Thursday, 22 December 2016

Wellington Waterfront to Miramar

On Thursday 2 December, we had no tradesmen coming to work on our renovations, so we made the most of our “free” day, by going for a bike ride along the waterfront. We took the train into town, and after coffee and scones at Karaka Café, we biked to the end of Oriental Parade. I thought we would be turning around there and going back. But John was keen to carry on.

The bikes on the train (photo by John)

Karaka Café has several bike racks now (photo by John)

The installation of festive lights in the Norfolk pines on Oriental Parade,
is a reminder that Christmas is nearly upon us

We biked all around the Harbour Way, around the Miramar Peninsula until Worser Bay. A cool breeze made itself felt at times, as we wended our way in and out of the various bays.

Around Point Jerningham (photo by John)

From Worser Bay, we turned into Awa Road, and rode over the top of the hill down into Miramar. I was reluctant to head that way, as it is a very steep road, but John scoffed, and I followed. Thank goodness for electrical assistance!

Awa Road is very steep! (photo by John)

Down in Darlington Road, John wanted to stop at Big Al’s Camera Shop. He loves to have a yarn with Al, and browse his antique cameras. John collects (or should I say, used to collect) old cameras – he has about 50 beautiful specimens, all of which he has taken photos with. Unfortunately the shop was not open, so on we went, back towards the Miramar Cutting, and back to the waterfront.

Near Big Al’s Camera Shop (photo by John)

Because John has been placing his camera on the back of his bike, set to automatically take a picture every couple of minutes, we don’t have many inspiring photos. It’s mostly shots of me biking behind him, though this method produces the occasional good shot. With his balance out of whack, and his eyesight somewhat compromised, it makes it more difficult to stop to take good photos.

John in photographer mode

Still, the important thing is that we get out and enjoy the ride. By the time we got back to the train, we had done 38 km, quite a respectable distance.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Folding Goldies ride – Waikanae to Peka Peka

On 24 November John went on a ride with the Folding Goldies. I didn’t go, because we had tradesmen in the house, but I took John to the Takapu Road station, where he was meeting the others on the train to Waikanae. There was quite a large group this time – eight, including our friend Pat, on her first Folding Goldie ride. A few of them joined the group in Waikanae. In fairness to Pat, John decided to ride his non-electric Giant foldie.

At Waikanae station (photo by John)

Crossing Te Moana Road (photo by Alastair Smith)

They rode along the Waikanae River track, then on the Kapiti Coast Cycle Route to Peka Peka to have lunch at Harrisons Garden Centre Café.

The peloton heads down Peka Peka Road (photo by John)

Lunch at Harrisons (photo by John)

Ready for the return trip (photo by John)

On the return trip back to Waikanae, some of the group, led by Alastair, rode on the hard sand of the beach while the tide was out. The others returned by the road. John rode on the beach, Pat took the road.

John tells me that it was quite hard going on the sand, and it took them a lot longer to get to Waikanae than they had bargained on. In fact, it took so long that they missed the 3:00 pm train back to Wellington, and since the benefits of the Gold Card don’t apply after 3 pm, they had to pay the full fare!

Beach ride (photo by Alastair Smith)

A stop for a breather on the beach (photo by John)

Kapiti Island under a moody sky (photo by John)

The people who had returned by the road carried on to Paraparaumu, getting there in plenty of time for the 2:30-ish train.

Meanwhile, by about 4 pm, I was getting worried as I was expecting John to ring me from Takapu Road Station to pick him up. He eventually got there at 4:45, feeling pretty tired. They had done about 30 km.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Blog catch-up

Here we are, nearly Christmas, and I haven’t done any blogging for nearly two months. We haven’t done a lot of biking either.

We are still in the grips of renovations, which means that one of us has to be home for the tradesmen to come in, so that tends to curtail the times we can go out for a ride. But the work should be finished very soon – this week I hope. We are getting heartily sick of the dust and grit being tramped through the house, although I must say our tradies are pretty careful not to leave too much mess.

