Monday, 23 May 2016

Two short rides – Pauatahanui and Gear Homestead

As I am writing this it is raining hard out there, and getting colder, but we managed to get in a bike ride this morning (Sunday, 22 May), before the rain set in.

After a wonderful, long, hot summer, and a very pleasantly warm Indian summer in what ought to have been autumn, we are finally getting to the nitty-gritty of autumn. It looks like the party is over. We’ve been having rain, wind and cold for the last few weeks now. No more bike rides in short-sleeved T-shirts for the next few months.

We managed to go for a couple of shortish rides in the past week, though. Last Thursday, 19 May, we biked from Mana, where we parked the car in the Ngatitoa Domain, to Pauatahanui and back. Just 15 km, but at least we were outside enjoying some sunshine and fresh air.

On Te Ara Piko, alongside Grays Road (photo by John)

It’s a ride we’ve done many times before, so nothing very new to write about, and John only took a few photos. The most ‘exciting’ – or should that be ‘scary’ – thing that happened was being overtaken at very close quarters by a car on a blind bend.

There is a stretch – about 2 km – between the end of the Camborne Walkway and the turn-off to Motukaraka Point, where we have to ride on Grays Road. It is a slightly winding road, in some places there is no shoulder, and in others, the surface of the shoulder is of poor quality. We take all necessary precautions when we ride there – head and tail lights on, increase our speed to level 4 assist, and keep as much to the left as is safe.

But there is no accounting for idiots. On a narrow road, with a car coming in the other direction, and on a blind corner – did he have to overtake me? Could he not have waited for two seconds to go beyond the corner, and for the other car to go past, so he could overtake me safely? As it was, when he overtook me, I struck a patch of very rough seal, and I wobbled trying to avoid it, and the car gave me about 20 cm room. Scared the hell out of me.

I was glad to get to the safety of Motukaraka Point and Te Ara Piko – the dedicated walking/cycling track. We made our way to the Ground Up Café at Pauatahanui for coffee and scones, and then returned by the same route. No more scary encounters this time, thank goodness. One car – driven by a woman – patiently stayed behind me until it was safe to overtake. I gave her a grateful ‘thank you’ wave.
We stopped by the side of Grays Road for John to check his camera (photo by John)

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For today’s ride, we set out earlier than usual, as the forecast was for rain in the afternoon. We rode Te Ara Tawa, starting from Takapu Road, to Porirua, under the motorway, and up to Aotea and the Gear Homestead Café.

Heading from Porirua Station towards the underpass below the motorway (photo by John)

View from the track up to Aotea - reflections on the lagoon

We had coffee at the Gear Homestead Café, and found out that from 31 May until September, the café will be open on Saturdays, but closed on Mondays. I guess they won't be expecting any garden weddings on Saturdays for the winter months.

On the way back we rode through the Adrenalin Forest, where there were several groups of people – young and not so young – challenging themselves on the wires and platforms.

Adrenalin Forest (click to enlarge)

Rather him than me!

When I stopped to take some photos, one of the staff, coffee cup in hand, came to ask questions about my bike. He asked if he could see how heavy it was, and put his cup down on the ground. While he was lifting my bike, a big black rooster, obviously a regular visitor to the site, came up and helped himself out of the coffee cup!

We didn’t linger too long, because we could see clouds gathering from the south, and figured that the rain wasn’t very far away. As we were coming down the path from Aotea, the track to Porirua runs inside a barrier next to the motorway. Though there is a cyclists' entrance from the motorway onto this path, we saw a bunch of cyclists who stayed on the motorway shoulder. They obviously thought that the path was just too wussy for the likes of them.

The cycle path was just too wussy for them!

From Te Ara Tawa, near Kenepuru, we can now see the earthworks on the other side of the railway line. These are preparations for the Kenepuru Interchange of the Transmission Gully Motorway. This road, which had been bickered over by various transport and local authorities for over ten years, and which is finally underway, is to provide a quicker and safer route between Wellington and the Kapiti Coast. It is due to be completed in 2020. Or so they say …

Earthworks for the Kenepuru Interchange of the Transmission Gully Motorway (photo by John)

About here we started to feel the first spits of rain. By the time we got back to the car, it was raining properly. Good thing we’d had an earlier start today. We biked only 18 km, but we were home by lunchtime.

We didn’t quite manage to avoid the rain (photo by John)

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