Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Planning for the unknown, Cycling in New Zealand (pretrip)

At just two weeks (eep!) from my upcoming departure to New Zealand, I am, as is generally the case before a trip, ticking methodically thorough what needs to be done before wheels up.

Recovered from the coffee/tea/water/diet coke spitting incident at the hilarity of the above statement? Good. Then let's get on to the truth. The truth is, I have identified eight things that need to be done before I go on this trip. And they are the following:

1. Buy a round-trip ticket to New Zealand
2. Buy an internal flight, Auckland to Christchurch
3. Book a hostel in Christchurch
4. Inquire about bike
5. Reserve bike
6. Test out riding kit
7. Read about NZ
8. Plan cycling trip (approximation)

Of these, I have done precisely 3 and two halves. You might think from what you learned in the fourth grade that 3 and two halves is 4. In this case, you would be wrong. I may be a despelotada (scatterbrain) about some things, but I take my halves seriously. And sometimes they're not reducible fractions.

A quick inventory reveals the following.

1. Kinda. I have a ticket from Santiago to Auckland and returning to Buenos Aires. At the time that I booked this, it seemed like a great way to save money. Now that Argentina has instituted a reciprocity fee for me and my people (Americans, not Jews, though I understand there is some crossover), this may or may not actually have saved me money. Also, depending on how I'm feeling after the NZ trip and how I'm fixed for time, that will determine how I get back to Santiago, and how much cash I drop on that cross-continental journey (hint: not by bike!)

2. Yes! Gold star!

3. Nope.

4. Yep! Another Gold star!

5. Um, not yet. Soon. I think.

6. Yes. I'm fairly satisfied that what I have will work, though I want to put the panniers in the shower and make sure they're really as waterproof as they claim to be. I believe a shower should approximate the strongest rain I'm likely to encounter, though I might turn on the warm water a little more than Mother Nature likes to.

7. A little? Not enough.

8. This is not planned. I need to be realistic about how much I can pedal day in and day out, and understand the terrain a little better. There will be some really terrible hills. But really terrible is very subjective. I need to look at the grade of the hills and see how it compares to what I pedal around here. Living smack against the Andes, it's not like I'm a stranger to hills. But they're not what I'd call my strong point. Like eating cereal with milk. I'm really good at that (especially if they're Quaker's Quadritos).

So as you can see, there's some, um, planning that needs to be done. And by some I mean kind of all of it. Oh. that.

Re hills: From what I can see, the first few days out of Christchurch should be pretty flat. You'd think this would be a good thing. In fact, it is not. It is likely to remind me of Sauvie's Island outside of Portland, Oregon, a place that was designed with a level and then stuck in a wind tunnel on 10. It is the most torturously unpleasant ride I have ever ridden, and that includes dogs, rocks, rainstorms, hailstorms, wind gusts, people throwing things, cracks in the road and even crashes.

But my biggest enemy in pedalling is not the physical. The physical can be overcome. You can stop and take a break, take a nap, drink a box of cappucino-flavored milk (bleck, this in Costa Rica, a trip I planned in the airport with the free map from the tourism office). The physical problems go away. Nothing a shower and a rest can't cure. But the mental exhaustion of knowing that you have a long spool of black asphalt before you that must be traversed, while your self-confidence has taken a hike down one of New Zealand's famous tramping tracks? That's hell.

But overcoming all of it? The pain, and the fatigue and the niggling self doubts about whether you could or couldn't? That's like a good bowl of cereal with milk. With a free prize inside.

More details to follow. If you have any words of wisdom or resources or if you're a sports psychologist, please feel free to speak up.


Andrew Ford said...

Planning ahead of time is so overrated. Hope it goes well. Would love to get over there.


Just found your blog after looking for more Santiago stuff. I found it through the National G Link. Maybe I will see you around Santiago...


HereBeDragons said...

I'm a wee bit jealous, as I absolutely love NZ. But not a lot, as biking is not a strong point. So, you'll be biking into the Southern Alps? Beautiful!

Richard said...

Oooh! An adventure! Now it's my turn to sit in the bleachers with a large (metaphorical) cola and hotdog thing and wave the giant foam hand whatsit.

If it helps, HostelWorld (www.hostelworld.com) makes booking accommodation in all sorts of places pretty darned easy. And, despite the name, they list some pretty decent places sometimes. Otherwise, wishing you all the best - you are a tougher cyclist than I could ever imagine being. I can't wait for the stories!

Fly Girl said...

That sounds like a thrilling escapade Eileen! Take it from on everplanner and overthinker, don't get too lost in the details and just let yourself have fun!

Annje said...

You better get crackin' chica. You'll get it planned. I can't wait to hear about your trip. Just let us know somehow when your mental reserves are waning and we'll send mental reinforcements in the form of... I don't know, we'll plan that later.

Hey, don't let any Sauvie Islanders know that you made it possessive--that drives'em bonkers. I love that place, but I avoid the nude beach.

Margaret said...

You are by far stronger and braver than I. Can't wait to read and hear about it and while enjoying zillions of absolutely wonderful pictures!

Anonymous said...

You plan about like I do :) I'm very excited that you're doing this. I'm planning to live vicariously through you and I'm esp looking forward to the pics!

hal said...

Awesome. Are you you going blog the tour? Where?

Michelle said...

I totally "feel" you on the potential problems of flat terrain. 1990-something, the Netherland... I finally agreed to hop into the provided van after being passed by my 4th jogger. HEADWINDS! OY!

All Inclusive said...

Can't wait to hear about the journey! I have heard that Christchurch is not the greatest place to visit, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Good luck and have fun.

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