Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hutt River trail - again

We haven’t cycled for ten days since coming back from our Hawke’s Bay trip because the weather has not been very inviting. We’ve had quite a lot of rain and wind. But today was fine, though still blowing a brisk northerly.

We decided to ride the Hutt River trail again. We parked the car at Seaview. Here the view over the river mouth was very different from the last time we were there. There has been quite heavy rain in the Tararua Ranges in the past couple of weeks, and the water in the river was higher and dirtier than it was a month ago, and it seemed to be flowing more swiftly too.

We decided to cycle out for 10kms, then turn back. Riding the first few kilometres on top of the stopbank was hard work. The head wind was strong enough to make me wonder why I had agreed to out for a ride. I had the gears all the way down to 1 to reduce the resistance, but it was still very heavy going.

So when the opportunity came to choose between staying on the smooth surface of the stopbank, or taking the gravel track in the shelter of the trees, we went for the gravel path. I have more or less overcome my distaste for gravel, so I was quite happy to choose gravel over headwind.

Actually, the first part of the gravel track was not very sheltered, and as the surface was quite rough and the wind still strong, I was going so sluggishly, that we were even overtaken by a jogger! But soon the track smoothed out and the trees did their sheltering job, and I was able to speed up a bit more, and enjoy the ride.

Autumn has definitely had its effect on the many deciduous trees along the riverbank, and there was a pleasant smell of fallen leaves. Because it had been windy, there was also quite a bit in the way of twigs and small branches on the track, and we had to watch that we didn’t get caught up with some of these. John had to stop at one stage to remove a bit of tree debris from his wheel.

In the same place where we had seen them before, we saw a pair of Paradise ducks waddling across the grass below the stopbank. Dad, looking severe, with his black head, and dark plumage, and Mum, with her white head pulled into her neck against the wind, and her more colourful grey, white, brown and green plumage. I thought that the more colourful one was the male (as male birds tend to be, don’t they?), but on looking it up (where would we be without Google and Wikipedia?) I found that I was wrong. On our way back, we saw a whole flock of them, more than a dozen.

Despite the wind there were a few other people about – walking their dogs, or cycling with their dogs, and one mother walking while her young son was riding his little bike with trainer wheels. We were just in time to see the poor wee fellow roll down a gentle slope, straight into a low barrier across the track! He flew over the top of his handle bar and landed on the other side of the rail. Luckily he was wearing a helmet. Of course his mum rushed over, and we stopped to see if we could help, as did a couple of City Council workers wielding weedeaters nearby. Though he made a lot of noise, he didn’t seem to be any the worse for his ordeal, he’d just had a big fright. Poor little guy.

When we’d done our pre-decided 10kms, we turned around and rode back, enjoying the tail wind. When the choice came again between windy stopbank or sheltered gravel path, we chose the stopbank this time, and we whizzed along, pushed by the wind. What a great feeling! My speedometer ticked over at 26km/hr without any effort on my part at all. Yesss!

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