Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Folding Goldies ride to Te Marua

We were supposed to go for a Folding Goldies ride on Thursday 17 August, but the Met Service had put out a strong wind warning, saying “northerlies expected to rise to severe gale gusting 130 km/hr in exposed places during Thursday”. I didn’t much fancy that, so I emailed Alastair, the leader of the Folding Goldies, suggesting Friday might be a better option. His witty reply on Meet-up was “Given the official advice to tie down trampolines, wheelie bins, and old age pensioners on bikes, we'll change to Friday”

The plan was to take the train to Upper Hutt, then bike into the Mangaroa Valley, to Tunnel Gully, and to the Stonestead Devonshire Tea place in Te Marua for tea and scones. Then we would bike back along the Hutt River Trail to Upper Hutt for the train back. Here is the map. 

Sue (our neighbour), John, and I boarded the train in Petone, the others had all boarded in Wellington. There were nine of us, including two new guys, Gordon and George.

Meeting up at Upper Hutt Station (photo by John)

The ride into the Mangaroa Valley was quite steep. Five of us were riding e-bikes and we steamed up the hill OK, but a couple of the others ended up having to get off and walk. 

George and Alastair made it to the top without having to walk (photo by John)

Everyone has caught up (photo by John)

The road down the Mangaroa Valley was pleasantly flat or slightly undulating. At the junction with Maymorn Road, Alastair gave us the choice between staying on the road or going for Tunnel Gully, which was a bit more of a challenge. We opted for the latter.

Maymorn Road or Tunnel Gully? (photo by John)

Near the entrance to the Gully area, there was a very steep gravelly track through bush, which was so steep that even those with e-bikes had to get off and walk.

This bit of track was too steep even for the e-bike riders (photo by John)

We rode on a bush track for a while, and met an amazing sight – some some guys walking a huge number of dogs. I was surprised that not all were on a leash, but they were all very well behaved.

I counted at least 18 dogs! (photo by John)

Traffic jam! (photo by John)

The tunnel was not too long, and John coped OK, though he did have to walk (darkness messes with his balance). At the wrong moment he found that the front light on his bike wasn't working. But the tunnel is short enough to be able to see light at the end of it.

The tunnel (photo by John)

A nice bit of track amongst tall trees

Tunnel Gully Recreation Area (photo by John)

After that, there was a bit more steep, but sealed, road, but then a lovely descent on a good (and quiet) road down to Stonestead at Te Marua, where Kevin Bold runs a great Devonshire Tea house. He has a large selection of teas, a choice of great big sultana, cheese or plain scones, accompanied by cream and a choice of jams (raspberry, apricot or strawberry), or mustard or relish (for the cheese scones). He even caters for the coffee drinkers.

We had our scones and tea at the tables outside. Except Gordon and I had coffee in plungers, and when I went to lift my tray off the counter, I managed to disgrace myself by knocking over Gordon’s plunger. Aargh! Coffee everywhere. Kevin didn't seem to be too fazed, thankfully – he just mopped it up and made another coffee for Gordon.

Tea, coffee and scones at Stonestead (photo by John)

Kevin took this group photo before we continued on our ride

After a pleasant interlude, we biked along the Hutt River Trail to Upper Hutt. There is a section of the track that is being rebuilt, after several floods washed out some of the bank over the last year.

Reconstruction of the river bank track

Before we got to Harcourt Park, we rode past a paddock where a beautiful brown alpaca came bounding over to the fence to say hello. A big sign said “Say hello to Peppy, our friendly alpaca”.

Peppy, the friendly alpaca

After Harcourt Park, three people went off to Upper Hutt station to take the train back to Wellington, and the other six decided to bike back to Petone. Colin and George sped off, and we didn't see them again. Sue and Gottfried, and John and I stayed together.

Near Heretaunga we watched a group of young people involved in a river crossing exercise. And near Lower Hutt, we diverted to Janus Bakkerij for another coffee and scone.

Teamwork to cross the river

For the last stretch back to Petone, Sue, who had been trying to convince Gottfried that he should get an e-bike, got him to swap bikes with her, so he could try an e-bike. A bit of a hassle, as Gottfried’s seat was too high and couldn’t be adjusted down far enough for Sue. So in the end, Gottfried rode Sue’s (full-size) e-bike, Sue rode John’s e-bike, and John rode Gottfried’s bike.

It was quite late by the time we got back to Petone, nearly 5 pm, and we had done 51 km. I was feeling quite tired, so we picked up some fish ’n chips for dinner on the way home.

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Now, the sad story about my “huga huga” bike horn.

On occasion I have said that I would love to have a loud horn on my bike – one of those that goes "huga, huga!" – to warn people walking on the track who don't hear my warning bell when I want to pass, because they have their ear phones plugged in. A nice loud one, that would scare the bejeezus out of them!

Well, I had recently had a birthday, and my daughter had given me a fantastic bike horn – it was gorgeous, with skulls and roses on it. I was utterly delighted.

My beautiful bike horn

John installed it on my handlebar. There wasn’t a lot of room for it, what with the throttle control, the bell, the bike computer, and the front bag. But it looked great, and sounded good. Not quite the “huga, huga!” that I had talked about – more like a “Beep, beep”, but that was OK.

Installed on my bike – there wasn’t a lot of room for it

This ride was its first outing. I showed it off at the station and gave it a few beeps. Then later on, when we had walked up the steep bit before the tunnel, and were regaining our breath, Gottfried gave the bulb a squeeze, and no sound came out! It appeared that the noise maker thingy had fallen out of the trumpet, and was rolling around inside the bulb.

When we got to Stonestead I mentioned it to John, and suggested he take it off, and fix it when we got home. As it happened, he didn't take it off there, which sadly spelled the end of it. Because when I next looked for it, the bulb had fallen off altogether. I think it just got knocked off somewhere along the way, as every time I got on or off the bike, my jacket brushed against the bulb.

What a disappointment! And I hadn’t even been able to frighten one single person with it!

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