Dunc’s Big Bike a Ride, Tour de Zealandia, that thing that idiot is doing… whatever your name for it is, it’s going quite well so far, thanks.
Stages completed so far:
Stage 1: Mission Bay – Omana Regional Park
Stage 2: Omana Regional Park – Thames
Stage 3: Thames to Coromandel Town
Let’s be clear, here, though: it ain’t easy. It’s bloody tough. But, thankfully, I haven’t yet suffered the issues many friends and bike touring colleagues usually succumb to on these sort of adventures. Yet.
After a marvellous send off at Mission Bay, from some top peeps who are awesome, my early-stage riding buddies Scott & Jarrod and I set about seeing all the beaches on Auckland’s east coast. And I think we did okay: that spit at Tahuna Torea that lets you get within 200m of Bucklands Beach, Point England Reserve, Bucklands Beach, Eastern Beach (where all the people were: all the people!), Mellons Bay (ridiculous name!) before riding round Howick and Whitford to arrive at Beachlands’ pretty snazzy looking marina: Pine Harbour (for boats, not making movies).
When I gave my notice for this adventure, my manager said to me, in that generous way that Kiwis have mastered: “you’re welcome to stay on our lawn when you come through Beachlands.” Not realising the distance, I rejected the offer, thinking anywhere within commuting distance to the city centre was way too close and I’d like to be a lot further than Beachlands on day one!
As it happened, we stayed just up the road from Beachlands on day one: at Omana Regional Park. Ah well, I’m not sure she was around over the holidays anyway.
Next day, we set off and rode Maraetai Beach, which was awesome as we got to go under a little pier. The road to Duder Regional Park was fun, with the stunning Pohutukawa coastline adjacent all the way.
My fave part of stage 2, however, was shortly after we arrived at Orere Point. I knew that we had to also hit up Tapapakanga Regional Park before heading to Miranda. We’d been a few hours on roads by that time, so decided a quick look at the map and a trek round the beaches was in order. Even if we had to push. It turned out we did have to push for a lot of it, but it was worth it for the feeling of arriving on Tapapakanga Beach with holidaymakers all glaring in bemusement at where these two mountain bikers had turned up from!
The remainder of the day was a fast burn down the Pacific Coast Highway into Miranda, then State Highway 25 to the new Kopu Bridge, with a view of the silly old single lane one as we crossed, then a closing stretch of the Hauraki Rail Trail into Thames.
Leaving Thames, I knew I had only job to do: survive State Highway 25 heading north to Coromandel Town. Fortunately I had the returning holiday traffic going the other way in my favour, plus a seemingly calm, relaxed bunch of drivers heading my way. The hills were hell, but I treated myself to a milkshake at the top and everything seemed to pass by. The downs were amazing and I captured the pay-off superbly on the helmet-cam!
I’m currently enjoying a well-earned rest day at Tide Water Holiday Park. The good buggers gave me a discount when I arrived, too! Tonight: rest ride to Wyuna Bay and back. Stage 4 tomorrow!