Archive | March, 2011

Africa update: Overwhelming!

29 Mar

Hey folks,

In 9 weeks we are going to be in Africa!

So how do I feel? The word overwhelmed would sum it up. It seems like my days are just a blur, weeks are buzzing by as sponsorship proposals are sent out (and rejection letters are received – very enthusiastic rejection letters I may add), liaising with charities, organising the fundraising gig (that’s all Mandy and Elisha at the moment, god knows what I would do without them), working (I still haven’t told you my new job – working in a bike shop), getting gear blah blah.

A couple of weeks ago I was overwhelmed in a “holy shit” kind of way. We were 10 weeks out from departure, we had no bikes, no air tickets, no panniers, no camping/cooking gear, no camera man, no camera gear, no GPS, no insurance, blah blah……………….basically had nothing. Plus I had just bought a new map of Southern Africa, and our planned route that had only been 20cm on the African Continent map was now over a metre on the Southern Africa map.

But after a week of staying up late spending a small fortune on internet shopping –we took 2 hours to decide which pot set to buy as the one we wanted weighed 50 grams more than the other ones- and knocking on the right doors, we have the vast majority of gear. Check out all our Ortlieb gear below, cheers to the supportive guys at Diggari.

The only major things we need now are our bikes! Ummm kind of a major thing I suppose when we are planning on cycling 5000km. As I have found out with organising the expedition, the simple things are never simple, behind the smallest tasks always lie challenges. After waiting on potential sponsors to get back to us, the weeks kept passing by, and let me tell you when you are asking for sponsorship you wait a long time, a very long time, I think I usually get put at the bottom of people’s to do lists, right below cleaning the disgusting smelling moisture build up from between the rubbish bin and the bin liner. But a big thanks to Dirtworks, they are working with us, and doing a great job at securing our bikes, so fingers crossed we have them in the coming week.

Overwhelming in a more positive way, however, has been people’s willingness to jump onboard and help out, to support the Final Continent Expedition. Its great having so many bringing their skills to the fore and willing to help. Thank you…….no really, thank you.

Then there were two.

21 Mar

I got the news last week that Sich our doco maker won’t be coming to Africa. He was as gutted as Mandy and I. There were a ton of reasons that left Sich with no option, the biggest being that monkey of a thing called money. And with at least $10,000 of cash required to cover personal costs, it’s a pretty big monkey, maybe a Gorilla – and the gorilla keeps getting bigger, I just spent $600 at the travel doctor! Yep it doesn’t take long for the cost of bikes, plane tickets, panniers, camping gear, clothes, vaccinations, camera’s, insurance, food to add up and not to mention 7 months of no income. And with no sponsors or grants onboard it’s a pretty big ask.

But the show –or should I say doco- will go on. Sich is still pumped on the doco and will be coming to Melbourne for our fundraising event on the last weekend in May (book it in, Melbourne, Sunday, May 29th at 4pm. Beer, Bikes and Bands), and will be doing the pre doco filming, and then will do the post doco filming and the editing next year.

Once I got over the initial disappointment of not having Sich a long for the journey I became a little excited. What first started off as a “shit, another thing I have to buy -a camera, and worry about filming” has turned into a great little opportunity. Now I’m super excited about it, I spent yesterday with my mate Tofa buying my recommended camera, and it just so happens that Tofa is an industrial designer and will build a camera mount for the bike. Another friend who has studied film will give me the necessary tips, and Grand Master Sich will polish my skills up before departure. So it’s all rather exciting now.

Anyway folks, off to work, which by the way I was going to write a blog post on my new job but I have been rather busy of late with organising Africa therefore the blog has been a little neglected, apologies. Anyway, I’m working in a bike shop, doing basic repairs, which will be invaluable experience and will help with the implementing of the container and training of locals.

OK, I plan to give you an expedition update soon (although I have been planning this for the past 2 weeks).

Some cycling videos and inspiration.

11 Mar

Here’s a couple of inspiring video’s about adventure.

The first is of Rob Thomson, one of my inspirations behind setting myself the human powered adventure challenge for my final continent. It was after being directed to his blog by my mate, and Rob’s brother Chris, and reading Rob’s thought provoking blog posts whilst working in the mines in Western Australia that I was inspired.

Anyway, I love this video, it’s a 10 minute glimpse into Rob’s final chapter of his Guiness World record skate, check it out

The meaningful words below are what Rob has said about the Final Continent Expedition.

