Archive for the ‘cycling overseas’ Category

April 6, 2014 00

Nga Haerenga is Maori for the journeys and those kiwis seem to have journeys via a bicycle all stitched up. Now I know Australia also has lots of great places to ride (and yes we have an equally great rugby team)  but I really don’t think we can compete with what’s going on across the ditch with […]

Nga Haerenga is Maori for the journeys and those kiwis seem to have journeys via a bicycle all stitched up. Now I know Australia also has lots of great places to ride (and yes we have an equally great rugby team)  but I really don’t think we can compete with what’s going on across the ditch with cycling trails? (feel free to argue with me).

Five years ago, our kiwi neighbours had this idea about a cycling trail network across New Zealand. The NZ Government chipped in $50 million and made this idea possible and next thing you know the project was underway.

Now you may think that sounds expensive. But considering the recent news story  about converting a lane of the Pacific Highway through North Sydney into a bike lane would cost $15 million, I think that $50 million for a whole country seems quite reasonable?

I guess NZ was lucky too as once they worked out where the cycle paths were going to go, the local communities saw the value and came up with another $30 million of co-funding.

And they also had quite a lot of pre-existing off road networks to work with – so they weren’t starting from scratch and trying to convert a lane of a very busy main road.

In total our Kiwi friends created 23 rides – both new and existing trails – through some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and spectacular regions. And one of these regions is Hawke’s Bay – east coast of the North Island. This is New Zealand’s oldest wine growing region.

The cycling trails there are predominantly flat (easy to intermediate). Perfect for beginner riders and also the opportunity to visit all the lovely wineries. The images below are from some of Hawke’s Bay trails, looks like nice cycling.

HAwkes Bay 3

Hawkes Bay

There are cafes, wineries and toilets along this particular winery trail with mobile phone coverage in case you want to stop and call a friend to gloat about the amazing holiday you are having.

Aside from all the wines to try while you are there (this region is known for cabernet merlot, syrah, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc) the other thing Hawkes Bay is well known for is the town of Napier.

It’s known as the art deco capital of the world. After a devastating earthquake hit the town in 1931 and pretty much flattened it, they began rebuilding at the height of art deco popularity.

Today, everywhere you look, there is beautiful art deco architecture from the shops, the town hall, banks, office buildings.  Even their McDonalds is an art deco building! You can view some of the other lovely art deco buildings in Napier here.

Even McDonalds in Napier is art deco.

Even McDonalds in Napier is art deco.

So don’t wait – start planning your cycling holiday to NZ today! And I have the perfect option for you…

My friends from Tour de Vines are hosting a cycling holiday visiting some of Hawkes Bay’s best wineries – and giving friends of BikeGal.com a very special offer for their upcoming easter trip.

By mentioning BikeGal.com when you book on the easter trip, Tour de Vines and BikeGal.com will together make a $100 donation to the Amy Gillett Foundation for each booking!

It’s a five day/four night trip fully guided, all inclusive tour with 4/5 star accommodation, gourmet meals and winery visits. Click here to request a detailed itinerary. The daily cycling on this trip ranges from 20 to 50 km each day but is mostly flat with lots of stops.

There are only a few spots left and it will sell out. And as it’s over Easter, you can go without even having to take time off work! So why sit around at home this Easter, when you can escape to NZ winery country for a holiday on two wheels?

*This blog was sponsored by Tour de Vines. They provide food & wine based cycling tours all across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. BikeGal is actually a kiwi (yes born there!) and loves Hawkes Bay. Sponsored blogs are aligned with our disclosure policy.

Photos thanks to Hawke’s Bay Trails.

Cycling + wine

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March 25, 2014 00

Two of my most favourite things in the world are probably cycling and drinking wine. However, it’s not often that you get to combine the two (I don’t tend to have a quick glass of red before jumping on my road bike on a Saturday morning). Nor do you often get to combine these with a long weekend holiday.

If you are like me and you love wine, the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand is the place to go.

I have actually spent lots of time in this area as I have family who live there – so hand on heart, I can tell you it’s beautiful. Hawkes Bay is on the east coast of the north island and has spectacular scenery and perfect weather.

