Category Archives: Cycling

Times They Are A Changing

Dear Reader,

So much has happened since we last wrote.  In February 2014 Jan took Our Rider all the way from Wellington to Auckland, what an adventure that was!  Jan is now in retirement with Mia Allegra taking over the road riding responsibilities.

It transpires that I had my last adventure with Our Rider at Christmas time around Te Urewera, we saw some amazing sights on the road rarely travelled.

Two weeks ago Bluey joined our fold, he is a 650B MTB and very handsome and he has just returned from the most bodacious adventure ever.  Our Rider will tell you all about it.

Please don’t be sad for me that my life with Our Rider is almost over.  She and I have had amazing adventures that we will always treasure.  I am moving on to new different adventures with a young girl.  Hopefully she will ride me lots.  I will be good to her.

Thanks for reading

TVF (The Virgin Flyer)

Tour or Marokopa – Day 3

“Is there any better way to start a day than a descent followed by 10ks  flat  with a tail wind on a remote country road next to the sea?” I ask myself as Our Rider bursts into a Sunday hymn;

Pause a while, pause a while

in the humdrum of the city and behind a cloister wall

in the early morning and when shadows start to fall

see creation bending to the maker of it all

and all you have to do is pause a while

Day three of the Tour has begun remarkably better than the first two days.

We begin by pausing to enjoy the fertile land to the east, from where we had come.

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Jan pausing to revere creation bending

And a few turns on, we pause again to revel in the sea vista to the west.

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and again viewing Marokopa, after which this tour is named

As we move along the flat I notice Our Rider’s legs spinning freely.  The niggles of the past two days released.  The first climb presents itself and we make it up slightly faster than duck waddling speed.  Thankfully!  Then a lovely descent takes us to the Kawhia Harbour.  There is something magical about riding alongside the sea, even if we are hit with gusts of cross winds.

Undulations continue and at around two hours, Biggest Fan in the Wagon passes us.  We expect to see him at the top of the next hill to replenish the almost empty drink bottles.  He is not there!  On we continue up and down.  Still no sign of him.

Fortunately we are now back in cellphone range and a call is put out to determine his location and to summons his return.  We continue on and stop to talk with the locals, who inform us there is water at the hall back down the road.  Apparently all the townies come out to this spot to collect the water, it is that good.  Biggest Fan arrived so we did not get to find out if the advice was true.

We continue on to the Kawhia turn off, where the decision is made to stick to the original plan to ride the back road to Raglan (TVF would be too grumpy if she did not get out of the Wagon).  We turn left into the westerly wind for the descent (and ascents) into Kawhia.  Just before we reached the much needed petrol station (Wagon had consumed all her fuel) we spied a peleton of bicycles.  I could not resist out sprinting them all!

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Just a bit further down the road and along the flat into the headwind the turnoff to Raglan appeared.  It was now TVF’s turn to enjoy the day and she sure did.  That girl loves those dirty roads.  That’s what she said.

As time was running out it was decided that Biggest Fan should continue to Kawhia to find out what was there.  Not a lot it transpires.

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Kawhia’s residents, pausing to fish

Like Jan, my day started with a lovely descent that kept going and going, great off camber corners to keep me focused and hard packed dirt so my wheels stayed well connected to the ground.  Sheer bliss.  We went up for a bit and down some more, finding little bay after little bay and so we continued enjoying the fresh sea air and the warmth of the sun.  All too soon the sealed road appeared, with Jan waiting patiently by the Wagon for the final stage.

“I’ll see you in an hour if it’s hilly or less if it is flat,” Our Rider called out as she and Jan set off up the climb and climbed some more and more.  Eventually it flattened out and Garmin piped up declaring “Off Course”.  This mightily confused Our Rider as the paper map clearly showed only one main road and all other going nowhere.

Intrepidly she continued on.  Fourteen kilometres to go.  “That’s easy,” Our Rider said “That’s just a ride home from work and I do that everyday.”  Fueled by the wind at her tail and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah bursting from her lips, she and Jan made fabulous progress with the kilometres quickly passing by.  Then Garmin stuck with the message 10.8km to go, and after another 5kms or so, it still said 10.8km to go.  “Uh Oh,” Our Rider thought, “I’m this close to the end I really do not want a scenic diversion now.

