Game over ?

You’re interested in the key features of O’ahu ?! Okay then. We should talk about ‘topless running’. No guys… not running of half naked females on beaches, but running testosterone vessels with mostly a highly muscular upper body. They tend to run topless through the streets of O’ahu cities, polluting the great white stretches of the beaches with their sweat. After two weeks on Hawai’i, we still find it very weird. It must be a cultural gap between sophisticated European cyclists and people living in paradise… And of course, there are the magnificent shores for outdoor activities like doing nothing, eating ice-cream, drinking coffees, and also the more sweaty activities including cycling on rented beach cruisers (very buttocks-uncomfortable), trying to surf, running (with a T-shirt) on the beach of Mokule’ia, and just to mention: snorkeling away from giant turtles. At the end of our stay, we met this fascinating American woman from Vietnam who moved to Hawai’i for surfing in great warm waters. We met her too late and spent way too little time with her. Anyway, she protected us from the hardships of camping on O’ahu and took us out surfing in Turtle Bay. She’s adorable ! If you meet her, give her a big kiss from us.

We made a small compilation of movies we shot in New Zealand. It’s especially meant to remember this awesome outdoor country. If you’re bored at work or during a family gathering, have a peek, but just remember to put the volume at max. The music is just wonderful. Please your colleagues, friends or family members by turning up the volume !

We’re amazingly happy to have made it in one piece (and still being together) all the way through the countries we visited. We didn’t get seriously ill once. It’s a miracle. We just have one small last wish as not all people are as lucky as we are and if you do have some spare bucks, you can help people with terrifying diseases. Some people cycle for fun, some people cycle for fun and a good purpose. Check it out: Ride to Conquer Cancer.

This is really the end of our cycling trip. We try to go back to a ‘normal’ life now. However, we’ll post soon a blog about the Great Divide again. It’s mainly meant to be very informative for the future Great Divide riders. Our bikes are back in Europe now. Completely in one piece. We thank our bike boxer Carton Pack. They make everything from cardboard. Give them a call when you want to ship your bike overseas from New Zealand.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your attention during our trip. It was amazingly great for us. We highly appreciate you listened to us, watched our photos and commented on our website, or gave us words via email, phone or Skype. We do hope you enjoyed it as well. After all the cycling, kayaking, snorkeling, tramping, camping, surfing, and so on, one of the greatest features of traveling for us is the interaction with people. Either known or unknown. It’s was really wonderful you were all part of our cycling adventure. Thanks and hopefully sooner or later we’ll do a similar experiment. Either you go stretching your legs somewhere in the world and we watch, or even better we go again…

Soraya & Michiel

PS if you have anything you want to share, please do ! Did you miss something ? Do you have any ideas for the blog, bike, or life ? Feel free to speak out loud, S&M

Posted in General info, GoPro HD HERO Camera, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Hawai'i, New Zealand, North America, USA

Cruising O’ahu

We know, we know. You all expected photos of palm trees, beaches, surfboards, and bikinis the last weeks. And we didn’t show you so much of those when we were on Kaua’i and Maui. Here they are. Hopefully you’re very happy now !? You should thank the Gods of O’ahu.

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Wish you all the best for May. We’ll soon go back to ‘how to write the last decent post ?’

Kisses everywhere, S&M

PS we updated our Stuff page. If you’re preparing for a big outdoor summer, check it out. Maybe you’ll find something you don’t wanna live without.

Posted in Hawai'i, North America

Maui abounds bountiful nature

We moved from Kaua’i to Maui. A different island with a different atmosphere. Maui has more people and concrete, and lacks partly the laid-back mentality of Kaua’i. However, nature is as impressive. There’s a particular tree in Lahaina. It has a huge mother trunk with twelve sister trunks around her. In between the trunks you’ll find horizontal arms of 5 to 20 m connecting the whole tree. It’s called a banyan tree and we love this one. When the sun is beaming, it yields a shade of almost 3,000 square m. It’s a magnificent sight and you can wander around for a whole hour, especially with a high calorie ice-cream in your hands. When you’re on Maui go to Lahaina and visit the square with the tree. You’ll love it.

