Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Folding Goldies ride – Whiteman’s Valley

On Friday 6 November we went on another Folding Goldies ride. Originally the ride was to have taken place on the Wednesday, but the forecast for that day was so horrible – rain and gale force southerlies – that we decided to postpone until Friday. It was a good call.

Wednesday was truly dreadful. I felt sorry for Prince Charles and Camilla, who arrived in Wellington, in a howling southerly gale and freezing driving rain, for a week-long official visit to New Zealand. Poor Camilla, who apparently fears flying, having to land in a Wellington gale! Anyone who has ever flown into Wellington on a windy day knows what a bumpy landing that can be. And not only that, but hardly anybody was interested in their visit, as NZ was still much more preoccupied with the return of the All Blacks from their exciting Rugby World Cup win. They were being feted in a victory parade in Auckland, and most of Wellington’s general public would have been glued to their TV sets watching the All Blacks and not the royals.

By contrast, Friday was a beautiful day – sunny, mild and just a very light breeze. Perfect for a bike ride. The plan was to take the train up to Wallaceville (just before Upper Hutt) and from there, ride up Wallaceville Road into Whiteman’s Valley.

We boarded the train at Petone, as usual. There were a lot of people on the platform waiting for the train going in the opposite direction. Keen All Black fans, going into town early to watch the All Blacks parading through town, from Parliament to Civic Square. A train pulled up, and when it left, there were still lots of people on the platform. Apparently the train had already been full up and couldn’t take any more passengers!

As our train progressed up the Hutt Valley, we saw the same scene repeated at every station: lots of people – most dressed in black – waiting to go into town.

All Black fans waiting for a train to take them into Wellington (photo by John)

At Wallaceville Station our group gathered and introductions were made. A new member joining us was Alison, who apologised for riding her road bike, as her foldie was in “bike hospital”. John and I had travelled in a different carriage from the others, and Lynn had biked in from Paraparaumu over the Akatarawas (he’s a supremely fit and very hardy sort and rides a road bike).

Meeting up at Wallaceville Station (photo by Alastair Smith)

Wallaceville Road is fairly steep, so with our e-bikes we were first to the top. We waited for the rest to catch up in a parking area by a small cemetery.

Waiting for the others to catch up (photo by John)

“Family Portrait” – From left: Daryl, Alison, Lynn, Carole, Alastair, Désirée (photo by John)

Whiteman’s Valley is a great place for biking. It is a good road, with very little traffic, and it is mostly flat. This makes it ideal for many cycling groups to train on weekends and summer evenings, and apparently that has created some ill-feeling among the local residents. However, there was nothing like that on our ride.

It looks like we were taking up a lot of the road, but mostly we rode in single file (photo by John)

I saw something that I thought was quite unusual. While stopped at the roadside, waiting for the others, I saw “something” scuttling off the road and into the shrubbery. Was it a large rat? Or maybe a stoat? A brief moment later I saw a stoat running across the paddock, with a rabbit in hot pursuit! I would have thought that normally it would have been the other way round, with the stoat chasing the rabbit. How amazing …

Alastair raced ahead to take photos of us riding past (photo by Alastair Smith)

I was surprised at how quickly we arrived at the turn-off to the Short Straw Café. The last time John and I biked along here, it had seemed to take a lot longer. But then again, we did stop more frequently to take photos on that ride.

Seven bikes parked outside the Short Straw Café (photo by John)

We had a very leisurely lunch in the shade of a tree (photo by John)

After a leisurely lunch, we headed down the long, exhilarating downhill of Blue Mountains Road into Silverstream. From there, four people opted to take the train back to Wellington, and Daryl, John and I decided to bike down the Hutt River Trail back to Petone.

A pleasant ride, with a little detour for another cup of coffee at Janus Bakkerij in Lower Hutt. We said goodbye to Daryl at Seaview, as he headed to Days Bay to take the ferry back into Wellington, while we biked back to our car at Petone. We had done 48 km. Very satisfying.

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