And John’s health is still a worry. His facial paralysis has not improved, so he has to wear an eye patch most of the time, especially when biking. Despite feeling pretty grotty some of the time, he still wants to keep up with the biking as he wants to maintain a modicum of fitness.

We have done a few easy rides – around the suburb and along Te Ara Tawa. As well, John went on a substantial Folding Goldies ride, and together we did a good long ride around Miramar, both of which I shall describe in separate blog posts.

Without wanting to grizzle about things, I feel that in some ways, 2016 has been stolen from us. When we wanted to go for a long trip to ride the West Coast Wilderness trail during summer/autumn, we were still waiting to hear when our renovations would begin. We waited and waited, couldn't get our builder to give us a starting date, and time passed. Then the lousy weather set in, and the trip was no longer a sensible option. When the renovations were finally underway, John had his health crisis. There’s no knowing if we’ll ever go on a big road trip again. Time will tell.

But let’s be positive, and hope for a better year in 2017.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Waikanae to Paekakariki

By Monday 10 October, John was feeling a bit more up to doing some biking, so we took the train to Waikanae, and biked back to Paekakariki. Our friend Pat came along with us.

In Waikanae, we walked across the road bridge to get to the track on southern bank of the Waikanae River. The northern bank has a place where it is a bit difficult to negotiate the narrow track between a group of closely set trees. John’s balance is still precarious, so he was keen to avoid that bit.

The track on the southern bank of the Waikanae River (photo by John)

The southern track is lovely and wide most of the way to Otaihanga, except for a stretch on a bend in the river, were the track had been scoured out by floodwaters on 17 September. It looked like most of the track had been washed away. Large boulders had been placed to restore the bank somewhat, but there was not a lot of room left for a track. We had to dismount and walk our bikes over the very lumpy surface.

Most of the track is lovely and wide … (photo by John)

… but in a bend of the river, almost all of the track had been scoured away in a flood

The track goes under the new Kapiti Expressway, which is still being built. The last time we biked here, we had to divert to the opposite bank, as they were putting the big girders in place. Now it seems to be almost finished, though there are still ground works going on below the bridge.

The Kapiti Expressway bridge looks almost finished …

…though there are still ground works going on

From the end of the river track, we took the path through the estuary wetlands. Some of it is on solid ground, and some is on boardwalks above boggy areas or water.

The bridge over a stream leads to the estuary track

The stream joins the Waikanae River at the top of this photo (photo by John)

Same stream, different view point

John prefers to walk rather than ride on the boardwalks. This photo is taken
from the back of John’s bike.

After lunch at the 180 Degree Café in Paraparaumu Beach, we wended our way to the start of Te Ara o Whareroa in Raumati. Instead of riding on the road, we went on the track that starts at the end of Tahi Road, at the far end of Marine Parade. It took us through some paddocks, and then alongside some of the airport land. Here we came to yet another Kapiti Expressway Bridge being built.

The track alongside airport land (photo by John)

Another Kapiti Expressway bridge and a foot/cycle bridge too

The other side of the bridge (photo by John)

Yet another Expressway Bridge, near Raumati (photo by John)

Through some of the Raumati residential streets, and onto Te Ara o Whareroa, to Paekakariki. For the last bit before we got to the village, we rode on the Paekakariki foreshore (easier, because you don’t have to tackle the hill overlooking the station).

The Parade on the Paekakariki foreshore. Pukerua Bay in the distance (photo by John)

We had some time before the train back to Wellington was due, so we stopped at the Perching Parrot Café. We noticed another pair of SmartMotion e-bikes parked nearby. They belonged to a couple whom Pat happened to know. When she stopped to talk to them, the man said to me, “I know you – from your blog”. Wow! It turns out that they bought their SmartMotion e-bikes on the strength of my blog and of John’s write-up about the bikes. How exciting is that?

Of course we joined them at their table, and had an interesting chat, until they left to catch their train back to Pukerua, while we lingered for another half hour, before taking the next train back to Wellington.

