Reflections on Equipment

Here are some things that I would have done differently (or will do differently next time)

The Bicycle

I would use a different type of handlebar. Since I don't really ride on the drops, my drop handlebars only gave a couple of different positions. The touring bars that look sort of like an infinity sign, look like they would be preferable.

I would have much different gearing. I must admit that there were many hills that I could not have climbed without the low gear that I have on the Shimano Mega-range cluster that was put on just before I left. On the other hand, It was too big a jump from the next lowest gear. Also, I think that I actually used the large chain ring for about an hour total on the entire trip. Next time I would have a cluster that had fairly even stepping from gear to gear and smaller chainrings so that the lowest gear was as low as or lower than what I have now and there were more intermediate steps. The highest gear would be higher than on my current middle ring bu tit would not need to be as high as on my current outer ring.

I was pretty happy with the trailer, but might try to figure out how to separate the contents of the trailer bag better. Being a single large bag, I basically had to completely repack it every morning. There might be some way to pack multiple bags or multiple compartments in the bag.

I also wonder if there might be some way to fit a trailer brake. I was very careful about not going very quickly down hill after talking with a fellow on the ferry, who had had an accident with a BOB trailer coming around and jackknifing as he braked hard at the bottom of a hill (and this was just as I started my trip). It might be more problem than it's worth though.

Bigger water bottles next time, or a backpack bladder. I had to stop somewhere to refill on almost every ride.

The cadence sensor on my cyclocomputer gave up the ghost the first week. This was unfortunate, since I found it quite useful in pacing myself. I was never quite as even as when it was working.

I'm not sure whether a bike with fatter tires would have been more comfortable. One of the most vexing problems was the rough sealed roads. The pavement here is done with gravel spread over tar and rolled flat. The newer pavement uses gravel about the diameter of a quarter, whereas the older pavement used gravel the size of a pea. The new stuff is very rough and has a lot of rolling resistance. Would fatter tires have helped? They might have been more comfortable. A couple of kilometers of that stuff and my hands would start to go numb.

I am glad that I brought the set of tools that I did, even though they were heavy, although I didn't use most of them. I'd still be beside the road, if it weren't for the chain tool. The toolkit with metric and allen wrenches was key and the leatherman was also useful, particularly for the pliers. Also, the hand cleaner towelettes, that I just happened to have, were invaluable after working on the chain.


The Fuji produced fine pictures and being able to upload them to the computer and post them was quite simple. But the next time I will use a camera with a zoom lens. The relatively wide-angle lens was quite good for landscapes, but I could not really get close enough for details with other subjects, particularly animals.

I would also want a camera that allowed multiple shots without waiting. Storing each picture on the Fuji took about 5-10 seconds. This is way too slow for pictures where there is any action.

A built-in USB or 1394 connector would also be helpful. It would mean one less piece of gear needed.


The Sony N505VX worked quite well. It was relatively small and I could carry it in the trailer bag, padded in my fleece clothing.

In the future, something smaller would be preferable, as the big screen, wasn't really necessary for writing or editing still photos. The Sony Picturebook would be half the size. If it has built-in modem and ethernet, that would be even better.

I'd take an extra battery. There seemed to be a lack of power outlets in many of the places I stayed, particularly near tables where one could sit and write. I could usually find an outlet to charge overnight, but I was quite low on power several times.

The Actrix account was a real find. A prepaid dial-up account was ideal for my use. It was cheap, one NZ cent per minute, and dial-up was the primary (only) means of connection outside of the major cities (Auckland and Dunedin were the only places that I could get Ethernet access).

Other Gear

I didn't need the tent or cooking/eating gear at all. If one is willing to spend the extra for a homestay/farmstay/B&B when a hostel isn't available, then camping out isn't necessary. I think that I incorrect choice by leaving the sleeping bag and taking the tent.

A light sleeping bag that completely opens up seems to be ideal if you are using hostels. Also a full size sheet. Every place I stayed had clean bottom sheets and pillows (although sometimes, not very good pillows). The old-fashioned sleeping sheet that I had was less comfortable than a regular sheet would have been. The sleeping bag would have made a good duvet. Most hostels would supply one (sometimes for a fee), others might have just blankets. There were a few, that I didn't go to, that did not supply any linen.

I'm glad that I brought the mini-espresso maker and frother, even though they were a frill. It was good coffee and was a conversation starter as well.


I really needed a better daily windbreaker, particularly in the cool and damp. My rain jacket was waterproof for the few times that I needed it, but didn't breathe. So it was warm, but damp inside. Something that combined both and was florescent would be ideal, but better windproofing is needed.

I would bring several pairs of padded cycling undershorts next time, rather than cycling shorts and combine them with a couple of pairs of the lightweight convertible trousers (the one that allow the lower legs to zip off). While my microfleece tights worked, they weren't ideal for around town.

A lighter fleece jacket (microfleece) would have been more compact and practical, particularly with a better windjacket.

I need to work on layering better. There were many days that I was really cold because i was very damp under my windjacket and it wouldn't evaporate. I really light base layer under the cycling jersey would help. One of the cool days I wore both of my cycling jerseys and that helped.


A bigger budget so I wouldn't have to cook would be ideal, but there were a few places that were way out of the way. The biggest problem was that I couldn't carry any thing liquid or perishable. So I had to try to find small containers of things like milk and juice at every stop. Traveling and eating for one is a pain. Perhaps a single insulated pannier or rack trunk, tall enough for a quart of milk, would help. Food carriage is still a quandary for me.

Updated: 13 May 2002