Catastrophic Failure

I’m not sure where to start this post today. I left Chirstchurch under a gray sky and a light drizzle coming down. I considered not leaving today and just posting that I had been delayed once again, perhaps that would have been a better route to have taken. I set out against better judgment thinking to myself W.W.S.D. and W.W.S.S. (What Would Shaun Do, he would tell me to man up and punch me telling me not to be a wuss,) (What Would Superman Say, he would say that not every day can be a sunny day so take what you can get) so taking these imagined words of wisdom to heart I decided to set out anyway. I made it as far as Hilltop which is right before Akaroa, probably about 10km from the town, I could actually see it from the cafe I stopped at. As soon as I left hilltop (aptly named since it rests at the top of a 475m hill) I got about 300m before my wheel spontaneously exploded (rear wheel of course.) I tried to save the fall and gently come to a stop, the only problem being I was already going 40km/hr so I managed to ditch the bike and take a sharp blow to my shoulder and chest which i’m sure tomorrow will sport a most manly black bruise. The wheel on the other hand is a parabola now, not round by any stretch of the imagination, sigh.

Now for the bright side of things. I crossed the road and stuck out a thumb to get back into Christchurch since the chances of me getting the bicycle fixed in Akaroa was nil. The first person that drove by stopped! That is incredible, Bryant and I had a nice chat while he took me back to Thornton Grange (where I’m wwoofing) and dropped me off there. They are sorta okay with having me back for a little while but they have another wwoofer coming in a few days. So I’ll probably get my stuff back to Christchurch and hang out in a hostel for a few days while i get things sorted out. I think of that as another silver lining, the fact that this happened so close to Christchurch. Anywhere else and I would have been up a creek with no way to get this properly fixed. I’m also glad that I have the panniers as I think they saved the bike from further damage (along with myself to some extent I believe.) I managed to walk away with just about no scratches which is also a bonus as the last time I took a spill like this it required 9 stitches to fix.

I took a few pictures of the tyre but my camera is acting up (I hope it wasn’t injured in the fall.) But i’ll try and post them tomorrow. It sucks to get so close to a goal and have to turn around, oh well… once I get this tyre sorted I’ll make another attempt.

Held Up

Things seem to happen in weird ways sometimes. Sunday I went for a ride with Carlos on a single track that he calls the Alligator run that’s around the quarry. It’s honestly the first time I’ve tried doing a single track and now I know why I’ve never done it with my bike and why if I want to do them in the future I should really get a mountain bike. The wheels, brakes, and center of gravity was wrong. It was a difficult run but i managed to get through it. What happened though was my chain started giving me issues during the run and I knew it was time to get that replaced. It turns out that my rear freewheel needed to be replaced as well so I got a new freewheel that has 4 more teeth than my last one which means going uphill will be something like 16% easier. At the same time they told me my bottom bracket needed to be replaced as well (I knew this from when I was leaving LA as the mechanic there told me the same thing) so I figured while I had it in the shop I might as well get that fixed. Only problem with all of these repairs is once again my bicycle is too old for the parts they have in stock so they have had to order parts which means I’m here until at least Friday while I wait for parts to get in. I must say I’m glad this came to a head while I was in a large city rather than anywhere else in the south island as it’ll get harder and and harder to get things fixed elsewhere.

I think I’ll be kinda sad to leave this place, it’s been a fun time here. I’ve learned to play Zug um Zug, a German board game. It’s easy to impress a 13 year old as my card shuffling skills always amaze along with my typing speed. The food has been good and lots of laughing every day. Suffice to say it was easy to postpone leaving here another week to get my bike fixed. But I have to remind myself that February is almost over which means winter is fast approaching. The weather has been wonky the last few weeks with the temperature dropping to 9 degrees Celsius one night (48 degrees for reference.) Mostly due to the winds whipping out of the south pole. In that vein I’m planning to leave Monday once again, hopefully successfully this time.

On a seperate note I was going through some old pictures of mine as I was tryng to burn them to DVD and found one of me before I started cycling and decided to make a comparison picture, startling to say the least.

Spitting Llamas

For the record, llamas do spit. I have firsthand knowledge on this after trying to herd them back into their block. It certainly caught me off guard so I stopped doing that and let them wander around in their new pen.