But the other great reason for sipping wine in New Zealand’s wine country is that you can easily do it with a bicycle as this is a country with an entire network of cycling trails that are mostly off road.

Cycling in NZ's Hawkes Bay trails

Cycling on NZ’s Hawkes Bay trails

Those kiwis are a smart bunch  – they have really got it together. Back in 2009, the NZ Government decided to build a national, world class network of cycle trails and invested $50 million to do this. And the trails cover all parts of New Zealand.

Now if you’ve been to NZ or watched Lord of the Rings you may want to tell me that it’s a country of big big mountains. This is true, but the Hawkes Bay region is not that and cycling in this region is flat, easy, off road and safe.

Cycling trails in Hawkes Bay – flat, easy and off road

If you haven’t heard of Hawkes Bay it is famous for quite a few different wine varieties including cabernet merlot, syrah, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc (yes they seem to cover all bases).

This easter, my friends from Tour de Vines are hosting a cycling holiday there visiting some of Hawkes Bay’s best wineries – and giving friends of BikeGal.com a very special offer.

By mentioning BikeGal.com when you book, Tour de Vines and BikeGal.com will together make a $100 donation to the Amy Gillett Foundation for each booking!

It’s a five day/four night trip fully guided, all inclusive tour with 4/5 star accommodation, gourmet meals and winery visits. Click here to request a detailed itinerary to find out more. There are only a few spots left on this trip.

The best part is that all you have to do is rock up. You don’t even need to bring a bike with you – they will provide a 24 gear lightweight Scott hybrid bike.

Daily cycling ranges from 20 to 50 km each day but is mostly flat with lots of stops.

They are visiting some of the region’s most famous wineries such as Church Road Wines and Craggy Range Winery to name only a few – which are great for wine but also serve stunning food – which you can enjoy because you’ve burnt off all those calories just cycling there.

hawkes-bay-wine-and-food_fs2

Cycle off those calories and then enjoy the food and wine!

It’s not all non stop cycling. They have factored in some non cycling transport too, so when you go for a nice dinner, you don’t need to worry about cycling back to your hotel.

As this tour is running over the easter break (Thursday 17 to Monday 21 April), you can actually do it without even missing a day of work.

Alternatively if you have some spare holidays up your sleeve, you could finish this tour and head down to Wellington visiting the equally lovely Martinborough wine region on the way.

Flights from Sydney to Napier in Hawkes Bay (where Tour de Vines will pick you up) go via Auckland or Wellington.

Why sit around at home eating easter eggs, when you could be cycling around kiwi wine country sipping syrah?

And don’t forget to mention BikeGal.com when you book, to guarantee a $100 donation from Tour de Vines and BikeGal.com to the Amy Gillett Foundation.

Don’t delay, there are only a few spots left and it will sell out soon.

*This blog was sponsored by Tour de Vines. They provide food & wine based cycling tours all across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. BikeGal is actually a kiwi (yes born there!) and has spent A LOT of time in Hawkes Bay which she loves.

Sponsored blogs are aligned with our disclosure policy.

July 1, 2013 00

Okay now it’s time to be truthful. When the Tour de France started on Saturday night, was there any small part of you that thought “I could do that, can’t be that hard,” and while you drank a beer or a glass of wine and slobbed out on the couch in cold, wet Sydney you […]

Okay now it’s time to be truthful. When the Tour de France started on Saturday night, was there any small part of you that thought “I could do that, can’t be that hard,” and while you drank a beer or a glass of wine and slobbed out on the couch in cold, wet Sydney you started dreaming of the possibilities.

Cadel Evans doing what he does best – smashing it!

Take a look at what these cyclists really do each year while on the Tour. It really is amazing, and more amazing when you compare it to us everyday cyclists.

This data comes from Tour Team HTC-High Road.

Your speed on average on the  flat 27 to 28 km/hour.

Tour de France riders average speed on the flat 40 to 45 km/hour.

(Note I can’t do one lap of Centennial Park’s 4 km loop at this speed!).

Your speed on average on hilly terrain 14 to 16 km/hour.

Tour de France riders average on hilly terrain is 33 to 40 km/hour! On huge mountains! Wow. I don’t even ride that fast on the flat!