Garmin was reprogrammed and Our Rider thought it said 123 km to destination.  She pulled over.  No cellphone reception, which was fortuitous.  As she rode up the hill and around a corner for about 123 metres she saw Biggest Fan and Wagon waiting patiently.

Jan remembered this spot from many years ago, when he and Our Rider had ridden from Auckland to Raglan.  This was the spot that Biggest Fan and friends had stood back then with the sign of encouragement “remember to bring the green bin in tonight.

The completion of another journey of adventure, or perhaps it is simply a continuation; and all you have to do when riding a bicycle is to pause a while.

Tour of Marokopa – Day 2

A few years ago Our Rider performed one of her more impressive scenic diversions.  When heading for National Park to ride me along the 42nd traverse, she found herself near Awakino, which is on the west coast.  Many a person can tell the tale of missing the turnoff to the central plateau and ending in New Plymouth.  But what was amazing about Our Rider’s diversion is when it was noticed that they were not where planned rather than retrace her steps, she turned on Garmin and asked it to get her and her friend to National Park.  Only thing is she forgot that she had set the route mapping to “avoid main roads.”  So we ventured in the dark a long lonely back country roads.  An Alfred Hitchcock story waiting to unfold.

Ever since, Our Rider has been curious to see Awakino in the daylight, so a route was planned along a very remote barely used road from Marokopa to Awakino.

The day dawned with near gale force westerly winds, although to start with it was to be at my tail, which was quite fortuitous as I started up the false flat, which I came down yesterday.  Although I there was no plan to re-climb the wonderous descent of yesterday (thankfully).

I noticed that despite a tail wind we were not travelling at great speeds and Our Rider’s heart rate was quite lower than she would expect it to be.  Obviously the previous day’s travails had taken stock.  Oh well we continued with the odd grumble and moan (I much prefer it when Our Rider sings), then the road started to go up more steeply.  We caught a glimpse of the wagon where the road turned from gravel to tar seal and we pulled up alongside.

“I thought you might want to change bikes,” Biggest Fan said.

“I’ve got a better idea,” Our Rider responded.  “Let’s pop TVF in the car and lie Jan on top”  That’s what she said!

Well I was not going to complain about Jan being on top of me.  Not one tiny bit!  So I hastily jumped in the wagon as did Our Rider and we proceeded to the top of the hill.  As we were uncertain as to whether the road would turn back to gravel I was the stead of choice for the descent.  Lucky Lucky me:)  Then I heard it, the strains of our Rider’s voice “I’m on top of the world, looking down on creation….”  “woo hooo,” I sung in harmony with her as we enjoyed the long winding descent towards the turnoff to Waikawau Bay.

Gordon, the adventurous travelling bear, became exceedingly excited at this point as he knew we were going to the beach.  He is a bear who travels very light, in fact the only item of clothing he takes with him is his red heart swimming trunks.  So a beach is the perfect destination for him. What added to the excitement was the tunnel that required navigation to gain access to the beach.

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Biggest Fan observed that this tunnel would make an excellent wind tunnel for training, with the westerly gale funnelling straight through.

Gordon was not deterred by the precipitation and lack of sunshine and enjoyed his brief moment at the beach.

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Travelling back to the main road we spotted what we initially thought was a zebra.  however, closer inspection revealed it to be a horse in checked not striped pyjamas.

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Outside Whareorino School it was time for me to hand the pump to Jan for remainder of the journey to Awakino.

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I (Jan) set off along the road with the wind at my tail and I too noticed a certain slothful style to Our Rider.  “I’ll have words to her”, I muttered to myself, “she really needs a concrete pill.”  We started on the next climb up and up (extremely slowly I might add) and we saw the Wagon conveniently parked.  Our Rider forced herself out of the saddle and continued past the wagon with that vacant look in her eye.  “Thank goodness,” I cried, with my pride intact “the concrete pill worked.”  I really could not face another session in the Wagon with TVF on top!

We continued up and with every pedal stroke the gradient increased.  When it hit 16% we disturbed a duck who attempted to become airborne while waddling up hill!  I discovered that Our Rider propels me at duck waddling speed!  My pride took a severe dent.

