IMG_3453IMG_3463IMG_0531IMG_3461Feb 13?

It’s a good sign when I’m not sure what date it is. Really don’t know what day for sure.

Paihia is a nice little beach town on the Bay of Islands here on the North Island of NZ. It faces the Pacific side and we are staying about a half block from the beach. Terry, Peter and Elizabeth as well as Lee and Scott and I went on a shakedown bike ride this morning to Russell , another vibrant little community on an island just about 9K’s away. After a short ferry boat ride we headed out on a roller coaster bike trip to Russell. The hills and capes require steep but short uphills and nice little downhill romps which is a great way to test the bikes and legs for our upcoming trip. The foliage is lush and tropical. We are on small winding roads and the trick for Scott and Lee is to remember to look right first! They are traveling on the left side for the first time. Roundabouts are a little nervy the first time but the most dangerous moments are in crossing the streets while walking because that is so automatic for us.

Our original planned route on Terry’s GPS was take a trail to Russell but the sign indicated no bicycles allowed so we just improvised on the roadway and ended up in the little town. A steep winding road put us on a great lookout over the broader ocean for photos then a fast down and we were at the quiet little beach on the opposite coast (Pacific) from Russell. The bikes were temporarily put to rest and into the ocean went this group for a swim. It was a hot day and the refreshing water made everyone pretty happy. Great views in every direction, beautiful scenery, nice cool water and good friends. What’s not to like.

Terry is a 55 year old retired prosecutor from Wollongong, a coastal city just south of Sydney. He’s a strong cyclist, a great guy and a natural leader. Also just a lot of fun. I met him on the South America trip in 2014 and his invitation is the reason that I am here. Peter is a good friend of Terry’s. They spent several months together on a bicycle trip through Eastern Europe a few years ago. He is a manager in the prison system and also lives in Wollongong. He also has a great sense of humor – I know he’ll be easy and fun to hang with on this trip. Elizabeth was also on the South America trip though only for part of it. She works and lives in Sydney and is a good cyclist. She and Terry became good friends during that time. Of course, Scott and Lee are such good friends of mine, I’m so glad they were able to come on this trip. It’s great. Most of the people on this trip know each other from a bike trip from Cairo to Capetown a few years ago. Tour D’Afrique put that ride together and the people here just refer to them as TDA.

Early on our ride Scott noticed that my rear derailer cable was hanging on the inside of the wheel instead of the outside where it belonged. I stopped to take a look and saw the that was causing the cable to rub against the sprocket and was damaging the cable. I had to pull the tire off, take the derailer off and move the cable outside to prevent further damage. Thank God Scott was paying attention or I would have had to deal with a bad cable and been looking for a bike shop before we even started our real ride. We also saw our first Kiwi but unfortunately a car had met the bird first.

After a lunch in Russell, we caught the ferry on that side to head on home to Paihia. A barbecue has been planned for this evening for everyone to get to know each other better and talk about logistics for the trip. Lindsay Gault, who was also on the Cairo to Capetown ride, is the volunteer organizer of this adventure. He has just arrived and it will be fun to meet the man with all the emails. It’s a big undertaking even though we are all experienced and being as helpful as possible. This is a ride where we more or less are just throwing money into the pot. It’s a ride with friends.

It was very near here (2K’s away) where the 1840 Treaty between England and the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maoris, was signed. The treaty gave England sovereignty over New Zealand and give the Maori protection as subjects of the Crown.

Time for me to take a catnap before the big barbecue this evening.

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