The final detail…
Today has been a day of analysing the minutiae….of making six weeks of personal needs fit into one 23 litre saddlebag and a small handlebar bag, with a small tent pack strapped on the back. I love this kind of challenge.
Every item, and the size and weight of every item, has been studied. There is no room for carelessly packed ‘just-in-case’ things. Everything must have a purpose, be known to be useful and, if possible, be multi-purpose. Some may feel deprived going without some habitual luxuries, or they can’t imagine life on the road without an iPod, a laptop, a soft pillow or a fluffy towel.
For me, not having these things is a form of liberation. A ‘disconnect’ takes place where I find life on the road becomes much simpler: carrying less weight up the hills, packing the bike and luggage for flights, the daily organisation of packing and unpacking when you are camping, fitting my luggage into my one-person tent at night……..and the list goes on and on.
But I have to confess that this strategy can carry some risks. I always feel that I am prepared for most emergencies, but not all, of course. Our level of risk-aversion will frequently dictate how comfortable we feel about leaving things behind. But when asked (as I frequently am) how I can manage for so long with under 10 kilos of luggage (including camping equipment), I usually answer with a quip: “It’s easy really…..I just leave things at home!”
And it is as easy as that……..but only if you take time out to study your actual needs in some detail, and learn through experience. When I come back from a trip, I make two short lists: the first, of the things I wished I had taken, and the second (yes, you’ve got it!) of the things I wished I had left behind. And through a process of adjustment and elimination, my packing goes through evolutionary development.
It will never be perfect, but then we all need something to live for…..
Kimbolton to Istanbul: a crusader’s route
If my annual cycling expeditions were to appear on a kind of restaurant menu, my recent trip to Florida would have been the starter, the appetiser. In ‘cycling-speak’, it was an opportunity to get in some winter miles in a place where the weather was not a major issue.
I am now building up to the main course. But like a detailed restaurant menu, when the selection is extensive, the choice is made more difficult. There are many tantalising routes out there, all vying for attention, but in the end you have to make a choice……just as you do in the restaurant. And my choice this year is to set off from my home in the UK (as I did for my recent rides to Rome and Santiago de Compostela) and ride the 2000 miles (some 3000kms) to Istanbul in Turkey, crossing some eight countries in the process.
Like the two previous pilgrimage routes, this route has been inspired by an urge to delve into a bit of medieval history, so it is my intention to pick up the route of the First Crusade (the People’s Crusade) of 1096, when 40,000 people assembled in Cologne, to begin the march to Constantinople (modern Istanbul), and then on to the ultimate prize of Jerusalem. My journey should be at least five times faster than theirs, so I hope to complete the route in about 4 weeks, adding another week as ‘cushioning time’ for wandering off the route and catching my pre-booked return flight at the end.
It’s an exciting cycling project (as all of them seem to be) and, like last year, I will be supporting a specially chosen charity called The Motivation Charitable Trust.
Motivation is an international development charity supporting people with mobility disabilities. It was founded in 1991 by three college friends, including Richard Frost and David Constantine, who is himself wheelchair bound. Their focus is on the development of high quality, low cost wheelchairs specifically designed for use in developing countries. Their wheelchairs transform lives, giving disabled people independence, confidence and hope for the future. Twenty two years on, they are producing some 12,500 wheelchairs per year which not only benefit the recipients, but also some 60,000 immediate family members as well.
As little as £140 can buy a complete wheelchair. Would you care to sponsor a wheelchair yourself? If not, any donation you make will be a valuable contribution to the hugely important work Motivation is doing in the developing world. Thank you for your support.
Further information about the charity can be found at www.motivation.org.uk
And an online donation can be made at www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns2. Or simply click on the ‘Justgiving Sponsor me‘ button at the top of the right-hand menu.
The day I arrived in Warragul, just 100km from Melbourne and the end of my 4000km journey, I was met by local resident Jim Connelly, who cycled with me into town, and delivered me to the offices of the local newspaper, The Trader. I was interviewed by Emma Ballingall…..and the rest, well……..you can see for yourselves below.
