New beginnings. As the new year starts I am preparing to go forth with a whole new chapter in this journey we call life. I've just turned 29 years old, own my own home and have no partner or kids, so what's holding me back? 2014 was a great year for me, definitely one of the best in my life with constant adventures, many new friends have been made and I have reconnected with just as many old friends. I have been places I had only heard of or read about and lead others to destinations they didn't even know about. Many many nights have been spent out under the moon and stars, drinking wine and whiskey, smoking cigars and telling tall tales or sitting by myself contemplating the answer to life, the universe and everything. The only thing that marred my year has been my health, with more visits to doctors and physiotherapists in one year than the whole past decade. I love my work but it has taken it's toll over the past 15 years, I'm not very old age wise and yet I physically feel knackered. And I only have to look around me among my older friends to see plenty of those who worked too long and left it too late to do those adventures they had spent all that time dreaming about. One Thursday night a few months back, I decided I needed to pursue those dreams while I can make the absolute most of them. So a few plans were set in motion, I bought what I reckon is the best bike and gear for the job, gave notice at work and as of today, I have left and am on the road. At this stage I have a loose route planned that is likely to change and no real time schedule or need to be back home by a certain date. Anticipation is building and I'm looking forward to exploring new trails, meeting new people and visiting old friends again. The bike was prepared last week and given a thorough 500km shakedown run with some of the local and Nelson lads. All went well: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=609828&page=123 Post 1837 onwards Sweet, a service and I'm good to load up and go. Day 1 After a leisurely start today I left home at 11am and headed off around the Queen Charlotte Drive to see my first lot of friends, my old employers. It was a bit of an eye opener at the start, I started riding the road like I have literally a few thousand times and it was only a few corners before I was forced to remember I am on a fully loaded up bike. :eek1 Once I arrived, over a few coffees and sandwiches we discussed happenings and the future for them without me there to stay on top of things When it was time to move on I couldn't resist getting a photo with some of the Bradley kids and grand kids. From there I was a little nervous, the bike is heavier than I'm used to and the conditions of the track ahead was unknown. Once I hit the gravel I noticed a cool spot to stop and let the tires down a tad: With 18psi in the front the bike was feeling much better and I continued on my way up the Maungatapu track, it was rough in sections, smooth in others and oh so much fun. I had my mojo back, the bike was feeling balanced and comfortable This hole looked enticing in the 31'c heat but it was a long way down sheer sides so no swimming here unfortunately: It was a relief to make it to the top and get off the bike to cool down, those hills distant right surround my home: And where I was heading for the night, right down in the midst of the heat haze, Nelson: The descent was awesome, the track was smooth hard pack with drainage humps for the most part and I was having a blast and working up a sweat. I inadvertently took a wrong turn and found myself at a nice beach with a beautiful pool but seeing as it's the water supply, I thought I better not go for a swim in it After a cool off, it was time to visit my cousins which is where I'm at now. I've a big feed of home grown salad and spuds, some nice chicken, a bottle of wine and many many laughs I'm thinking it's time for bed. Freedom is found in moments like these, when the track ahead is unknown, home seems distant and the ability to let go of self imposed limits and step outside comfort zones is almost tangible. Day one done and dusted.