Friday 21 October 2011

Whangamata, New Zealand - 10,000 miles

Wow! I’ve now cycled 10,000 miles since leaving Scotland last summer in eleven different countries and four different continents. I’ve only just changed to my second set of tires and I’ve still only had three punctures! In recognition of this achievement and all the fabulous tales from the saddle that I’ve brought you, why don’t you sponsor me if you’ve not done so already and make a donation to Oxfam by clicking on the link on the right. Thank you.

I must confess a few of those recent miles have been pushing – the hills on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula are short but severe! However the pushing is usually rewarded with a sweeping descent through pretty rolling hills that eventually bottoms out at some gorgeous golden sand beach. I pedalled by Mercury Bay where Captain Cook anchored in 1769 to watch the transit of Mercury and at the same time declared the land to be British. I’m not sure if he’d run this by the Maoris first! If New Zealand was colonised by Brits, why does everybody talk with “sich a finny accint”?

One of the more unusual beaches on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island is Hot Water Beach. One evening, just before low tide, I walked along the beach, enjoying the Pacific washing up between my toes. There were dozens of people frantically digging large holes in the sand or already relaxing in steaming pools of hot water courtesy of the local geothermal activity! I was too cheap to rent my own shovel to dig a hole so sneaked into a recently vacated pool – it was hot … really hot!

In a couple of days I‘ll turn inland to cycle through the heart of New Zealand’s land of fire - in pursuit of more hot action!


Sunday 16 October 2011

Coromandel, New Zealand - mini update

I've spent a few days in Auckland being hosted, fed and generally pampered by my friends Zelda and Walter. With the bike now serviced and a few new bits of kit bought, I've taken a ferry to the Coromandel Peninsula. I just need to turn south and start pedalling!

Saturday 8 October 2011

Vancouver, Canada - The shipping and other news

You may have seen the film, The Shipping News, a little favourite of mine. It was set in a small coastal town in Newfoundland but could equally have been set in the pretty little outpost of Friday Harbor on the San Juan Islands.

With the Boston to Seattle ride in the bag, Graham and I enjoyed a few days hopping on and off ferries to pedal around the islands of Puget Sound. The San Juans form a large archipelago of forested islands separated by narrow channels of calm waters. One day the sun shone, the sky was blue and the waters aquamarine. But mostly a light drizzle fell and a thin veil of mist hung over the islands, penetrated only by the boom of the ferries’ foghorns. And every day now there is a chill in the air and an autumn tint to the leaves as we move further into fall. On Lopez Island we had an idyllic camp spot by the beach where waves had cast up huge piles of bleached driftwood. On a night as black as coal, we hugged hot mugs of coffee as we watched the ferries come and go – in the inky night all we could see were their bright lights gliding along the flat-calm, pitch-black water. Our next jumping off point was Friday Harbor where colourful clapboard buildings were stacked above the bay which was busy with ferries, boats and float planes.

When we left Friday Harbor on the morning ferry, we left America and returned briefly to Canada to cycle through the russets of autumn woods and the orange of pumpkin patches and to enjoy wonderful Canadian hospitality in Victoria and Vancouver.

Of course, the news you really want to hear is who won “the bicycle diaries” competition. Judging by the high guess of some of your entries, you obviously think we spent most of the trip stuffing our faces with fries and milkshakes! Which of course we did … but not always in McDonalds! However Tigger has decided that the winner is Andrew Booth of Edinburgh with a guess of 51 which was closest to the correct number of 50 McDonalds consumed by me and Graham on our bicycle ride across the US. A prize is on the way!

As another winter approaches, it’s time for me to leave the northern hemisphere and head south once again … to the Land of the Long White Cloud … to New Zealand. I’ll be sure to send some news!

Photos on Flickr - pics from Vancouver and Vancouver Island in the "Canada" set.