The weather has been fine of late but windy as hell, my riding enthusiasm low, my digestive system in turmoil, to say that I couldn’t be arsed to ride is an understatement.
The New Zealand trip is coming to an end soon and once again events had conspired against me with regard to heading out on this trail, my last realistic chance was today, the sun came out, the wind dropped, I was out and riding by eight o’clock, wondering how far I could get before I needed a nature break.
In fact today was a good stool day (I know, too much information) and I didn’t need to run into the bushes once which meant that I got a fair way along the coast, soon enough to Days Bay for coffee and toast and then along the promenade at Eastbourne.
Burdens Gate was empty of people and cars and I knew this was going to be a special day, a slight headwind up to the lighthouse at Pencarrow was actually quite welcome as it kept the temperatures down, a few seals on the rocks but no dolphins today.
By the time I got to the road that leads uphill to the East Harbour Regional Park I was very happy, legs feeling strong, no stomach issues and still the sun was shining, the climb up felt easy, too easy in fact. Stopping at the top to talk to a fisherman on his way down to the sea for crayfish bought me some oxygen and allowed the heart rate to drop before heading down the gravelly double track descent at warp speed, only to have to pull up sharpish as a police car was crawling its way up ?, then another, and then another ?
I’m going to assume that they were doing some driving practice on gravel roads as I couldn’t imagine where they were heading to ? anyway I got to the bottom and climbed over the gate to heads towards the start of the Rimatuka Trail.
Again, nobody about, wonderful, that whole ocean to myself. After about thirty minutes I saw an old shack up to my left, Barneys Whare, (whare being the Maori word for house) sadly all locked up, would make a wonderful bothy hut, I sat and brewed up, grabbed a bite to eat and thought about whether or not I could make it fully along the coast to get to the Rimatuka incline. This would mean heading back to home via the Hutt River Trail which I don’t especially care for given its route through the suburbs of Upper and Lower Hutt, or retracing my steps alongside the ocean, not really a discussion.
Next up was the Kotumu Stream Shingle Fan, I’d seen a photograph of this recently from a friend Rich, I was intrigued….. and very glad it wasn’t raining, its basically a two kilometre stretch of boulders and shingle that are constantly being washed towards the ocean by heavy rains, its roughness very much depending upon recent weather, if good its okay which in turn allows its to be used more by four by fours, which smooths it out, it was about 75% rideable by the ECR, no idea how Rich rode it on his cross bike.
Its now that I begin to understand the various warnings that my Kiwi friends have given about this route, you really wouldn’t want to be caught out here, the way the rain comes down and the rivers spring into life is amazing, this ‘shingle fan’ could soon enough turn into something much more malevolent.
Another forty five minutes dawdling along taking photographs and staring at the sea, I figure that this makes a good turning point now as I’m not going to head up towards Lake Wairapa today, will save this for another time.
I turn back and enjoy a slight tail wind back along the coast, another mountain biker comes into view and we stop and chat, he’s been looking for some new trails that he had read about on the internet, he explained where they were and I thought that I might seek them out along the way home.
Heading back up the other side of the big hill and the the three police cars are coming downhill towards me, I am tempted to stop them and ask what they’ve been doing but figure that’s not a good idea, and judging by the look on their faces as we pass I’m glad I didn’t. The last twenty five kilometres home was wind assisted all the way to a Banana smoothie and two sausage rolls, well earned over the eighty five kilometres I’ve ridden today, and not one ‘nature’ break needed, very happy with that !
Words and pictures – Steve Makin