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Posts tagged ‘biking’

Cause for concern: deterioration in BP Connects’ sandwich range

Having established the house was not flame-grilled spicy Cajun flavour, we struck out for South Island last Wednesday morning.

The convalescent car was loaded down with the essentials: one dog, a box of unspecified kitchen utensils, the waterblaster, two flatscreen computer monitors, three laptops, a coolbox full of pickles, the bright blue clamshell paddling pool (because you never know when your feet will get unbearably hot on a roadtrip) and the trailer stacked with Husband’s two KTM dirtbikes.

We had a non-refundable booking on the 18:25 Interislander ferry, so left The Outlaws’ house in Mount Wellington at 07:30. By our calculations, as long as we averaged 75kph – a conservative bordering on insulting estimate for Husband’s style of driving – this was PLENTY OF TIME to drive 660km and allow for snack stops, beverages, lunch, some leisurely sight-seeing, walking the dog and (of course) paddling.

The only downside was what to do with ourselves when we arrived far too early for the latest check-in of 17:30.

Another paddle, perhaps.

See? That’s the beauty of transportable paddling pools.

Now, unfortunately, what our calculations did not account for was kilometres of road works along the SH1. Another unforeseen variable: the diversion through Palmerston North during rush hour. Also Andrew’s shopping spree at Repco, and the pit-stop for a dash of spot welding on the trailer.

So, the trailer. When we first moved to Waitakere, we acquired this accoutrement to denote our status as Westies (the others were: wearing thermals under t-shirts, making fashion statements with fleece, and wiping our noses on our sleeves). We bought it on Trademe – where else? – and considered it a grand investment until we discovered the frame was riddled with rust.

At least this gave Husband an opportunity to weld with purpose as opposed to practising his MIG welder on random pieces of scrap metal lying around the place, but even after A LOT of practice, the trailer was still somewhat short of a heavy-duty industrial-standard towing apparatus.

Andrew originally intended to transport the two KTM dirt bikes AND his Honda road bike on the trailer. When he tested this arrangement, apart from the trailer being too small to physically accommodate three snorting motorbikes, the weight of the Honda alone – over 220kg, or about as heavy as a baby hippo with an unchecked appetite for water lilies– made the trailer bed sit on the axle stops.

Andrew asked MarkJ if he could leave the Honda at his place.

Just south of Auckland, Andrew decided it was the ideal time to start worrying about the trailer’s unsteady gait. Since he was already aware of this, I can only presume he was bored. The previous night, I had followed in the MR2 as Husband towed the trailer behind the Surf; I submitted a full report on the trailer’s vigorous lean to the left and tendency to weave around the road independent of the car. On occasion, it actually looked like the trailer was attempting to overtake the towing vehicle. And Husband can’t have failed to have noted the ‘BANG!’ whenever the trailer negotiated an obstacle e.g. a leaf, crisp packet, piece of gravel etc.

In other words, I’m not sure why the trailer demanded his attention more than – say – the shocking state of Repco’s customer service, or the ever diminishing range of BP Connect’s sandwiches, or cyclists victimised by lorries, or whether New Zealand is really as environmentally friendly as advertised.

Anyway, during a practical expression of fretting, Husband discovered a crack in the trailer’s suspension arm. It appeared to be getting steadily worse. We stopped to have it welded, but the gap reopened within 50km.

By now well behind schedule, we had no option but to carry on. For the rest of the trip, it seemed entirely likely that the trailer would disintegrate, most probably at 100kph.

By the time we hit Taupo, it was obvious there would be no paddling in the Interislander terminal carpark.

When we were diverted to Palmerston North, we knew we were officially Extremely Late.

“We’re not going to make it,” said Andrew cheerfully.

 “Look, we’ll be there around 17:55-”

“They won’t let us on,” asserted Andrew confidently.

“Oh, come on! It’s a full half hour before the ferry sails! D’you think I should phone Interislander-”

“For what? Tell them to hold the ferry for us? PaHA!”

