a mission

It had been a while since I’d had a decently long bike ride, so a couple months ago I conceived the notion of riding to Martinborough for lunch - but taking the day off work to do it. I’d avoid most of the vehicle traffic by using the Hutt River Trail and the Rimutaka Rail Trail; and I figured the roads on the other side of the mountains wouldn’t be too spooky, being wide and relatively unpopulated.

As this was about a 90km ride and my fitness levels aren’t really what they were, I asked R. if she’d come meet me for lunch (and not co-incidentally provide the sag-wagon for the return journey). She was keen, so I booked the leave.

Unfortunately, when the day rolled around the weather was looking a bit average. No actual rain was forecast, but it was damp and misty as I headed up the Hutt River Trail.

Hutt River Trail

It was nice to be travelling in the opposite direction to all the traffic heading into town though.

As I got further up the valley the mistiness turned to occasional showers. This was a bit of a problem as I had not packed my raincoat (why oh why did I believe the forecasts?). Luckily though, I got hold of R. and she brought my waterproof cycling jacket in the car with her; and we crossed over just before the start of the Rimutaka Rail Trail.

As always, this is a nice ride; and the showers mostly held off right up to the summit.

the Summit

Once I got through the tunnel and on to the downward Incline the rain turned into torrents and the wind was furious. This was the area where back when it was a working railway a locomotive was once blown off the tracks by a gust of wind and while it was nowhere near that windy it wasn’t exactly pleasant.

I sheltered in the entrance of one of the Incline’s tunnels, waiting for the rain to stop. Which it didn’t.

sheltering in a tunnel

Eventually, with the wind at my back, I popped out onto the plains. But now I had to turn left and north towards Featherston; and the crosswinds off the mountain were incredible. At times I had to hop off and push the bike, and at one point while I was doing this a gust of wind actually blew the wheels off the road and swung the bike away from me.

At least the rain was confined to the mountains; when I turned east again and got further away still the wind dropped too. The rest of the ride to Martinborough was fairly uneventful.

By this time though I was pretty much knackered, and in town R. was a welcome sight. I needed lunch badly but first I needed to buy some dry socks so that my feet, wet through from unexpectedly having to ford a creek back near Featherston, wouldn’t freeze.

But oh, what a lunch:

lunch

Afterwards we had a bit of a drive around. Looking back towards the Rimutaka Ranges you could see the cloud flowing over the tops and dropping their rain. I had ridden out from under all that apocalyptic looking weather and it felt pretty good.

looking back at the Rimutaka Ranges

I could definitely do with being a little fitter before I try something like that again though.

raoidean: bikes
 
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