7,000 KILOMETRES ON TWO FRIDAYS for WORLD BICYCLE RELIEF…

7,000 KILOMETRES ON TWO FRIDAYS

Since September 2017 we’ve been cycling in Australia and New Zealand, 7,000 kilometers to date, alongside endless beaches, over mountains, through farmland, and in forests. We’ve made new friends and encountered amazing wildlife along the way, all made possible by our fabulous Bike Friday New World Tourists”

For us, cycling is a lifestyle of choice. Fifteen years ago we said goodbye to our last car and took up commuting to work, shopping and travel on bikes. We now own eight bikes including two New World Tourists. We’ve done lots of tours of up to four weeks but for several years have been dreaming of a 12-month trip down under including the “end to end” of New Zealand and Australia’s east coast and now its become a reality.

WORLD BICYCLE RELIEF

During the planning stages of our trip, Amanda came across the charitable organization, World Bicycle Relief (WBR) and we decided to use our trip to fundraise for them as they use the humble bicycle as a means to empower individuals and change lives. This was something we could relate to personally as car-free, multiple bicycle owning cyclists! For us, fundraising for WBR is a way of supporting an organization with corresponding values to our own and “giving back” as we realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to travel for a year.

WBR donates bicycles to communities to assist in rebuilding peoples lives. Projects currently supported are in Zambia, Africa where the “purpose-built for conditions” single-speed Buffalo Bikes are given to people in three categories: children, mainly girls, to get to school; healthcare workers, to visit patients; and small business operators, who can apply for micro-financing to purchase a bicycle and create or expand their business. WBR also trains mechanics to maintain the bikes creating employment and ensuring any broken bicycles remain in use. Our fundraising page, including our blog, can be found at http://fundraiseau.worldbicyclerelief.org/amanda-gavin

THE TOUR

Timing is everything. Not long after we set off, the Spring 2017 school holidays on Australia’s east coast began lasting three weeks, so every coastal holiday park between Brisbane and Sydney was wedged with families and their caravans, SUVs, boats, bikes, tents, plasma TVs, beer fridges, fishing gear and freezers … and children. Kids everywhere on bikes, scooters, skateboards and boogie boards. There was also an unprecedented heatwave at this time with temperatures reaching up to 38 degrees Celsius

(100F) so we decided to take some motels to avoid the crowds and the heat. The Bike Fridays were brilliant for storing in our motel rooms because of their compact size and foldability.

If you love camping near white sand beaches backed by unspoiled forest then this part of the world will not disappoint – just don’t come during the school holidays! The coastal roads are mostly quiet and flattish including some good quality dirt roads through magnificent forests. A highlight of this leg was avoiding the city traffic by taking a ferry from Sydney’s northern beaches to Circular Quay and then camping on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. Fantastic facilities with a view of the famous harbor bridge it is definitely the cheapest 5-star budget accommodation you’ll find in Sydney!

In early summer 2017, we flew from Sydney to Auckland with our folding bikes, packing our bikes into an airline bike box purchased at the airport. We have Pocket Underbags on our back racks, where we store our soft BF TravelBags. We pack our bikes in the airline bike boxes and load our panniers into the BF Travel Bags. The pedals, lights, tools, gloves, and accessories from the bikes are then stored in the Underbag for easy access and reassembly at the other end.

New Zealand’s North Island has dozens of glorious hot pools where cyclists can soak away the day’s miles. Paradise! The little-untouristed towns of the north, places like Otorohanga, Opunake, and Cambridge have an unpretentious charm and friendliness that we really love. There’s some fantastic on road cycling to be had. The Forgotten World Highway, Taranaki surf coast in the west and Route 52 in the east were highlights. The low gearing on the Bike Fridays made tackling the hills so much easier. On some of the big hills, we folded the bikes and put them on a shuttle bus. It’s a holiday, it’s not meant to kill you, right?!

