Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12/30/2008 - Some Bad Bike News

Well, I leapt out of bed at 6:30AM, a bit nervous. Today I figure out how my years of USAA membership pay off. I pull out the skype, ring up USAA. . . and find out that my renter's insurance will NOT cover damage to my bike if it isn't fire, flood, or vandalism. It would also cover it if it was stolen. Or struck by lightning.

While brief thoughts of leaving the bike unlocked at the top of a hill during a lightning storm in front of a bunch of hoods with spray paint run distantly through my head, I ask my claims rep if she had any other thoughts. Other than the warranty, none.

So the fun begins. I make calls to Specialized and find that the bike frame is under warranty, and in the USA should be covered. A call to the bike shop gives me the exact opposite reaction, as their distributor states they will NOT cover the frame in this case. The US guy tells me that they can't do anything about this, it is in a very gray area, and they do not have any control over their foreign distributors.

In the end, the bike shop tries a different tact with the distributor - it was the derailleur that caused the problem, its warranty should hopefully cover at least some of the damage. Slight hangup: given the new year, I wouldn't get an answer or my repaired bike likely until next Monday or Tuesday.


Wait. . .

This is OK.

Remember how I felt that this trip just "flowed"? I realized that there were a number of things that I wanted to see south of Auckland that I would not be biking past. Taupo, black water rafting, and skydiving are a few of them. This gives me seven bike-free days to go check these out.

Jackpot. I start calling around and manage to set up a totally cheapo car rental. Just to put this place in perspective, its price was about half that of Budget Rent-A-Car for a week's worth of unlimited distance driving. Just have to decide if I want full insurance for NZ$10 more per day. The only negative? Other than the car may not necessarily be from the current decade? I start driving from downtown Auckland and into the motorway (the biggest road in New Zealand). Not such a big deal except for that pesky left-side-of-the-road thingy. Plus, all of my reactions are based on the right-side-of-the-road driving - where to look for danger, which shoulder to look over, etc.

I get the full insurance coverage.

Will jump on the bus tomorrow morning, hop off in downtown Auckland, and drive from there back to the hotel to pick up my stuff. Done and done.

In an attempt to make this day as absolutely boring as I possibly can, I also spend several hours re-filling out my work visa and work permit application.


Really just says it all. At this point, I think I was halfway through denoting the exact start and end dates of every job I have ever had. It was excitement to the awesometh power.

The only thing that got me through this was then setting up blackwater rafting. For those of you not in the know, blackwater rafting is a combination of rappelling, caving, jumping into dark water, and redneck river rafting. You rappel down into a cave, then float it on an inner tube past millions of glow worms in the ceiling, eventually jumping down waterfalls, and squeezing through tight tunnels. I have been told to do this without question. 11AM on Thursday. Sweet.

After all that excitement, I end up napping, then run off some calories - about 4 miles this time, legs still quite sore from 2 days ago. Sometime during my nap, the weather had changed from rainy to sunny.

IMGP0996.JPGI thought it would be cool to wave to everyone, but then realized it just looks like I am applying deodorant.

I went south this time. Ended up near a small university with big views. I am going to suggest that as the official slogan of this university. I can see it now:

"Akoranga University. The small university with big views. . . On life!"

I am a marketing GENIUS. Maybe they would be willing to pay for my bike as an appropriate compensation.

IMGP0999.JPGDowntown Auckland in the background. I hadn't noticed it until now, but the trees sticking up sort of mirror the clouds above them. No wait - I mean, I planned that.

IMGP0998.JPGAnother one, because I can.

Headed back eventually. Hadn't eaten much all day, so decided to investigate a little spot next door to the hotel, just with a big sign saying "Hell".

Apparently, a New Zealander's vision of of the less requested part of the afterlife involves delicious cheese over tomato sauce and bread.

IMGP1001.JPGThe part of the sign covered by my 'fro gives the phone number, with involves the number of the beast. Satan himself took my order, and appeared unto me as a short 18-year old Frodo wannabe. Who was very friendly.

Needless to say, I did read my credit card statement very carefully before signing.

Pizza wasn't bad, but my guess is they save the REALLY good stuff as prizes in a fiddle contest or something.

It is now late, so off I go towards bed.

By the way, big shoutout to little Alex Cox, who has started walking as of yesterday and already dances better than his father.

