Taking the extended route

By David Kraitzick

The Government is spending $50 million to create a series of great rides throughout New Zealand. David Kraitzick catches up with one international visitor already pretty happy with cycle opportunities.
With his scruffy red beard, broad smile and hearty laugh, Roei Sadan is an adventurer through and though, his positive attitude hinting little at the troubles he's faced during his travels.
The desire to experience the world and its people in the best way he can has seen him cycle across 39 countries and six continents in four years, starting in Alaska in July 2007.
On his trusty bike nicknamed Emuna - Hebrew for "faith" - Roei has covered 58,000km so far.
New Zealand was originally not part of his plan but he's happy he included Godzone before his final leg in Australia after which he'll be heading back home to Israel.
"I thought, while down under, why not see amazing, beautiful New Zealand?" says Roei.
He says New Zealand is an amazing country. With everything so compact it's very convenient and perfect for cycle touring with short distances and lots of variety, says Roei.
"New Zealand is easy, people are very friendly.
"On the road I learned that it is the people that are the most interesting, people make a trip an adventure."
This is why he prefers the North Island. He says the many tourists in the South Island makes it difficult to meet real New Zealanders and see how they live.
Many people are interested in how he was robbed in Mexico or contracted severe malaria in Mozambique but Roei prefers to talk about the upsides.
"There are too many to list, it depends what, the best food, the best people, the best landscape," he says.


"At the end of the day I'm dreaming with open eyes and sometimes nightmares are part of the dream."
The 29-year-old shows a worldly wisdom and understanding beyond his age. After all, he's seen more in the past four years than most people see in a lifetime.
Roei concedes he's wiser now from his broader perspective, but is hesitant to say how his travels have changed him. He says his friends in Israel will be the judge when they see him on his return home in July.
"In many aspects I got a bit better, more sharp," he says.
"I like to say I have a wide angle lens eye, I like to say I zoom out."
Roei's ride is now sponsorsed by Eden mineral water but it began as an entirely self-funded journey with the help of friends, family and countless incidents of hospitality and kindness he's experienced across the world from complete strangers.
With the help of Israeli embassies he's participated in talks and presentations around the world.
He planned to meet Wellington's mayor and give a speech but this was derailed by the Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath.
So what's next for Roei? He says his next adventure is likely to involve running but before that he wants to write a book about his ride and spend time with family and friends at home.
However, it's unlikely he'll stay in one place for too long, because Roei's energy comes from meeting challenges and people.
"There is no shortcut for a place that is worth going to," says Roei.
Dream trip

You can follow Roei Sadan's adventure at www.dreamwithopeneyes.com
 

- THE AUCKLANDER

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