After what seemed an eternity in hell we finally made the summit and down we went and down some more and more again.  Down to the River, Down to the River we’d ride (good old Bruce Springsteen).  It was a real shame about the head wind.

We made it to the state highway for the last 5kms to Awakino.  Where we discovered that the valley we traversed provided some protection from the wind’s full fury, which was unleashed directly on our heads.  It seemed more likely that we would end up in Te Kuiti (the opposite direction from Awakino) and with Biggest Fan looking concerned we turned around and headed back up the valley to another pleasant evening listening to the storm rage at the Fern & Fossil.

So despite our best attempts, Our Rider has still to see Awakino in the daylight.

Tour of Marokopa – Day One

I never know whether to be concerned or excited when Our Rider pulls out the maps and finds somewhere new for us to adventure.  What will we encounter and what will the weatherman deliver?  The evening before I find myself in a state of terrified excitement (well not terrified at all).

Jan and I are both securely stowed in the wagon and we head south west to the region of caves and creatures that glow in the dark.  At Waitomo Jan is unloaded and I remain with biggest fan.  I am a little jealous and fearful of what I may miss out on!

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Jan heads off and immediately finds the first of many hills.  It was not long before Our Rider was making the astute observation that “New Zealand is jolly hilly.”  OK, so the word she used may not have been jolly, but I needed to put some merriment into this tale.  The situation was exacerbated by the weatherman deciding to blow very strongly from the west, which was our general direction at times.

With the map loaded into Garmin, Jan was pretty certain there would be a scenic diversion or three.  Garmin said “turn right”.  It was a dirt road. Ever prepared a good old fashioned paper map was consulted and the decision made to follow the main (well not so main) road.  Our Rider did contemplate approaching this home to seek confirmation of direction, but decided that the inhabitants may not be of the human race and may have difficulty comprehending her.

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Along while after Our Rider found this sign, indicating that she was indeed headed in the right direction, although via a long cut to reach Marokopa!

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As they say, “what goes up must go down,” and after much grumbling the road did indeed go down and a lovely descent into Piopio was enjoyed.  The reputation of the Fat Pigeon Cafe, had reached Our Rider’s ears and with nostrils flaring she successfully sniffed it out.  She stood at the counter indecision as a smorgasboard of delicacies tantilated her.  “Sweet or savoury?” she asked herself unable to decide.  “I’ll make the very best nutritional decision for me at this time, just don’t let coach Silas know.”

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Our Rider was unable to consume this in one sitting, so it was safely stored in her nose bag and greatly appreciated as the day continued.  Although first, a wee stop was required to take in the artistic creativity of Pio Pio.

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Back up the hill again into the refreshing westerly wind, after some time Our Rider and Jan met up with Biggest Fan (who was driving the wagon) and me (who was inside the wagon).  I had a close up view of Our Rider and Jan as drafting was attempted, not terribly successfully regretably.

After a very long up the road changed to gravel and it was with great excitement that  Gordon (adventurous bear who loves mountain biking) and I leaped out of the wagon to take the pump from Jan.  My excitement was short lived as I am certain we started on the longest up of the day, which seemed to go for eternity.  The Pio Pio information booklet describes this road (Pomerangi) as great for mountain biking!  They are right if you are a mountain goat!

The temperature steadily dropped as we not so steadily ascended and then finally we reached as high as we could go.  Gordon posed for a photo before the fun began!

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Our Rider suffered through around 80 kms of wind and hills for 10km of one of the best downhills I have ridden.  She is the best!  Narrow gravel road, overhung by native bush, plenty of corners without to much corrugation.   As we sent Biggest Fan and the wagon down first there was no traffic either.  Sheer enjoyment and I thought I heard Our Rider say “It was almost worth the effort.”  We hit the river flats with about 10kms to go and was greeted by the head wind.  Oh well such is life.

On arrival the entire population of Kiritehere beach (four temporary residents hunting whitebait) applauded and cheered our efforts.  Our Rider graciously accepted the accolades and collapsed into the bath at the Fern and Fosill, while reading these sage words.

Desiderata

New Beginnings

So much has been happening since I last wrote.  Our Rider and biggest fan took off to South America, without us.  On hearing that Our Rider rode a bicycle that was not me (she described it as a three legged heavily pregnant lama) down huge long descents I decided that some things can never be forgiven!  I have been a wonderful co-companion for Our Rider and yet she leaves me behind on an adventure of a lifetime!