12/29/2008 - Not Much of a City Boy

It was nice to sleep in until around 8:00AM today. Unfortunately, my alarm this morning was the achiness of a large number of muscles that apparently are MUCH more affected by running than biking. Duly noted.

The only plans I have today are to keep checking in with the bike shop to see if a frame is going to be found. Can't contact the insurance company until tomorrow (that pesky time warp that puts me a day ahead of America can make things difficult sometimes).

I receive an early morning call from Sam at the bike store. Sure enough, they have found a frame for me. Even better, it is going to come in tomorrow, and they should have it all ready for me in 2 days (Wednesday)! Excellent.

I have decided to celebrate by testing out the MAXX bus system and head into downtown Auckland for some culture.

IMGP0986.JPGNew Zealand bus station. The polar opposite of usual bus systems - clean, efficient, and, if you push this button, a disembodied voice tells you exactly when the next bus is coming in. VERY loudly.

I am also in search of a different wireless internet place, as for some reason I can't update this blog from the hotel.

The Northern Express (no, my busdriver did NOT sound like Tom Hanks) took me directly to Queen Street, the main downtown thoroughfare.

I have a pet theory that almost all cities look alike when you get down to it, from Cairo to Manhattan, at least in many areas. It is crowded, but not unnervingly so. It seems like most people walking down here put off the tourist vibe, and I count about 10 languages as I walk. Lots of stores and small malls.

IMGP0990.JPGDowntown Auckland, looking down Queen Street. This picture actually seems to SUPPORT my theory about all cities looking about the same.

I wander the stores looking for some pannier components (which I do not find). However, I do pick up toothpaste and bug repellant, and find internet access.

IMGP0987.JPGThe Starbucks. I passed three of them over my wandering today, the next one just two blocks away from this one in unerring Starbucks form.

Found a movie theater, as well, but choices were some kiddy Adam Sandler movie or a cryfest about a button or something. No thanks.

I did score a gem in a New Zealand biking book that gives the elevations of hills over major roads. This is what cyclists REALLY want to know.

IMGP0991.JPGSuper creepy Santa. His finger moves to complete something that looks like a NAMBLA "come hither" gesture.

IMGP0992.JPGThe bus ride back. Rainy, but I am sitting down, so all is well.

Made it back to the hotel around 5PM. I may have run 7 miles yesterday, but I think I walked about 10 today. My dogs are barkin'.

Do some Skyping, then relax for the evening after a quick dinner. This is nice. Soon enough, I'll be biking for hours per day, but for now, I get to live the unemployed dream. Think I will check out New Zealand TV tonight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Note

Just another quick note - I have been unable to update the blog until today, so there are 6 day's worth of info below, starting on 12/23/2008 (the day of the big setback). Enjoy, and thanks for all the comments - they keep me going!

12/26/2008 - The Best Day So Far

Up bright and early today, after all we have to get some boating in. By 10:30AM, the trailer is attached and the car is fired up. Day is clear and warm. Given that all of us have the complexion of whitewash, copious sunscreen is applied.

IMGP0940.JPGJust launched the boat, a Zodiac with a 90-horse outboard. Baby goes like stink.

The slight crispness of the air is offset by solar energy, so even at full speed it was quite comfortable. Water is glassy and flat all the way around to Richard's place, one of Sara and Nick's friends who came over yesterday.

IMGP0943.JPGComing up the driveway at Richard's.

Kerikeri is located on the Bay of Islands, which is as idyllic as it sounds. Richard just happens to own a lot of land within a safe harbor, and a house that overlooks the bay.

IMGP0944.JPGThis place was actually featured in a major New Zealand home magazine. Shocking, I'm sure.

IMGP0945.JPGMy first mince pie. It is a dessert, and it is damn good. Jon wanted to help me record the moment.

Lloyd and Laura made it over as well, and we all walked down to the beach grotto. This is made up of a beach house that contains the kitchen alongside a big, round, outdoor table. Lunch was served, which was fantastic. This is the first meal that has been without alcohol in some form for 2 days.

IMGP0947.JPGThis area was also featured in the magazine. There is a wood-fired pizza oven at picture right. In case you need pizza while camping down here.

After a long, luxurious lunch, we say our farewells and head out for a mini-tour of the area (A "tiki" as Nick calls it. Nick, if I got that wrong, let me know.) The wind has picked up a bit, and suddenly the powerful outboard has those of us in the front of the boat doing some serious bouncing.

