Xmas promises should never be taken too seriously, so I was somewhat surprised when my parents followed up on my bleary eyed suggestion of a cycle tour of the Netherlands. The idea was to embark on a pilgrimage to the haunts of Dad's youth - the more mature party members as tour guides and us youth as packhorses. Giddy-up!
"Mountain biking in South America - are you guys completely nuts?" Almost certainly, but over the years we've often contemplated the possibility of a few Latin American epics. A randomly spotted article about riding in Peru defended our sanity and catapulted us into planning a trip.
Orchestrating multi-day mountain bike traverses has become an unhealthy obsession over the past few years. Last summer's jaunt was conceived over a hearty helping of kumara balls at Main Street Café one night - it's curious how a full stomach clouds one's judgment in matters of endurance and suffering.
The Marlborough region at the top of NZ's South Island is a mecca for mountain biking - you could lose yourself there for a fortnight and still find new trails to explore.
The Marlborough region at the top of NZ's South Island is a mecca for mountain biking - covering the full gambit from "ego" singletrack to impossibly steep fire trails. You could get lost there for a fortnight and still find new bits to explore.
"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.
Long weekends traditionally inspire epic trips to the hills amongst our friends. A session down at the pub one night - sorry café - resulted in a more sedate version for the forthcoming Show Weekend. A weekend where everyone's needs could be met - some of the time.
For years we've schemed of mountain biking in the USA. We knew it would be a mind-blowing good time. The tough question was "where do we go?" - the place is so huge and the possibilities for biking so enormous. We decided to concentrate on the places we'd heard the most about: South West Colorado; and Moab, Utah. We wanted to minimise long hauls in the car, and managed to link up the quintessential mountain bike destinations in a tight loop: Durango; Telluride; Crested Butte; and Moab - scoring a couple of weeks in each spot.
Maps, I love 'em. More than that, I get quite excited by them. I collect them like some people collect phone cards or personalised number plates. The metric 50,000:1 series is my favourite and I've managed to acquire the full set. I've done heaps of mountain biking up and down the South Island and a few years ago became fascinated with the prospect of joining the dots to ride it all in one go. After all - I did have all the maps.
Breakfast of fresh croissants and treacle-like coffee in a village café, temples of food on every corner and medieval architecture as far as the eye can see. If you've got a month to spare and a wad of cash looking for a way out of your wallet (or a healthy credit facility on the plastic), then this could be the go. Cycle touring in France is close to heaven on a bike.
The Lewis Pass area has truck loads of thermal springs, making it a crash hot destination for winter mountain biking. A classic trip is to zip up to Hurunui Hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park.
This classic trip snakes along the summit ridge of Banks Peninsula. You score fantastic views but it can be bitterly cold. Ensure you carry the Akaroa (N36) topo map. Note: there is restricted access during lambing (August - October).