“NO, YOU BERK! TO TELL THEM WE’RE ON OUR WAY AND NOT GIVE OUR SLOT TO SOMEONE ELSE!” I said, even more shrilly than the sentiment comes across in print.

“Nah, waste of time.”

Husband flogged the car into Wellington. By driving slightly above the legal limit, we arrived at the Interislander terminal at 17:52. The man at the check-in booth didn’t even reprimand us; no pithy comments as to our presence relative to check-in time. He didn’t even laconically suggest that we were ‘cutting it a bit fine’.

When I got to the ferry lounge, I just burst into tears. There was wailing (muted).

We finally arrived at the house – late – although for the last few kilometres I think we dragged the trailer rather than towed it.

Photos and rare footage from Woodhill


Husband surfs a thermal




Husband dodges charging pinecone. Don’t be fooled by the fingers on the brakes – there is no evidence (photographic or otherwise) of him EVER pressing them into service for anything other than hanging his helmet from


See, Husband does occasionally smile. Think he mistook the camera for a trick flower


Here, Husband is smiling because The Bro had just headbutted the ground. Not sure why The Bro is looking so pleased with himself – probably relieved he didn’t dent his head


The Bro negotiates a twiglet

As usual, there are no photos of me – BUT! As a special treat, there is VIDEO FOOTAGE.

Deadlyjelly confuses diving for cycling. Note how Husband’s camera never wavers, maintaining his artistic integrity throughout

Deadlyjelly demonstrates how to pull knickers out of arse without anyone noticing

And one of The Bro in a rare, almost (but not quite) uncool moment, getting taken out by a seesaw


On Saturday, Husband and I went to Dunedin to catch up with friends. The weather forecast threatened thunder and lightning. In other words: ideal biking weather, according to Husband’s criteria.

Just beyond Palmerston, the first drop of rain smashed into my visor. Although our jackets are ‘weather-proof’ (whatever that means, it doesn’t appear to include protection against heat), our kevlar jeans are only gravel-proof. We stopped to pull on over-trousers.

Ten kilometres on, I was experiencing sound effects similar to being kicked by a herd of rhino in a kettle drum. The hailstones were the size of pingpong balls – although rather more substantial. Husband pulled into a bus-stop, but got bored after about ten seconds.

“Come on, I think it’s easing up,” he said.

“Easing up? I can’t see the <expletive deleted> ROAD.”

So much for the scenic route; although in fairness, although it seemed like longer, we probably only had about twenty minutes of inclemence.

Our bike gear was quite effective. The main problem I had was with my motocross gloves, which were instantly soaked. By the time we reached Dunedin, my hands were frozen into claws.

I suggested this problem could be addressed by the purchase of rubber household gloves to wear on top. It is tremendous fun torturing Husband with this terrible threat; it is impossible to describe how aghast he looks when I tell him I plan to get pink ones.

In the end, MarkJ donated his leather gauntlets with total funk, so Husband will be spared that horrible fate. For now.

Upon our return on Sunday, we found out that we had ridden through a tornado which was  so terrifying, it frightened Mr and Mrs McLeod’s cat

Aggressive roots

Last Friday morning, we were woken by shafts of sunlight playing with our toes. Inspired by a discussion with MarkJ during dinner the previous night, I suggested we take the mountain bikes out to Woodhill.

We dressed in a high state of excitement (NB: similar effect can also be achieved by the removal of clothes), fixed coffee and packed the bikes in the car. By the time we opened the garage door, it was driving rain.

“Maybe the sun is shining in Woodhill,” I suggested optimistically.

By the time we got to Swanson, the rain had increased in gusto and tempo, with the introduction of a swirling fog effect. Contrary to my parents’ example, I do not give up in the face of adversity. However, I do give up in the face of Husband refusing to drive any further and/or the prospect of wet feet. So we bought coffee and went home.

The following day, we relaunched the expedition. Woodhill is a 40 minute drive west along the #16, then left onto Restall Road. In addition to over 100km of bike trails, there is an obstacle course, motorbike track, horse trails, and orienteering.

