Had my first real gravel road ride on ‘Rapid Rob’ today. From home headed into the Waitakere Ranges and along the Exhibition Drive track. Then it was back on the road following the Manukau Harbour coast to Huia. There are some steep undulating hills as the road climbs over ridges between the bays. I got up to 60 km/h on some of the downhills, more like 6 km/h going up!
From Huia it was around the bay to Little Huia. Here, after fording a small stream, the road goes inland up. About 2/3 up the hill, first photo below, the tarmac ends and it is on to gravel road. It was damp, so no dust, and really smooth so not quite the suspension workout I had anticipated!
Highlight of this climb was coming around the corner to find two lovely big Kererū (NZ wood pigeon) having a drink from a road side puddle. They watched me puffing past them, only a few metres away, before flying into the bush.
After cresting a ridge about 200m high there is a long descent to the beach at Whatipu. Although some bends had corrugations it was a comfortable 30-50 km.h on the straight bits. The bike handled well, nice having front suspension to help keep the wheel on the road over the bumps!
There is no cycling allowed on the track to the beach, a bird reserve, so I locked up the bike and went for a walk. The beach was rather empty, a few fishermen surf casting and one brave (mad?) couple swimming!
After a bite to eat, apple & banana, it was back to the bike and time to head home. Looking up the valley the weather looked ok but there were a few patches of rain out to sea.
Before returning to Little Huia I turned left on to Mt Donald Mclean Rd. Although less than a kilometre long it climbs from a ridge 207m high to the summit at 389m. Gave the grannie gear, and me, a workout but worth it for the 360º views of the Manukau Harbour & Heads. From there it was backtracking the same route home, there’s only one road, for a total of 63km (1 of which were walking) and 1714m of hill climbing!
The Manukau Harbour is huge. South Head is about 3km away in this photo, over 110km by road to drive there!
Loved this downhill back towards Little Huia, swoopy cambered corners all the way to the sea!
Above: Huia & Manukau Harbour – Below; Manukau Heads & Whatipu