We end up out at a collection of rocky islands well out in the bay. Time for more swimming (yes, mom, we waited an hour after eating). Plan is to collect mussels for dinner.

IMGP0948.JPGBirds nest in the rocks. Nick has been attacked in the past by gulls. Luckily, I have the 'fro to protect me.

Once again, it takes a few minutes to get used to the water, but before long we are snorkeling after nice, big, green-lipped mussels. Jon manages to find the mother lode.

IMGP0949.JPGThat's me, living the subsistence lifestyle. It's just so TOUGH!

IMGP0960.JPGThis is Sara and Sally, who hijacked my camera.

Eventually, we got musseled out and headed back.

IMGP0953.JPGSuch a day.

By that time, it was approaching dinner. The mussels were steamed in a special wine sauce after being cleaned of the random sea creatures living on the shells and the extremely tough "beards" that they use to hold onto rocks..

IMGP0962.JPGMmmmm. Musselicious.

I got to feel very helpful as I was making my famous mashed potatoes, for which I give my mom full credit. As I was making them, Sara's comment was, "Anything with that much sour cream HAS to be good." She is so right.

Corn and tri-tip beef rounds out the meal.

IMGP0966.JPGPutting down mussels as an appetizer.

IMGP0967.JPGYou just feel like singing the Star Spangled Banner when you see a meal like this.

I packed down food like no other, and helped with dishes. Yes, mom, I was a model guest.

We all retired to the back porch to drink wine and toast marshmallows. This was my last night with the Hampsons, as I had set up a bus to Auckland to bring my ailing bike to the Specialized dealer there. The bus leaves at 9:10AM tomorrow morning. I am getting reflective as we put down more wine. I am really going to miss the Hampsons and the Armitages. So far, I have really been at this trip alone other than the brief periods when people would be at the same campground or helped take me into town. Over the last 3 days, I've been with my friends continuously, and it has been wonderful. Sara and Nick have been so kind to me. It just doesn't feel like I have only known them, really, for eight days total. It feels more like years. I am really going to miss Sara, Nick, Sally, and Jon.

IMGP0968.JPGAs a counterpoint to the above mushy paragraph, here is Jon putting down marshmallow in a less-than-heterosexual manner.

I am also cultured in the ways of port. I've never had it, which again floors the British crowd. The port makes it around the table (the tradition is that the port does not touch the table until everyone has been served). It is drunk with Stilton, a form of blue cheese.

Whoa. Port is very good. I am informed that this port is probably one of the top three ports in the world. I go for another round.

The Stilton is, shall we say, pungent. Luckily, it tastes much better than it smells.

After finishing out the port and Stilton, it is time for a hunt for Kiwis using Jon's new Mag-Lite. Nick saw one for the first time on his land just the day before. The port and wine makes us less than stealthy, and no kiwis are found despite an extensive search of the yard.

It has been a wonderful day, and I would say the best day so far in my trip. I go to bed very happy. But maybe that was the port.


Quick note about Sally - She LOVES Christmas. When she and Jon headed from the guest shack (which was not at ALL referred to as the "love shack"), she was faced with a sign on the door:

IMGP0915.JPGIf you have trouble with backwards reading, Christmas was canceled. Sally was very upset.

IMGP0916.JPGI will be starring in "Heidi's Christmas Special". Merry Christmas.

Once Sally had recovered, it was coffee all around, then a round of early morning spirits.

IMGP0917.JPGNew Zealand Christmas cheer. With champagne at 8:30AM. In the sun. It is about 70 degrees. From the left is Jon, Sara, Sally, myself, and Nick.

I was quite surprised to find that Santa had come with not one, but TWO gifts!

IMGP0918.JPGGuess getting Santa liquored up instead of cookies gets results.

IMGP0919.JPGSome serious giftage. Yes, that IS a blow-up kiwi bird behind Nick. Jon's phallic gift is actually a Mag-Lite, expensive only because is must have been sold by the pound. It is amazing.

Other than finally having a day free of leg soreness, Santa also brought me a VERY visible safety vest for biking AND a christmas tree crystal growing kit. Sweet!

IMGP0920.JPGMag-Lite vs deadly blow-up kiwi. You will notice that, two pictures above, champagne was enjoyed all 'round.

