A Sprocket of a Day, part 2

I was comfortably bored by the time we got to Klausdorf and spent much time entertaining myself and infuriating Sharon with screaming bad humour about Santa-Claus-dorf. Sadly it was here where my humour started to dry up. We turned into a tail-wind and once again when we cranked up the gears, I left Sharon for dust. I could not understand why and was worried. When conditions are good and these conditions were perfect, then it is necessary to click over some miles. It is my hope that we will cycle many more miles together, but if we struggle to comfortably survive eighty kilometre days, then for me something needs to change. I think it was here in nowhereville Germany that I started grieving the possible end of long lazy cycling trips together. I asked Sharon what gear she was in. Her reply was; ‘3-7’. This was her highest gear, but yet she was cycling so slowly. In frustration I looked down at her sprockets and rather annoyingly noted that she was actually in 2-7.

Just before we left on this journey, we had put the bike in to be serviced. We have possibly the world’s best bike shop here in Klaipėda. They had told me there were problems with her gears and said the numbers on her gear-grip would not match the actual gear she was in and that she would just have to strongly ratchet her gears up on to the top ring. Sharon did not grow up on bicycles and with many things tends to rely on facts, not feelings. This was one of those cases. I encouraged her to use all her strength and force it on to the top ring. After a physical fight with her handgrip gear shifter her chain popped up into 3-7 and zoom she disappeared into the distance. I have never been so happy to be left in someone’s wake. Laughing, smiling and mentally planning many more years of tour-cycling, I clicked up my gears and with some effort chased her down.

Our wheels stopped rolling at the ‘Children and Family Hotel’ in Nisdorf. We were a little tired: we had already cycled past our planned camping spot and were perhaps hoping for a B&B in Barth. It seemed that a large group of families had arrived at the hotel just before us. I staggered, grimy and smelling into their bar, to be greeted with horror by many well dressed parents and a tribe of energetic kids. Fortunately the host rescued me and sold us some rather expensive but delicious fizzy drinks. Sitting outside in the sun, we cackled our way through the conversation of Sharon’s gears. It was really quite remarkable that she had managed to get this far only using her lower gears. It was also perhaps a reminder that it is nearing time for Sharon’s old faithful German bike to be put out to pasture.

A filling of our water bottles and a toilet were required. I felt bad romping through this classy hotel in my cleat-clad cycle shoes; it was definitely the poshest place I had ever stunk in. By the time we left, the kids had invaded our quiet spot with a collection of carts and bikes. Leaving was like riding through a moving, screaming and laughing obstacle course. These kids were the happiest Germans we saw on the trip.

Anyhow, we zoomed along peaceful cycle-paths towards Barth, and even had to climb a testing little hill. We stopped at a guest-house in Barth, but there was no room for us. It was now dusk, and we had cycled close to eighty kilometres and were keen to stop and explore what looked like a nice town. The second guest-house looked empty, yet was also full. The mother and daughter who greeted us were rather talkative. Unbelievably we wasted about thirty minutes of fading light as they walked us up the road, knocking on a neighbour’s door in search of our beds.

It was dark by the time we left. Sharon was using her fantastic Silva LED flashing lights again and we wore all our high-viability clothing. In the dark at Pruchten we stopped at another Zimmer Frei, the host could not understand us and with a ferocity I still cannot believe, she grabbed a kid passing on a bike and commanded him to translate. She barked an expensive price at us and when she saw we were actually thinking about it, pretty much doubled the cost with a cleaning bill. This rude woman who perhaps had an empty room clearly didn’t want us sleeping in it.

Riding up the road, we stumbled into a nice looking pub and met a friendly person who tried to rent a whole house to us for the night. However his price was about the same as our budget for the whole cycle trip.

Knowing there was a camping ground close, we cycled through the dark. I stopped at another guest-house and was greeted by what I presume was a guest who simply said ‘no’. So it was to be another night in the tent. We rode into the huge and very busy ‘Naturcamp Pruchten’ at about 9pm. We cycled in circles for a bit looking for a set area for tents; not finding this we quietly pitched our tent under a tree beside a Volkswagen Combi. The Camping-ground office was closed, but we were both able to shower. There was a very nice restaurant on site and sat outside until almost 11pm enjoying a beer and some pastries Sharon had picked up somewhere during the day. It was a very pleasant end to a rather different 88.32 kms day.

Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2

niveous haze

niveous haze

niveous mist wisps and winds through steeples tall, along
cobbles flat and up your trouser leg. women cower on buses

                      gloves and bags. Michelin kids slip and slide
wide-eyed tasting skies of their failing flaying youth

the haves shop until they drop and have-nots drop at the shop
collecting alms doing no harm, but spoiling foiling illusions of
‘good tidings for you and your kin’

street windows, flat screens, screaming wars, on the hour every
hour, Aleppo letting go

downloaded and freeloaded an aroma kicks the coma. Coffee to
see, to set free, my tunes, iTunes, oh it’s such A Beautiful Life.

a cross on a spire, a flurry, a story, an electric fire. Santa calls,
snow falls, the barista waits, Jesus weeps

daylight sleeps, darkness creeps, chills spill, dammit this planet
stops a spinning, no one’s winning, no one notices

Christmas          effortless meaningless, unless of course your horse,
your saviour entered this tragically, magically juxtaposed hard-
nosed space & place

to rescue men [and possibly women too] from their sorrowful
pitiful sinful ways

              this Yuletide faze, this yearly craze,
                                it’s rather a random kingdom
                                                               niveous haze

Big Red

Just for those interested.


Name: GEPIDA ALBOIN 300 PRO (2011)
Code: 30110340
Fork: RST RF-M7
Handlebar stem: GEPIDA MTS-C299N ALLOY
Crankset: SHIMANO FC-M4000 40-30-22T – 175 MM
Bottom Bracket: BB-ES300 68mm/BC137 – 118MM
Rear Cassette: ACSHG418134 11-34/ 8 SPEED
Front derailleur: SHIMANO TX-51
Rear derailleur: SHIMANO ALIVIO
Shifting lever: SHIMANO ST-EF51
Brake lever: SHIMANO ST-EF51
Rear hub: GEPIDA ALLOY 36H
Outer tyre: SCHWALBE MARATHON PLUS SMARTGUARD RIGID ROAD TYRE. 40-622. 28X1.50 700X38C. SMARTGUARD HS440, B/B+RT. ART NO 11100770 [not pictured]
Light: AXA PIC-030
Rear light: B&M DELAYED
Second kickstand: KTM
Water bottle cages: ELITE CUSTOM RACE, BLUE – BLACK
Frame size: MAN:48cm 52cm 56cm
Original Weight: 16kg
Wheel Size: 28”

A Little Easter Poem

pastures green

The righteous
will flourish in the courts of the King,
they will bear fruit
fresh and green,
“The LORD is upright
he is my Rock
the Rock of my salvation

And the earth shook, the rocks split
as the King of Glory
gave his all, suffered death
parting Kingdom’s curtain

for us
the sentenced
to walk in
and sit at the throne
beside quiet waters
and pastures green
and worship
our precious
and beautiful

Union Jack

(the national flag of the United Kingdom)

If we had Royal Mail
then I would pop the Jack in an envelope
and send it back to where it belongs.

The Union was and is British.
Aotearoa was quite clear
that it didn’t want the flood
of red, white and blue.

Almost two hundred and fifty years later
we still pay the price
of having someone else’s flag
rule over our own.

I know you can’t go home
but at least respect our suffering
and leave our flag alone.

The Dusty Finger Tour

P1020761I think I what will remember most about this tour will be my cold, shingles and the late nights.

It was wonderful to do another tour in English and a first language.
I started in a very cool pub venue in Ipswich with a very small turnout and an audience who enjoyed politics.

P1020620The next morning greeted me with a pub breakfast and peaceful train trip north to Norwich.

The small afternoon youth gig in Norwich was a delightful challenge and well worth the effort. The evening gig was exceeding well planned, resulting in a packed venue and enthusiastic crowd. This was definitely my best ever English gig.


IMG_8283-01After breakfast my host drove me to ‘holding-pen’ Stansted where I flew north. After a lovely afternoon dog-walk I played to the home-crowd of Glasgow. It was a house gig with friends where I dragged out my faithful Scottish poetry.photo

P1020663The morn greeted me with good coffee and two northern train trips to a small village south of Perth. This was a lovely afternoon open-fire house gig.


P1020720The last of my northern journeys was a snow laden train excursion to Inverness. After lunch I was blessed with a quick trip monster hunting at Loch Ness. The evening was spent with a warm audience in the Sunset Cafe.

P1020724My journey south was absorbed by a delayed train and a very drunk Highlander mourning his dead cat. The evening in West Kilbride was spent reading around a candle-lit table flanked by a roaring fire.

P1020764After a very late night I was driven to Ayr where I managed a morning snooze and a spot of shopping before performing in front of a very responsive crowd in a very packed Su Casa cafe.

P1020789 (2)By the morning I was quite sick and shared this with a plane load of people flying to Derry city. It was a lovely Northern Irish day worth the coastal road to Coleraine. I shared the evening in Kiwi’s Brew Bar with excellent musicians. Unfortunately my fuzzy-head-cold left my performance a bit flat.

P1020813More snow on the morning’s drive to Belfast. Lovely train as I headed south. Dublin the final event was a house gig with a fun loving crowd. The Dusty Finger Tour finished just before midnight. I had a good long sleep before an Ulster Fry, walk through the village and celebratory Guinness.

P1020883 (3)I think what struck me the most on this tour was the quality of the audiences. I met so so many good people. Thanks so much to my hosts who did a such a good job or organising things.