Hey gang! I just thought I’d bring you all up to speed on how my trip preparations have been going. As I sit here writing this post, I realize that in 14 short days, I’ll be heading to the airport for my four month trip-of-a-lifetime to Fiji and New Zealand. Although I’ve been saying all along that I’m not planning my trip in any detail, there is still a fair amount of preparation to undergo in order to make sure that all the loose ends are tied up. In this post I’ll try to give you folks a sense of what’s been happening on my end. I’ve also put up a folder of pictures on flickr to show you some of the stuff in detail. Head on over to the flickr folder to see them. On with the tale.
For just a sampling of what’s been happening, it’s been more than just planning for the unknowns. I’ve also been making sure that I had a few good times with my friends and Jody before leaving as well. As such, I’ve managed to head out to a great Halloween shooter party with some of my adventure racing friends. I’ve been to a wedding where a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while were. Also, there has been the obligatory disc golf days, as well as a couple different poker nights, one at Matt’s, and one out at Calabogie at Jim Doucette’s property.
The Calabogie Poker night was also a prime time to try out one of my new purchases. The Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent that I’ll be sleeping in for a lot of the next 4 months. Even though it was already early October, I decided it would be as good a time as any to try it out. The only downside to this was that it was destined to be below freezing at night. As a result, I had to take a heavier sleeping bag than I will for NZ, but it would be the same procedure for setting the tent up, and seeing how much room there would be. in spite of the cold weather, I’m happy to report that this little abode should work splendidly for me on a long trip. I was even able to fit the tent, sleeping bag, and a thermarest into one dry bag, so I know I’ll have a dry bed no matter the outdoor conditions.
The other major physical preparation work that I’ve had to undertake involved stripping down my bike to it’s bits and pieces in order to properly de-grease everything and check everything over to figure out whether I’d need new parts or not. This was a good idea regardless, especially at the end of the racing season. In the end, I changed and/or replaced quite a few things including the brake pads, rotors, gear cables, pedals, handlebar grips, seat, a new bell, safety mirror, and had the rear shock re-sealed. On top of those things, I’ve also installed a few things to make my trip more enjoyable, such as a handlebar bag, touring tires, and rear rack with trunk. I also put a ton of reflective tape all around the bike to make me more visible.
Also, to haul all of my stuff around, I bought a fancy-pants trailer. If you want to see it and read more about, head over to the Burley Nomad page. I had originally planned to buy a trailer once I landed in New Zealand, and had even lined one up in advance, but in the end, I ended up finding a great deal locally at The Cyclery. Someone had ordered this trailer in last year, and never picked it up, so it had just been sitting around taking up space at their store, so they were happy to sell it, and I was happy to take it off their hands. My only fear was whether or not I’d be able to pack it in with my bike.
The only way to find out was a test run. I had lined up a sweet bike box which I’m borrowing from Jim, which has quite a bit more room than my box, and is easier to pack up. Once I finally got that home, I tore down my bike and started packing up the various pieces into the bike box. I was thrilled to find out that I was able to fit the trailer in the box as well, once it was broken down into pieces. The only downside is the weight. I think the whole packed box weighs in the neighbourhood of 80-85 lbs. Hopefully Air Canada won’t be too hard on me. The trouble with flying and the new baggage regulations, I’m only entitled to one piece of luggage apart from my bike box, so I really had to stuff everything in. I also had to buy a new duffle bag as my checked bag, which will double as the ‘trunk’ for my trailer. Once it’s loaded up, it’ll weigh the full 50lbs that I’m allowed to check free of charge.
I won’t even bother getting into all the little things that I’ve been picking up here and there for the trip. Granted, I’ll be able to find pretty much anything I’d possibly need while on the road, but it’s just easier for me to land and be able to get right down into the touring. I’ve tried to keep the costs to a minimum, but quite frankly, this is really my once in a lifetime trip, so I hadn’t planned on cutting any corners.
Apart from all the ‘durable’ goods that I’ve been putting together, there were also the official details that had to be taken care of. Not the least of which was the Visa that I found out I would need in order to stay in NZ for a period of time exceeding 3 months. I thought I was good for 6 months, but that was incorrect! Luckily, I filled in my forms, and thankfully, living in Ottawa meant I could go in person to the NZ High Commission to submit the paperwork and pay for the VISA with cash, ensuring it could be processed fast. I’ve already gotten it back. Whew. I also had to book my Fiji vacation in advance, since I won’t be biking there, but just trying to chill out all over the islands. I ended up booking a trip with Awesome Adventures Fiji on the advice of a friend living in Queenstown at the moment. If you’d like, read all about the Lazy Threesome Package to see what I’ll be up to for my first week.
Well, I’ll sign off for now. My apologies if my posts have been a bit boring of late, I promise things will pick up once I’m on the road doing ‘interesting’ things, rather than hastily throwing together my little stories in the evenings when I’ve got a little downtime. I spend all day writing as well, so it’s not always appealing to write a blog post. Anywho, I’m looking forward to the next two weeks, and the good times ahead. There are still a few fun outings to go, including a little get-together at our place, and a season closing disc golf game with the boys. Till then, have a good time, and remember, if you want something, plan it out, and go for it!!