Being stalked by jet lag!
If you have ever been on a long adventure that has been physically demanding, you will understand the sense of disorientation that sets in when you finally stop. In my case, when I had finally stopped pedalling, sedentary lethargy threatened, and then after a 24 hour flight with no sleep, a wicked dose of jet-lag stalked me into submission. But when I arrived at Heathrow Airport, I was bright and chirpy, and delighted to be met not only by Jenny, but also by my brother Dominic.
And as you can see, the answer to the big question “Will he, or won’t he” (ie bring the bike back home) is clearly answered. It will either become a garden feature, draped in all kinds of climbing plants, or if proven fit, it could become a run-around bike for local trips.
A few days at home drifting in and out of sleep at random times of the day, eventually merged into a welcome-home reception at our local Bytes Café. I hadn’t fully realised just how many people had been following my progress all those miles away. Some said how sad they were that the daily post on the blog might cease, now that the journey was over. Some kindly hinted that a book should emerge from all this. Amidst sandwiches, cakes, coffee and raffles, we raised yet more money for the charity, bringing us to almost £6,500………and still counting.
I want to thank all those who came out in the cold to welcome me home, and especially to Jean Stratford who was the prime mover in making it all happen. When you are thousands of miles away, pounding the miles in some distant land, forging a lonely furrow from one end of a country to another, you sometimes forget there is a spirit of community that is willing you forward. And coming back to that community is a forceful reminder that these things never happen in isolation.
If you are reading this, and you have followed some (or all) of this journey, and even contributed something to the Children in Syria Appeal, I want to thank you sincerely. For me, it has made the whole thing much more than just one man riding his bike…….it has added our grain of sand to helping a few unfortunate children suffering in a desperate civil war.
Children in Syria Appeal: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
A glance at the future….
It’s tempting to sit back when you think a job is complete, and sink into a well of happy memories and nostalgia. Having recently updated myself on the current situation in Syria, what was bad news 8 weeks ago when I arrived in NZ, is now simply appalling. One million displaced people, living in tent cities across borders, thousands of orphaned children, and more than 60,000 fatalities…..in a civil conflict that the rest of the world watches from the touchline.
The message has to get out. People have asked me lots of searching questions in the Antipodes. Awareness of the Syrian civil war needs to be spread further.
My job may appear to be complete (from the cycling point of view), but the real work is only just starting.
Back in the UK, I will be offering to visit groups and associations with an illustrated presentation of my 2,500 mile venture. I will make no personal charge for the talk, but will happily receive a donation for the Children in Syria Appeal. I sincerely want funds to continue flowing into this cause. We can’t stand by and hope that a solution will magically appear on the horizon. Our ‘grain of sand’, however small, will be of immeasurable importance.
If you know of any group that would welcome me as a visiting speaker, please get the message out by word of mouth, email, or sharing on Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you in advance.
And do give them the link to this blog, so they can get a flavour of what it’s all about.
The M&M day….
Milton to Moruya: 87km (55m)
Kit dried, limbs rested, body fed, humour restored….I simply could not find a convincing reason to ask the Doc for a ‘sickie’….so on the saddle I climbed, dressed for all the Aussie elements could throw at me. The weather brightened, and off came the layers one by one.
Being the (horti)cultural guy that I am, I began to notice some of the roadside vegetation
…and I know at least one botanist who might be impressed. But then I was mightily glad I didn’t have to climb this hill
…because I’m sure it would have crucified me. So many names of places are suggestive of some significant event of the past, and some are clearly signed as to be in no doubt about their importance
…but when I asked about the chances of becoming an instant millionaire, if I were to spend an hour panning for gold, I was told I should have come in 1850!
Today’s route, because of the changing weather, has been solidly on the Princes Highway, a busy holiday and commercial route, which crosses the lower slopes of the Great Dividing Range…..mountains which separate the outback from the coastal area.
