Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ode to the Road

For over thirty years I've been riding my bicycles in and around the Wellington Harbour and hills and, as even a cursory glance at previous blog entries will show, I never get sick of looking at or showing you the many and varied views of this pretty city. Depending on the time of day or season of the year, the light on the hills and water can alter the character dramatically, revealing a new aspect at every turn. I've been riding the road a fair bit lately so I thought I'd lay some of my recent snaps on you.

The Basin Reserve is a brief break from the Death Race that is Newtown and Adelaide Road.

There is always wind on the road - today it emanates from the north-west.

On a nice day the Bays teem with recreational cyclists enjoying the scenic route.

The late autumn sun sparkles on the Harbour.

Heading around Point Hallswell and into Kau Bay, with Ward Island and Eastbourne beyond.

On days like this it's only the biting wind and the layers we don that inform us it's not summer.

Looking past the breaking waves and across the deceptively calm waters towards the Kaikouras.

In the late 70s and early 80s traffic was a relative rarity around the South Coast making the Bays somewhat of a cycling paradise for the few of us who rode, but these days the volume has increased markedly into an endless parade of vehicles to "share" the road with. This particular moron would have been doing about 80kph on the tight and twisty road.

The mountains of the South Island stand sentinel over the Cook Strait.

US Navy training ship the Golden Bear sits at dock on the Overseas Terminal, in the exact mooring that was my first landfall of New Zealand. We sailed from England on the Northern Star in 1967, taking a six-week voyage from the country of my birth to our new home in Wellington.

Wellington's Pantani Memorial.

My own neighbourhood of Berhampore has some interesting sights to be seen. This guy will seriously freak you out if you are the sort of person to get seriously freaked out by this type of thing.

One of the local bus-stops used to be a grim grey hovel that smelled of winos and wee. Now it's a gaily coloured hovel that smells of winos and wees.

Into the hills with my first jaunt up to Northland in a few months. I'm not exactly a Pantani myself, yet still this usually easy climb seemed this day as tough as Alpe d'Huez.

I bet there isn't a cool bike shop atop the Alpe though. Asher used Jonty's Rancilio to brew me a mean recovery coffee, before I had the fun payoff for my uphill grovelling with a wicked fang back down Raroa Road.

The old Herd Street Post Office building is a pretty cool bit of restored deco architecture down by Waitangi Park.

Riding around Oriental Bay I was saddened to see this old landmark house being demolished, no doubt to make way for some soulless hi-rise townhouse complex. This was where my Dad lived when I was maybe 10 or 11, and until recently the house was notable for being swathed in ivy. Just the week before I'd been pointing the old place out to Bodhi and telling him the story of tossing my Red Devils Action Man out of the second story window to float to earth on his orange silk parachute. While it was no family home or anything, I couldn't help but feel a poignant pang of loss for yet another chapter in my late father's life being obliterated.

The gloomy grey clouds reflect dully in the sea, mirroring my mildly maudlin mood...

...but the beauty of this harbour is that it never takes long for the clouds to part...

...and the light to break through.

The grave gent that guards Lyall Bay is an old friend who I like to visit on occasion. I am stoked to have just made Bike Rumor's POTD with a different portrait of this Easter Island-esque fellow.

Some days the coast gives way to the hills, and some different views.

Every corner opens up a new vista.

The Wainuiomata Hills are sending their siren call my way. As soon as I'm back on the MTB I'm heading out there to take a loooong overdue tour of the trail network out there.

One of my favourite little suburban climbs leads me up to the top of Mount Victoria.

Climbing like an eagle, albeit a bronze casting of an eagle, I make sure I look like it ain't no thang.

Before swooping down the sinuous descent of Alexandra Road I got my breath back and took stock by checking out the lovely view over the harbour, and as far as Mt Matthews in the Rimutaka Range.

At over 940 metres this is the tallest peak in the Wellington area, and is probably most famous for being the training ground of the late Sam Raphael. In training for the Kona Ironman, Sam would ride from his home in the Aro Valley out to Wainui, where he would leave his Colnago with the Rimutaka Forest Park Ranger. He would change into running shoes and run up the 5 Mile Track and on up to the top of Matthews and back down again, collecting his bike before riding back into town. A quick stop off at Cycle Services would follow, where he'd have a coffee and/or a quick bit of shut-eye before heading down to Freyberg Pool to swim 10km, before finally riding home up the terrifyingly steep Mt Pleasant (HA!) Road. That's a tough day's training, by any standard. RIP, you crazy guy...

A ride up to Kingston is yet another perspective on the city. This is overlooking the Berhampore Golf Course and Island Bay...

...sweep around a bit and there is the eponymous Island itself, framed by the hills that tumble down to the shore.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, and please note that clicking on the images opens up larger versions if you want to get closer to the city I love.

Normal mechanical services will be resumed shortly. Until then, thanks for reading.


sifter said...

Fantastic post bro! A fine reminder to look beyond that point a little ways up the road...!

Dave said...

Chur Oli,
lovely blog!
But you know looking thru your photos I can't help but wonder if the time hasn't come for you roadies to take up the tag game challenge?
It goes like this....
Take a photo of you bike in a spot that has some recognizable feature.
Post in an online forum, first person to post up a pic of their bike in the same spot wins the tag and gets to post the next one.

Theres a motorbike version of it here...!

Davo said...

Reading your post almost made me want to do some road riding. Inspirational local landscapes mate. Thanks.

Ben said...

Thanks Oli, both for the ongoing odes to the joy of biking, and also for the shout out to the late, great Sam. I can't help but think that he's sitting up high someplace laughing at all us ageing derelicts and bemoaning our choice of gear or whatever. At least he never got old, or slow, or fat (well fatter than he was).

RIP Sam, you were a good guy, a total bastard most of the time but a good guy....

Oli Brooke-White said...

Thanks, chaps! And I like the sound of the tagging game, Dave. I'll try it on Vorb perhaps.