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Two books to inspire the long-distance cyclist

Adventure cycle-touring handbookAdventure Cycle-Touring Handbook: Stephen Lord

This is a book to inspire, instruct, inform and entertain. For anyone who is inclining towards their first long-distance cycle journey, or for anyone who already has years of experience, this Handbook will take you on a trail of discovery.

There is nothing better than learning from others’ experiences, people who have blazed a trail before us, encountered all the highs and lows of journeys around the world, and are prepared to give you a ‘warts ‘n all’ perspective of what has happened to them.

This Handbook is an absolute must for anyone straining at the lead, spending hours pondering on where to go next, what kit to buy, what kit to leave behind, the logistics of getting to the start-point and coming away from the destination. Whether its the bureaucracy of visas, how to deal with traveller’s diarrhea, how to pitch a tent in a gale, what type of bike to take, how much luggage to carry…………….. Many of these questions have no definitive answer, but it’s inspiring to read of how others come to their decisions.

As you will see from my next post, a not-so-secret fetish I have in the long distance world is: how to carry as little as possible, yet be self-sufficient on the road. This Handbook has been a mine of useful tips in my futile bid to be the lightest of all long-distance cyclists: commonly known as ultralight tourists.

Cycling New Zealand: Lonely PlanetNew Zealand Lonely Planet Cycling Guide w

I have spent weeks poring over the details of this book, reading between the lines, analysing the route maps, counting the kilometres, weighing up the pros and cons of taking this direction instead of that direction.

Beyond the mere mechanics of getting from A to B (in this case, from Cape Reinga to Bluff), the volume gives just enough tantalising information about the history, environment and must-see places to visit en route, without having to carry around a bulky volume for the duration of the trip.  Nevertheless, it does still weigh just under 300 grs, which makes me inclined to leave it behind. Can I rely entirely on the e-books I have on my phone?

However, the structure of the book is much more suited for the more casual cycle-tourist who is happy to do a series circular routes to cherry-pick the best bits of NZ, and less suited for the end-to-ender like myself, who is very much on a specific mission. And I have been much amused by the occasional NZ inflection in the use of English: the word ‘then’ has been used repetitively to mean ‘than’, for instance. You can almost hear it being spoken……..

Having said that, a very good volume for laying out the plans of a trip to NZ and filling in most of the detail.