Gathering driftwood…

I’ve been here in New Zealand for almost a week now, done lots of touristy things, drank some beer and been out for four rides, all with no ill effect, to say I’m relieved is quite an understatement.
First ride out was on Saturday morning, early Saturday morning, like 5am early, obviously jet lagged I decided to go out for half an hour to get some fresh air and stretch my legs (after being folded into an aeroplane seat for almost 36hours). Already warm and with nobody about that half hour turned into two hours and I was home before anyone else in the house was even awake.

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Along the way I spotted a piece of drift wood that looked like an outstretched hand, perfect for displaying my daughters hand made jewellery I thought, and then promptly forgot about it.

Second ride was again out along the coast on the east side of Wellington harbour, pushed on a bit further this time out to Baring Head lighthouse, nothing remarkable other than the heat, its near 30c and a bit of a shock to the system after leaving a cold wet Manchester just a few days ago.

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Third ride and I was feeling like the jet lag had gone, the legs less stiff and it was time to put all the map reading into practice, I’d seen that there were some nice looking trails around a couple of lakes just inland from the coastal road, heading out early again to beat the heat I was soon at the entrance gate.

Now so far both rides had been flat, flat as in Cheshire flat, that was about to change as I headed inland and upwards. Well maintained trails were spreading out before me, fortunately the mtb tracks are signposted to differentiate from the tramping tracks, and then the first climb started.

IMG_3063I got half way or so before my legs gave in, just as well as when I turned the corner it got even steeper, this little climb will be my fitness monitor, assuming I can get a little further up it each time.

A view to savour followed by a long descent back to sea level was the reward for the effort to get up high, I then headed further out with Wainuiomata beach being my target (or apogee as Jason would call it) this required another ten minute climb, less severe but slightly more challenging with its loose surface, I was now into new (to me) territory. The beach was reached, water was drunk, biscuits eaten and a good thirty minutes spent looking out to sea was the reward for the thirty five kilometres ridden.

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Heading back via the same route but into a headwind now, I decided to skip the mtb trails and get back home, satisfied with my ride.

Ride number four was going to be a challenge, the forecast was for wind and rain coming in at ten o’clock, I was out about nine and thought that I’d just head out to Eastbourne and get some coffee, the trouble is that the coastal road beyond here is so nice to ride, very few people around during the week, plus it looked dramatic and would make good photos.

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I was heading towards the lighthouse at Pencarrow when the rain started, warm rain that was actually quite refreshing!, now with the wind on my back I continued on to Baring Head beach, after another thirty minutes sat staring at the sea it was time to head back.

Back into a headwind, all the way home, coastal riding may be flat but once that wind starts its a slog, after thirty minutes I stopped for a breather and there in front of me was the driftwood I’d spotted a few days earlier, I pushed it into a bottle holder and set off again. Not far from home I stopped at a cafe for coffee and pies, yes pies plural, ones not enough, two is too much, I had two.

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So four rides in, 200kms covered, no aches or pains, a better start than last time for sure.

Words and pictures – Steve Makin

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