Going all the way east to Hana means taking the green and endless bending Hana highway. We camped at the local campground in the Haleakala National Park and walked the next day to the Waimoku Falls. Wow ! We felt so small in the big bamboo forest leading to the great waterfalls at the end of the trail. We had to cross the last river bare feet, and used all other limbs, before reaching a big wall of rock forming half a circle and more than 100 m high. The water is tumbling down in two falls. We’re so lucky.

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Besides hiking, the cheapest outdoor activity on Hawai’i is snorkeling. We bought two sets for 8 dollars each and hit the reefs with and without Marieke & Jelmer. Several coral spots were loaded with the most amazing fish. Rainbow colors in weird forms and in so many different patterns. It’s indescribable. In addition, the most impressive creatures we met were the huge sea turtles. Sometimes you can even spot these green reptiles from the shore. When encountering them closely with a snorkeling device on your head, it’s just fabulous. Being frightened, Soraya even tried to talk to one of them underwater. Michiel thought a group of communicating whales was approaching. Pretty scary breathing through a plastic tube and hearing unfamiliar tones underwater.

Aloha ke akua, S&M

Posted in Hawai'i, North America, USA

Chicks on Kaua’i

Back in the States !! Yeah…!! and not anywhere but in the Aloha State, doesn’t that sound so fabulously great ?? After a day circling Waikiki Beach area and watching people walking in the streets with their surfboards, we already had to leave O’ahu (check out the Lonely Planet map below). So we took a limo (a real one like movie stars) to the airport and hit the air again before touching down on the garden island of Kaua’i. Michiel’s sister Marieke and her (from time to time) totally nuts boyfriend Jelmer joined us sharing fun on some Hawaiian islands.

As the bikes were boxed in Christchurch and put on a boat back to Europe, we spent the days snorkeling, (stand up paddle) surfing, and mainly hiking. The first hike was the Kalalau Trail, following the Na Pali Coast on the north shore. It seems that this trail is just made to meet half of the other tourists on Kaua’i. So as good tourists, that’s what we did. The second hike was next to the Waimea Canyon which was pretty relaxed, and not too touristy. The canyon is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an immense canyon filled with red earth, rivers and different shades of green. And at the end of the canyon and after a big hour walk the other side of the island, looking back on the Na Pali coast, can be seen. Another perfect set for an outdoor movie.

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Camping on Kaua’i asked from us a totally laid-back attitude to getting up nicely. We camped at two different spots on the island and so do thousands and really thousands of chickens and roosters. The island is full of these almost flyless feathered creatures. Although no-one is hungry on Kaua’i, no-one sleeps longer than dawn. Almost all roosters and even some chicks are alarming all other species with their terrible voices. Sometimes, it seemed that even some roosters (probably living too long under the tropical sun) are so lost they even don’t pay attention to the rhythms of the sun anymore. ‘Screaming the whole day for attention’ is obviously their motto. Testosterone of managers make you sleep at work, testosterone of Kaua’ian roosters make you awake all the time.

Mahalo, S&M

Posted in Hawai'i, New Zealand, North America, USA

Otago Rail Trail

Riding the easygoing Otago Rail Trail meant to us the last k’s with heavily loaded bikes since the start of our biking adventure at the Mexican border last May. We knew this dream had to come to an end and we were prepared for it but it felt strange, and still remains from time to time unreal. We just have to accept the fact of having no fully geared up bikes for a while…Even if we’re feeling a bit sad, we’re also looking forward to the new possibilities the near future will offer. We took a bus back to Queenstown, rented a car and circled around the Southern Alps for few days. It’s one of the most fantastic regions in Aotearoa.

Although not through cycling eyes, Mount Cook National Park and its surroundings were one of the highlights of our traveling through New Zealand. The colors were just amazing: after a dry summer, long grass has turned yellow surrounding isolated groups of green needle trees, Lake Pukaki, just south of Mount Cook, is turquoise blue, and the previous night powdered most of the summits and ridges with fresh snow. Really, just fabulous. And not forgetting the dirty icebergs floating between Lake Tasman and the waters from heaven.