This unequivocally means that you have to cross dozens of creeks in a day, and creeks always flow down steep ravines from the mountains……ergo, I have just spent the whole day descending and climbing back out of deep ravines. OK, I suppose the legs needed a bit more climbing practice, and I know I’m not going to get your sympathy…..:-(
But I do like to be stopped by ladies on the highway, especially when they thrust a $40 bill into my hand.
And when I checked into a campsite, the warden gave me $6 back from my pitch fee as a donation. The above family greeted me as I put up the tent, he offered me a ‘stubbie’ (can of beer), gave me $10 for the charity, and said I could have a ‘spa’ (hot-tub) in their cabin in the morning. People’s generosity continues to astound me, and I am the grateful recipient of it.
I’m not sure the following observation is significant, but several Aussies have photographed the sign on the bike, suggesting they would like to donate online. I, for one, will be watching this space.
Children in Syria Appeal: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
From NZ to Oz
My hosts in Invercargill, Cecily & John Mesman, had spoilt me rotten; and Marie Teuwen, President of the Southland branch of Save the Children, had organised a welcome fit for a hero (and I’m only a pedal-twiddling lycra lout). It was sad to leave their company, but the show had to go on.
A combination of one of these….
and one of these got me from the toe of NZ, via Wellington and across the Tasman Sea, to Sydney where once again (once the bike was reassembled) I was able to display this
to give the Aussies I encounter an opportunity to match (or even outstrip) the generosity of the Kiwis. No sooner had I set wheel outside the airport, I knew I needed local help to get across the city. A passing cyclist (and if he reads this, a big “thank you”) stopped and very patiently mapped out a route for me, which got me to the district I needed. That was brilliant. Then a couple of iPhone toting 20 somethings opened up Googlemaps and finalised the fine detail. (Of course, I could have done this for myself, but it’s much more fun asking others!).
I had to race against the fading light (sunset is over an hour earlier than in NZ) across a city that has some notoriously unfriendly cycling streets, but before the light disappeared I eventually found Dee Read’s lovely old wooden cottage
and she gave me the warmest of welcomes. Thank you, Dee! This encounter happened through the networking power of Facebook, where a mutual friend had shared details with her own lists of friends (thank you Anne!). I thought I didn’t know Dee, until she looked at me and said she’d met me before somewhere.
Well, to cut a long story short, both her children had attended Kimbolton School in the 1990s, and I had taught one of them for a year!
It is a cliche, but it’s true…..it’s an unnervingly small world.
I will spend today unapologetically being a Sydney tourist, I have a (cheapish) ticket for Il Trovatore at the Opera House, and I’m meeting up with Richard Tulloch (another blogging friend) for a bushtucker lunch, during his break from drama rehearsals at Sydney University.
It promises to be a fascinating day.
Children in Syria Appeal: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
No bluffing….this is the end!
Invercargill is crawling with journalists. They jump out of the bushes and catch you when your guard is down. Then I discovered there is a school of journalism in the local Polytechnic, SIT (Southland Institute of Technology), and all the students are out there hungry for a good story.
Before I set off to complete the final 30km to my destination, I had an appointment at the studios of Cue TV (www.cuetv.co.nz) where I was interviewed by Margot Sutherland, and then followed by a cameraman for some action shots on the road to Bluff. Didn’t know whether to wave at the camera or simply look as if I was suffering with the strenuous effort…… chose the latter ‘cos I didn’t want people to think I was actually enjoying myself!
So I eventually get to Bluff (the Land’s End of NZ) expecting to quietly take a few photos and then disappear to Stewart Island. But no……my gracious hosts in Invercargill, Marie, Bryan and Cecily, had made the journey down to be my welcoming party, and to join the little celebration of my completion of the journey.
