- New Zealand
- The Queen Charlotte TrackMountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds
- History on the Heaphy
- Suppressing the Competitive UrgeMountain biking in Malborough
- Northern ExposureMountian biking the Coromandel
- Hurunui Hot SpringsWinter mountain biking to Hurunui Hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park.
- Craigieburn Conservation ParkMountain Biking Craigieburn
- The Brevet ClubGuy and Laurence recount the suffering and intrigue of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet... a 1100km mountain bike race around the top half of the South Island over six days. Informal with self-enforced rules, no entry fee, unsupported, and... well, hard.
- Wharfedale TrackThis is arguably the best and longest stretch of single track in Canterbury
- Double FencelineThis classic trip snakes along the summit ridge of Banks Peninsula.
- One Night StandsOvernight mountain biking trips in the South Island
- Fool's GoldMountain biking in Central Otago
- All that Glistens... the Croesus and Moonlight Gold TrailsMountain biking on the South Island's West Coast
- Otago GoldMountain biking - Bannockburn, Central Otago
- Loop de LoopGreat mountain biking can be found in most corners of this flat earth and New Zealand boasts its fair share of classics.
- Magnetic WestMulti-day mountain biking, Kaikoura to the Tasman sea
- Romping Round the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough
- Rambling Around the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough, Arapawa and D'Urville Islands
- Off the Beaten Track An off road traverse of the South Island on mountain bikes
- At Peace with PureoraMountain biking around the Pureora Forest in the Central North Island
- Taranaki for NeophytesMountain biking in Taranaki
- South Pacific
- West meets EastAfter riding all morning through the tail of a typhoon, we didn't want to slosh into a Japanese restaurant in that state. I tried drying out by standing under the vent outside the kitchen. I got no drier, but now I smelled of noodles...
- Tien Shan TraverseWhat do you do in the middle of the mountains when two large, thuggish Chinese men get out of a car and stride purposefully towards you? You smile and say thank you for the stale bread and peaches they are offering you!
- One Gear, One Continent, One Hero.Hero Cycles is the world's largest manufacturer of bikes, spitting out a whopping six million a year. You're unlikely to find one at your local bike shop but as any seasoned traveller can attest, they are the 'people's car' of India.
- Laid-back LaosMountain bike touring in Laos
- The Road to MandalayCycle touring in Myanmar
- Vietnam on Thirty Dollars a DayCycle touring in Vietnam
- A Short Ride in the Hindu Kush Cycle touring in Pakistan
- On a Wheel and a Prayer FlagCycle touring in Tibet
- Shanti Shanti - Across the Himalaya by BikeCycling across the Himalayas
- Biking the Hidden HimalayaCycle touring in North West India
- Pedalling Patagonia"Wow! Amazing! You're cycling to the bottom of South America. Is it all downhill?" Alan and I looked at each other in amusement and suggested that we expected a few uphill sections.
- Cycling Cuba with Fidel and Ché
- Dirt Roading in Colombia'The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay', promises Colombia's latest tourist advertising slogan, printed over glossy photos of idyllic Caribbean coastlines, perfectly preserved colonial towns, rolling, lush coffee plantations and a Latin couple dancing hot cumbia.
- Famous Potato Recipes from Idaho
- My Private Idaho
- Donde Estan Los Pollos
- Alaska - the Last Frontier The Alaskan Iditasport Human Powered Ultramarathon
- In Search of Maple Syrup and a Decent National Anthem Mountain biking in Canada
- All You Can EatMountain Biking in Northern California
- Caffeine and Singletrack in the USA Mountain biking in South West Colorado
- Bici Dolomiti Cycle touring around Italy and the Dolomites
- A Slice of Swiss CheeseMountain biking in Switzerland
- London Calling The London Cycle Show
- Stairway to Heaven - biking Spain's Camino de SantiagoCycle touring in Spain
- Albania for BeginnersIn the summer of 2009, our route from Greece to Germany crossed the small country of Albania...
- Fat Tyre Touring in ItalyCycle touring through Italy.
- Corsica- touring the scented isleCycling in the Mediterranean
- A Scottish Coast to CoastCycle touring in Scotland
- Crouching Tiger - Cycling Ireland's South West Coast Cycling Ireland's South West Coast
- The Italian Job Mountain biking around Lake Garda
- Double DutchA cycle tour of the Netherlands.
- A Rather Big Swedish RaceMountain bike racing in Sweden
- French ConnectionCircumnavigating Mont Blanc on the "Sentier Pedestre" hiking trail.
