Saturday, 6 February 2016

Folding Goldies Ride – Te Ara o Whareroa

Last Wednesday was probably Wellington’s hottest day so far this summer. According to the official records the temperature reached 28 degrees, but in the suburbs, I am sure it went higher. John’s own weather station indicated 29.2 degrees in the afternoon, and lots of people were suffering from the heat and lack of wind. Funny, isn’t it, people in Wellington seem to be always complaining about the wind, but when it’s not there, we miss it!

Fortunately, we were biking in Kapiti that day, and there was a nice sea breeze, which kept us from overheating. We went on the first Folding Goldies ride for 2016, biking from Waikanae to Paekakariki, and riding the newly opened Te Ara o Whareroa – a wonderful track through Queen Elizabeth II Park.

Of the six of us who took the train to up to Waikanae, three had non-folding bikes, and since they will only allow three bikes in the allocated space, the other three, who had foldies, collapsed them. One more person – on a non-folder – joined us in Waikanae. Folding Goldies are more than happy to include people who do not have foldies, or those who have not yet reached the venerable Goldie status (ahem ...).

Preparing to disembark – from left: Gottfried, Alastair, Sue and Daryl (photo by John)

When we got to Waikanae, the guard gave us some advice for our return. “Make sure you get the train before 3 pm, or you won’t be able to use your Gold Cards”. Yes, we knew that, having done it before, but it was nice of her to warn us. In any case, we didn’t think it would take us that long to bike to Paekakariki, even allowing for lunch.

At Waikanae, the guard gave us advice about timing our return train trip (photo by John)

We biked along the north bank of the Waikanae River to begin with, then crossed the Te Arawai footbridge to the south bank. John took photos, first from the tail end of the group, then raced ahead so he could take a picture of us coming towards him.

Cycling on the south bank of the Waikanae River (photo by John)

South bank of the river (photo by John)

From the end of the river track at Otaihanga, we made our way to the Waikanae Estuary track. Several of the group had not been on this track before and were pleasantly surprised. The track meanders on boardwalks amongst the lagoons and marshes, and on firm gravel in the sandhills. Tall flaxes, with long flowerstalks covered in fat seed pods, and large toetoe, with their creamy plumes waving in the breeze, edged the track. Biking between these tall plants was quite spectacular – I should have stopped to take a photo.

We had biked along here before, and on another occasion John had trouble with his balance, especially on the boardwalks, as they are only about a meter wide, and the meandering direction changes can cause a good few wobbles. But this time he was fine. Sue however, who had not been here before, found it quite tricky. And you don’t want to fall into the water with an electric bike!

On the bridge across a stream running into the estuary (photo by John)

We stopped for a bit of a breather at the end of the track, before heading onto Manly Street towards Paraparaumu Beach. Some of us sought shade by the information shelter.

The Paraparaumu end of the Waikanae Estuary track (photo by John)

We rode along the waterfront, and through Raumati to the café where we were to have lunch. The road was quiet, so it was possible to ride two abreast. I had an interesting conversation with Gottfried, and we discovered that we had some non-New Zealand childhood memories in common.

Riding through Raumati (photo by John)

We stopped for lunch at the Raumati Social Club – a café that Alastair said came highly recommended (by Patrick Morgan, I think) – in Raumati South, on Poplar Avenue, close to the start of Te Ara o Whareroa.

Before we went inside to have lunch, Daryl asked Sue and me to stand by our bikes so he could take a photo of the two SmartMotion electric bikes – my folding e20, and Sue’s full size eCity. He wanted to be able to send the photo to someone who, he thought, would be interested in getting an e-bike. John got in on the act too, and it turns out to be quite a good comparative photo. (I'm not actually that much shorter than Sue. The footpath slopes down at my end ...)

Sue, with her SmartMotion eCity, and me, with my SmartMotion e20 (photo by John)

John has written an extensive review of (our) the folding SmartMotion e20 bikes, of course, and he has also posted a review of the SmartMotion eMetro. He will probably do a review of the full size SmartMotion eCity some time soon, when he’s been able to take one out for a ride.