No sooner had the ritual photos been taken, but another journalist jumped from behind a bush clasping his voice recorder. He was a radio presenter from MoreFM, he rattled off a number of questions for which (of course) I had well rehearsed answers, then he amiably questioned the distance I had covered. Unlike the sign on my bike, the signpost said that Cape Reinga was only 1400km away, not the nearly 3000km I had covered. I politely pointed out that 1400km is as the crow flies, and that NZ roads were never designed for avian migration…….and anyway, why would anyone want to take the shortest route? For me, there were too many fascinating diversions.
If you look carefully, you might see that London is over 18000km away……but again, that’s for the crows. But they generally don’t stop off in Singapore to re-fuel.
I am now on Stewart Island, a one hour high speed catamaran journey from the mainland, ready to spend 36 hours chilling out and eating a bit more of the above.
But let me finish with a few more examples of Kiwi generosity: a couple overtook me on the road to Bluff, pulled over and donated $10; a gentleman gave me another $10 as I was having photos taken beneath the signposts; on Stewart Island, as I was trying to negotiate a discount on my pitch for 2 nights, David (who was accompanying a group of deer hunters) stepped forward and paid my $40 bill as a donation. Only in New Zealand………..
When I get to Australia, I’ll tell all the Aussies just how generous the Kiwis have been……..and they’ll all be so hopping mad that their hands will inexplicably go deeper into their pockets and purses :0) Wouldn’t that be great for the Children in Syria Appeal?
Big cycling day…
Manapouri to Invercargill 170km(106 miles)
Everyone has this experience from time to time: you start the day with plan A in mind, and somehow a plan B muscles its way in. I set off this morning with a pair of fresh legs, after 2 days of cruising the Sounds, intending to spend 2 days over the route to Invercargill, but guess what?………after two perfect days on the water, I was now presented with a perfect cycling day: a strong tailwind coming from the north! Then over a perfect flat white coffee, after completing 80km (50m) by midday
I read in the local newspaper that the wind was going to swing round to the south tomorrow. Well, what would you do? To me, it was a no-brainer: ‘carpe diem’, make hay while the sun shines…….so I did………I was making hay all day!
Now, I told you in a previous post about ‘drive-by donations’…….well today I became the (willing) ‘victim’ of ‘drive-by journalism’ when a car stopped ahead of me and a lady journalist (in training) jumped out and asked to interview me by the roadside (while her family patiently waited in the car). After a quick photo, she said she would see me in Bluff the next day, and offered a bed for when I get back from Stewart Island.
Now Invercargill is the capital of Southland, and only 28km from Bluff, my destination. In other words, just one last gasp and I am there……finished…..termine…..finito (well the NZ leg of the journey at least).
In the last 24 hours, I’ve discovered that Save the Children NZ have put their media and advertising dept to work, and it would seem that I have a series of encounters and interviews in the next 2 days. Tomorrow with the Deputy Mayor, who also happens to own an important newspaper; possibly with the local TV network; and with a community officer at Bluff on Friday. Not sure how to handle this new-found fame……… should I let it go to my head?
Now back to reality……I’ve just pumped some highly noxious calories back into the system in MacDonalds, am using their free WiFi to do this post, and now, at 7.30pm, I need to find a campsite.
See you up the road!
Back on the road again…
Queenstown to Mossburn 122km (75m)
After sharing a final meal with my ABC friends from California,
we hugged each other farewell. We were going in different directions, but sharing their company over the last 4 days has been very special. Bob has to fly home to hold the hand of his dying father, and it looks as if their homeward route through S America is now in jeopardy. But priorities are not in doubt.
I tentatively loaded the bike this morning, gingerly wobbled down the first hill, then decided I really needed a substantial breakfast roll (mysteriously called an OTR) and a huge flat white coffee before committing myself
My route into the northern reaches of Southland
introduced me to the delights of Kiwi honeys
but some were products from the bees that might feature more correctly in a beauty parlour
but I was particularly taken by the Manuka honeys, and especially by this
which is a honey exclusively from tree bees, that feed on the bark of trees. And a small jar just happened to fit in the barbag :0)
As I meandered along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, a truck towing a trailer pulled over in front of me, a hand waving me to slow down. Peter thrust $20 in my hand, said he would see me in Bluff, and that he knew a lot of people in the area. I am eagerly mystified!
