Challenge of the Year: Cycle Tour

Sometime around late May 2015, I decided my next bike build would be a touring bike. I had dreams of touring Southeast Asia by bike later this year and hanging out in remote locations with my bike chocka with panniers leaning against a palm tree or large boab tree. I began reading blogs of other touring cyclists and the awesome locales they ventured to. I’ve seen countless lists of ‘top cycle tours on Earth’ and mentally made a note of where to visit next. I dreamt of the clarity my rides would bring and the next novel I’d write on the road.

The longest I’d ever ridden was 60km (return) in Oregon (hills included). I figured this was something I could do at my own pace. Not that I love countless hours on the saddle but this was my freedom. Not only did I enjoy the challenge of going the distance, something massive transforms in my body when I get on a bike. I describe it as my happy place. But beyond that, it’s where my mind rests, where thoughts run wild and not in a crazy, scary way. I’m not able to jot notes and lists while I’m riding a bike. Thoughts come and go as they please and as soon as they appear, they’re gone. It’s also probably the only place I can talk aloud to myself and people won’t hear me.

So I visited RAD Bikes, as per my weekly volunteer duty, and my dream bike arrived that day. A yellow 1988 Scott Boulder was donated. Two in fact were donated that day. My buddy Pete set them aside to restore and when I told him I’d been looking for a frame, he was just as delighted to introduce me to this beauty.

1988 yellow scott boulder

This is an older MTB, pre-awesome sauce suspension. It’s specifically for touring. Go figure. It had sealed hubs, a braze on spoke holder, sweeping gaps between the down tube and the rear tyre for pannier and foot pedal clearance, funky elliptical crankset (so biopace 80’s design), adjustable brake levers for shorties, and the frame size was just right (difficult for smaller women like me to find). I bought the bike straight away and began stripping it and cleaning it up. Simply deconstructing the bike taught me a lot. Little did I know I was going to learn so much more about myself with this bike.

catarina in scarf

It took roughly four weeks to pull it apart, powder coat it bright green, and put it all back together again. The last thing i needed to do was put slick decals on it and I was ready to ride.

green 1988 scott boulder

I put it to the test June 30th. I was terrified of riding it up the Port Hills of Canterbury. I was so scared to take a bike I put together myself and see if it survived some steep and sticky situations. Good news, it did. Bad news, I needed new brakes. That was the last purchase I made before I took it on my first tour of the West Coast of New Zealand.

catarina decals

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