We didn’t want to advertise our novice status – the aggressive wobble I employ to propel my bike is sufficient – so we started with a 12km intermediate track. The paths are fully maintained, sand-based woodland trails, with jumps along the way. I dodged these, since I had my work cut out avoiding advancing tree roots.

[Image robbed from someone without their permission]

Each jump is allocated a level of difficulty. Husband tried a few according to a selection process I couldn’t decipher. He acts like it’s all just so ho-hum, but he always waits until I am in the vicinity before embarking on his arial stunts. What cracks me up is that the only time he ever checks to see whether I’m looking is after he flobbles or falls off.

For jumps – or even descending a sharp step – apparently the trick is to dismiss instinct and/or common sense and perform a wheelie just prior to hitting the descent. In theory, this raises the front wheel until the back wheel launches; then both wheels return to the ground simultaneously. Otherwise, if the riser is too sharp, there is a risk that when your front wheel drops the rider flies over the handlebars.

I’m still studying this theory.

Just before the carpark I hit a patch of soft sand negotiating a corner. The front wheel dug in and I involuntarily abandoned my bike and slid into the carpark on my chin. Now I have a fat, lopsided chin; a hole in my lip where I stabbed it with a tooth; and an impressive array of bruises and grazes down my right leg.

But I can’t WAIT to do it all again

Name that song: dum dum dum dooby doo-ah

This morning we biked down Mountain Road, up Opanuku Road, then cycled along Ferndown Track. When I say ‘cycled’, technically it was more like a hike carrying bikes and on one occasion Husband headbutted a tree, which was fun but admittedly more for me than him. At the end of the track we freewheeled down Grassmere Road.

Then we had to cycle back to the house.

Mountain Road is about 5km long with a 400 foot climb from bottom to top. We were told this by some bloke we met in the Waitakere Estate and we took him at his word because he was wearing a cardigan and had his hair parted down the centre.

Husband and I have different methods of approaching long uphill distances. Husband goes at it in short bursts with fluctuating degrees of enthusiasm. He generally considers handlebars to be decorative in function and prefers cycling over obstacles rather than around them. His boredom threshold is so low as to be undetectable, so he likes to race me, making up the rules according to which of us is winning (he’s better at the downhill sprints, while I have the edge the other way). He spends a lot of time twiddling around with his gears – or mine, when they are within reach – and supports regular refreshment stops.

My approach is more methodical. Once my legs are following my own internal rhythm, I’m unstoppable.

Today, I was doing so well, my internal rhythm became external.

“Let’s have a little music!
On the road again, ah cain’t wait to be oan the road again
La la la la la la music with mah friends
Ah cain’t wait to be oan the road again-

Hey! What else can we sing?”


“‘Lak a rhanstone cowboy
Ba bom!
La la mutter mutter mutter star spangled rodeo
And mufflers coming over the phone-

Hey, why aren’t you joining in?”

“I have to breathe.”

“Well, so do I-”

“Evidently less than I do!”

“Hmm, you might be right. Hey! Any requests?”

“Can you please, PLEASE shut up?”

“Ah now, come on. How about something by The Travelling Wilburys?”

“Can’t think of any of their songs.”

“Tom Petty?”

“Nothing’s coming to me.”

“Hey, I know! Roy Orbison!
Only the lonely-’”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

“NO, it’s: Dum dum dum dooby doo-ah.”

Tow hitch featuring 2” receiver

In the olden days – ie prior to last week – whenever Husband went biking he had to drive out to Arabian Ranches to pick up Mark’s trailer, bring it home, load his bike on it, drive to the desert, unload the bike, pose, conduct aerial stunts, hump the bike back onto the trailer, drive home and unload the bike, drop the trailer back to Mark and drive home again.


In fairness, just typing that exhausted me, never mind actually doing it. Roughly every three months, Andrew would say: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! How about I buy a bike trailer?”