New Zealand gets about four million tourists annually and many rent motorhomes in the South Island during summer. Touring cyclists tend to take the popular West Coast route, but as it was the peak of the summer tourist season we decided to take the less touristed East Coast. There are some gems on this side, like Ashley Gorge (great for swimming), Mt Somers (beautiful campground in a village), Oamaru (the world ‘Steampunk’ capital), Surat Bay (sea lions) and Bluff (the edge of the world at latitude 46 degrees south). In what became the hottest February ever recorded in New Zealand we found ourselves cycling in temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius (85F) on the magnificent Alps to Ocean trail. The heat slowed us down but gave us a good reason to sample the fabulous (and inexpensive) New Zealand ice cream! Cycling the Catlins Coast was a great opportunity to see a native forest and wild NZ coast. Otago’s Clutha Gold Trail is a spectacular one or two day ride along the Clutha River on a new, good quality dirt path. Where New Zealand’s highways got too busy we simply folded the bikes into the Travel Bags, bundled up the panniers into another cheap bag and got on the Intercity

Bus. We completed our New Zealand tour by cycling the famous Otago Central Rail Trail and departing from the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch.

We arrived in Melbourne and celebrated our return with a party the annual gathering of the Australian Bike Friday Club held in the gold mining town of Bendigo. These gatherings are great for connecting with other Bike Friday owners, seeing the full catalog of bikes in every color, in action and hearing stories about where the bikes have taken people over the previous year. The festivities include group rides, a formal dinner, and charity auction, and lots of cafe visits and conversation held over the three days. This year cyclists came from as far away as Canada and USA.

Many of the abandoned railway lines near Melbourne have been repurposed as recreational rail trails. On our way to Sydney, we found ourselves cycling these beautiful routes through some of Australia’s best forests, during autumn 2018. The New South Wales south coast is hillier than most of the places we cycled in New Zealand with relentless short, sharp, steep hills for days on end. Even so, this region is spectacular with little villages like Tathra and Tomakin hemmed in by beaches, headlands, forests, and rivers. Where the roads got too busy and too steep we again folded and bagged the bikes and took a taxi and a bus!

Back in Sydney again, after a short rest, we took a train north and returned to the areas we missed early in our trip. This time, with no school holidays in sight, we enjoyed quiet beaches and campgrounds dotted along the coast.

Our trip’s not over yet. We still have more cycling t do closer to home and on the west coast of Australia before we’re back behind our desks.

FINANCING THE TRIP

Are we rich to be able to do this? Not at all, we simply got out of debt, deciding to live in a modest one bedroom apartment, that we now own and rent to a friend while we’re away. Because we live car-free, we also managed to save a lot of money to pay out our small mortgage and help our travel budget. Our traveling style aims for a middle way – we’re not into free camping, nor are we living it up every night at the Ritz! We have spent many a night in our tent at campgrounds and holiday parks but occasionally we seek indoor comfort especially in big cities, in inclement weather or after a hard days cycling.

TRAVEL TIPS

To avoid punctures (we had many in the beginning) we now use tire sealant in our tubes.
If possible avoid school holiday periods, particularly in coastal areas.
In summer in New Zealand tourist traffic increases significantly in late December to early March. Google maps is unreliable for cycling in Australia and New Zealand.

EQUIPMENT LIST

We’re carrying about 30 – 35 kilograms each, including the bikes, food, and water. Both of our New World Tourist bikes, purchased in 2006 have been kitted out with front and rear racks and Ortlieb panniers. Gav is carrying an additional bag (a full gear list can be found below).

Gear packed in stuff sacks and some compression sacks

Camping

(Gav) Tent – Salewa 3 season/2 person with 2 vestibules for storing panniers Thermarest sleeping mats
Thermarest compressible pillow – not a luxury item as we need a good night sleep! Sleeping bags and inner sheet liners

Sarong – to sit on/picnic blanket/emergency towel (versatile multi-use item)

Cookware & Utensils

Food and nutrition are important to us and on a tour this long it’s important to stay healthy and keep costs down by preparing our own food (we are both vegetarians).

We’ve streamlined our cooking by using an insulated Thermos food canister for cooking rice, pasta and various lentils. This cuts cooking time on the camp stove as we can prepare the main vegetable part of our meal while the rice or pasta is cooking separately in the Thermos. It’s great when staying in campgrounds with a camp kitchen (to boil water in a kettle). We’ve also used the Thermos to cook porridge and boiled eggs. This method of cooking has allowed us to keep our meal costs down when we’re staying in motels and only have access to a kettle (mmm … pesto pasta anyone?!)