At this point, more friends starting coming over. A dizzying array of people, all British ex-pats, made a very jovial round of the house for several hours.

I notice that I am saying the word "Brilliant!" much more often than I would in the States.

At this point, the presentation of the homemade bench is made to Lloyd and Laura.

IMGP0921.JPGRarely have I seen unbridled joy of this magnitude. I think that Laura was speechless for a bit mostly to give her some time to come up with the most polite way to ask why we had built them a hitching post. That weighs approximately 400 lbs. I think it came out brilliantly.

Lloyd also received a Jesus action figure with "gliding action". Sara came up with some big-time ring bling, and Nick ended up with a brand spanking new PS3. The look on his face when he figured it out was indistinguishable from that of a six-year old who received a PS3. Pure joy.

Breakfast was served, a fancy affair including eggs and toast, chutney and more champagne. And wine. And beer, later on.

A VERY merry Christmas.

IMGP0922.JPGJust after Christmas breakfast. Left to right: Jon, Richard, Nick, Sara, and Laura. Not pictured: Copious amounts of British slang.

IMGP0923.JPGEither this kid is built like a giant capital "L" or my shoes are just so cool he had to try them on.

Things finally started to wind down and visitors left slowly. A trough of energy led to a call for a swim. The five of us packed into the car and headed for the beach, a five minute drive away.

IMGP0926.JPGI just really hope that all these boats have sewage holding tanks. . .

The water was a little crisp at first, but within 5 minutes, felt as warm as bathwater. Cold bathwater, yes, but very tolerable.

IMGP0928.JPGSara was forced to sing "I've Had the Time of My Life" just before leaping into Nick's arms during this impromptu Swazolympics. This was the best attempt of the group.

Needless to say, the performance of Nick and I was slightly less graceful.

Back to the house for a serious round of drinks. And party poppers. And "crackers".


Lloyd, Jon, Sara, Sally, Nick, and Laura's arm. The big things on the table are the crackers. I have never seen these before in my life, and everyone was shocked at this.

IMGP0933.JPGSo you pull these, there is a small explosion, and they come apart to reveal a tiny prize (I got a small rubber fish charm!), a piece of paper with jokes, and a paper crown that you have to wear.

IMGP0935.JPGQueen Sally and King Nick oversee the peasants.

Dinner was delicious, including individual banty chickens for everyone as well as a pheasant. I think I should re-label this post "Christmas Renaissance Day" given the British accents, cooked pheasant, and crowns. The empty wine bottles are really stacking up at this point.

As night came on, the sky filled with stars. There is not a lot of light pollution here, so it is easy to pick out constellations. Down here, Orion's Belt is about all I can identify, but I'm pretty sure Orion's Pants are connected somehow. Buddum-ching.

The best place to view stars, scientifically-speaking, is from a hot tub, so it is there that we retire.

IMGP0938.JPGSally, Jon, Nick, Sara, and me. We may or may not have shorted out the hot tub by overflowing water. Just to be clear, we all had requisite bathing suits on.

This led to extreme relaxation. And off to bed after this. The plan for tomorrow is for some boating action.

12/24/2008 - Christmas Eve in the Southern Hemisphere

A short one today. No bicycling, just relaxing.

The morning showed a much more upbeat day.

IMGP0910.JPGThe view from Nick and Sara's house. Lloyd (a good friend of Nick and Sara) suggested they build a very large picture frame between these two trees.

Sara had to work today, so it was a boy's morning. Nick and Sara's circle of friends decided that they would make homemade gifts for each other. In a stunning display of testosterone, Nick's idea for his gift to build was to use the logs that had been sitting on their land to build a sweet bench. The selected tool for carving this masterpiece was a chainsaw. Tim the Tool Man would approve.

Despite some questionable technique, Nick finished the job with an even number of feet, toes, and hands. We held the logs together with wound rope. Solid.

Celebrated the job with beer and relaxation. Life is grand.

By the time Sara made it home, it was getting close to dinnertime. A well-deserved trip was taken to the local yacht club, which had a collection of the Kerikeri upper crust and the BEST thai curry I have ever experienced.

And more beer.

IMGP0914.JPGIn any other country, a Guinness t-shirt and jeans would not be appropriate yachting attire. New Zealand, though, comes through for me again.

