- 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
- Pizza, Gelato and Mountain BikesMountain biking in Italy's Aosta Valley
- Albania for BeginnersCycle touring in Albania
- Fat Tyre Touring in ItalyMountain bike touring through Italy.
- Corsica- touring the scented isleCycling around the Mediterranean
- Bici Dolomiti Mountain biking in 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
- 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
Out of Africa
Jane Shearer, UnderGround Issue 38 February 2004
Updated 29 June 2011I started in Antananarivo, the capital, located bang in the centre of the country. From 'Tana' I headed south and west on the RN7 until I eventually hit Toliara on the coast. The initial going was pretty cruisy, clocking up an easy 100km each day. Rice paddies littered the roadside and granite-topped hills provided a striking backdrop. A village would pop up every half an hour or so for refuelling. Fried dough with banana, cassava, pineapples, mangos and papayas were all regularly available. At 10-50 cents an item from the street stalls there's no excuse for going hungry. Further south supplies were less abundant. The villages became more widely spaced - I was lucky to pass more than four a day and only two of those would have any food of note beyond Coke, Fanta, butter biscuits and dried noodles.
I was keen to check out the lemurs amidst the rain forest, so after four days I left the safety and seal of the main drag for a side trip down to Parc Ranomafana. The clay surface became increasingly rutted but was still dry and therefore rideable. Clay roads are actually the norm around Madagascar - making travel in the rainy season unthinkable. After a pleasant sojourn hanging with the monkeys, I continued to Manakara on the east coast - logging an impressive 180 hilly kilometres in a single day. Manakara was worth the effort with its palm trees and golden sand. Although I avoided a dip in the treacherous sea.
Rather than 'back-pedalling' to the RN7, I hitched a ride on the train from Manakara to Fianarantsoa on the hauts plateaux - just down the road from where I turned off for Ranomafana. The sign said first class, the seats said otherwise. As we started rolling the train's entire populace appeared to filter forward into first class until the seats were full of bodies and the floor packed with baggage. It was a claustrophobic ten hours. My bicycle emerged from the goods wagon only a little worse for wear. It had been innovatively hung from a metal edge by the seat and bar end - easily fixed with duct tape. Anyhow, roughed up a little it blended in better with the local's bikes.
A typical day consisted of getting up just before 5am when it's still quite dark. Then just after five someone switches the light on, that's the tropics for you. The mornings are cool and the light phenomenal for taking photos. My best moments were cruising downhill at five thirty with not a person in sight. Breakfast comprised a baguette with jam and coffee on non-cycling days when I could hang around till the shops opened, otherwise it was yoghurt and butter biscuits. I aimed to cycle for 6 to 8 hours, so by lunchtime- the hottest part of the day - I could focus on the less strenuous activity of finding lodgings for the night. All accommodation in Madagascar is defined as a 'hotel'. The quality varies widely, but for $NZ15-30 you should score a nice room to yourself with an ensuite. A short siesta and then I'd venture out to snap more photos before dinner. The majority of Madagascar's tourists are French. Combine that with its French colonial past and you have a recipe for great culinary experiences. $NZ10 - 15 obtains three delicious courses. Seafood options abound with all manner of fish, squid, lobster and shrimp. Exotic fruit and plenty of vegetables all make for healthy eating.
The remaining six days cycling to Toliara was through the most spectacular scenery imaginable. Parc Andringitra has huge granite cliffs, some up to 800m high - of which I saw a mad French man base jump. Further west, the landscape eased into wide plains with red roads and hills dotting the horizon in the same bold red. As I pedalled into Parc Isalo it reminded me of western USA. Canyons are etched into red sandstone and bright green foliage hems the clear water. The sifaka (large lemurs) and chameleons quickly jolted me out of that daydream.
Travelling on from Isalo you could still easily be misled into believing you're on the set of a spaghetti western. The locals call this area the 'Wild West'. Its wildness derived from the discovery of sapphires and the consequent influx of miners and opportunists. Houses were rapidly built from board and corrugated iron, so different from the mud-brick dwellings of the hauts plateaux or the wood and thatch construction method used on the coast. Towns are infested with gem stores, complete with steel grilles and thuggish looking males lounging outside. Casinos are also popular so the newly rich can become rapidly poor. I arrived at Toliara after a hot, final 130km ride, happy to see the coast and a town with a supermarket (only the second since leaving Tana). For my final few days in Madagascar I indulged in the dubious luxury of a taxi-brousse ride 20km up the coast to Ifaty, with a coral reef and associated snorkelling opportunities. I concluded that the rudimentary nature of Madagascan cars and their propensity to regularly breakdown, leaves cycling as the premium means of travel in the country. Cycle touring around Madagascar? You'd be mad not to.
The Nitty Gritty> Madagascar is the big island that floats off the coast of East Africa, near Mozambique. It's 1500km long, 300km wide- about twice the area of New Zealand with a population of 12 million.
> Flying there from New Zealand costs around NZ$3000 via Mauritius or Johannesburg.
> Dec-Mar is the wet season and to be avoided. Winter (July-Oct ) is best.
> The Madagascar Embassy and the Lonely Planet were useful for the initial planning. I used the Lonely Planet Madagascar guidebook and it reliably found me good places to stay and eat, etc.