daisy2 arrived with us almost in one piece in her plastic bag.

Only damage the pusher lever on the cycle bell (how did that happen!), and the two flaps on each mudguard. Again, how?

The folk at Auckland airport were quite delightful – they get a lot of touring cyclists, but a full-blown tandem? I rather doubt we’ll see too many on the way.DSC00516One small matter – a decent cycle pump. I brought a small one thinking it would be enough. With the size especially of our 2″, knobbly back tyre, dream on – so a huge thank you to the local airport filling station who had, yes, a dedicated bike pump.DSC00527So today we do a bit of sightseeing, and buy some new pedals (front ones cracking nastily), a decent-sized pump, some new cycling shoes (turns out Mark’s brand-new ones are too small – better to find out now on the ride in from the airport than in the middle of the Kauri Forests in Northland…)

And tmmw early morning, we bus via Keri-Keri and Kaitaia right up to the very top, and Cape Reinga for formal departure southward on Monday morning. We were going to take the 90-mile-beach route along the hard low-tide sand, but Steve and Annette recommend sticking to the road. Wise advice. Less danger of drowning or being swallowed up in the sands…

Flying Tonight – having tried to check in to wrong, cancelled Qantas flight

Rule one of flying, esp with code share. Check in with correct Airline. Emirates (ours) is flying tonight (sounds like a Chinese chippie). Qantas, which we tried to board, isn’t.

So, DaisyTwo is accepted through to Auckland in her plastic bag, and we’re about to head out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Having first cycled across London and taken in the appropriate sights. Selfies rule OK – except best done by waylaying friendly tourist to take the shot.DSC00498Jutta above at the wrong check-in desk. OK, my bad (Mark speaking).DSC00492BuckPal above, and Big Ben below.DSC00489

And here our two lovely porters at the Emirates checkin desk, who gently ported DaisyTwo to the baggage handlers, for loading aboard an Airbus 380 (doubledecker, can’t wait) first to Dubai, then to Brisbane, then something smaller to Auckland. DSC00514And below, a quick stopover at Downing St – two fervent pro-Europeans.

DSC00486And now, we must rush to the departure gate. Jutta’s already standing over me, looking worried and impatient. Fair enough.

Google finds all old biking photos

Isn’t Google amazing.

I have all my photos from all time (approaching 40,000 now, including all the old ones scanned in) on my Google Drive, and just typing bicycle in the search box brought up hundreds of two-wheeler images from the very earliest days.

Right back to my first trike at Duckshole farm near Holt in North Norfolk (brother Hugh pushing something in the background.)MB on trike aged 2+Order is a bit random, but the next one illustrates the aftermath of my very stupidly steering DaisyOne into tramlines in Plauen, East Germany, on a tour from East Berlin to Bavaria in 1978. We completed the journey, needless to say, by train. No helmets – we were lucky.1978 Tandeming GDR (100)Ouch…1978 Tandeming GDR (99)Introducing the boys early to cycling, outside our home in Vienna ca. 1984.1984 Vienna (69)And this one in Yangshuo, Southern China, on the Li river as we were leaving Beijing for the UK in late 1987. All three aboard now, after Katharine’s arrival in our lives the previous March. Sheringham Scans Matilda434dNot our triplet next (which is the correct term for a three-seater tandem – not trandem), but belonging at the time to my brother Hugh for whom we collected and drove it north to his home in Northumberland. 1988 Cycling Triplet Northumberland (1)As I said, random order. Next the genetic antecedents – my Dad Thomas on his heavy old 28″-wheeled machine at the farm in Barney where we spent most of the 50s. Thomas on bicycle Old Hall FarmAnd here, the two of us with DaisyOne arriving at the East-West German border after a one-day 240km ride along the only road transit corridor at the time (1979) open to bicycles through East Germany. We had to do it between sunrise and sunset. Talk about sore bottoms!1979 Tandem W Berlin - W Germany (25)And finally, proof that we would also on occasion take DaisyOne through the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie. The guards were bemused, and initially concerned that if they let us through with a tandem, they would be setting a precedent that might require them soon to grant similar passage, um Gottes Willen, to horses. That, we never saw. Close up tandem

A fortnight till lift-off

Quite how we’re going to get all of this (and more, out of frame, though not the bed) into four panniers, one barrel bag and one handlebar bag is perhaps a question for Iniduoh – Houdini in reverse (terrible joke).20160121_153859But yesterday in two weeks, Feb 3, Jutta (hoping by then for recovery from a nasty post-cold lung infection) and I take Qantas flight via Dubai and Brisbane for Auckland.