IMGP0911.JPGA little hard to see everyone here at dinner. This is due to the very light outdoor conditions. For my friends in the midst of an Alaskan winter, this is called the "sun" and provides solar radiation from the sky much like a very bright northern lights.

Back home for a very serious evening of relaxation and wine. Santa is coming tonight and NORAD has already started following him. I introduce the company to this phenomenon.

I also learn that, in Britain, you leave alcohol out for Santa instead of making him bring his own. I like Britain.

12/23/2008 - Derailleuraster

Today seemed to reinforce the strengthening sense that this trip just "flows". A tire blows out, and without missing a beat someone offers a ride back into town, and the only store in town that does motorcycles just happens to have tires that will fit. I make a stupid map mistake by heading into a town that does not have another road out, and someone just offers to take me out of their way to put me back onto mine. I am looking for internet somewhere, and someone goes out of their way to make sure that I have a connection.

None of these are mystical in any way, just that things seem to end up all right. I would like to re-iterate that this is due to the New Zealand hospitality that I remembered even as a kid.

The weather this morning tried to warn me that something was going to happen, but I ignored it. I had decided to try to make the 68 mile trip from Kaitaia to Sara and Nick's house in Kerikeri all in one day. In preparation for this, I was up at 7AM and on the road by 9AM after a full breakfast and the carb (And shrimp!) loading of the day before. Bid my hosts farewell, and off I went.

Started off well, with a brisk crosswind. A day of rest was paying off as I was making about 14mph without problems. After a few km, however, I turned toward Kerikeri on Hwy 10, directly into the whistling headwind. Immediately, speed dropped to about 10mph. "Fantastic," I thought, "I've just added about two hours to the trip today." The clouds, too, were menacing and dark, spitting a bit of rain.

Then it got interesting.

About 10km out, I was pedaling hard up a hill, when suddenly my rear wheel locked up completely. Showing some well-oiled, slothlike reflexes, I just managed to pop my feet off the pedals and avoided dropping the bike while it ground to a halt.

A questioning glance at the back of the bike was. . . enlightening.

IMGP0908.JPGThis is called the "derailleur." It makes the chain go to the correct rear gear. It comes in one piece. I have neatly separated this one into two equally useless pieces.

IMGP0909.JPGThis is a carbon fiber part of a bike frame. Carbon fiber is light and strong. But not quite strong enough to withstand having half of a derailleur (caught in the spokes) get slammed into it. This one is cracked.

Long story short, the derailleur was broken. Not like a "just-need-to-re-adjust" it kind of broken, but in an "oh-crap-this-bike-won't-pedal-without-a-new-one" kind of broken.

Now, as I came to a stop, I had seen something on the horizon ahead - a bright yellow jersey. There was someone jogging toward me. By the time she finally made it to my poor sick bike and I, I had started walking it back the 10km to Kaitaia (where there was a store that at least sold kid's bikes). The jogger stopped. "What seems to be the problem?" she asked. I explained the situation as we started walking together. The conversation moved to politics and healthcare and a bit about family. Lilac was a middle-aged woman who looked younger than I think she was. She runs frequently. She helped me brainstorm some ways to get the bike fixed. After about a kilometer of walking, we reached her driveway.

"Well, come on in. Let's see if we can find what you need in Kaitaia. I can take you in town."

Before long, she had grabbed the phone and we've called the bike shop. I leave my equipment at the house, and fit the bike in the back of her SUV. Off we go back to Kaitaia.

The bike shop did not have what I needed. No derailleur. At that point, I had not noticed the cracked frame.

We drove back to Lilac's house, and she offered to have me stay the night while I got this figured out. Wow.

We pulled back into the house where her son (Tony), grandson (W---), and granddaughter (Trinity) had come in. Tony had been fishing the surf quite successfully, and was preparing fish for smoking.

IMGP0902.JPGAmazing family.

As I had talked to Sara and Nick (my British friends in Kerikeri) about making it in that day or the day after, I figured I had better let them know what was going on. They had also mentioned coming to pick me up if it looked like I couldn't make it by Christmas. This would be a really long drive, but the bus would be an option. . . Lilac kindly offered her phone for the long distance phone call.

With barely a pause, Sara offered to come by. It would be around 2:00, which left me with about 3 hours.

Once again, things just seemed to flow properly, despite the agonizing breakage.

Lilac and her family were wonderful hosts. The house is a well-loved older ranch house. The family runs a 90-acre farm/ranch, mostly for cattle. Feeling a bit guilty about all the she had done for me, I told Lilac to put me to work. She needed to dig out a pipe, she said. Off we went out toward the back of the 90-acre plot.

It is beautiful despite the overcast skies. Bright green covers the steep hills which we climb without much trouble (Lilac, excellent runner that she is, was not even breathing hard). We held an animated conversation as she pointed out different places on the farm where they had planted trees, or how they moved the animals. We dug out the long plastic watering pipe from some seriously nasty mud and drug it out onto the side of the hill, then back to the house.

Like an idiot, I forgot to bring my camera on this little trip.

Back at the house, I spent time talking to Tony and Lilac and showed the family pictures of Alaska, which they had never been to.

I was also introduced to a new taste sensation, "chutney". It's a weird blend of fruits which are pickled a bit and put on bread. It sounds disgusting, but actually is excellent. They were very surprised that I didn't even know what chutney was.

Then it was outside to collect fruit, which Lilac wanted to send me off with.

IMGP0900.JPGLilac using a can on the end of a stick to pick fantastic ripe plums. I was expecting 4 or 5 for the journey. . .

IMGP0901.JPG. . . but ended with a bagful, along with one of my favorite fruits, passionfruit.

Soon enough, Sara made it up the driveway. My equipment was loaded up and off we went after very heartfelt thanks to Lilac and her family. I was sent off with smoked fish rowe wrapped in paper for the journey. Excellent on a sandwich.

The last time I had seen Sara and Nick was four years ago. Sara is a GP (general practitioner, like a family doc in the US) who had been doing locum tenens work throughout New Zealand when I was there doing a rural rotation (my mini-bummatical). Nick, Sara, and I all had hit it off immediately, and I ended up spending about four days with them in Picton.

033 2004 New Zealand Trip 3Nick, Sara, and I at the 2004 Midwinter Swim in Picton. At this point, I think I was still trying to convince them to actually do the swim.

IMG_1852I was successful. It was cold. I am not sure why they wanted to get back together after inflicting this on them.

Since those four days, I had not seen Nick or Sara. They ended up settling up in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. We had e-mailed very infrequently, but had promised to get back together should we end up back in the same country again. It was a fantastic few days and I left New Zealand in 2004 knowing that I had made some very good friends.

My recent e-mails to Sara and Nick were met with the usual humor, enthusiasm, and warm offer to come stay for Christmas - "The more, the merrier!"

I have to admit, though, that when Sara's SUV pulled up, I was a little nervous. In reality, I knew Sara and Nick for four days. I think that Miss Manners would say something like, "If you know someone for four days, and then an equal number of years pass without actually speaking to them, it's probably not alright to just stay with them again for days at a time."

However, that doubt was all washed away as Sara hopped out and gave me a hug. After 15 minutes, it was like I had never left.

Along with Sara in the car was Sally, and old friend of Sara and Nick's. She and her husband Jon were just finishing a year here in New Zealand where Jon was doing some of his surgical training. They were also spending Christmas with Nick and Sara, then were off to return to jolly old England.

The car ride was almost an hour and a half. About halfway through, it started DUMPING rain. Secretly, at that point I was glad my derailleur had given up the ghost - it would have been a miserable ride.

We arrived at the Hampson household (a very cosy green house with a guest shed, well outside the city limits) and I spent the evening catching up with the Hampsons and their friends Jon and Sally. It continued to absolutely dump rain for the rest of the day.

IMGP0904.JPGA day made for broken bicycles. Taken from the Hampson front porch. If you hadn't known that they were British, the Mini Cooper gave it away.

IMGP0906.JPGGreat to be able to drink summer ale in the appropriate season again.

Several bottles of good wine and champagne, good dinner, and good conversation later, I was able to snuggle down into the guest room and fell asleep to sounds of rain beating on the roof. Rather than my helmet.

IMGP0907.JPGThe bubbly. Sara on the left, Jon on the right, and the collection of disembodied hands belong to Sally, myself, and Nick, respectively.

All thoughts of bike problems dwindled. It will all work out. Everything has so far. Even if this has to turn into a walking tour of New Zealand.