Alastair checks the map. An ingenious use of carpet on the ceiling,
to dampen any clattery noise inside the café (photo by John)

From the café, it wasn’t far to the start of Te Ara o Whareroa. John and I had already biked this lovely track twice in the last month, and so had Alastair, but the others hadn’t. It has a great sealed surface – though some of the gravel has not yet bedded in properly, and there were some patches where you had to watch that you didn’t skid on the collected loose stuff. It would be an improvement if this loose gravel were swept up.

The track winds its way through the sandhills of Queen Elizabeth II Park, and up and down a few gentle undulations. Thanks to my e-bike, I had no trouble with the undulations at all – in fact, I hardly noticed them. But John, who had decided to ride the non-electric bike, found that he still had to work at the hills. He said it "visually" looked much steeper than when he had biked here on an e-bike. Funny that!

The undulations in the track are barely noticeable on an e-bike, but definitely needed
a few gear changes for the non-electrified people (photo by John)

In one place between the sand hills, we came across a sign with an aeroplane, and a warning not to stop between signs. A bit puzzling? We were not near an airport! But upon checking, it appears that this is where the Kapiti Aeromodellers have their headquarters. However, there wasn't a lot of activity to be seen today. 

I suppose it would indeed be unwise to stop right there, lest you get hit by a flying object!

One of the drawbacks of this nice new track, is that you don’t get the great views of the sea, Kapiti Island, and even the South Island, that you get from the coastal track. So, where the new track crossed Whareroa Road and the tramline of the Wellington Tramway Museum, we diverted briefly towards the coastal track – just to take a look at the view. A good moment to take a group photo.

From left: Daryl, Sue, Frank, Désirée, Gottfried and Alastair.
Note the South Island in the distance (photo by John)

Approaching the end of the track (photo by John)

Alastair and Gottfried on the last bridge (photo by John)

We reached the end of Tilley Road, within view of the railway line, just in time to see the 1:15 train departing.

View of the railway line, and a gorgeous infestation of morning glory

At this point, Frank, who had joined us at Waikanae, took the train back home to Paraparaumu, and Daryl decided to bike back all the way to Wellington (or at least to Pukerua), “to show I’m a real man” he said – tongue firmly stuck in cheek, I suspect.

Before the next train to Wellington, we had time for another coffee at the Beach Road Deli. While we were sitting there, a friend of Alastair’s spotted us and joined us for a chat. She was Jan Nisbet, a great advocate for cycling in Paekakariki.

She has set up the Paekakariki Bike Library – the logo of which was emblazoned on her T-shirt. The idea of this “library” is that they recycle unused bikes that they have been given, so school children can “learn to ride, improve their riding and ultimately ride to college using the new bike track. Recycling bikes means parents don’t have the big expense of always buying new bikes”. Kids can have the use of a bike for a year, so they can bike to Kapiti College in Raumati, which will save students and parents a substantial amount of money on transport. What a brilliant idea!

In this Facebook link Jan writes, “If you would like to donate your unused bike/s to a good cause we would really appreciate them for the Paekakariki Bike Library. We particularly need 20, and 24 inch and adult sized bikes but we can take bikes of any size and in any condition. Contact Jan Nisbet ph 0273585611 or email to arrange a pick up”.

The half hour before the next train passed quickly, and soon we headed off to the station, where John and Alastair folded up their bikes, ready for boarding. We’d had a great 23 km ride, with perfect weather, an excellent lunch and good company. I wonder where the next Folding Goldies ride will take us?

Alastair folds his bike while waiting for the 1:45 at Paekakariki station (photo by John)

1 comment:

  1. Cafe du Parc in Khandallah and a few other cafes could do with carpet on the ceiling. Wooden floors and the screech of coffee machines added to sometimes shrill chatter can make sitting inside very uncomfortable.