It had been an excellent ride – 23 km in lovely sunny, calm weather. We’ve been missing both the fine weather, and the biking of late. So a great day all round.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Folding Goldies ride – Pauatahanui and Whitby

After two months of not blogging, I have a few rides to write up. Even one that we didn’t actually go on.

On 24 August, the Folding Goldies group planned a ride which Alastair called a “Tour de Paekakariki” – having been inspired by watching the Tour de France. He suggested taking the train to Paekakariki, then climbing the Paekak Hill, riding over the top, down to Pauatahanui, along Te Ara Piko to Mana, and then the train home.

When he first put out the email, I said "You've got to be joking", but he assured us that the climb was “steady but not too steep”. John reckoned I was a wuss, if I didn’t join in, so I was prepared to give it a go. After all, we have e-bikes that “flatten the hills …”.

But in the end, neither of us went, as John was still having trouble with his knee (damaged a month earlier), and I managed to get him to see a doctor that day.

Five of the other Folding Goldies did go, and Alastair put up a few photos of the ride, which I’ll share here (with his permission).

Biking up the Paekakariki Hill Road (photo by Alastair Smith)

At the Paekakariki look-out. From left: John B, Sue, Daryl, Carole (photo by Alastair Smith)

                                                     * * * * * * * * * * * *

A month later, on 21 September, the Folding Goldies went for another ride. This time, the plan was to take the train to Pukerua Bay, ride down Te Ara Harakeke to Plimmerton, then the Camborne Walkway and Te Ara Piko along the northern shore of the Pauatahanui Inlet. Lunch at the Ground Up Café in Pauatahanui, then the Whitby Traverse to see the cherry blossoms in the Japanese Garden in Whitby, before heading back to Porirua via Bothamley Park.

John wasn’t up to biking yet after his health set-back, so I went without him. But he was able load my bike into the car, drive me to Takapu Road station, and unload the bike. Because the e-bike is heavy, and I have problem hands, I am not able to manage lifting it in and out of the car myself.

Apart from Alastair, three other Folding Goldies came along. Lynn joined us at Pukerua Bay Station, having biked there from Paraparaumu. We zoomed down Te Ara Harakeke, rode through Plimmerton and Mana, and headed onto the Camborne Walkway, around the northern edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet.

At the end of the Camborne Walkway. From left: Gottfried, Lynn, Frank, Alastair

After the Camborne Walkway, we had to ride on Grays Road to get to Motukaraka and Te Ara Piko. As we were approaching the bridge over the Kakaho Stream, we could see that there were preparations for building the next stage of Te Ara Piko. Two lines of flags showed where the track will go across the wetlands. This is really good news, as the road bridge is narrow and not terribly safe for cyclists, so it will be great to have a separate bridge for walkers and cyclists. Of course we stopped to take pictures.

Alastair crossed the road to take photos

Two lines of flags show where the track will run through the wetlands towards the Camborne Walkway

The proposed track, near the Kakaho Stream

There is an interesting blog post on the Te Ara Piko website, which describes this next stage of the pathway. It also has information about the Pauatahanui Garden Trail on Sunday 27 November, which is a community event to raise funds for the continued extension of the track. I think we will go – it will be a good cause to support. 

After lunch at the Ground Up Café in Pauatahanui, we headed into Whitby, where we were hoping to see the cherry blossoms in the Nishio Japanese Garden. We did this ride at about the same time last year, in the opposite direction, and saw the blossoms then. This time, unfortunately, the trees had not yet started to flower, though the daffodils under them looked lovely.

Lots of daffodils …

… but sadly no cherry blossoms yet

However, on our way through Bothamley Park, we saw quite a few trees that had started flowering – probably just different varieties.

We did find some trees in Bothamley Park that were flowering

When we got to Porirua, the others planned to take the train back to Wellington from there. I was biking back to Takapu Road, from where John would pick me up. However as the train wasn’t due for a while yet, they accompanied me as far as Redwood Station, before catching the train from there.