A little later sitting in a roadside cafe, a German couple came in with a little baby and sat at a table close by. After a few minutes, Florian turned to me with his laptop open, and his first words to me were: “I’ve just put some money on your website!” I was completely taken by surprise……. He had obviously seen the notice on my bike, and simply made a spontaneous contribution without asking me anything about my venture. We chatted at length, and I learned they were on a fly fishing holiday…..and they write a blog about it (in English too): http://www.theflyfishingfamily.blogspot.com
Oh and by the way, the bike behaved itself impeccably today, obviously fearing the ultimate sanction: that of being chucked on the scrap heap!
So I put up my tent in a quiet remote campsite with an easy mind…….
Thank you to everyone who has generously donated to the Children in Syria Appeal. We keep hitting new targets as people continue to respond magnanimously to the cause.
Emerald green of the Pacific
A fair wind, a cool but sunny day, and a coastal road that hugged the rocky fringes of the Pacific, all heralded the prospect of making up the deficit of yesterday.
Bay after bay, azure blue merged into emerald green, as the road weaved its way round rugged headlands opening up new vistas at every turn.
If you look carefully at this scene, you will detect that the black forms are seals. Colonies of parents caring for their young pups. This went on for miles. No wonder the first British colonists along this coast were the sealers in the 19th century.
A still morning turned into a windy afternoon, but this time it was in my favour. From Ward, I passed through Kaikoura (the whale-watching capital of NZ) and on to Cheviot, where I found a pitch for my tent for $15. 160km (100m): more than my anticipated daily mileage, but wind-assisted this time.
Donations today: 2 Geology students on a field trip gave $5 each, and an English couple, touring NZ on a motorbike, pulled over on the shoulder and made a generous donation.
I estimate I’ve collected nearly $600 so far from spontaneous donations.
Donations to: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
Another one fingered post on my phone……
Time for a guided tour of the Beehive in Wellington, the NZ parliament. First women in the world to be granted the vote (1893); they abolished the upper House and now have PR. Very go-ahead I would say.
Incredibly rough crossing to S Island. Most of the passengers very sick….but not me :0)
Met Mauro & Enzo (from Italy) on the ferry and they kindly donated to the fund.
Picked up from ferry by John & Ros Stace in their speedboat and whisked off to their holiday home in the Marlborough Sounds. Ros is national President of Save the Children NZ.
My bedroom has an amazing view over Waterfall Sound. I could get used to this! But, back to the tent tonight.
First day on S Island: sunny but much cooler, and a dispiriting headwind all day…….. Did 50km less than I had hoped for, but detained in Picton by the preserved remains of the Edwin Fox, a 19th century wooden ship used for transporting prisoners and emigrants to Australia & NZ. Our friend Jean’s great grandfather had been the first captain to take emigrants out to NZ.
This journey is a three course meal. N Island proved to be a substantial starter. S Island, I know, will be filling main course. And Australia, I hope, will conclude the meal with a sweet, creamy dessert.
Now I just need to choose the wines…..
And if Steve Wesson reads this (he’s just started from Cape Reinga) get your head down so we can share a beer at the bottom!
Wellington: the foot of North Island
The way I felt at that moment, I simply had to agree with them. “How far is it to my destination? I ask them. No, don’t tell me it’s another 5km, please!”. Well it was. But what I discovered is this: Kiwis, as blunt as they are, secretly admire some types of stupidity. For some reason, these people thought my stupidty was worth supporting and donated $25 to the fund.
The generous couple who offered me a bed for the night (in a railway carriage in their back garden!), took me to a BBQ with some friends and donated an astonishing sum to the charity. Richard and Sally taught me much about selfless kindness, and I was educated a little about New Zealand dairy farming.