It was always heart-rending watching the light in his little eyes slowly die as the voice of reason (me, in case you were in doubt) listed the reasons not to: (1) there’s nowhere to keep it; (2) no, it won’t fit in the cupboard under the stairs even if you throw out your vintage collection of Phillips screwdrivers and half of your boxes of Stuff; (3) no you can’t bloody store it in the bloody living room; (4) we’re leaving the country in 12 months/ 9 months/ 6 months anyway; (5) it’s summer so you won’t use it enough to justify the expense; (6) it’s winter so . . . well, I can’t think of any reason relating to winter, but please revert to reason #1 and repeat loop.


About four months ago, Andrew discovered a device that could attach onto the back of the Yukon – similar to a side-mounted bike rack but for a motorbike. The only trouble was that it required a rear tow hitch for support and the Yukon didn’t have one.


After a couple of weeks wherein Andrew diverted phenomenal amounts of energy towards muttering about what sort of a four wheel drive doesn’t have a rear tow hitch, and what sort of person would buy the sort of four wheel drive that doesn’t have a rear tow hitch, and that’s not to MENTION the fact that it only has two doors, Andrew asked me to call GMC and ask how much a tow hitch with 2” receiver would cost. You might wonder why I was required to call GMC – in fact, I wondered as much myself – but at that stage I would have placed a reverse charge call to Osama Bin Laden if it would only stop the griping for the love of god.


GMC said they didn’t have a tow hitch in stock; they could order one, but it would take a couple of months to arrive, cost US$ 450. Andrew converted the griping to thankfully largely silent inner reflection and eventually – I’m not sure why – he decided not to purchase the tow hitch. Perhaps he felt he would miss the conversational outlet afforded by the great trailer debate.


Fast forward four months, when Andrew spotted an advert on the Spinneys notice board for a second-hand motorbike carrier.


“Let’s go and look at it,” he suggested.


I thought he was going to gaze wistfully at it, prod and shake it, maybe smell it for a while, but US$ 260 later Andrew emerged with the motorbike carrier.


Of course he couldn’t use it, because we still had no tow hitch. Andrew suffered a delayed reaction, and then one day shortly afterwards, he called me from work:


“Niamhie! Niamhie! I need a tow hitch.”


“Jesus, not this again.”


“Yes but, I need a tow hitch.”


“What the hell am I supposed to do about it-”


“Glad you asked. Call GMC and tell them you want a tow hitch-”


“I CALLED them ages ago, remember? It’ll cost US$ 450 and if it’s not in stock, it’ll take them up to two months to get one-”


“Oh no, that’s no good.”


“Well, when do you want it?”




I rolled my eyes so vigorously, I’m sure he heard it down the phone.


“And hang on- why am I calling GMC? YOU bloody call GMC!”


“No, you have their number.”


“Here! I’ll give it to you!”


“You have a relationship with Moorthy-”


“I bring my car in, he services it! I’m not sleeping with the man-”


“Aw Niamhie!” Yes, can you believe it? He took out the wheedle. “Aw! Aw! Aw Niamhie! Come on, you KNOW you’re so good at this sort of thing-”


“Phoning? It’s not that difficult, you know. Almost foolproof, even.”


Of course, I ended up calling Moorthy, who put me onto John in the workshop. There were no tow hitches in stock. I thought of Andrew’s disappointment, the light dying in his bleak little eyes, the incessant brain-melting bitchin’ 24/7.


“Listen, is the item stocked in any of your other workshops?”


“I’m afraid not, Madam.”


“Ok. What about a second-hand tow hitch? You have any of those lying around?”


“No Madam, but I can check.”


Andrew didn’t take the news well: “Did you shout at him?”


But then John called back and – wonder of wonders – he had found a second-hand tow hitch (probably boosted from some truck out back). He said it would be in the workshop for collection by 11:00am. It was US$ 270, but because we had such a good relationship (no, I’m not sleeping with him, either) he would give me a 35% discount, which would make it US$ 170.


Andrew collected and installed the tow hitch the same day. I am glad to report that meaning has returned to his life – and peace to mine

Raff’s new Harley

Hear those revs, see that face


Carol works up an impressive amount of enthusiasm considering her headgear

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