John was waiting for me at the Takapu Road end of Te Ara Tawa (photo by John)

Despite the cold wind, and the disappointment of not seeing the cherry blossoms, it had been an enjoyable ride, but somehow, it wasn’t the same without John.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Why I haven’t blogged for two months …

Here we are, mid-October, and my last blog post was nearly eight weeks ago. We’ve had a fairly torrid couple of months. Partly caused by our house renovations – while the planned improvements went reasonably well, they revealed heretofore hidden (and expensive!) necessary further repairs. Added to these, we had a major leak when plumbing failed, and floods in the garage caused by the very heavy rains we had a month ago. So we will have tradesmen in the house for a while yet.

But the main reason why we haven’t been biking, has been the state of John’s health. In early September, he suffered a major event affecting his facial nerve. He was admitted to hospital with excruciating pain – ten times worse than a kidney stone, he said afterwards. A Bell’s Palsy was suspected, but tests have since shown that there is renewed growth of his brain tumour. While the pain has now eased, he is left with (hopefully temporary) paralysis of the right side of his face. Further medical appointments in the next little while will decide what, if anything, is to be done.

With regard to biking, the facial paralysis means that his right eye won’t close properly, resulting in potential damage to the eye if it is allowed to dry out. Wind and the rush of air to the eye by moving along on a bike, even on a calm day, means he has to take precautions to protect the eye. So if you see him biking along looking like a pirate with his eyepatch, you’ll know that’s John.

I’m pleased to report that he’s improving, and that in the past week, we’ve been on a couple of rides. It was so good to be back on the bikes again!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Scottish Country Dancing – Johnsonville’s 50 Golden Years

Apart from a couple of short rides down to our local café, we have not done any cycling for a month. Various reasons – John’s knee has been bothering him (partly as a result of biking up Ngauranga Gorge at the end of a long ride); we are having major work done on our house – re-roofing, exterior painting and dealing with other issues as they are being discovered; and there’s a lot of Scottish Country dancing to be done at this time of the year.

On the subject of Scottish Country dancing, one of the SCD clubs that we belong to, Johnsonville, celebrated 50 Golden Years last Saturday. It was a great event, with lots of extra activities that don’t normally come into an “annual dance”.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Tawa to Plimmerton

Riding to the Gear Homestead Café has become a bit of a destination for us on a fine day. It’s about 9 km from the start of Te Ara Tawa, which makes it a nice there-and-back ride.

Lunch at the Gear Homestead Café (photo by John)

Folding Goldies Ride to Pencarrow

On Wednesday 20 July, John went on a major escapade – a Folding Goldies ride to Pencarrow, and though the plan had been to take the train back from Petone, he ended up biking back all the way back to Churton Park, up the Ngauranga Gorge – on his (non-electric) Giant. I was unable to go on this ride, as we had our grandchildren staying with us during the school holidays, or I might have tried to dissuade him from doing that!

John took the train into town and met up with the others for the 10 am sailing of the East by West Harbour Ferry. Alastair had arranged with the ferry crew to be able to use a ramp to wheel the bikes onto the top deck at the Wellington end. Because of the difference in height of the individual wharves, passengers normally board the ferry on the lower deck in Wellington, but disembark from the top deck at Days Bay. The stairs between the two levels are rather steep, which presents a bit of a problem when you have to carry your bike up. Not too bad in the case of a regular bike, but rather harder with an e-bike, which is much heavier. And Alastair and Sue were riding e-bikes, though John wasn’t this time.

On the Harbour Ferry wharf - from left: Sue, Alastair, Gottfried, Frank, Daryl (photo by John)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Churton Park to Gear Homestead

It’s a month since I last posted anything on this blog. It’s not that we haven’t been biking, but it’s mostly been little short rides that have not been blog-worthy. I have also been busy with other things.