Despite it being winter Jan & Evo, Betty’s replacement,  have had frequent sorties on Saturday mornings including some shocking hill reps.  Unheard of for such activity to occur in winter.  I have even been transporting Our Rider to and from work (perhaps I have forgiven her after all).

Of course these rides invariably end at a cafe.

Innovative uses of a pallet.

Innovative uses of a pallet.

In an attempt to find out what adventures Our Rider has in store, and more importantly if they involve me, I have been busily searching through Our Rider’s computer and found she is writing a book called “Riding to My Front Door.”  Obviously she has been inspired by my foray in to the literary world and is following my example.  I wonder what it is all about?

I’ll be sure to follow this story and I hope you will too.

Mixed Emotions

I was surprised at the mixed emotions I felt when reading Jan’s version of the Longest Day Ride and in particularly that Betty has been replaced by a bicycle ‘whose name and sex has yet to be determined‘ (good grief I hope this is determined soon as it is way to much typing).

The diligent followers of our blog will know that Betty is my nemesis when it comes to Jan’s affection, with their regular dating.  Perhaps occasionally (OK often) I did succumb to the temptation of the green eyed monster.  I also feed my insecurities when Betty’s name was mentioned as I would feel quite a heffalump with my fat tyres and general bulk (mind you Betty was a heavy tart and possibly  the reason for her replacement).

Still I digress.  I thought I would be delighted now that Betty is removed from  the scene and yet I find myself concerned.  I know Jan will miss her, although he may be happy with her replacement yes that bicycle ‘whose name and sex is yet to be determined’ and I find myself concerned even more so for Betty herself.

I sincerely hope that Betty finds a new rider who is every bit as adventurous as MT, rather than being confined to the dark dim reaches of the garage never to be ridden again.   The nightmare borne by every bicycle!

Longest Day

I know TVJ and I have been very quiet in telling you of adventures this year, that does not mean there were none, as there were more than a few.

My most recent was a unique concept called the “Longest Day Ride,” where bicycles from all over New Zealand escort the sun from her rising to her setting.  These rides are flexible to be designed with plenty of escape routes.  Our Rider took that flexibility to heart.

At around sunrise (or perhaps a tad later) Our Rider leaped enthusiastically out of bed to make her porridge.  Shortly thereafter a text message from her riding companion greeted her.  He  had slept in!  He tried to come up with some feeble excuse that he had ridden all day the previous day and had not made it to bed until midnight.  Pffffffff.

I was secured inside the car with strategically placed bungy cords and we made a stop to pick up the other bicycle a red Avanti with funny bars off the front of the handle bars.  Somehow Red, that is what we will call him, despite being XL in size was placed in the back of the car too.  I really don’t know how Our Rider packs so well.  With Biggest Fan and Sleepy Boy (that is what we shall call Red’s rider) in the front Our Rider squished in the back with us two bicycles and we started to drive (one of those flexible interpretations) and drive some more.

After about 90 minutes or so our journey was stopped by a woman driving a ute who said she had lost her comb.  Biggest Fan suggested she find a hat!  She made way for us to pass and I got a peek of a lighthouse.  Intrigued I was with the events    it stood witness to.

A real live lighthouse

A real live lighthouse

I have spent a lot of time riding alongside the Manukau Harbour and had often wondered what was on the other side (a bit like Kermit and the Rainbow Connection) and today my curiosity was satiated and I had my answer.

However before climbing up to the lighthouse we met the lady who lost her comb and had not found a hat, she regaled us with stories, a discussion on plants and her belief on atheists (clearly they have never been in a lifeboat).  Then her dog arrived with the catch of the day.

The Day's Catch - Rabbit

The Day’s Catch – Rabbit

A very proud dog he was too.  After congratulating the dog it was off up to enjoy the view and to get a glimpse of where our day was to end.

The End - Just across the water

The End – Just On The Other Side

It doesn’t look very far at all, if we were amphibious.  So to the end of the road we went to begin.  Sleepy Boy on Red and Our Rider on me.