You can read some more statistics here and compare yourself to a Tour de France rider including hours of sleep, hours of training each week and even the hours of training they do on a rest day (yes a rest day).

I need to get back to that glass of wine and the couch now, so I can keep on dreaming 🙂

Hope you are enjoying watching the Tour de France 2013.

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

May 9, 2013 2

Another guest blogger! Today’s blog comes from my friend and Aunt Chris who lives in NZ. She only took up cycling a few years ago and she just completed 600 kms in seven days in the tour of NZ which was held in late April. She was also the fastest female in the 60+ age […]

Another guest blogger! Today’s blog comes from my friend and Aunt Chris who lives in NZ. She only took up cycling a few years ago and she just completed 600 kms in seven days in the tour of NZ which was held in late April. She was also the fastest female in the 60+ age category (as well as the only woman of her age mad enough o take on the challenge!). She is living proof that it’s never too late to start cycling.

If you would like to share your cycling adventures overseas or even your everyday travels – email me! info@bikegal.com with a photo of you and your bike. Tell us why you ride, where you like to ride.

Now… over to our guest blogger Chris…

When I bought my road bike 4 years ago the manual sternly warned of all sorts of ways you could injure or kill yourself if you didn’t follow the instructions (no doubt to protect against law suits).   It didn’t tell you about an even greater danger; cycle addiction.

My name is Chris, and yes, I have become one of those addicts.  Starting with pleasant 20km rides in 2009 I progressed inexorably on to harder stuff (think, the 160km Lake Taupo Challenge) (Editor’s note – a gruelling kiwi ride).   I cycled over mountain passes in China, and cruised around the temples of Myanmar.

Last week I went mainline, cycling the length of the North Island of New Zealand  – 600 plus kilometres in 7 days – as part of the Tour of NZ challenge.   Ho hum, you may say, if you are a fellow addict.   But I should add that I am 63 years old and I think that makes it quite an achievement.

Tour of NZ – our route – from top to bottom

It was a great adventure.   If I didn’t already realise how hilly New Zealand was, I certainly know it now.  We rode some very beautiful country roads although my interest in the scenery did falter from time to time.    The wind was mostly from behind which was a great help since the event proved very much a race rather than a tour.  We had mixed weather: torrential rain in Northland, very cool temperatures on the central plateau, and strong headwinds on the final day.

Nikki and I tackling one of the mega hills with gusto!

I was thrilled to finish the fastest female veteran in the 60 plus category.   The achievement is perhaps a little less magnificent than it might seem… I was also the only woman in that age group.  Nikki, who came over from Sydney to ride with me, won the 50-59 category.

Some stretching after day one

Some of the beautiful scenery along the way through Waipoua Forest

And it wasn’t all sunshine!

There were only about 50 of us on the ride so it was easy to get to know everyone, and they were a very friendly, helpful bunch.  Nikki and I had a lot of fun with Francine, a French Canadian woman who is travelling alone around New Zealand on her bike.

Left to Right, me, Nikki and Francine all rugged up in what Nikki called our “slow clothes”. Our attire always differentiated us from the gun riders who seemed to go out in all weathers wearing just their light cycle tops.

I am not writing this to brag, but to show that it is never too late to become a cyclist and enjoy the benefits that come with it; fitness; camaraderie and a chance to see the world differently.  You can enjoy all this, whether you choose to ride for fun or decide to take it more seriously.  It might seem hard work at first but stick with it and you will find it very rewarding.

If you do enjoy wind, rain and lots of hills then perhaps you would come over for the next Tour of NZ in 2015 (www.tourofnewzealand.co.nz).

Given the nature of addiction, I do worry about where mine will end….. has anyone cycled up Everest yet?

April 7, 2013 01

I decided once my cycling was up to scratch, my fitness had improved and I could deal with Sydney traffic, it was time to broaden my horizons. So I embarked on a cycling holiday through Vietnam but mostly in Cambodia. For anyone who has travelled in developing countries you will know what I mean – […]

BikeGal (AKA Rachael) cycling around Angkor Wat in Cambodia

I decided once my cycling was up to scratch, my fitness had improved and I could deal with Sydney traffic, it was time to broaden my horizons. So I embarked on a cycling holiday through Vietnam but mostly in Cambodia.