On Thursday 7 July, while I was otherwise occupied, John took a ride on his own, partly to bike along Middleton Road, which is a place where I am reluctant to cycle, and partly because he wanted to hit the 4,000 km milestone on his e-bike.

With his camera fixed on his handlebar, and set on a three-minute automatic time-lapse, he took the route we usually take to get to the local café (Café Thyme), but then continued on Middleton Road towards Tawa.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Folding Goldies ride – Te Ara Tawa and Whitby

On Wednesday 15 June, a few days after we returned from our travels to the Waikato, we went on a Folding Goldies ride

The plan was to meet at Takapu Road station in Tawa, ride to Porirua on Te Ara Tawa, through Whitby to Pauatahanui, stop for lunch, bike to Mana via Ara Piko and the Camborne Walkway, and train home from Mana.

Alastair, the organiser, kindly provided a map of the ride, which is here. John and I parked near Takapu Road Station, as did Sue, our neighbour. We waited at the station for the other members of the group to arrive on the train from Wellington. We ended up with seven people for this ride.

A pre-departure photo. From left: Alastair, Gottfried, Carole, Désirée, Sue, Frank (photo by John)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Hamilton Gardens

On Wednesday 8 June, after having biked the Hamilton to Horotiu section of Te Awa River Ride, we visited the themed gardens of the Hamilton Gardens

It’s hard to believe that in the 1960s, the site was the local rubbish tip. Now it is a 54-hectare garden park, which won the Garden of the Year award at the International Garden Tourism Awards in France in 2014. The gardens are open to everyone, there is no entry charge.

We were particularly interested in visiting some of the themed gardens. On the website it states “Hamilton Gardens is not a botanical garden. Instead, its concept acknowledges there is a story to tell about gardens, their development over time and across cultures, and their use. […] The concept has also been compared to a museum, where each garden collection has historic integrity and provides a window into the story of civilisations, their arts, beliefs and lifestyles.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Te Awa River Ride – Hamilton to Horotiu

After Queen’s Birthday Weekend, during which I attended a Scottish Country Dancing weekend school in Cambridge, John and I biked a couple of sections of the Te Awa River Ride

On the Tuesday, we biked the section from Cambridge to Karapiro, which you can read about here

The next day, Wednesday 8 June, we biked the other easy section of this track – from central Hamilton to Horotiu. I understand that the planned extension of the track to Ngaruawahia is expected to be completed later in 2016.

We drove into Hamilton, expecting to park in Bader Street, as indicated on a leaflet we picked up at the i-Site. However, it was a very isolated spot, and there were no other cars parked there, so we opted to park in the nearby Hamilton Gardens carpark instead.

This was on the opposite side of the Waikato River from where we wanted to be, so we first had to cross on the Cobham Drive Bridge.

Cobham Drive Bridge – not the most attractive of bridges (photo by John)

Te Awa River Ride – Cambridge to Karapiro

After Queen’s Birthday Weekend, during which I attended a Scottish Country Dancing weekend school in Cambridge, John and I biked a couple of sections of the Te Awa River Ride.

On the Tuesday, 7 June, we rode from our accommodation off Kaipaki Road, just outside Cambridge, towards Lake Karapiro. Officially, this section of Te Awa River Ride starts at the Avantidrome, goes through Cambridge, and eventually joins the cycle track alongside Maungatautari Road. However, we didn’t ride through Cambridge, but joined Maungatautari Road from Lamb Street, having come from Kaipaki Road.

It was a chilly day, so we didn’t set out until late morning. Only 4 km from our cottage, we stopped at the Lilypad Café for coffee and a muffin. Next to this café is the Garden Art Studio, which features a garden full of quirky and colourful ceramic garden decorations – birds, flowers, toadstools, totem poles, and the like.

The Lilypad Café and Garden Art Studio’s display garden (photo by John)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Cycling in the Waikato

I have a bit of catching up to do. No blogs for four weeks. But that doesn’t mean we have been idle. Not completely, anyway.

