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)

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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!