I faced a decision for my second Nelson ride, stay near sea level or head into the hills? While morning was nice the forecast for later in the day was a bit patchy and it was already looking cloudy up high. I decided to stay low and explore some of the coastal bike trail.
Strava for return leg TO2122-67b; A straighter run back to Mapua meant 108km ride in total
I set out for Motueka on Tasman's Great Taste Trail. It follows the coast from Nelson past Richmond and then across to Rabbit Island. From the Western end of Rabbit Island there's a bike ferry to Mapua Wharf. From there I'd follow the trail to Motueka before returning to Nelson on a similar route.
The full trail carries on up Motueka Valley to the Baton Saddle, across a new (since I rode) swing bridge to Tapawera before returning to Nelson via Kohatu, Spooners Tunnel, Wakefield, Brightwater, and Richmond.
Heading towards Richmond a sealed bike path hugs the coast next to the busy highway. It's quite exposed to sea breeze and traffic noise but better than being on the road.
Looking back from Richmond I was happy not to be riding up in those hills today.
Extensive boardwalks take the trail across tidal foreshore estuaries.
The trail was in good condition, no problem on my 30mm gravel tyres. The 'C. B. Kidson Bridge' takes the trail over Waimia river. It's quite narrow so keep an eye out for oncoming (bike) traffic.
Stopped mid-span for quite a while watching a shag, the grey blob with trialling yellow feet mid-frame, swimming underwater chasing fish for its breakfast.
Rabbit Island has kilometres of lovely beach, but I had places to go so would save that for later.
At the western end of Rabbit Island there's an hourly cycle ferry across the inlet to Mapua. Although it looks calm Motueka Harbour's large area and volume of water causes strong tidal flows.
The purpose-built ferry is brilliant, puts some Auckland commuter ferry cycle facilities to shame.
It's a long time since I was last in Mapua, the wharf area has been nicely developed.
Like the art where the trail passes under the Coastal Highway SH60.
In places the trail runs alongside lightly trafficked roads. I tend to use the seal and just switch onto the trail if traffic approaches.
Lots of 'lifestyle' developments in the countryside nearer Motueka.
The end, mid-point, of my ride was Motueka. There has been a lot of development since was last there in 2012. I noticed the cool converted church restaurant we dined in back then is now a real estate office.
The town was quite busy, settled on Muses Café for lunch as it had a large shady outdoor courtyard and complimentary reviews. Lived up to expectations, a great BLT with fries and iced coffee.
Motueka was a COVID hotspot, heard some locals mentioning they knew of people who'd had it. Amazing, as I write this in July 2022, that covid numbers in the low hundreds nationwide were a talking point...
Heading back to Mapua there were two remarkable sights. First an original looking 1970s Fiat 128 (same model I once owned) with no visible signs of rust, the second a lovely field of sunflowers.
Back at Mapua the gulls had invaded the village green.
While waiting for the ferry refilled my water bottles and several thirsty gulls at the public tap.
Refilled myself too, with a fresh berry ice-cream.
The gulls on the wharf building roof gave the Mapua Ferry departure a bit of a Hitchcock feel...
The day was improving, back to Rabbit Island for a swim, several swims in fact!
It was evening before I set off again, shadows in the Rabbit Island Forest.
Last photo of the day, below, as my phone ran out of juice after running GPS, podcasts, reading (Kindle on the beach), and taking photos all day. Discovered, too late to conserve battery, I had left my power-bank charging at the motel!
Just a few kilometres from the Motel I got my first puncture of the trip. It was a pinch flat, caused by a mismatched join crossing the bike path, and indication that the Schwalbe tyres need to be run at higher pressure than you'd expect a gravel tyre to use.
Swapped out the tube and had no problems after that but while doing it noticed a bit of play in the rear wheel bearings/hub. That's something I didn't have the tools to tackle as requires removing the cassette. Bit of a concern as, although easy to fix, due to COVID bike shop service slots are at real premium (cycling has boomed) and there are parts shortages supply chain disruption. One bonus of travelling with two bikes, is I'll have another ride while it's sorted.
Apart from the mechanicals it was a wonderful day. Dinner was a DIY pasta meal back at the motel, carbo loading for tomorrow!