- A Month in Provence Cycle touring in the South of France
- A French PilgrimageTouring with the Tour de France
- End to End, the Long WayCycle touring in Great Britain
- Steve's SabbaticalCycle touring in France
Patrick Morgan, UnderGround Issue 16, August 1998
Updated 29 June 2011"Take me to the April sun in Cuba"... and why not? As the temperatures plummeted and I anticipated another Wellington winter with layers of thermal tights and horizontal rain, my thoughts easily drifted towards the tropics for a dose of solar therapy.
While Cuba sounded wonderfully exotic, it was a little out of reach and despite current café chic I wasn't too fussed about all those cigars. A quick trawl through the travel brochures narrowed my search to Fiji- warm, close and within my budget. I'd never met anyone who had cycled there but the omens were promising... with the right mix of weather, light traffic, scenery and achievable biking distances.
Circling OvalauAfter a few days working up a sweat on the beach, I set off from Suva on "Emosi's Bus and Shipping Service" to the island of Ovalau. The bus driver was happy to stash my bike down the aisle and stack the passengers around it. The second leg of the journey was by ship - although this proved to be a generous description for a craft only a little bigger than a runabout. My bike rode up front and wore a bit of salt as we smacked into the swell for a couple of hours.
Ovalau's only town is Levuka, Fiji's former colonial capital. Now it is a fishing port and home to the venerable Royal Hotel. Built in the 1850s - the Royal is a bit of a time warp. Set in a gracious tropical garden, its two storey structure reeks of character. I was more than half a century too late to meet Somerset Maugham, but he would have looked right at home in their parlour. Every morning fresh flowers were placed in the polished brass vases in the sitting room by a white-haired lady who probably did make his acquaintance. I called her Mrs Peacock, for her likeness to the Cluedo character. A full sized billiard table with pitted balls stands next to the house bar. The game is free but you have to put 20 cents in a slot to make the dim light work.
A visit to Levuka would not be complete without a drink at the Levuka Club. Although sign-posted "Members Only", the rule is waived for visitors to the Island. The sun has set on this corner of the Empire, but the traditions live on. Portraits of a young Queen Elizabeth and King George V are hung over the bar where the uniformed barman will serve you a Fiji Bitter or a nip of Bounty rum.
Biking in Ovalau is pretty simple. One unsealed road circles the island - a trip of 50km. It passes old French mission schools, coconut plantations and the island's fish cannery. Along the road I met Luketiri, who after 30 years working in the canneries of Suva had returned to his family farm. He was waiting in the shade for a bus to take him to the market to sell a bag of copra. We talked awhile and I asked to take his photo. He asked for my cap. A fair swap.
Cruising the Coral CoastBack on the main island of Viti Levu I took the 188km Suva to Nadi highway - known as the Queen's Road. After the first 10km the traffic thinned and I cruised the sealed road for three days.
Drivers were well-behaved, the road surface was in good shape and there was plenty to see - Hindu temples, traditional Fijian farming and acres of sugar cane. You're never far from an Indian-run general store where the homesick can track down a Jellytip. The cool thing about cycle touring is that you travel at the pace of the culture. While pedalling along I would often catch up with the farm labourers as they strolled home, machetes resting on their shoulders. Nothing sinister though as I was greeted with a hearty "Bula!" and a cheery smile.
A sturdy touring bike would be fine for the sealed main roads, but a mountain bike is the preferred option for exploring Fiji's highlands. The mountains attract rain, so mud can be a problem even in the dry season. Commercial operators have started to offer combination 4WD/mountain bike trips to the highlands.
I chose to stay at budget hotels, but discreet camping is possible. My only encounter with the law was during my last evening in Fiji. As I sat on the beach watching the sunset over the coconut palms, four massive blokes in uniform approached. It transpired they were off-duty soldiers having a few quiets after work. They shared their seafood dinner with me... and their intrepidation at the prospect of being posted to Wairou for winter training.
Somehow, winter seemed light years away.
The Nitty Gritty> Accommodation: A bed in a dormitory starts at $5. A double room in a budget hotel will set you back $25-$40. I had a particularly pleasant stay at "The Beachouse" in Korolevu, midway between Suva and Nadi.
> Prices: Around 20c for a fruit juice from the market, and 50c for a roadside coconut drink. A beer is $2, lunch around $6. A bottle of Bounty rum will set you back $4.
> Currency: The Fiji dollar is close to the New Zealand dollar in value. Each Australian dollar will get you about $1.15 Fiji.
> Getting there: Return airfares start at around NZ$850. It's a four hour flight from Auckland. Some incredible package deals often come up which you might want to weave into your trip.
> Flavours: Fijian, Indian, Chinese and European foods rule. Roadside stores abound.
> When to go: May to October is dry and warm. November to April tends to be wet and hot.
> What to take: Pack light clothes, light sweater for evenings, sun hat, swimming gear, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent. If you're going into villages, scanty clothing is disrespectful.