Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spot the Tourist - Cycle Trips of Death

Spot the Tourist - cycles in Hagley Park

With all due respect I cannot imagine a worse holiday than cycling around some foreign country.

Notwithstanding a violation of the Number One Universal Rule that states thou shalt not work on your holiday, I am firmly in the school that says a "holiday" must be spent in a swanky hotel, sipping Harvey Wallbangers by the pool (not the sea...another blog post). Otherwise it's not a "holiday"! Cycling around some foreign country seems to me to be the ultimate self-flagellation.

When I worked at the airport, with frightening regularity - I'm talking every day - we would watch cycle tourists arrive from overseas, struggle through Customs and MAF with those huge boxes that look like manila envelopes. They'd transport them perpendicular on the trolleys and knock little children and old ladies over, and if the tyres weren't full of heroin or cocaine, they'd make their way to the dedicated "cycle assembly" area. Well, some of them would. The majority simply opened up their box in the middle of the arrivals greeting area and started to assemble their bikes right there in the middle of the crowd.

Three hours later they were invariably still there, angsting over some small part that didn't fit, or was missing altogether. Conversely, we regularly watched cycle tourists take several hours to deconstruct their bikes and get them packed for check in. All done, once again, in the middle of the bustling crowd of travellers and wavers and drug mules.

Once their cycles were put together they would disappear into the toilets and emerge dressed in the latest spandex outfits from the catwalks of Milan - I defy you to find anyone who looks good in those outfits - hobble across the area in their cleated carbon-fibre cycling shoes, mount their cycles packed with all their worldly belongings and wobble off into the traffic.

Sometimes cycle tourists had offspring with them, whom they tidily zipped into an accompanying meshed prison on wheels, attached them to the back of their cycles and then wobbled off into the traffic.

The thing that gets me with baby trailers on cycles is that they seem to be specifically designed to be the same height off the road as 90% of the exhaust pipes one will encounter on any given road at any given time. Unless the mesh has some magical powers of pollution-repulsion, I was usually left thinking YAY! for that child who's going to spend the next six weeks smelling and breathing New Zealand's special brand of toxic carbon monoxide as cars and trucks zoom past them on the highway!

I just don't get it. Imagine spending the first five hours of your "holiday" assembling your bike, cycling from Auckland to Bluff - don't get me started on where they go to the toilet, for example I'm sure there's only one actual toilet on the Desert Road! - and then back to Christchurch, where you spend another five hours disassembling your bike and packing it up, and finally jetting off to the Gold Coast where, instead of hanging out at the pool of some five star hotel watching the surf over the salt-brim of your Margarita, you start your cycle trip to Perth! And calling that a holiday!

1 comment:


Great photo! and blog... Very observant of you (your job at BNZ airport must have given you blog material for the next 10 years) the visuals you conjured
0-: ... they doo "wobble" !!
I'm so glad my parents were born with no sense of balance.. those poor kids!!...Cycling must be as addictive as caffeine. Those addicts must have no pain receptors in their bums. And Christchurch must be an adventure tourism spot for cyclists now, however .. all those bumps and cracks to fly over. I will watch out for flying babies...