Dec 28th. Otorohanga, NZ

Well I survived the first day of cycling in New Zealand! I got up early on the 27th, and found that my previously dry sleeping bag, was now damp. Rats. One of these days, I am going to have to figure out how to do high humidity camping. The evening before, I arrived at the home of Anita and Chris Shannon in Hamilton, who are Warm Showers hosts. They let me camp in their yard, even though that had about a dozen extended family members staying there! What a nice family. They invited me to a large evening meal, and I got to taste a 20-year old bottle of wine.

After my experience with the sleeping bag, and knowing the kind of terrain that was ahead of me, I decided that it was time to knock some weight off of my bike. I peddled to a local sports store and purchased a new synthetic bag–it is thin, compact and weighs a full kg less than my other bag. I added a sweater, a bike jersey and some other odds and ends to a box and mailed it back to the states. I am likely going to ditch my tennis shoes and some spare bike parts and should see a 10-pound reduction in bike weight. I used the bag last night and was very comfortable–all in all a big improvement.

I got on the road out of Hamilton about noon on the 27th and was determined to ride 40 miles to the town of Otorohanga, where I am currently eating breakfast. This is the only road going south out of Hamilton and the traffic was quite severe. There was a reasonable shoulder, but it got narrow occasionally. I soon realized that I had made a mistake about what it would take to cycle on the left side of the road. I have been cycling with a rear-view mirror on my helmet for 30 years now. I use the mirror to monitor traffic and I am very good at it–I have never been hit, but I have had to ride off of the road on several occasions to avoid an approaching car. The eye is an incredible thing. Of course, we use it to see with our brains, but those signals are intercepted by other parts of the brain long before you see an image and say, “hey–that looks like a car.” I suppose that, in my case, there is some little bit somewhere that indicates “all clear” vs. “watch out.” I don’t have to think about this; it happens automatically. And when I get an “all clear” signal, it triggers a little timer that reminds me to check again a period of time later, depending on how far back the road is clear.

My point is this–over 30 years, I have developed this skill with my left eye. I assumed that all I would have to do is switch the mirror to the right side of my helmet and I could perform the same task with my right eye. Nope. Not even close. This is difficult–it gives me a headache and I have to stop and think whenever I see a car, which was pretty much all day yesterday. What’s worse is that I often interpret the image in my rearview mirror as a car coming towards me, rather than from behind. Let’s hope that my neural net gets rewired before I inadvertently swerve to my right to get out of the way of an “oncoming” vehicle!

The countryside is quite beautiful, and as soon as I can relax a little, I will snap some pictures. I did take this one of a garden in Hamilton. They do pride themselves on flowers here in New Zealand.

Garden in Hamilton


It is 62 miles to Taumaranui, which is where the next official campsite is. There are some big hills, so I may have to do primitive camping tonight. I will check in when I can..



3 Responses to “Dec 28th. Otorohanga, NZ

  • Scott
    We got about 10 inches of snow here in Riverton on C hristmas. Suppose to set a new record for snowfall. We think of you constantly. Stay safe please.

  • You’re doing it! One step (or pedal) away from reaching your goal! Keep being careful, like dad said, and know we love you so much.

  • Richard R Dixon
    7 years ago

    Staying left is better–politically–anyway. You’ll adjust.

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