Taking on NZ’s longest cycle trail

CYCLING IN FRANCE: The scenic beauty and history of Languedoc in the south of France. Pictures by Jo Ferris
PICTURESQUE FRENCH TRAIL: Cyclists enjoy the waterway trails through the French region of Charente.
OLD RALEIGH 20!: The demise of the Raleigh 20 — e-bikes are on the rise!
AROUND NAPIER'S ESTUARY LOOP: Napier’s inner-city wharf is a vibrant hub where old sheds are now cafes and restaurants.
STOPPING TO REFUEL: One of the many café stops along the Otago Rail Trail.

An impending adventure looms in April, tackling 300-odd kilometres on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, a rather daunting prospect, which has required a concerted effort to re-acquaint myself with the bicycle. The two-wheeler has gathered dust in the garage for lengthy periods, if I’m honest.

Weather, wind, flat tyres, a pathetic excuse for a pump; too busy, too tired, all pathetic really.

Agreeing to a friend’s invitation to join a group and cycle uphill and down dale from Mt Cook to Oamaru was hasty at the time.

The e-bike was the deal breaker. It has however, sparked the need for some urgent practice, pressing the pedal and getting the heart pumping.

Since starting in earnest after New Year, I have discovered several salutary points. There are far more people pedalling around my way these days. Papamoa’s burgeoning growth has a lot to do with it, of course.

Cycle ways

Dedicated cycle ways have also made an impact. Cycle lanes and trails run the length of the coastline, friendly cyclists sharing waterway reserve tracks with walkers, joggers and dog owners.

Then there are the bunches of serious, lycra-clad roadies — constantly in training for one event or another, plying the 20-something kilometre stretch down Papamoa Beach Road.

Thankfully, it leaves the recreational bikers to putter beside the pukekos in their own time. This lesser breed of non-purists attracts friendly folk, some who appear to have taken to cycling as a pastime later in life, e-bikes an obvious choice for many.

Tauranga has gone to great lengths to get people on bikes. Cycle routes and nature trails are everywhere. A joint venture between roading authorities, Tauranga and Western Bay councils, is seeing paths and commuter routes gradually constructed in a network that will eventually link Waihi Beach in the north to Maketu in the East.

Hawke’s Bay was one of the earliest advocates for cycle trails, with almost 200km of world-class trails now running throughout the region. From estuary loops around Napier’s re-invented wharf café hub, to landscapes such as Te Mata Peak and Cape Kidnappers; from winery and water rides; there are trails that link from Clive to Waipukurau and beyond.

Hawke’s Bay has proven how an entire tourism and hospitality industry can thrive around cycling. The advent of New Zealand’s great cycle trails has catapulted this renewed love affair with bicycles to another level again. Cycling holidays have long been a tourism attraction in the likes of France. It’s where Hawke’s Bay’s Barbara Grieve has successfully run her cycling holidays for more than 20 years.

I have undertaken two, dragging Gisbornite Connie Tucker with me on the last sojourn in 2011 to Langeudoc to taste the wine and savour the scenery in this southern province.

Sense of achievement

Looking back though, it was probably the challenge from another Gisbornite and former fellow co-worker at the Gisborne Herald, Toni Lexmond, who got me on the bike in the first place. Knocking off the Otago Rail Trail wasn’t a feat I had seriously considered, but the sense of achievement was euphoric.

Having never cycled since school days; the weary adage ‘it’s just like riding a bike’ does help explain the learned activity of muscle memory.

A bit of balance helps as well.

Gear co-ordination is a knack. After that, it’s tally-ho really, as long as there’s no headwind. Sadly, that’s unlikely in the land of the long white cloud.

Which brings me to the realisation that e-bikes are no longer a fad, a phase or indeed a naff gizmo for fops. They have introduced an entire new market to the world of cycling. Dare I suggest even given a lot of old-timers a new lease on life. While out one Saturday and sensing I was about to be overtaken, I was happy to see it was by an e-bike.

Catching our breath, the 77-year-old said it had renewed his zest for life; probably saved it. Having been given a clean bill of health after an almost deadly scare, even his GP had marvelled at his current good state.

E-bikes are prerequisites

I will be the baby in my group of seventy somethings next month, e-bikes prerequisites for the hilly terrain we are set to tackle. Not Mt Cook mind you, just checking it out, along with some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. It’s only the longest, continuous cycle trail in the country.

Note the website info: ‘This is not a rail trail, but a cycle trail with hills, corners, loose surfaces and mixed gradients.’

