Tuesday 8 October 2013

Tandem Touring - Personal Safety

The second of three posts in which the 2xtandem crew reflect on the past 18 months.
Palamidi fortress, Nafplio, on the Peloponnese Peninsula,
Q: What was your favourite place?
Judy: “There has to be more than one. France, the Peloponnese in Greece, the bike path beside the River Fella in north east Italy and I loved the Kor Alps in southern Austria by the border with Slovenia. Probably Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Big Sur, California. And the camaraderie we enjoyed in San Francisco watching New Zealand win the Louis Vuitton yachting series.”

Mike and Judy, above Nafplio.

Peloponnese Peninsula

Mike: “The Peloponnese – we loved the scenery and the cycling. It was hilly and hot but the surroundings and the people made up for it, which says a lot about the Greeks because their economy was in turmoil and people were losing their jobs.
Roadside, southern Laos
“I also liked all of South East Asia. Perhaps my fondest memories are of the long, dry roads in southern Laos – stretching into the distance – and the feeling that this was our adventure. “
Peloponnese Peninsula
Q:Least favourite place?
Judy: “Eureka in northern California – that leaps out as our most frustrating experience.  http://2xtandem.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-day-lost.htm
But more seriously, the least favourite aspect of the entire trip is seeing, so clearly by bicycle, the disturbing discrepancy between the "haves" and "have nots" in America;  the poor and homeless people are everywhere. And don't get me started on the partisan politics, the pathetic minimum wage paid in America, the astoundingly low taxes paid by the profoundly rich corporates and how "high fructose corn syrup" isn't a banned substance in America beats me! 
Mike: “A brothel in Thailand where we were forced to spend the night when we couldn’t find a guesthouse.”
Q: What was the most difficult challenge along the way?
Mike: “Sometimes I found the tandem pretty hard work. Not just the pedalling, that goes without saying. But loaded up it can be quite a beast and I’m always having to make sure it doesn’t overbalance when we stop. Even just lifting it up over a kerb can be hard work.”
Judy: “Navigating without large scale maps. The heat and humidity of South East Asia. At times in Europe, provisioning for food and finding campgrounds late in the day when we were tired.”
Q: What about personal safety – did you ever feel in danger?
Judy: “Never, which confirms my belief in the basic good nature of humanity.  Mind you, we were always so tired we went to bed early and were hardly ever out late at night partying. And I never really felt at risk on the bike, although occasionally traffic would get too close. We never cycled at night.”
Mike: “I was accosted by a drunk in France who insisted on trying to ride the bike, but he was pretty harmless.”
Campsite at Chula Vista, southern California. While we were
there a man broke the lock on a gate and made off with a
couple of bikes. The tandem - locked to an outside table -
was untouched. It was one of the few incidents where we
felt we had a lucky escape, but the U.S. definitely made
us feel more uncomfortable  because of  the number of
 transients roaming around.

Q: What about your possessions, were they ok?
Judy: “Yes, but we were always watchful. One of the advantages of cycling as a couple was that there was always someone to mind the gear and the bike while the other went shopping or whatever. Even when we stopped for coffee or lunch, we would make sure the bike was beside us."
This big D Lock weighs over a kilo buts helps guarantee
a night's sleep.

A lightweight security wire with a combination lock. It's
never going to stop a thief, but may just delay them for
a few moments when your back is turned. Not only can
it attach to a suitable post, it can be led through the
handles on the panniers to prevent them being lifted
straight off the bike.
Mike: “If we were visiting a tourist attraction – like Angkor Wat – we would sometimes ask an official to keep an eye on the bike. Once or twice we slipped them a little money, but usually they were delighted to help.”
Q: What happens now?
Judy: “I'm very excited about going home to see our family and friends and to be among our own and to enjoy living at our little bach beside the water on Waiheke Island. A lot to look forward too.”
Q: Any more cycling?
Judy: “Absolutely. There’s too much rain in our New Zealand winter to stay home."
Mike: “It will be shorter next time – maybe three or four months.”

Q: Where?
Judy: “So many bike paths and places to cycle in Europe and it’s such a bicycle friendly environment. Maybe Sri Lanka, parts of Australia but their wildlife terrifies me. Maybe Ireland/Scotland – if they have a heat wave. I’d love to return to British Columbia, maybe New England or Nova Scotia. Maybe parts of Argentina (near Bariloche) or Chile."
Mike: “Whew – it’s a big world. I wouldn’t mind finishing the Eurovelo 6 which took us from the Atlantic to Vienna. We could pick it up again in Austria and follow it out to the Black Sea. Then maybe get to Turkey. And places in the Third World attract me – too many to mention.”

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