We recently held the first of what will be a regular series of long-distance rides for local riders.  

Interest was high, with nine riders saying they would come and several others promising to join us next time.  For one reason or other, only four managed to get to the start-line.

So it was that I met up with Amanda Ashcroft, Sheryl Morris, and Phil Chatterley outside Avanti Plus.  The time was 3:00 am, a ridiculous hour, and I think some of us were surprised to find ourselves there at all.  

After hiding spare water and supplies under a flax bush for the end of lap 1, we set off down Rimu Road. The night was clear and a full moon was out.  The weather gods were obviously smiling, which was lucky given the extended period of bad weather we’ve been having.

The ride started off like any other Round the Block ride.  There was one difference though … it was dark!  No problems with traffic as we crossed over onto the highway.  No need to ride on the verge as we made our way down SH1.  I think that my fellow riders quickly understood the joys of night-riding.  It was just so peaceful, quiet and beautiful!

Paekakariki Hill was duly mounted and we were charging down the other side.  “Charging” is probably the wrong word, as we were facing a pretty stiff southerly by now.  I took the lead to take the brunt of the wind and keep the pace at a more sustainable level for everyone.  The number of my shadows and their size gave me an indication of how many were behind me and how close they were.  But I was not as vigilant as I should have been and one of our companions dropped off, however we managed to regroup at Battle Hill.  I also discovered subsequently that Phil had a really poor night light (I should have checked!) and, not having his prescription glasses on, was struggling to see in the dark.  It would have been pretty scary for him.

The route through to the Hutt Valley was pretty quiet.  As Amanda and I crested the Haywards Hill, we found Phil and Sheryl waiting for us.  It must have been freezing for them!

The first light of dawn hit us while riding up the Hutt Valley.  The sky had clouded over a bit though, so the view wasn’t as spectacular or as beautiful as it could have been.

Traffic was still light, which meant that we could ride further into the road than is usually possible.  That’s quite a luxury!

Riding up through the Akatarawas was beautiful, with full morning light finally breaking out.  I kept Amanda company as Phil and Sheryl rode ahead.  It was great chatting with her.  And what a lovely part of the world that road is!

The Aka’s valley was pretty calm, but the cold wind finally hit us again as we reached the top.  And there were Phil and Sheryl, huddled by the side of the road waiting for us!  They were frozen and took ages to warm up.

The ride into Waikanae was an easy wind-assisted pedal.  My three companions were surprised at how strong they were feeling and definitely seemed ready for another lap.  I had added an extra inducement for the next lap, just in case anyone was flagging at the half way point- coffee at Paekakariki!

I stopped at Paraparaumu to remake some drink, while the others rode on.  This was also my third pit-stop and so, for the third time, I set out to reel my companions back.  There was quite a strong southerly by now and it was tough going.  Indeed, it wasn’t until towards the top of Paekakariki Hill that I finally caught up with Phil and Amanda, and eventually with Sheryl who was waiting for us at the top.

Coffee was great.  I think Sheryl took first prize for wolfing down a date scone.  Amanda and I were made of weaker stuff and eventually resorted to persuading Phil to finish ours off.  I was quite content to sit there soaking up the ambience all morning, but my keen companions wanted to be off.

Up the Haywards again and on through the Hutt Valley.  Now, of course, we had to contend with traffic, which definitely takes some of the enjoyment out of these rides.

This time I kept Sheryl company going up through the Akas.  I remember cycling up to just behind her and telling her that I was going to draft her all the way, to which she replied that she was going to use fart power.  She was mortified when she discovered it was me, not her mate Phil!

Towards the ends of the Akas, Phil joined us, followed soon after by Amanda.  There were woops of joy from my companions as they crested that hill for the second time.  What an undertaking!  I was so proud to be part of that achievement!  We were all very happy.

So from there, all we had to do was finish our ride, which we duly did.  I think that Phil was the only one who did the extra few kilometres to take the tally up to 200 km, which I believe earns him a “Silver Achievement” from the Kapiti Cycle Club’s “K’s in a Day” Challenge.  I’ll have to make sure that our next rides do the extra bit to get the points for these Challenges.

Do join us for our next ride, which is planned for 9 January, if not sooner!  There’s also a couple of Big Days Out planned by the Club – 25 October and 12 December – which are great fun!