Being bike fit is a requirement! How hard can it be on an e-bike? I have had a sneaky trial, hiring one in Napier and zipping around the city’s estuary loop.

Suffice to say, while I am doing the hard yards, self-steaming around Papamoa, I am already a convert. I’ll let you know the outcome after the trip south!

An impending adventure looms in April, tackling 300-odd kilometres on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, a rather daunting prospect, which has required a concerted effort to re-acquaint myself with the bicycle. The two-wheeler has gathered dust in the garage for lengthy periods, if I’m honest.

Weather, wind, flat tyres, a pathetic excuse for a pump; too busy, too tired, all pathetic really.

Agreeing to a friend’s invitation to join a group and cycle uphill and down dale from Mt Cook to Oamaru was hasty at the time.

The e-bike was the deal breaker. It has however, sparked the need for some urgent practice, pressing the pedal and getting the heart pumping.

Since starting in earnest after New Year, I have discovered several salutary points. There are far more people pedalling around my way these days. Papamoa’s burgeoning growth has a lot to do with it, of course.

Cycle ways

Dedicated cycle ways have also made an impact. Cycle lanes and trails run the length of the coastline, friendly cyclists sharing waterway reserve tracks with walkers, joggers and dog owners.

Then there are the bunches of serious, lycra-clad roadies — constantly in training for one event or another, plying the 20-something kilometre stretch down Papamoa Beach Road.

Thankfully, it leaves the recreational bikers to putter beside the pukekos in their own time. This lesser breed of non-purists attracts friendly folk, some who appear to have taken to cycling as a pastime later in life, e-bikes an obvious choice for many.

Tauranga has gone to great lengths to get people on bikes. Cycle routes and nature trails are everywhere. A joint venture between roading authorities, Tauranga and Western Bay councils, is seeing paths and commuter routes gradually constructed in a network that will eventually link Waihi Beach in the north to Maketu in the East.

Hawke’s Bay was one of the earliest advocates for cycle trails, with almost 200km of world-class trails now running throughout the region. From estuary loops around Napier’s re-invented wharf café hub, to landscapes such as Te Mata Peak and Cape Kidnappers; from winery and water rides; there are trails that link from Clive to Waipukurau and beyond.

Hawke’s Bay has proven how an entire tourism and hospitality industry can thrive around cycling. The advent of New Zealand’s great cycle trails has catapulted this renewed love affair with bicycles to another level again. Cycling holidays have long been a tourism attraction in the likes of France. It’s where Hawke’s Bay’s Barbara Grieve has successfully run her cycling holidays for more than 20 years.

I have undertaken two, dragging Gisbornite Connie Tucker with me on the last sojourn in 2011 to Langeudoc to taste the wine and savour the scenery in this southern province.

Sense of achievement

Looking back though, it was probably the challenge from another Gisbornite and former fellow co-worker at the Gisborne Herald, Toni Lexmond, who got me on the bike in the first place. Knocking off the Otago Rail Trail wasn’t a feat I had seriously considered, but the sense of achievement was euphoric.

Having never cycled since school days; the weary adage ‘it’s just like riding a bike’ does help explain the learned activity of muscle memory.

A bit of balance helps as well.

Gear co-ordination is a knack. After that, it’s tally-ho really, as long as there’s no headwind. Sadly, that’s unlikely in the land of the long white cloud.

Which brings me to the realisation that e-bikes are no longer a fad, a phase or indeed a naff gizmo for fops. They have introduced an entire new market to the world of cycling. Dare I suggest even given a lot of old-timers a new lease on life. While out one Saturday and sensing I was about to be overtaken, I was happy to see it was by an e-bike.

Catching our breath, the 77-year-old said it had renewed his zest for life; probably saved it. Having been given a clean bill of health after an almost deadly scare, even his GP had marvelled at his current good state.

E-bikes are prerequisites

I will be the baby in my group of seventy somethings next month, e-bikes prerequisites for the hilly terrain we are set to tackle. Not Mt Cook mind you, just checking it out, along with some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. It’s only the longest, continuous cycle trail in the country.

Note the website info: ‘This is not a rail trail, but a cycle trail with hills, corners, loose surfaces and mixed gradients.’

Being bike fit is a requirement! How hard can it be on an e-bike? I have had a sneaky trial, hiring one in Napier and zipping around the city’s estuary loop.

Suffice to say, while I am doing the hard yards, self-steaming around Papamoa, I am already a convert. I’ll let you know the outcome after the trip south!

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