Eager ro be underway

Eager to be underway

The elevation on Map My Ride (which puts Pinocchio to shame), showed it was downhill all the way, and while that may have been true the downhill was interspersed with not infrequent ups often of a steep nature.  It was a pleasant day to be riding on extremely quiet back country roads, with the silence occasionally interrupted by a baa, moo or neigh (and that was Our Rider making noises at the passing animals).  The crimson Pohutukawa (New Zealand’s Christmas Tree) in full festive glory with the green grass and blue blue sea as its backdrop.  Simply glorious.

Somewhat surprisingly for Our Rider there were no scenic diversions, perhaps she has finally worked out the Garmin that rests on my stem, or not.  After a brief stop to consult with the paper map we turned right and headed for a beach.  A lovely downhill too (I did wonder how we were going to make it back up, but decided to delay that thought for the moment confident that Our Rider would have a  solution).

On arriving at Karioitahi Beach we saw the some public health people hammering up a sign warning against collecting shellfish from the shores.  Just as well Mr Snowy (an ice cream truck) arrived so Our Rider could lick on an ice-cream for sustenance rather than collect kai moana (food of the sea).

Also at the beach was Biggest Fan and the car – so that was how we were to get back up.  Although it was an exceedingly hot day by now, neither Our Rider or Sleepy Boy chose a dip in the sea (perhaps fearful of ending in Australia eek).  Instead Our Rider splashed cold water all over her face and then let out a screech as she poured some down the back of her shirt  (did she think it would be like a warm shower, sometimes I wonder about her).

With our water bottles refilled and more food secreted in jersey pockets it was time to continue to the next stop, Papakura.  Of course Our Rider could have chosen the main road, which is relatively flat and frequented by motor vehicles.  No!   She again chose quiet back roads and discovered that Bald Hill Road, really does have a hill in it!  How she could think otherwise is beyond me.

With the tarmac close to melting and sunscreen mixed with sweat the two adventurers stoically continued on.  I had been promised that Madame Trainer the rider of my dear friend (TVF would suggest girlfriend) Betty would be meeting us at Papakura and that incentive allowed me to pedal on.

Then from behind I hear a cheerful “Hello” and then a bicycle, who I did not recognise, went by ridden by MT.  Even though the bicycle was not Betty I was more than happy to ride its  wheel (name and sex of New Bicycle yet to be determined).  By the time we reached Papakura, Our Rider was in desperate need of a popsicle and coke.

A dairy was found and us bicycles politely waited with our riders happily sitting on the concrete steps stuffing themselves with sugar and ice, although not meat pies!  Another bicycle joined us at the Dairy.  He looked rather different from us, with flat bars and panniers containing all sorts of important things as a book to read (on bicycles of course) a change of clothes and goodness knows what else.

It was time to continue and the merry band of four continued on flat roads with a bit of a head wind (not that I noticed as I was on the wheel of the bicycle whose sex and name has yet to be determined).  Next stop was a petrol station at the airport, where quite appropriately we filled our engines with more icy sugar.

At that point we were joined by yet another bicycle, with whom I have ridden before and whose rider bears the same name as me!  Through some more back streets, over the Mangere bridge where MT left us, her duty well done.  The remaining four headed towards Hillsborough, where Our Rider made the executive decision to detour to her place.  There was not too much dissent (none at all).  The bicycle whose rider bears the same name as me took his turn off home, so there remained three.

On arriving home we were greeted by Biggest Fan with more engine coolant, which were slurped down in record time.  The other two bicycles then continued on their amble eventually to end up in their own homes (possibly via a nightclub or two).

After Our Rider freshened up, she, Biggest Fan and I continued our journey and found ourselves at Huia where we watched the sun set  looking back over to where it had begun.

A satisfying end to the day

A satisfying end to the day

As I ride along the Manukau Harbour in the future now, I do so with the satisfaction that I  know what is on the other side.

The Longest Day Ride Concept

The longest day ride was dreamt up by Tama Easton who lives life with arthritis (as does Sleepy Boy).  They are both fine examples of how to see challenges as hurdles to be pushed aside and that an abundant life can be lived with a diagnosis.  Chapeau Chaps!

Tama lists three reasons that people participate in the longest day ride; a personal challenge, an enjoyable adventure, to raise money for Arthritis New Zealand.  

If you found entertainment and laughter in this story then you may want to make a donation to Arthritis New Zealand.