I neglected to add last post that I find myself living with a family that has four teenagers living under the same roof, although I only really see 3 of them as the eldest recently graduated high school and has taken to being out most of the time. I find dinners to be highly amusing as most of the conversations sound wildly familiar to me, I think I may have had at some point in my life. More and more I have my face buried in my hands silently laughing at the arguments and comments that circle the table, oh the innocence of youth. I certainly find myself looking forward to dinners especially for the youngest member of the family, Carlos 13, is the king of overreaction adds a spiciness to the dinner that no food can replace.

Most days I cycle into town and wander around because it is so close that there really is no excuse not to go. I finally found myself wandering through the botanical gardens the other day and was amazed at how huge the place is, the sheer cost of maintaining a place like that is staggering. But like I said Christchurch is the garden city and is aptly named. I’ve also been through the art museums, sorry to say to the Summercamp house I still need Janice or Fatty to explain modern art to me, and had amusing times in them as well.

I meant to post a few days ago on the 3 month anniversary of me being in New Zealand as that means I’m a quarter into my year of kiwi-ness, also a good reminder that I have to start cycling again. As I mentioned in the last post i’m heading out to Akaroa this coming Monday for the day to check out the one French outpost here in New Zealand and then I’m going to start heading for Lake Pukaki and Mt. Cook. It’s as close as I can come to crossing the south island without actually crossing it. I’ll get within stones throw distance to the Fox Glacier but that will have to wait until I go up highway 6. I’m aiming to stop in Dunedin or Invercargill for a few weeks to wwoof again and as I’ve finally gotten the book I can peruse the listing of hosts without the internet and found some interesting hosts, hopefully they have space available.

I did get to see the second half of the superbowl including the halftime performance. I think that was the most Americans I’ve seen since landing here in New Zealand. I sat in front of a kiwi who was getting coached through how the game works from a guy from New York. I need to find a kiwi to explain cricket to me like that as well, though I’m not sure there’s any hope to truly learning that game. It was a good game, definitely missed the portugese sausages and the backyard bbq though.

I added a few pictures from around town.

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Kiwifruit (Chinese Gooseberry)

Hanging with Llamas

I’m still in Christchurch for the time being, I’m loving this city. It has a great bicycle culture (bike lanes everywhere and tons of people riding.) It shouldn’t be a great surprise as everything is so flat around here so it’s an accessible way to get around. I’ve found a wwoofing job about 10k outside of town working on a garden, weeding. It’s a pretty easy gigand the people are nice. I get into town just about every day to wander around and check out the town. I think a major reason I like this place is it still maintains a soul even though it’s a metropolitan type of area. There are still a lot of original buildings and lots and lots of parks and open spaces. I guess thats why it’s given the nickname of the garden city. It’s nice to see a city embrace open spaces instead of grubbing for money.

As for when I start cycling again (probably in about a week or so) I’ll swing out to Akaroa (the one and only French town in New Zealand) as it’s supposed to be a tourist attraction, I’ll go mid-week to try lessen the amount of traffic I’ll have to fight. After that I’ve made an executive decision to make the cycling harder, so in that respect I’ve decided to give up the coast route and start crisscrossing the south island a few times as I’ve always said that one of the reasons I do this trip is to challenge myself physically and recently the cycling is just a matter of getting on the cycle and going. Also to make things more difficult I’ve decided to start wild camping or world camping. I’m tired of staying in ‘holiday parks’ here. These parks basically amount to KOA Kampgrounds in the states and I was none too impressed with that experience. Any campground that has internet is not camping, yet most of the campgrounds i’ve been while here have had that luxury. I’m not sure if i’m just no good at finding DOC (Department of Conservation) campgrounds or they just aren’t signed well but I think wild camping will allow me to use my stove once again (instead of the kitchen that seems to be in every campground.) And the third way that I plan to make it more difficult is to get off the main roads, the south island has a few more options when it comes to roads (at times) and more often I’ll try and get off the main roads. Hopefully this will become more challenging.

I spent a lot of time at the Buskers Festival and I think I saw about 95% of the acts here. Hands down best performer I thought was Fraser Hooper He has the best expressions and mostly works amazingly well with kids in the audience, his timing is impeccable and his routine is hilarious. I think I saw his act 3 times and it never gets old, mostly because you can never tell what the kids are going to do when they come up to stage. All around it was a terrific festival and I think it’s a great venue for the show to go down and great way to showcase the city. I added a few more pictures from the festival and I promise that’s all I’ll show from there.

Oh yeah, the other thing on the farm is llamas! Still haven’t figured out if they spit but i’m not one to piss of a llama, they have vicious looking feet.