Thankfully, Qantas allow up to 35 kg per person as check-in luggage, so DaisyTwo (post coming here in due course about the name) will be packed and taken with us wrapped up in just one Cycle Touring Club plastic bag just as her sister Raven has now twice flown the same stretch.

Easier than cardboard bike boxes, quicker to pack (handlebars to one side, pedals off, tyres down to half pressure)…NZ 2011 (6).JPG…and certainly quicker to reassemble at the airport at the other end, as Raven below in Queenstown in late 2012. DSC01227.JPGWe continue to be thrilled by the donations coming in for the Rory Peck Trust, at £1,324.82 now nearly half way to our target of £3000, or one £ for each kilometre we intend to pedal, from Cape Reinga at the top to Bluff at the bottom.

Nearly fully packed, DaisyTwo looks like this, from a Bank Holiday trip around Norfolk in May last year, though in the Kiwi late summer sunshine Jutta with luck won’t need to be so warmly attired.


Daisy Two at Old Hall Farm in Barney, Norfolk

She (Daisy, that is, not Jutta) has been nicely tuned up by Black Bikes, with rebuilt rear wheel, new brake cables, and a new USB charger which runs off the front dynamo, and we have high hopes that she will carry us faithfully south without too much of the drama pictured below.

Then, still as Sunshine in a previous incarnation and on her first long-distance tour, she blew a back tyre at speed downhill on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Levering a new tyre (thankfully we had a spare) onto that back wheel required no little help from fellow passing cycle-borne pilgrims.

Camino de Santiago Spain 06'06 - (202)

Stoker musings


My minute 25-litre front pannier.  

Time for the stoker to come on-line.

Having encouraged Mark to go ahead with this venture and stoked his organising enthusiasm I find myself getting surprisingly excited about this trip.

I look forward to pedalling the length of NZ and my body into uncharted ways of being (bar 3 weeks tandeming around killingly hilly Scotland in 1979) plus channelling it all into a worthwhile cause.


My worst cycling day ever. At the top of Applecross in Scotland with DaisyOne, our first tandem, in 1979

At this point I’m not feeling daunted by the miles, but OMG my luggage allowance!

A miserly 25 litres faced by someone who struggles to keep to a 21kg airline baggage allowance at the best of times.

Hey-ho, no luxurious deliberations what to wear in the mornings, we should be able to cover the daily mile quota no trouble at all…

A month to go


Gearing up

So, with a month and a day to go till we fly off to Auckland, the Rory Peck Trust’s page is now live, encouraging their supporters to chip in and sponsor our madcap 2000-mile tandem adventure to and through New Zealand.

With warm thanks to so many of you all, Jutta and I are already nearly half way to our target of £3000 for this wonderful cause – just £1 per kilometre. Still time to join in the fun….

Daisy2 (I’ll explain the 2 in a later post) is nearly ready, with rebuilt rear wheel (thanks Greg and his Dad Phil of Black Bikes in Sheringham – best bike shop in East Anglia), new brake cables, and a new German saddle for Jutta.

Yes, all the best gear is German, from Ortlieb panniers to Rohloff hub to front dynamo, with a bit of Shimano thrown in.

With her S&S couplings (OK, they’re American), Daisy is ready to be unbolted into front and back – bit like a pantomime horse, really – for her frame and attendant bits to be bundled into two separate bike boxes for the Emirates flight out to the planet’s bottom right-hand corner on Feb 3.

Are we fit and fully ready to go? Is the Pope a Scientologist?

The good news from my own past cycling adventures (liberally documented on this site with blogs going back especially to 2008 and my 4000 there-and-return miles to Budapest) is that one does gets sufficiently fit extraordinarily fast, usually in a week or so.

However, the first few hundred miles until one reaches that state can be, shall we say, interesting. Especially in ones mid-60s….

So, via Auckland and a couple of buses up to to the top, Cape Reinga (pronounced Ree-Ang-Ah – photos below of where it is, and of my last bikeless visit there with daughter Katie in 2011) here we come, ready to head back south all the way to Bluff over the following six weeks.

NZ with arrow

Where is Cape Reinga? Just follow the arrow.



Father and Daughter leaping for the joy of it at Cape Reinga, NZ

NZ 2011 (529).JPG

Cape Reinga, where the Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet