Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Motivation and loose ends

Lovely ice crystals on a leaf #1

With Christmas a little less than one month away, 31 days to be precise, the season of sending Christmas cards has already started. This year I decided to participate in this tradition, and also to thank some people for their support in the past year(s). Please do not feel offended if you as reader do not receive a card, not all of you are that close to me.

With the coming of bad weather and all, people sometimes ask me why I am doing this trip, and most of initial reaction is to think that I want to escape the cold winter weather here in the Netherlands. Well, fair enough, this is partly true, but my main motivation is not based on that.

The origin of this trip goes way back, more or less to the end of my high school years. In that period I bought myself a recumbent bike, and decided that I wanted to ride the North Sea Cycle route (NSCR) with it, once I graduated from high school. That specific ride never happened, but I did enjoy a couple days on the bike in Denmark.

Some years later I rode my bike from home to Denmark, just to explore a bit more of the country in a total of two weeks time in the summer holidays. The years following canoe trips were part of my summer, in which a couple friends and I explored Swedish lakes and the Waal (NL). These trips sparked my enthusiasm for photography and the great outdoors, the serenity of camping somewhere without the distractions of email, phone calls and deadlines.

The idea to ride the NSCR became somewhat dorment, but remained present. Until I heard that my sister was heading out to NZ for a 6 month period, then I decided to visit her once I had my Masters-degree, and push the NSCR-plan to another time. To push myself a bit I planned to fly in January of 2009 (actually booked the ticket only a couple days after she was gone). I guess you can figure out the rest. A few hints: my graduation didn't go as smoothly and got my degree in October, postponing a trip can only be done once via KLM's website ;).
So, finally, after a long wait I now leave on monday January 4th, at the beginning of 2010. What a way to start a year :)!

To actually be a bit comfortable on the bike for the two months of riding, hiking and camping, I am working on my physical health. Sometimes by running, and sometimes by cycling some long distances I try to get myself in shape, with the hope that I can actually make some miles in a day in NZ. With my experience in riding long distances with a high intensity I know that my weak point will be the energy depletion and my mental response to that (become cranky and pull myself down). But to battle that I plan to use a tactic I picked from a couple outdoor books: keeping myself to a fixed structure of couple hours riding, break, riding, lunch, riding, break, riding, dinner and sleep (short version). But I'll have to see how that pans out once I get to New Zealand, maybe just being on holiday and good weather can be enough to keep me going ;).

Although summer is known for its good weather, the fascination for winter (snow and ice) cannot be taken away from me. To satisfy that a bit I am heading out to the premiere of a movie by Jolanda Linschooten, "Into the white", this thursday. I liked her books "Poollicht" and "Keerpunt Alaska" that much that the movie must also be worth to watch, and it would be cool to meet a couple of Dutch outdoor photographers and writers.
Will be updating my blog more frequently from now, at least up until departure ...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Time flies, or does it?

Only a while ago I wrote that time is catching up pretty fast, well I currently have the feeling that it can't go fast enough. More and more it starts to sink in that it is only less than 10 weeks until I fly down south, still so much to do ... such as a couple family birthdays and Christmas.

New cycling guide
Though, sometimes there is a small pleasure in finding great stuff. Such as last weekend, strolling around the Bever store in Hengelo, I found a copy of Nigel Rushton's "Cycling guide New Zealand" with a 'few' cycling routes through New Zealand. Actually I was looking for a map of Twente to plan a trip that sunday, though I came back with a couple more items ;).

Packed canoe
On another note, camping gear is tested, including my self-improved army surplus bivy sack :). A few weeks ago I went paddling on the Maas at the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, which also required us to camp somewhere at night. As we wanted to keep it light and low-key we decided not to take a tent, but rather sleep in our bivy sacks. It was a bit chilly during the end of the night, but we both survived it, in spite of the efforts of a busy beaver that swam nervously round our camp.

Though that weekend wasn't as cold as the latest adventure of Jolanda Linschooten; she went solo through the cold Canadian environment with only a husky as company. With her camcorder and still photos she created a documentary about the whole trip, and the trailer looks very promising. I am still hoping that I can actually manage to get to the premiere in Heerhugowaard, but not sure yet. A few of her books will arrive this week, so I will have something to read again in the evenings, looking forward to that.

The way Jolanda has documented her trip with a specific theme in mind, and also the way the cyclists of the Going South project are documenting their trip has made me also think about a theme and direction of my own trip. It has to do something with outdoor sports, the environment (am going on a bicycle instead of rental car), and the stunning scenery of New Zealand. If any of you have an idea, let me know .. ;).