Yesterday, as I sped towards my campsite, a car pulled over to the side in front of me, and a lady got out and indicated that I should stop. The reward for stopping was $30 being thrust in my hand, with the straightforward comment “Good on you”. She climbed back in the car and left.
In the campsite that evening, I fell into conversation with a delightful couple, Barry and Joy who, when they discovered I had yet to shop for my evening meal, spontaneously invited me to join them. I spent the most enjoyable evening learning about their background with the Salvation Army.
The approach to Wellington was greeted with, not only the first rain of the journey, but a veritable downpour. I eventually arrived at the Head Office of Save the Children NZ, welcomed with open arms, introduced to all the staff, told a little about their work (especially in the Pacific Islands), and given a gift of 62% Whittaker’s chocolate (my favourite) to see me on my way.
But perhaps the key event of the whole journey to date has been my visit to Kimbolton NZ. It has ancient historical connections with my own Village of Kimbolton in Cambridgeshire, and I was keen to get there and meet some of the residents. Linda Cambell, Head of Kimbolton Primary School, arranged a small welcoming party, and we had coffee and cakes in the local cafe, Hansens, before a tour of the school and the rest of the village. I was delighted to be able to present a letter of greeting from our own Parish Council and a short history of the village. This could lead to further contacts between the two communities. There is certainly a sense of shared identity.
I have now completed the first leg of a three leg journey, totalled some 1400km, and now await the ferry crossing across Cook Strait to be met by the President of Save the Children NZ, and be whisked off in their boat to their holiday home, where I will spend my first night on South Island. Bluff, here we come!!
Donate to the children of Syria: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
Generosity knows no bounds!
Raising money for a charitable cause is a slow cumulative process, but very satisfying nevertheless. People donate spontaneously by putting a hand in purse or pocket and giving loose change (sometimes referred to as shrapnel).
Sometimes people go away to think about it, and a donation arrives by cheque or banknotes.
Others, happy to use a credit card, will go to an online giving site and frequently donate substantial amounts. For the Children in Syria Appeal we’ve seen donations of
£100 and £150 ……. but when I saw one recently for £1000, I was simply left stunned.
A huge thank you to Ian! Your kindness will have a massive impact on the welfare of refugee children.
In the meantime, what does this sign tell me? Massive hill, yes, but definitely not downhill!
The odyssey begins……
After 35 hours of travelling, 48 hours without sleep of any sort, I stepped off the final flight on the tiny airstrip of Kaitaia, the nearest to Cape Reinga, and the start of my end-to-end of New Zealand. Getting off a 19 seat de Haviland is like getting off a bus or train, and the terminal building is little more than a pre-fabricated shelter. An hour later, the bike was re-assembled, the airport manager helpfully discarded the empty box, and a fellow passenger chats and watches me complete the task.
The sign I will be carrying on the back of the bike, advertising the purpose of the ride, has already attracted attention, and the readiness of Kiwis to donate to the cause I find both endearing and uplifting. I read somewhere that New Zealanders are the world’s most generous donors to charitable causes. My first few hours in the country are testament to that.
My task was to get out to Cape Reinga, 124 km from the hostel I stayed in on my first night. Lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns, the inactivity of flying and the humidity of the northern NZ climate all prove to be inauspicious. No local bus company could take me and my bike out to the starting point, so it was up to me. After more than 100 km (about 65 miles), just 21 km short of my target, I called it a day, camped in Waitiki Landing, was driven out of my tent by a swarm of mosquitoes, continued sleeping on a couch in a TV room, then tackled the final kms the next day. And was I glad I didn’t tackle them the day before……steep hills and a stiff head wind coming off the Pacific, made the approach to the Cape very challenging. But at the end of this narrow peninsula was the lighthouse, a feature drawing coachloads of visitors and convoys of 4×4 safari
drivers to a spot that is venerated by the Maori as the departure point of the spirits of the dead, heading off for there final place of rest. Such is the veneration that you won’t find a shop, cafe or information kiosk, and people are asked not to eat or drink in the vicinity.
