Although a tropical storm was forecast it wasn't expected Friday January 27, 2023, would be Auckland's wettest day on record. Our average January rainfall, remember a summer month, is ~52mm and we got ~260mm on one day. It was raining all day but peaked in the early evening, at times over 60-80mm/hour depending where measured.
It turned out to be devastating for many; four lives lost and massive property damage city wide. I was fortunate not to be impacted at all; the house was fine, and we just had an overnight power cut.
This post isn't about the event, the short clip below gives an idea of its extent, but how I came to be a bike commuter on that day, and the trip home amid it all.
Lovely day for a bike commute!?
I wouldn't have been on the bike but for an unrelated event week's earlier and resulting circumstances. On a drive down to Hamilton, just after New Year, I hit an unmarked 'slump' on the 'new' Waikato Expressway.
There was a bit of a clang, as the car bottomed out, the Esseesse has 'firm' suspension, but thankfully no flat tyre or wheel damage.
Since then, I've noticed an occasional rattle crossing driveway thresholds and similar small sharp transitions. After checking the obvious (loose rear folding seat, rear hatch, tools in the wheel well) had a look under the car. Found the left rear bump stop rattling around trapped inside the spring, which explained all!
Booked in to get fixed and the first available slot was Thursday 26th. The Newmarket workshop is only 5.5km from work so chucked the folding bike (seen in first photo) in the boot and rode to work from there. Late afternoon got a call that the parts had arrived late, and the car wouldn't be ready until tomorrow.
Not a problem, reverted to my mixed-mode bike/train commute but while riding towards Grafton Station decided the (rare) 30-40km/h Easterly tailwind couldn't be wasted and cycled all the way home. It was great cycling along the SH16 motorway bike path faster than the rush hour traffic!
Friday Morning: A very wet bike/train/bike to work
The weather was grim when I was getting ready for work but had to go in as needed to collect the car afterwards. It was warm so just accepted would get wet; just wore MTB bike shorts, cycling top and sandals instead of bike shoes so the rain could drain!
I can shower and change at work, so that's not a problem. The ride to the train was wet but only a couple of km, and the 7:00am train had few people on it.
I get off the train at Grafton Station, quicker than staying on to Britomart, and cycling across Grafton Bridge, heading for Victoria Park, was like riding an aqueduct! Deep water in the gutters spread across most of the lane.
Friday Evening: A bizarre commute...
I left work about 16:30 to collect AHBART from service. It was an amazing wet ride through busy, at times gridlocked streets. The rain wasn't too bad setting out but became torrential as I got nearer to Newmarket. Any road heading towards the motorway system was at a standstill, the city echoing with emergency services sirens all the way across town.
I went up Nelson St to the Lightpath (Pink Path), back across Grafton Bridge, down Kyber Pass (surprisingly light traffic heading towards Newmarket) and along Broadway. Riding was fine, I rolled a crossing light along Broadway so was riding between two 'waves' of buses and car traffic.
Had to apologise at Andrew Sims for dripping on the floor by the service desk; the woman laughed and said not to worry, everyone was doing that today. It was still raining torrentially so just threw the bike in the car, jumped in and took off the wet mtb shorts (the bike shorts under were still dry), and changed into a dry shirt. The air conditioning soon defogged the windows, it was still very humid, and I set out home.
St Marks Rd and Alpers Ave, heading towards the motorway, were at a standstill so I took a suburban route. Turned out to be an accidentally wise decision as apart from light surface flooding (see dashcam below) at that stage the Mt Eden, Three Kings, New Lynn, Glen Eden roads were ok, and traffic was surprisingly light.
Until the power failed, around 19:30, spent the evening watching the unprecedented devastation unfold. After that it was podcasts by bike light (I hate candles) until gave up and went to bed. The power came on about 04:15 Saturday, after checking the house was ok was back to bed!
PS: How the rear bump stops should look!