Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Ciclovía, Ataturk Memorial Park, and the Wellington Waterfront

Sunday 14 February was a perfect day for the now yearly event of Ciclovía. For a whole day, from 9 am to 9 pm, the road between Shelly Bay and Scorching Bay was closed to motorised traffic, so that the people of Wellington could walk, cycle, scooter, skate, skateboard, push wheelchairs and pushchairs, ride cargo bikes, tandems and even unicycles, along the 4.2 km distance without the danger from cars.

Again, the day was a huge success, as apparently more than 3000 people, including lots of families with children, took the opportunity to do so.

For us the day was much more than Ciclovía. We left home at 11 am, and got home at 8 pm, having biked 49 km, though obviously we weren't biking all of that time. We parked at Greta Point, and on our e-bikes, we pedalled along Evans Bay and Cobham Drive to Shelly Bay Road.

Shelly Bay Road (photo by John)

The Ciclovía gathering place in front of the Chocolate Fish Café, at Shelly Bay (photo by John)

It was quite breezy – though luckily the wind was not as strong as last year, when many people found it quite a struggle (including John, who had chosen to ride the non-electric bike and had scoffed at me for wanting to ride the e-bike). Today’s breeze was very welcome, in fact, as it was a very hot day, and it kept us from overheating, especially when we started climbing hills.

We rode along the Ciclovía section without stopping at either of the cafés at each end, as they were very busy. John had mapped out a route to get us from Scorching Bay to the top of the Miramar Peninsula, and along to the other end, at Ataturk Park.

Just past the end of Ciclovía, we went up a little “No Exit” street – Pretoria Road – from where a walking path continued up the hill, to join the other end of Pretoria Road. It was sealed, but that was its only redeeming feature. Boy, was it steep! Even with an electric bike it was a struggle.

Nearly at the top, we had to stop for a breather! (photo by John)

From there we went up some more, then down and up, and up and down, and on, and on! Along Nevay Road, Seatoun Heights Road, Beacon Hill Road, Tannadyce Street, Strathmore Avenue, Sidelaw Street, and finally into Bowes Crescent, and to the top of Ataturk Park. At one stage, on Seatoun Heights Road, we stopped at a little roadside park, and were rewarded with a lovely view over Worser Bay.

View over Worser Bay from Seatoun Heights Road (photo by John)

This was hard going, I thought. The ups were hard on the legs, heart and bike, and the downs were hell on my hands. Having to grip the brakes so firmly plays havoc with my gammy thumbs. By the time we got to Ataturk Park, I said to John he definitely owed me lunch after that!

I forget which road this was, but much of the route was like this! (photo by John)

From the end of Bowes Crescent, it is a gravel track down to the Ataturk Memorial. We went some distance down, and John stopped in the shade of a tree to wait for me to catch up, as I was skidding and cursing on the gravel. He asked if I wanted to go all the way to the memorial. No, I didn’t, and I told him I didn’t ever want to go to Ataturk Park again! We’ve done it four times now – that’s enough! (John says, “In time you will mellow about that”, and I guess I probably will.)

Ataturk Memorial Park (photo by John)

We made our way down the sealed, but full of potholes and rough patches, track to Moa Point Road. From there we biked around the coast road to Seatoun and lunch. On the way we saw that a new seawall is being built at Breaker Bay. Large rocks were piled up at the far end, which presumably will be used to build the wall. We biked along here in May last year, when there was a big swell from the south, and the waves had washed right over the road and dumped lots of debris – rocks, driftwood and sand – all the way across to the houses on the other side.

A seawall is being built at Breaker Bay (photo by John)

We stopped for lunch at Franco’s Trattoria in Seatoun. It was 1:15 pm, and we were told that the breakfast menu was not available, but lunch was. Despite the fact that the sign on the window said that the café was open “from 8 am till late”, they were starting to clean up and get ready to close by the time we’d finished eating at about 2 pm. A bit unsettling, but we enjoyed the food anyway.

Lunch at Franco’s Trattoria in Seatoun (photo by John)

A pleasant – flat, yay! – pedal along back to Scorching Bay and Ciclovía. At Halswell Point we met Cliff Randall, owner of Wellington Electric Bikes, displaying his e-bikes, and offering people to give them a try. 

John with Cliff and his partner Bridget

John and I both had a try of the full size SmartMotion bike. While the seat was a bit too high for me, and I didn’t go very far because of it, I particularly liked the shape of the handle bar. It curves in at the ends, which is a much easier angle for my hands and painful thumbs to grip.

We also met Ron Beernink there, the organiser of Ciclovía. Cliff’s son Sam was taking photos with Ron’s camera, and Cliff wanted to have us and our bikes included too, so I had the cheek to borrow the photo below from Ron’s Facebook post (I hope that’s OK, Ron. It was lovely to meet you, by the way). 

