Friday, January 2, 2015

eMotoring the Motu - a father son ride

EBiking Eastland - you've got right of way - though the chance of another vehicle is pretty low!
There are advantages to having a son. There's the opportunity to pass on your DNA, and any wealth that you neglected to expend on overseas trips and fine dining. But at the checkin for our Gisborne flight, the big advantage was that with my eBike box weighing in at 29kg, Martin's bike box was only 19kg. After a quick component redistribution, we achieved the 23kg limit on both boxes, and we were on our way. "Though we can't guarantee we can get them on the Beechcraft..."  So I was glad when I peered out the window to see the last bike box disappear off the luggage trolley.

After a couple of aborted landings ("birds on the runway") and sightseeing passes over Young Nick's Head, Martin was on his way into central Gisborne to collect my eBike battery (sent by courier since airline dangerous goods regulations ban it from flying) and the all important stop at the supermarket to stock up on dinner ingredients and cask wine, while I reassembled my bike and enjoyed a coffee. Then we headed out. The planned route to the Bay of Plenty was following the Kennett's Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails "Rere Falls" trip, first of all heading for Eastwoodhill Arboretum on quiet roads to the west of the main highway, then up past Rere falls to cross the main highway at Matawai, climbing to Motu and the old Motu Road that follows the Waiaua river down to the Bay of Plenty at Tirohanga, finishing with the Dunes trail along the coast to Opotiki.
Trip Advised lunch stop

But first the lunch stop. We paused by a likely looking vineyard in Bushmere, chatted to a bloke on rideon lawnmower about the virtues of the restaurant compared with the ones up the road. Martin checked Trip Advisor - scored 5 out of 50 Gisborne restaurants, so we headed in. Would you like a wine tasting? Why not! Rideonmower bloke reappeared in a new shirt and guided us through a selection of Bushmeres finest, leaving us to enjoy our meals while he got back to the next paddock. That set us up for the next few hours riding to Eastwoodhill, which was closed (December is winter after all in eastland) but gave us the chance to pedal round among the towering podocarps before going back down the road to our accomodation "Ngatapa Retreat" otherwise "Mary's cottage", where our host Marija had left us an amply stocked fridge complete with a couple of cold beers which we were enjoying on the deck when Marija rode up sidesaddle on her quad bike. "Got worried when I saw you ride past - must put a sign out some time". Martin cooked dinner while we were entertained by Marija's grandson,  4th ranked NZ trail bike rider, practicing for the Nationals with spectacular jumps along the treeline above us.

Next morning a generous cooked breakfast and assembling a packed lunch made a small dent in the fridge supplies, and we were away. We had a scrog stop under the mini Niagara of the Rere falls, then followed the sounds of the truck mounted boom box at the all weekend party on the Rere Rock slide.
Party time at Rere Rock Slide
Partygoers on boogie boards and inner tubes hurtled down the 50m incline into the pool below - I decided this wasn't a good recreational choice for someone with bone disease so we carried on west and then north on beautiful winding roads with gentle gradients and the occasional sunshower to cool us down. Martin's white top started its conversion to beige from the mud thrown up from the wet road.
White to Beige in one easy  bike ride
After seeing a total of 5 vehicles since Rere, it was a bit of a shock to reach SH2 and turn east for Matawai on the busy main highway. We managed to achieve the secret knock on the private entrance to the Matawai hotel, and cook, receptionist and general dogsbody Karen ushered us in to our accommodation before dashing off to organise dinner. At this point I realised I'd left behind the key that allowed me to remove the eBike battery for charging in our room; but there was a simple solution - I was allowed to plug the bike into the Xmas lights.
Away in the manger, the eBike did charge...
After a  breakfast tutorial on  beekeeping from a fellow guest, we headed north off the main highway for Motu. Harry Potter fans will be pleased to hear that Matawai features a "Grieffondor" house. At Motu we caught up with Karen again - walking her horse in a paddock by the new cafe she's planning to open soon - this will be a good refueling stop for cyclists heading for the Motu Trails. We saw traces of the railway that was supposed to connect Gisborne to the Bay of Plenty, but didn't get beyond Motu.
Climbing to the Old Motu Coach Road
Back on to gravel, we climbed to the junction with  the Pakihi track, where a shuttle was dropping off mountain bikers and walkers. We kept to the road, the original1914 route from Gisborne to the Bay of Plenty, enjoying a descent through native bush with the odd farm.
Agricultural life on the Old Motu Road
We encountered a digger clearing a recent slip. At first we thought we'd have to clamber over the debris, but the digger driver quickly carved out a bike trail that we could ride through - now if only we could get that man working on the Petone - Ngauranga cycle trail!
Martin passes the slip
Old Motu Road bend
River crossing on the Old Motu Road
Dunes Trail
At the coast, we picked up the Dunes Trail - a series of gravel trails on boardwalks that avoid the main road into Opotiki. We hadn't had much in the way of lunch supplies, so we made a beeline for Opotiki's best (and only) sushi shop. Waiotahi Beach had a campground with a family suite - good thing we were a "family" . The surf in front of the campground was warm and inviting, so we plunged in. 

We'd originally planned two days from Opotoki to Katikati, where we were due to pick up our Coromandel car. But flat roads, a tailwind, and an aversion to biking through Tauranga lead us to renegotiate our pickup arrangements, and brother in law Alan agreed to pick us up from the Papamoa turnoff. At this stage the eBike had done 107km on one charge - a "record".
Opotiki to Papamoa turnoff: 107km, and 4/5 battery
A quick drive through to Whangamata saw us arrive at the same time as Marg driving from Wellington.

Having a son, or indeed any children, leads to a progression of experiences. I recalled three year old Martin moaning from the child seat that we were going too slowly over the Maungatapu saddle, and admiring his 10 year old skills on the Karori BMX track and skateboard ramp. But riding with an adult son is a special experience - I was not just riding with my son, but with a good "cycling mate".