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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.