Hap has proven himself a man of great determination and grit with his above-all-odds success so far in his unique working-on-all-continents-before-30 dream. And once again Hap has dreamed himself a worthy dream – cycling Africa. This is a dream that will bring great joy, fun, and enriching experiences. It is, however, also a dream that will cost him. It will cost him time. It will cost him physical pain. Mental agony. A determined mind. Most of all it will, more than any experience thus far, cost him his innocence and ignorance. The latter two costs are, in my view, the hardest but most rewarding things to pay when pursuing a dream such as Hap has conjured up. Any extended human powered journey in environments different to one’s own comfortable cultural and environmental bubble will leave a person changed. It will leave a person aware, enlightened perhaps, to the issues and challenges of our wide world. And with that awareness comes responsibility. A responsibility that I am thrilled to see Hap already embracing through his collaboration with Bicycles for Humanity and BEN Namibia. Therefore I wish him all the best for his journey. Hap’s dream is a reality. May it change many, and be the inspiration needed for many more to embrace their own worthy dreams.

The second video is of Tom and Andy’s 1000km cycle through Mongolia, which was the final chapter of their Ride Earth project. There are 4 x 10 minute videos, super professional, and great to watch whilst eating your lunch. Tom has been awesome with answering all my questions about cycle touring and handing down invaluable information.

The Christchurch earthquake – A great opportunity

8 Mar

The Christchurch earthquake has been dubbed New Zealand’s darkest day, but could this be the birth of a bright future?

I find all it all surreal. Christchurch is my birthplace, a city I spent my school holidays with Grandparents, going to Orana park zoo, watching magicians at the mall, visiting the Cathedral, going to QE2 pool, eating at Mcdonalds and watching TV3 (Nelson only had TV1 and TV2). Seeing the pictures on the web of all the rubble and bloodied, dusty people is still so surreal to me. I still haven’t got that connection, that realisation that it is Christchurch, I don’t know if fellow Kiwis feel the same way or if it is just me. But I can’t help but feel detached from the images I see on the web.

The reason I feel detached from it all is probably because I am detached from it all. I’m in Melbourne, I’ve just had a nice meal of sausages and took a crap in a toilet that flushed and I’m sitting in a lounge with a light that works. I haven’t lost family or friends, I haven’t lost my house, I haven’t lost any belongings.

Maybe it is because of my disconnectedness that I am able to see a lot of positives that have come from the earthquake. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t even imagine the death and destruction that has shaken the Garden city and the devastating impact that has had on peoples’ lives. In saying that, I want to share a quote by some person who probably did some amazing feat in the face of grave circumstances:

The pessimist looks at opportunities and sees difficulties; the optimist looks at difficulties and sees opportunities.

With the earthquake, some remarkable stories have come out and some incredible things have happened. Although it is a shaky foundation from which to start, something amazing can be built from it.

Camaraderie, everyday heroes and neighbours

Without this earthquake happening, I would say a lot of people would still not know their neighbours. I’m sure everybody waves to their neighbour down the road, but did they ever go and knock on their door and ask them to borrow something? Did they ever hug and cry together?

From friends that were there, I hear the most amazing stories of people going down the road with a shovel asking who needs a hand to dig away the mud, armies of volunteers up for lending a hand.

Imagine going and checking on the elderly man who lives by himself down the road who you never knew. Not only do you meet him, but you realise that the man living behind the conservative brick walled house with drab curtains fought for New Zealand’s freedom in World War II and lost his long loving wife to breast cancer only two years ago. He cries and hugs you when you knock on his door to see if he is OK, as you are the first person he has been in contact with since his quiet tranquil read the morning paper reality was shaken.

Putting life in perspective

I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of people that have been devastated by the destruction of their family homes and businesses, but I’m also sure that there are hundreds of thousands of people that are even happier their loved ones are safe and healthy.

Putting the earthquake in perspective

Christchurch is lucky

Now, death and destruction of any magnitude is terrible, but when considering some of Mother Nature’s tantrums of late, I can only think that Christchurch is lucky. The last proposed death toll I heard of for Christchurch was roughly 240. Now let’s put that in perspective, the Haiti earthquake, 230,000 lives were taken –that’s over half the Christchurch population-, and the Pakistan floods over 6 million people were left homeless and 17 million affected in someway.

Could this be what dreams are made of?

People that have been a slave to society’s dreams, the whole 9-5, have a great career, get a pretty house in a nice suburb and a fancy car. Now that everything is in rubble, they are free to sail around the world like they have always wanted? Maybe this earthquake was the shake they needed? Maybe they realise what is more important in life: a healthy family and not all the material things that clutter our lives.

The BEST city in the world!

Could this not be a great OPPORTUNITY, an opportunity to build the world’s GREATEST CITY. The first eco-friendly city, have the CBD run on solar power, integrate cycle paths into the new city plan, a new user friendly public transport infrastructure, earthquake proof buildings, funky architecture. Build a dream city. A great chance to right all the wrongs.

Yes the cathedral is buggered, but what an OPPORTUNITY it is to produce a Guggenheim. Shit, every building that is built could make the Guggenheim look ordinary.

Christchurch, this is your time to shine!

OK, just a thought.