welcome to my world of bicycle touring, touring bikes, and touring and camping gear...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why do I tour solo?

Complete Freedom

This can be a scary yet empowering – having complete freedom. Traveling alone means I can choose or change my itinerary, go to whatever restaurant I want, stay wherever I please, see whichever sights I wish and stay there as long as I want. When I travel solo I don't have to make any compromises. The world is my oyster, quite literally.

Challenging Myself

A lot of soul searching can take place when my only companion is my bike and baggage. When I travel by myself I cannot afford to doubt my decisions. I challenge myself to try new adventures, eat different foods and stay in unusual places. These challenges make me a stronger person.

Getting to Know the Locals

One of the most amazing experiences while traveling is getting to know the people. I am far more likely to start up a conversation at the local pub with a stranger if I have no one else to talk to.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Murphy's Law...

Touring EnZed last year I had plenty of time to think about mundane things while riding across the Southlands broad acres. I decided that there needed to be yet another extension to Murphy's Law.
Despite riding on almost deserted roads for much of the journey, I observed:
  1. If a vehicle approached from behind, then almost inevitably another would approach from ahead and they would cross exactly at my location, and
  2. If a vehicle approached from behind, then almost inevitably another (and sometimes more) would follow immediately behind it.
 I couldn't come up with a name - Murphy's law of traffic improbabilities perhaps...

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I've been thinking about a tour of Patagonia for some years now, but planning a time and a route that fits in with work and family commitments has seemed problematic. But I have finally come up with a route which is slightly less ambitious than originally conceived, and I think this one just might be workable. And possibly I could temp my wife to meet me there with the prospect of trekking the Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. The Patagonian touring and trekking season is quite short. The time frame will be February - March to avoid the busy Xmas holiday period and to be finished before the colder autumn weather sets in.

So here's the plan:

Fly in to Santiago and on to Puerto Montt, then take the ferry to Chaiten (A).

 The route is broken in several places by ferry crossings, so Google is unable to map the entire route in a single map.

The first road section travels the Carretera Austral (Ruta 7) from Chaiten south to Caleta Yungay. From here it's a short ferry trip to Rio Bravo.

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From Rio Bravo a short section of Ruta 7 continues to Villa O'Higgins.

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At Villa O'Higgins the fun begins, with a ferry ride to the Chilean border post, then a short but difficult  overland section on a rough hiking track to the Argentinian border post. Yet another ferry ride across Lago del Desierto reaches the road to El Chalten. Then Ruta 23 and Ruta 40 continues to Puerto Natales (where my journey will end) and beyond, eventually reaching the Fin del Mundo. The total distance will be around 1500 kilometres, much of it on the unsealed roads known as ripio in South America.

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Hopefully there will be time for me to visit some of the fabulous attractions along the way, such as the Perito Moreno glacier, Monte Fitzroy, and the Torres del Paine. If my wife chooses to trek in the region, I'll plan to meet her somewhere, perhaps in Puerto Natales for the trip home. A Navimag cruise up the coast back to Puerto Montt would be a pleasant way to end the trip.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gear: A first look at the Helinox Chair One

I have never been a fan of camping chairs - they have always seemed an unnecessary extravagance and an added burden. But recently the Helinox Chair One caught my eye. It is made by DAC, the same company that makes the high quality tent poles supporting my tent, and it has been given glowing reviews by many purchasers. At just a tad under 900 grams it is still a hefty impost on my touring load, but eventually I decided to get one to try out, without committing just yet to carrying it on tour.

Demand for the Chair One has been high, and my order immediately went on hold pending the arrival of more stock, however the shipment promptly arrived at the promised date. So far so good.

The Chair One comes packed in a convenient tote bag with a webbing ladder for attachment to a bike rack or pack, and the assembly instructions are printed on the inside of the bag. Not that they are really needed - it is just a matter of letting the shock-corded tubing segments slip into place then fitting the seat fabric - first to the back poles and then with aid of a little compression, fitting to the front poles. That is all - and it takes no more than a minute.

Then the big moment - the sit on test. This flimsy thing looks likely to collapse under the weight of a big bloke, but no, it can handle up to 145 kilograms. The seat is wide and very comfortable, making it easy to lounge back and relax. But you can also sit forward to tend to camp chores such as the cooking. The hardest thing is getting out of it - for one because it is so comfortable, and also because it is quite low.

All in all my first impressions are very favorable, and I am mentally checking off items that can be jettisoned from my touring kit to compensate for it.

Assembled: 52 cm wide X 50 cm deep X 65 cm high
Packed: 35 cm long X 10 cm wide X 12 cm high
Weight: 836 grams (897 gm with tote bag - webbing ladder for attaching to pack/bike/kayak etc)
Capacity: 145 kg.

Friday, February 15, 2013

North of the South: Another New Zealand tour route...

OK, here's the likely route I'll take next time I visit EnZed.

Starting in Christchurch and crossing to the west coast via Arthurs pass, then north along the coast before heading back inland through the Buller Gorge up to Golden Bay (D). Next across to the Marlborough district to start the unsealed sections, the Molesworth and Rainbow roads (F-H and H-I). Then back to Christchurch via Maruia (J) and the Lewis Pass. Total distance: 1570km.