With this stage of the ride completed, albeit in reverse, I was very happy to accept a lift from three young German engineers, driving an elderly campervan which they had rented in Christchurch and were touring both islands. Jasmine, Robert and Lars were fascinated by my venture, and waved me off with a donation of NZ$20 to the cause. In all, I reckon I have collected over 50 GBP from passers-by who see my sign and are moved to put a hand in their pocket and make a spontaneous donation.
I am so glad the Kiwis are amongst the most generous people in the world!
Please support the Children in Syria
For more cycling-related topics, visit: Love Cycling
Support from our local newspaper: Huntspost
Please support the Children in Syria For more cycling-related topics, visit: Love Cycling
The plight of Syrian children
Riding a bicycle and surviving the perils of a brutal civil war are two very different experiences. The first I have chosen to do when I cycle the End-to-End of New Zealand in January and February of 2013. The second is an experience that can’t be avoided by thousands of people fleeing the disastrous situation in Syria. My experience will be the result of freedom of choice. The suffering of the Children in Syria is the result of an ideological conflict that they cannot control.
I feel privileged to be able to make my choices. I also feel privileged to
live in a society that has such powerful humanitarian movements like Save the Children, who facilitate care for so many millions of children around the world who do not enjoy the benefits of a peaceful environment, where their basic needs of health, love, education and nutrition are met.
After a little more than a week of fundraising for the Children in Syria, we have managed to raise £777, which represents 25% of the targeted £3000 we want to raise as a final total. I am greatly encouraged by this response. Many people are taking the cause of Syrian children to heart, and I want to thank them for their generosity.
If you would like to make a donation, you can do so securely via my Justgiving page.
New Zealand End-to-End in aid of the Children of Syria
Whenever I finish one biking expedition, I am frequently asked soon afterwards: “So, where’s the next one to?” Coyly, I try to avoid giving a direct reply until, that is, a solid foundation is laid for the next one.
Well that foundation is now laid, and set in stone. Plane tickets have been purchased which will take me (via Singapore) to Auckland in New Zealand in mid January. This is going to be my most challenging ride to date; not so much for the distance (which is 1500 miles), as for the nature of the terrain, the challenges that both wind and rain can throw at me, and the relatively long stretches of remote country that I will be traversing, especially on South Island.
The End-to-End of New Zealand does not enjoy the same iconic status of the Land’s End-John O’Groats route here in the UK, but it does betray an equally ‘gritty character’ and a ‘Jekyll & Hyde personality’: one minute all smiling and loving, the next minute glowering and threatening. New Zealand normally enjoys a temperate, benign climate similar to that of the UK, but unannounced Pacific weather fronts can appear (even in summer) that can dog your progress and drive you indoors, sometimes for days at a time.
My starting point will be Cape Reinga, the north-westernmost tip of North Island, and I will finish 1500 miles/2400 kms later at Bluff, the southernmost point of South Island. The journey will take me from the subtropical north in the middle of summer to the point nearest the Antarctic, before ( I hope) the weather turns autumnal.
The Children of Syria
The problems of Syria are never far from our television screens. Innocent people are being killed, injured and displaced every day, and thousands have fled across the borders to escape the carnage. My focus is to support the refugee children, whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict, and many have lost one or both parents in the Civil War.
Please support these children generously and, if you are a taxpayer, please gift aid your donation so that Save the Children can increase the value of your giving by 25%.
All the expenses of this 1500 mile expedition will be mine. Every penny of your donation will go to support the Children of Syria.
You can donate in two simple ways:
1. by clicking on my Just Giving webpage
2. or by texting from your mobile to 70070, quoting the following code: FJRB49, then stating the amount (eg. £20). This is a free service offered by Vodafone, so you won’t be charged for the text, and the amount donated will be debited to your phone bill. All very simple!
If you can support this very worthy cause, a huge ‘thank you’ on behalf of Save the Children.