Nice to see Benjamin used one of my photos, the beach highway at Muriwai, in his infographic. Have done most of these except a lap of Waiheke (which I have visited often) by scooter. The chocolate boutique is sometimes visited after Skeptics the Pub which is just down the road!
That awkward moment when you realise it it's too warm to wear the top you had on when left home to walk the dog, then realise that means you're wearing "The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe Down Under Zombie Koala T Shirt" in a cemetery.
I did pick a path which kept me far away from those who might be there for more solemn reasons than dog walking.
I’ve been to both islands before, by ferry and yacht, and walked some parts but the chance to bike around them is unique, otherwise not allowed.
As a first timer I was impressed with the event organisation. Bikes had to be dropped off on Thursday. They were checked clean (both Islands are nature reserves) and tyres run through bleach on the way into a secure storage area.
On Friday they were ferried to the island ready for us to collect on Saturday.
(click any photo to see full res version on Flickr)
Getting into town for a 07:00 ferry meant an early start. One slightly confused, disappointed, dog was also up and ready to go walking at 05:30!
The week had been wet — on & off — and the forecast was for the same. Heavy rain overnight wasn’t encouraging so I had a rain shell and (thanks B!) SealSkin waterproof socks packed.
I knew there isn’t much shelter on Motutapu and would be there until the afternoon so took much more gear — thermal & proper raincoat — than I would for a day ride. Not quite as much as the Tibet ride but close!
It is not like me to be in the city early enough to see a Cruise liner’s morning arrival!
First task on arrival at Motutapu was to collect the bike. They’d been racked up in number grouping in a nearby paddock so it didn’t take long to find.
I joined the start at the back of the pack as had no intention of ‘racing’. There were about 420 cyclists evenly split between the 26 km and 42 km course options.
The 42 I did was a ‘lap’ of both islands nicely arranged so only a short section near the causeway was repeated. The riding was a mix of gravel road, farm track and a fair bit across grass paddocks and cattle paths.
From the start at Home Bay, Motutapu, it was a climb on farm roads to the ridge. Pace was slow, penalty of being at the back, but then I was stopping occasionally to take photos!
From there it was downhill to the causeway and very different riding conditions. Rangitoto is new, erupted about 600 years ago, so the terrain is pretty ‘raw’. Although we were still riding on formed roads the scoria rock is pretty harsh, saw quite a few punctures being repaired roadside. I have walked up Rangitoto before but wasn’t familiar with the road.
The climb was 1st gear steep but not as long as I imagined. One benefit of the rain was a nicely compacted gravel and probably much less dust. That said I did have to clean quite a lot of Rangitoto grit out of the chain and derailleur when I got home! There were frequent drink stops, water & electrolytes on offer, with this one at the summit being rather well placed.
This was the start of the descent, a fun downhill ride on scoria road.
The later part was a fast, rough — more punctures for some — downhill to the lighthouse you see from Auckland’s North Shore.
The road follows the coast through bush and open areas with great views back towards Auckland.
After passing the tourist wharf we retraced our tracks over the causeway to Motutapu.
Then it was back to the top of the ridge before heading towards Motutapu’s East Coast.
Looking back towards Rangitoto summit
Flattened grass shows the way across the farm paddocks towards some fun downhills
Back to sea level but there is another ridge looming.
There were some challenging climbs out of the bays. I rode the whole way except for a couple of places where I had to walk/push a hundred metres or so as it was just too steep. There were some great views to compensate for the effort.
Then it was back towards Rangitoto before turning back for the last few climbs.
The top of Motutapu looking back to the Rangitoto summit.
The last couple of kilometres are a long steep descent to the Home Bay finish.
And finally, some fool on the downhill to the finish (purchased from the official event photos).
The weather was perfect, warm but overcast for the race and getting fine towards the finish and post race. It would have been too hot otherwise!
Full ferry for the trip back to Auckland, bikes would follow later.
Given the rain leading up to the event, torrential overnight, this weather was amazing.
I went back into town that evening to collect my bike to avoid the city Triathlon road closures on Sunday. The setting sun, cloud and occasional rain created some interesting lighting around the viaduct basin.
Also saw the liner which I watched dock that morning set sail.
Times & Photos
Provisional Result: Race No 26 – Time 3:30:07 – Position 173/213.
According to my GPS (which nearly matched the official race time) I was stationary for about 23 minutes taking photos, all of which are on Flickr.
Both of these are just a way to have fun on the water, but I think the foreground one is more my style (and budget).
‘Serene’ is 133.9m long (439’3” of those other lengthy measure units for US readers) and can cruise at 15kts…
I’d cycled into town to check out the Volvo Round the World race yachts. Not quite the mega-race-yacht spectacle of days gone by but they look great in the viaduct. Beautiful summer evening even though it was actually the first day of Autumn.