Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Hutt River Trail

Saturday 4 February was a nice day, though quite windy. Still! Again! We are getting so sick of this wind! But we’ve got to make the most of the few fine days we are getting, so we went for a bike ride up the Hutt River trail. I hoped that it would be rideable, as there had been flooding following the rains on the Thursday.

We parked at Seaview and were amazed at how hard it was blowing. I was concerned for John, but he had his eyepatch on, and sunglasses, and eye ointment, so he said he’d be OK. Because of the fierce headwind, we set the e-assist at level 4.

As we were setting off, we talked briefly to a cyclist who had just come back from doing the track, and asked if the track was clear, in view of the recent flooding. He said that it was OK, though there were a few muddy patches.

After the first rail bridge, there was first an area of deepish sand, and later an area where there was quite a lot of deep gravel, so we had to get off and walk our bikes across these patches.

A large amount of gravel had been washed onto the track

At the Riverside Carpark, the damage was quite severe – whole slabs of tarmac had been dislodged by the floodwaters and dumped meters away.

The floodwaters had washed away slabs of tarmac … (photo by John)

… and deposited them dozens of meters further downstream (photo by John)

A large slab was left on the cycle path

Some chunks of seal and other debris became wedged against these posts

The regular Saturday market was in progress, and with the cycle track damaged at this point, we had to get off and walk through the carpark. The parking area was full up, cars were cruising looking for a park, and people were walking everywhere. Once into the market area, we diverted back onto the track, which from here was surprisingly clear of debris (though not of people). We were quite impressed that the council had cleaned up the track so quickly, as the mess must have been considerable.

As we rode along beyond the market, it was amazing to see how far up the flood had been. The tall grass to the left of us, between the track and the river, was all flattened by the force of the water, and to the right of us, debris had been left many meters away from the riverbank. Whole pieces of tree trunk were stranded against other trees and fence posts. Amongst the trees, some had been bowled over and got jammed against others. Large clumps of vegetation were left hanging in wire barriers in many places.

Vegetation was left hanging in wire barriers … (photo by John)

… and against fence posts (photo by John)

We came across just one quite muddy area, with a large puddle on the track, and a small “lake” beside the track and a boggy area on the other side. Bike tracks on the grass showed where cyclists had tried to avoid the mire. The wind must have dried things up quite a bit, because we were able to stay on the edge of the track – just – without getting slipping or getting stuck.

The boggy bit (photo by John)

We went off to Janus Bakkerij for lunch. We sat outside, near the bikes at first – we like to keep an eye on them – but it was so windy, we moved into the relative shelter of the other outside area. But it wasn't very much better. I had to hold onto the number flag all the time. I made the mistake of standing my glass of water on the base of the flag to stop it blowing over, only for the whole thing to be blown down and the water spilt all over the table. Luckily, the wind dried the water quite quickly, even before our coffees arrived.

We had only done 6.5 km by this time, so I suggested we go bit further until the tarmac ran out. We carried on until the end of the seal, seeing still other areas affected by the flood, and then we turned around, and had a lovely tailwind to take us back to our car again. We did 20 km, not a long ride in my book really, but John had found the headwind quite a trial and was very tired.

On our way back we came across a large flock of Canada geese next to the track (photo by John)

Before heading home, we called in on Wellington Electric Bikes in Petone. John likes to check in every so often to see what is new on the electric cycling scene. Cliff Randall started his venture in a small shop in Cuba Street in 2015, but by the end of last year, he had moved to much larger premises further up the road (55 Cuba Street), with room for dozens of bikes and a workshop. There is now a huge variety of different kinds of e-bikes. They are certainly becoming very popular.

As we were leaving, we met someone with a SmartMotion e20, like ours, and we chatted briefly. He said he was very happy with his bike, and then asked "Are you the couple who write about these online?". Yep, guilty as charged. He said he'd bought his bike on the strength of John's reviews. Yay! We get such a buzz from comments like these. It is so nice to know that people read and enjoy what we write.

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