A few weekends ago, on Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 3 to 6 June, we travelled to Cambridge for a "dancing-cum-biking" holiday. While I attended a Scottish Country Dancing weekend school, John did some biking around the area. After the weekend school, we stayed a few more days so that we could both bike some sections of the Te Awa River Ride, alongside the Waikato River. I'll write up this trip in several separate posts.

It was a beautiful day when we drove up to Cambridge, and from the Desert Road the views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe were fabulous, as there had been recent snowfalls.

Mount Ruapehu

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

An Exhibition of Ceramics and Photographs

Last night was the opening of my sister Aimée McLeod’s ceramic exhibition, entitled “The Dinner Party”. It features ceramic tableware, which is beautiful and varied. Her statement for the exhibition is:

“Fast food, take away coffees out of paper cups and plastic containers, eating on the run or in front of TV, hurry, stress … part of the daily routine for many these days. Consider instead sitting down with friends at a table with plates and dishes that are worthy of the food and enhance the pleasure of eating.”

The exhibition is at the Thistle Hall, on the corner of Cuba Street and Karo Drive, and will be on until next Sunday (5 June 2016).

Aimée’s exhibition invitation

As part of the exhibition, Aimée invited John and another photographer, Roland Idaczyk, to display their photos on the blank walls of the gallery.

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)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Tawa to Plimmerton

On Saturday, I had to deliver something to an address in Tawa, so we combined it with a bike ride. We biked from Takapu Road – the start of Te Ara Tawa – to Tawa Station, where we crossed the station overbridge to get to the main road, and then up the hill to make our delivery.

Across the Tawa station overbridge … (photo by John)

Hutt River Trail – Upper Hutt to Petone

A week ago, Sunday 1 May, we arranged to go for a bike ride with our friend Pat. We let the weather decide where we would go. Kapiti was due to have rain that day, so we decided to take the train to Upper Hutt instead, and ride down the Hutt River Trail.

Instead of taking the train from Petone, as we have done in the past, we left the car at home this time and biked to Johnsonville to take the train into town, and then another train out to Upper Hutt. Pat lives near the Johnsonville line, so we arranged to meet on the train.

At Wellington station, the train to Upper Hutt was waiting, but it would be another 15 minutes before it was to leave. We got on board and secured our bikes. Soon after, a young Asian couple with bikes arrived and also wanted to take them on the train. Since it was the weekend, there was only one carriage, with room for just three bikes. We were ready to fold down our bikes, to make room for theirs, but the guard wasn’t having any of that. She told the young couple in no uncertain terms they could not get their bikes on, and they complied. What a pity. With few other passengers, there was plenty of room to park our folded bikes in the pushchair area. A bit of flexibility would have worked fine for all.
From Upper Hutt Station we rode through the streets towards the riverside track by a different route – down Whakatiti Street which took us to a track running alongside the motorway for some distance. Eventually we were able to join the river trail at Moonshine Park.

The track beside River Road, SH2 (photo by John)

Monday, 25 April 2016

Hutt River Trail and Point Howard

Today was Anzac Day – a pretty important day in New Zealand, as the country remembers the Gallipoli campaign. The day commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

And this year, 25 April was on a Monday, which meant a long weekend. Being retired, a long weekend is not much different for us from an ordinary weekend, except for there being more people on the cycle paths on the extra day. There were lots of people out and about on the Hutt River trail. Good to see families with Mum, Dad and the kids all on bikes.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Paekakariki, Paraparaumu and Pukerua

On Wednesday 20 April, it was another lovely day (Wellington has been so lucky with the weather this summer and autumn). We decided on a nice easy ride: train up to Paekakariki, ride the Ara Whareroa track to Paraparaumu, and take the train back. We invited my sister along, but she was not able to go. So since it was just the two of us, on e-bikes, we ended up doing a much longer ride of 51 km.

We started off quite late in the morning, so it was midday when we got off the train at Paekakariki. Time for coffee, at the Beach Road Deli.

Coffee at the Beach Road Deli (photo by John)