New Zealand Bike Diary, Part Two.

Reflections from my bike tour of New Zealand.

February 15, 1999

I am feeling lighter, both literally and spiritually. The spokes kept breaking due to the excess baggage I was toting on this trip. That in-and-of itself made for an excellent metaphor for the excess mental baggage that I have been dragging around with me through most of this trip. I got a new, lighter tent, and got rid of all but my most essential gear, and it has been smooth riding since. Similarly it occurred to me that I could only enjoy this trip if I made enjoying this trip for myself the real point-not impressing or trying to compete with others. Hence, that means letting go of a lot of ego-driven mental baggage. Even the loss of my MasterCard turned out to be a blessing in disguise. My VISA card draws on the cash I have in checking account, the MC on cash I am expected to have in the future. Naturally, MC has a higher limit, and I was relying on it for most of my purchases. Losing it meant that I had to live within a real budget, which means that my trip now has greater focus.

Not that I still don't have SOME blunders. Yesterday I left the coastal town of Westport with the intention of heading south along the coastal highway towards Greymouth. Cockily confident, bull-headed Taurus that I am, I didn't bother to notice the signs at the highway intersection, which meant that I headed inland EAST for 20 miles before some friendly, elderly tourists alerted me to that fact while I asked them to snap my picture against some stunning river scenery. Hence I had to cycle almost the same distance back, with another 60 to do before I made it to next coastal town of Greymouth. I pooped out about 25 miles short of my destination, which turned out to be a blessing, because I enjoyed a terrific "Beach Hostel" which had camping facilities and a hot tub. I enjoyed the company of other cyclists-male, female, young, old, American, Canadian, German, Kiwi, English-and the magnificent view of the starry sky in the middle of the night when the clouds mysteriously departed for a few moments.

The ride down New Zealand's west coast highway should be mandatory for all dedicated biketourists. It includes more than a few steep climbs, but some glorious views at their summits. The high and lush mountains to the left (going south), the bizarre, bush-convered, rock formations on the beach, the palm trees that line both sides of the is really quite unforgettable.

Along the way I have met quite a number of colorful locals, and there is much that I look forward to integrated what I have heard, seen, and experienced in my writing.

Feb. 18 1999

Yesterday was a terrific day, both meteorologically and geographically, whereby I covered a distance of 84 miles on moderately flat roads, leaving from the moderately tropical Hokitiku to glaciers in a place named after Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, the one who gave Mozart such a hard time. In between I had only one moderately high climb of 200 meters (called Mount Hercules). Apart from that I cycled through miles of exotic rain forest, alongside many high and lush green mountains, and some big beautiful lakes. We have some heavy rain today, but it is expected to clear up tomorrow. Hence, I will wait till tomorrow for the vein-pulsating excursion up TWO mountains, both 400 meters high-with brake screeching drops 400 meters steep. Yeehaw!

Click here for part three of my journal.

To e-mail with comments or questions: