I was glad to see the sun shining when I woke up on Sunday morning. The plan was a relatively short 45km trail ride to Opua with a ferry ride and short road section to my overnight accommodation in Russell. That gave time for a leisurely start with breakfast in the Left Bank Mint Café. Their Eggs benedict was awesome; two eggs, bacon, spinach on a toasted muffin and two hash browns. A huge breakfast for me, usually just have a yoghurt, banana & coffee!
I also did a bit of bike maintenance. The rain had washed off a lot of chain lube so re-did that and topped up the tyres. Have been running my 35mm Marathon Plus's at the minimum 4.2 bar (60Psi) in search of gravel grip and they have been fine. Tried a bit harder 4.8 (70) today but didn't notice any difference in handling although the trail was hardly demanding. It is mostly actual rail trail and trains don't do tight bends. Some happy street art before leaving Kaikohe.
This section of the trail is a bit less varied. Mostly farm land as you descend from Kaikohe (350m) towards sea level.
A sign near the trail outlines some of the Iwi objections to the trail. It, justifiably, relates to the land originally being confiscated under the “Public Works Act” for the rail use and not being returned when that use was ended. I can understand the grievance and hope a compromise can be negotiated which honours the tribal ownership of the land and potential trail benefits.
There is a long descent towards Moerewa, after that the ride is pretty flat.
There are some impressive bridges on this section including the Orauta Stream suspension bridges. Love the curves and construction geometry, old timbers and bolted joints.
For about 5km the trail runs alongside a road so I took to the tarmac as there was no traffic. An odd experience was getting warned by a, rather stressed looking, farmer to be careful as he'd just broken up a bull fight in the middle of the road!
One bull was already back in the paddock but I gave the other a wide berth. It was on the other side of the road and was more interested in eating some roadside foliage, a change from grass I guess, than me by the time I went past.
Stopped for a coffee and berry crumble slice at Kawakawa. It is famous for the Hundertwasser toilets, which I didn’t visit, and a train track running down the middle of the main street . Was going to have lunch there but it was very busy and I wasn't really hungry enough (legacy of the big breakfast).
As I was about to leave the train came along the road and I saw it again further along the trail at Tuamarere Station; the end of its run.
The trail ends near a marine haul out area, and I did a loop to check out some of the boats. it wasn’t until I got home and properly cleaned the bike I noticed a small sliver, by feel more than sight, of wire embedded in the rear tyre tread. I pulled on it and ~10mm of what looked like stainless steel rigging wire emerged. Running robust, if heavy, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres paid off.
I thought I had done well arriving in Opua just as the car ferry did, but then realised there are two alternating and so one departs every 15 minutes or so.
Checked into Motel Russell and dumped my gear. It was only about 14:00 so I went out to explore Russell by bike. The waterfront esplanade was rather busy, even for a summer Sunday, so I didn't spend much time there.
Went up to Flagstaff Hill, a historic landmark, for the first time in decades. In one of those small world NZ things I chatted to someone looking at the view and rapidly discovered he was from the suburb were I live. He’d brought a van load of his business staff up for the weekend as a treat.
There were two large cruise ships anchored in the bay, no wonder Russell was so busy!
It was sunny but there was a reasonable westerly breeze blowing into Russell so I went over the hill to sheltered, East facing, Long Beach. Had a nice swim (warm water) and was pleasantly surprised to find a (good) coffee caravan as there are no shops at this beach.
Back to Motel Russell, for a shower and change out of bike gear, then walked back into town (about a kilometre) for dinner. The Duke aside, it was fully booked when I looked, it was quiet as all the cruise ship mob were back on their boats. I had a nice fresh fish meal, Bayside Restaurant, with a lovely sea view to finish an awesome day.
In the end I only rode 66.8km today.