Weekend away Camping

Thought I’d do a diary style post (its been a while!).

I’ve been into cycling for a while now, a good few years, and one of my favourite races is the bikethelake which is a nice 42km loop of the Rotorua Lake, or 2 Laps for the main event. Since i had surgery i’ve been pretty lax about any exercise and struggled to get back into it and up to fitness, i decided that i needed to do it again this year. My daughter was keen to do some tandem cycling with me, so we found a 30 year old Healing Tandem on Trademe and cleaned it up.

Took a bit of hard yakka to get it clean, polishing all the surface rust off and bringing the bling chrome back to life. I didn’t dare take it apart to re-paint it so i just taped over the smaller bits and only removed the major bits (wheels and seats etc). As it was the pedals had to have their threads re-tapped to get them back on, and being 2 right pedals on each person meant we had no cleat useage, just standerd pedals.

So though it doesnt look brand new, it did look pretty awesome after finishing, and very retro with all the crome. No 120PSI tyres here, it was 60PSI and all standard car valves all the way! We did a few training runs around the neighbourhood and managed to sustain about 20km/ph fairly easily. We decided it was going to be a pleasure ride rather than race, we were just not fit enough or good enough to try anything more and it would have been silly to try with only 2-3 weeks training for a 42km race.

Since I’m also training for the oxfam Trailwalker Ive been trying to fit in longer walks with that, and thursday i went and walked 20km to Hamilton from home, whilst my husband was about to pick me up his car started playing up (gearbox) so when we went to Rotorua for the race, we decided to take mine.

This may seem ok to most people, but we have a family of 5 fitting into a 990cc Toyota Vitz here now, plus tents, bags, and a tandem on the back!

packedcarIn the boot was 2 tents (one larger, one smaller dome), bed rolls, blow up bed, my bag, food, bike gear, helmets, etc. That left no room for kids bags and pillows which sat on their lap. In all the confusion trying to pack that much gear into the car we managed to only remember to bring 1 blanket for my husband and I :/

So we got to campsite, put up tents, unloaded gear, etc and locked up the tandem, did race registration, found a couple geocaches, and then headed back to camp for a swim. I have to say here, i love the Top10 holiday parks, great service, and i KNOW the toilet isn’t going to be a long drop with bugs in it!


After having an awesome BBQ dinner, kids went to bed, followed shortly by us. The temp dropped fairly quickly and though we thought at first our only blanket would do combined with being crushed up against each other, we froze. I slept for about maybe an hour before waking freezing. Even with that single blanket over our heads, the air in the airbed went down as cold as the air outside, a nice balmy 6C. We stayed semi warm with socks, clothes and PJs on, so long as we were pressed up against each other. In fact we probably would have slept if that darned bird hadn’t started hooting from about 2am onwards. I think somewhere around 4-5am i tweeted

Forgot how fun camping was, freezing your butt off counting off the hours till dawn whilst contemplating ways to kill that noisy bird”

Luckily an soon after its friends all chorused in , and at 6am i got up and made a cooked breakfast of bacon & eggs and fried bread. It was still freezing, as my daughter and I setup at 7am for the bike race clad only in our shorts and cycling top. We were fairly warm by the time we got to the startline and made sure we sat in the son.

Race started well, the sun was out, the day was clear, i felt like I had slept well even though i must have only got 1 hour. The kids had slept well at least and were not grumpy, Chelsea and I chatted and made jokes and even sung badly through out. About 15km in a squeek got noticeably louder so i stopped to check the bike over. Good thing i had, turned out one of the pedals was half unscrewed! Pulled out the spanners from the back pocket and put the bike back together, and continued.

On the back stretch over the hill it was a mission going up hill, we would chant 2 syllable food related words to motivate ourselfs in time with the pedals much to everyones amusement.

Now to understand this fully, a normal bike can balance going fairly slowly. A tandem needs a bit more speed to be able to balance, so going uphill meant we had to just go a little faster than most. So people would hear us behind them ‘big, mac, big, mac, big, mac, milk, shake, milk, shake, milk, shake’ and then we would over take them. At one point some lady told us to add in ‘coffee’ which we most defiantly hadn’t thought of, so we did. The downhills were great fun, being heavier we pretty much let her go whilst screaming to guys in front “MOVE LEFT! COMING THROUGH!” as we went flying past. Lucky for us I had also fitted a 120 db air horn onto the bike also!

We were the first tandem to finish, and had a lot of comments about our awesome ‘retro’ tandem. In fact, we came first in the tandems doing the 42km! which was kinda funny because our Team name was ‘Last Place’. Ironicly we also came last because there was only 1 Tandem doing the 42km race! Bonus! There were about 10 Tandems doing the 2 laps, but im glad we didn’t !

After the race we cycled back to camp, packed down and refilled the car. Lastly i loaded up the tandem, and got into the car, at which point i said ‘has anyone seen my keys?’. We looked around the camp site, toilets, kitchen and saw nothing. I assumed it was in my bag packed at the very bottom of the car so used my spare car key on my husbands keyring. Went for a swim in the hotpools, then back to prize giving where we won nothing but a bit of sunburn, then headed home. By this time the hour of sleep and 42km bike ride was really kicking in.

Unloaded the car, and sorted everything out whilst husband went for KFC pickup duty. No keys in the car, no keys packed in any bag – oh dear! Hopefully they will turn up somewhere, however its no major as I have spares of both house and car (can you tell i loose them often?) Went to bed at 8:30ishpm and slept like a log!

Planning on a 2 night stay in Taupo in 3 weeks! we love camping! This time however taking husbands much larger car, and plenty more bedding!