For anyone who has travelled in developing countries you will know what I mean – cycling in Cambodia made cycling in Sydney seemed like a breeze.

Cycling through the small towns was always interesting. It’s like word had spread before we got there that some crazy group of foreigners were passing through on bikes and everyone had come out to take a look.

I suppose for most people in the world, cycling is really just a mode of transport to move from point A to point B. Many local people looked at us as if we were mad, slightly confused or just a bit strange.  One woman asked me, “why would you?” She couldn’t understand why you would voluntarily want to do this.

Most days involved several hours of cycling but it was broken up with breaks, so nothing too difficult. Also most of the riding was pretty flat.

We had a mix of ages in the group from 20 through to mid 60s and everyone at different levels of fitness and cycling ability.

Road conditions were generally good – no gutters but sometimes it felt like we were riding on trails rather than a road!

Often along the road little kids would run out to greet you and expect you to slap their hand as you rode pass. They would giggle with absolute delight at this.

But by far, the highlight of the trip, was cycling around Angkor Wat (pictured above) – the UNESCO World Heritage listed temples.  While other tourists piled onto their buses, we lazily ambled along on our bikes and even managed to visit some temples that you could only get to on foot or on a bike.  It was the perfect way to visit the sites.

Coming home I realised how peaceful and orderly Sydney traffic is – unlike the craziness of Cambodia where you didn’t know who was going where or what was happening, yet everyone just seems to get along.

I would highly recommend a cycling trip for a holiday – it was a great mix of fitness, fun and site seeing.

Next week we return to cycling in Sydney topics…

Where in the world have you cycled?

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

March 21, 2013 00

Another guest blogger!! Today’s blog comes from my gorgeous friend Sarah who is living in Kathmandu, Nepal at the moment. As she is riding a bike there I asked her to send me a blog about her experience. She is quite the writer! I love that she can still look glamourous while riding a bike […]

Another guest blogger!! Today’s blog comes from my gorgeous friend Sarah who is living in Kathmandu, Nepal at the moment. As she is riding a bike there I asked her to send me a blog about her experience. She is quite the writer!

I love that she can still look glamourous while riding a bike in Nepal.

If you would like to share your cycling adventures overseas or even your everyday travels – email me! info@bikegal.com with a photo of you and your bike. Tell us why you ride, where you like to ride.

Now… over to our guest blogger Sarah and her ode to Scott

I gaze lovingly at your tall, strong frame. To say that you have changed my life, opened new doors and blazed new paths is insulting in its understatement.

You protect me in this place of chaos by lifting me above the dust and debris. In a city where there are no road rules or traffic lights and lanes are merely a suggestion, you navigate me safely among the zooming and zig-zagging cars, motorbikes and pedestrians. In places where the city’s road widening project has turned the streets into something resembling a bomb site, you lead me lovingly over the piles of rubble and mud.

I used to be terrified of this place, but now, thanks to you, I feel right at home.

Sarah cycles the Ring Road, 27 km of paved road circling Kathmandu.

Last week, you whisked me away for a magical weekend in the hills surrounding Kathmandu, passing through rural villages where the children delightedly greeted us with “namastes” and doe-eyed cows and baby goats stared lazily at us. Bemused villagers raised their hands in greeting, wondering who this strange foreign couple were. We got down and dirty in the mud and splashed around in the bubbling brook, laughing at our sheer inhibition and wild abandon.

This month, we will travel to postcard perfect Pokhara where we will have an exhilarating time navigating the mountains surrounding gorgeous Lake Begnus together.

Scott, my dear American, my feelings for you are unconditional. If you ever get sick, I promise to take you to a place in Lazimpat where they will fix you up, as good as new.

Where Sarah takes Scott for bike repairs in Kathmandu, Nepal.

I love the way you feel under me. We fit together just so. You know exactly how to handle me and you know when to put the brakes on.

I will stick by you, through the monsoon and winter seasons. We have an amazing year ahead, Scott. I can’t wait to share my life with you here in Kathmandu.