Our other useful device is a hand operated Tupperware food processor which very quickly prepares chopped vegetables, oat flour, banana cream and crushed peanuts. Our stove of choice is a Trangia methylated spirit burner, a robust piece of kit with stackable pots.

(Amanda) Trangia stove including 2 pots and frypan (2 person, burns methylated spirits) (Gav) Nalgene 1 litre fuel bottle
Folding vegetable steamer
2 x mini bamboo spoons

Mini Grater

Mini whisk

2 x Opinel folding knives (large and small)

(Gav) Tupperware mini Turbo Chopper

(Gav) 710ml Thermos food jar

(Gav) 2 x small Tupperware storage containers (for leftovers)

1 x small plastic container to store ghee (we make our own ghee for cooking as it solidifies, rather than carrying cooking oil which can spill)

Metal knife, fork, spoon (luxury items) 2 x folding Sistema cool bags
2 x metal bowls
1 x tea strainer

Bits & Pieces

Small candle in a tin

Pegs

Travel clothesline

Dishwashing liquid & scourer

Disposable, multi-use dishcloths (versatile – for washing & drying dishes, cleaning chain, wiping moisture off tent)

Electronics

Smartphone each Digital camera each Headlamp each

Rechargeable bike lights (front and back)

Amanda’s gear:

Helmet
Cycle gloves (fingerless & full-finger wind/rain-proof) Sunglasses
Reading glasses
3 x Groundeffect cycle knicks (2 shorts, 1 3/4 length)
1 x Groundeffect cycle leg warmers
2 x Nuu Muu cycle dresses (double for off bike wear)
1 x Groundeffect MTB cycle shorts
1 x Groundeffect long-sleeved light jersey
1 x Groundeffect long-sleeved 1/2 merino, 1/2 windproof jersey 1 x Groundeffect windproof, hi-viz convertible jacket/vest Groundeffect raincoat and rain pants
2 x sports bras
1 x bra
3 x underwear
1 x cotton singlet
1 x t-shirt
1 x long-sleeved t-shirt
2 x Icebreaker long- sleeved merino
1 x Icebreaker merino fleece jacket
1 x down puffer jacket
1 x Icebreaker merino leggings
1 x drawstring long pants
1 x travel jeans
1 x waterproof socks
1 x beanie

2 x Buff (1 merino, 1 microfibre) 1 x handkerchief
1 x sarong (towel and to wear) Keens sandals

Thongs
Folding shoes (ballet flats) Sunhat
Toiletries

Gavin’s gear:

Helmet
Cycle gloves (fingerless & full finger) Sunglasses
Reading glasses
3 x Groundeffect cycle knicks
1 x Groundeffect cycle leg warmers
1 x Groundeffect long-sleeved light jersey
1 x Groundeffect long-sleeved medium jersey 1 x Groundeffect long-sleeved heavy jersey
1 x Netti hi-viz vest
Groundeffect raincoat and rain pants
1 x shorts
1 x long trousers (with zip-off legs)
2 x boxer shorts
1 x travel trousers
1 x cotton, collared shirt
1 x down puffer jacket
1 x bathers
3 x t-shirts

1 x waterproof socks
2 x long-sleeved merino tops
1 x Icebreaker merino leggings
3 x Buff ( 1 merino, 2 microfibre) 1 x beanie
2 x handkerchief
Sun hat
Travel towel
Keens sandals
Thongs
Toiletries

Bicycle toolkit Basic first aid kit

Resources:

(Book) Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by The Kennett Brothers https://www.kennett.co.nz/product/classic-new-zealand-cycle-trails/

(Book) Pedallers Paradise – North Islands and South Island by Nigel Rushton

(App) Cyclewayz – numerous cycle touring routes throughout Australia (with new routes being added regularly)

http://australiancyclingholidays.com.au/cyclewayz/

(Profile/route planning) Bikeroll

www.bikeroll.net

(Accommodation) Warm Showers

https://www.warmshowers.org

(Accommodation) BBH Hostels in New Zealand

https://www.bbh.co.nz

(Campground Apps) Wikicamps and Campermate (Camping Recipes) Bike Camp Cook

https://www.bikecampcook.com

World Bicycle Relief 

http://fundraiseau.worldbicyclerelief.org/amanda-gavin

We’re happy to answer any questions if you’d like to email us at gavindah@gmail.com (Gav) and amandajsmith247@gmail.com (Amanda)

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