Christchurch, the last stop before leaving New Zealand. We have to admit that being in Christchurch is an once in a lifetime experience by itself. After all the devastating earthquakes, walking in the city center feels like walking in a huge movie studio set up for an apocalyptic scenario. Big buildings flattened as if a giant would have walked on them, impressive cracks in the pavement showing how much the ground was torn apart, and all the debris left as a witness of the destructive violence. Michiel wanted to experience a small earthquake, and his wish was fulfilled during the first night when the shaking of the ground woke us up leaving us with an unsafe feeling.

Tomorrow, we’re entering the USA again for a big five weeks, spending time on three different Hawaiian islands. Must be a nice way to end up this year of traveling.

Enjoy April, S&M

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PS tips for the NZ government: first, hygiene in NZ. Can you please, oblige (most of the time German) wannabe hippie backpackers to have a shower every other day ? And please, with shampoo and soap. They poison way too many public places. And second: sandflies. Please introduce a natural predator for these bloodsucking creatures. A species of possum feeding on them would be great.

Posted in Hawai'i, Mexico, New Zealand, USA

The Catlins

The Catlins runs roughly from Invercargill to Dunedin, and it follows more or less the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. We had a great time wandering around enjoying the awesome sea views. We hit some dirt roads and serious hill work to get to Curio Bay, Porpoise Bay, and Nugget Point. We savored watching playfull Hector’s dolphins, observing sea lions and fur seals, and from far away having a blink of the yellow-eyed pinguin on a fossilized forest and perhaps an albatross.

Before touching the Catlins, we met Isabel. A fantastic young English woman on her first big cycling adventure. She couldn’t explain why she got addicted to bicycle travel. Very interesting. We think it’s a shame she doesn’t have a blog to share her thoughts with the rest of the world. Anyway, when being tired, wet, or just fed up with biking in the cold outdoors of New Zealand the only thing she needs to face the world is a cup of tea. Marvelous cultural nurture.

And we lied to you in our last blog as the Catlins isn’t our last bike trip in New Zealand. We still have some time left to cycle the Otago Rail Trail, which runs from west of Dunedin back to the Southern Alps ending in Clyde. We’re finally fit now and don’t wanna loose it. And above all, we got used to the coldness in March. It’s sometimes so cold that after breaking down the tent in the morning, we warm our hands with lukewarm water in the kitchen of the campsite. Camping is great !

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We know this friendly guy in Berlin who sent us the following video. As we don’t have any political power over you, we demand you to watch this (sometimes shocking) video. Don’t watch it on your first spring Sunday morning with freshly baked banana pancakes, but take another 30 minutes of your life to watch it. Awake your soul and do something, S&M

Posted in General info, New Zealand

Chilled to the bone

Thanks to an Australian-Dutch cycling couple (rideontrack), we absorbed with high speed some fantastic hamburgers in Queenstown (fergburger). It had been a long time since we hadn’t had such delicious burgers. Actually it was back in the States. Barack knows how to make a burger ! Dessert was a Queenstown-priced two scoop ice cream. It was worth all the savings. Loaded with calories, we took a boat to be delivered on the other side of Lake Wakatipu where we started two days of off-road biking. Wow ! We were back in no-man’s land with fabulous scenery. Cycling off-road as it’s meant to be. Dried yellow-brown grasses and trees mapped on hardly touched mountains. We crossed two rivers using our bare feet. Freezing cold ! We camped at one of the famous DOC campsites (DOC) at Lake Mavora: a nice warden, a warm fire and a great visit of a very curious bird. In the end, our feathered friend was only interested in sharing our pasta.

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We walked along the beach of Lake Manapouri and made hundreds of pictures of the great looks of the mountains of Fiordland National Park on the other side of the water. These mountain peaks held a big part of the surrounding rain that day, but after few hours of battle, the rain won and poured it all on us and our little green tent. In the morning, our flip flops came in handy when crossing the temporary camping lake to make it to the toilets. We waited and waited for the sun to shine and to dry the world of Manapouri, but no. We packed before lunchtime and started pedaling towards Tuatapere, but we didn’t arrive. It was so so cold. We were soaked wet and sooo cold. We stopped at the first sign of accommodation and got a mattress and a hot shower and above all, dryness and a fireplace. We watched four movies in a row, and felt happy again.

We’re getting ready for our last cycling adventure in New Zealand: the Catlins. More next time. Big hugs, S&M

Posted in New Zealand