From left: Cliff, Ron, Désirée, John (photo by Sam with Ron’s camera)

While John and Cliff were talking bike technicalities, I wandered off and took some photos. I climbed down the steps to the Point Halswell Lighthouse, and saw a young boy with an awesome bike helmet, so I asked if I could take a picture of him. His Dad was nearby and was happy for me to do so.

What an awesome bike helmet!

The Point Halswell Lighthouse

Looking the other way

Still talking about bikes!

Eventually we carried on towards the Shelly Bay end of Ciclovía, where we met Alastair Smith (he, of the Folding Goldies), who is also one of the great band of people on the organising committees of Ciclovía and Cycle Aware Wellington

From left Désirée, Alastair, and unidentified volunteer (photo by John)

We stopped for coffee at the Chocolate Fish Café, where two surprising things happened. While waiting in the queue to order our coffees, I caught a glimpse of a chap that made me think “Oh, good grief, how crass!”. Then as I got closer I noticed that it wasn’t what I thought, but it was a jolly good imitation … I pointed it out to John, who took a sneaky photo. It still makes me chuckle.

A “builder’s crack” T shirt! (photo by John)

The other surprise was a fellow Scottish country dancer, whom we hadn’t seen for several years, who came to join us at our table. She’s into biking too, it seems. We spent ages talking and catching up. I tried to convince her to come back to dancing. I think she will – next term, she said.

Barbara joined us at our table (photo by John)

Having biked back to our car at Greta Point, we tried to head home, but there was a huge amount of traffic, moving excruciatingly slowly on its way to Oriental Bay. I think that with such a glorious day, the whole of Wellington’s population must have been on the move – presumably now also trying to go home from spending the day on the south coast beaches. After c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g along for some distance, we decided “Flag that! We’ll just bike to Oriental Bay and have an ice cream while we wait it out”. So we parked the car in the first available sensible (legal!) carpark on Evans Bay Parade, and unloaded the bikes again.

… and unloaded the bikes again (photo by John)

The beach at Oriental Bay was more crowded than I have ever seen it. Almost as full as a European beach on a fine day. Lots of people swimming, or playing in the water, too. We queued up at Kaffee Eis for an icecream, then sat in the shade of the band rotunda to consume it. Too hot to sit in the sun!

Oriental Bay beach was the busiest I have ever seen it (photo by John)

Near Freyberg Pool, poor Bernie, the Bernese mountain dog,
was feeling much too hot in his thick fur coat! (photo by John)

We biked along the waterfront as far as the cruise ship wharf, where P&O’s Aurora was berthed. John took lots of photos along the way – of course.

We watched the Bluebridge ferry Strait Feronia coming in (photo by John)

We regularly see this busker with his clever umbrella arrangement (attached to his belt, I think).
He plays well-known classical guitar melodies, and I always like to stop and listen (photo by John)

While John went to talk to Ryan O’Connell at Swiched On Bikes at Queen’s wharf, I took a look at HMNZS Canterbury, which was preparing to pull up the gangplank. The Canterbury is a Royal NZ Navy sealift and amphibious support vessel which was visiting Wellington. She had been open to the public in the afternoon. 

HMNZS Canterbury, at Queen’s Wharf, prepares to raise the gangplank

The cruise ship Aurora reflected in the Westpac Stadium windows (photo by John)

On the way back, we can never resist taking a look at the two harbour tugs. They make such a wonderful splash of colour, especially against a blue sky. John managed to take a good photo of one of them through the wire netting fence.

One of the harbour tugs (photo by John)

Back at Queen’s Wharf, the Canterbury was preparing to leave. We watched as the ropes tethering her to the wharf went slack, and were released and winched back on board. On the other side of the wharf, two men in an inflatable boat (RIB, rescue craft?) were monitoring something – not sure what, but they were peering under the wharf at the side of the big ship. Finally, the ropes were all off, and the bow slowly moved away from the wharf, before pivoting round, so that she could steam away.

Later, when she was well away from the wharf, and we were around near Oriental Parade again, we noticed that her rear door was down, presumably to let the inflatable boat, which had followed her out, back on board.

Releasing the ropes (photo by John)

Checking whatever it was under the wharf (photo by John)

“Left hand down a bit!” (quote from “The Navy Lark”, a BBC radio sitcom from the 1950s-70s)
 (photo by John)

We rode back to our car, and though it was nearly 7 pm, the steady flow of traffic did not seem to have diminished much. It was a slow crawl all the way down to Wakefield Street, where at last, the flow improved. We finally made it home, having had a great day, and biked 49 km all up.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely - many thanks for the blog but rather you in this hot weather. I prefer at home - in front of a large fan with a cold drink