Just finished an epic weekend of Cokering. My aim was to do 70km over each day. If you just want to see some pics, which takes you on a visual tour of Wellington, check out my gallery:
Wellington Coker Tour
It was a beautiful Spring day. I hopped out of bed- scared myself in the mirror, and then decide that I probably should get out for a ride. At least the hair will be under a helmet. I had promised Andy Cotter that this weekend would be my registration ride for the Alps unitour. In order to participate in the tour, riders have to do a 70km ride on two consecutive days before registering.
Well, being totally disorganised- I had not planned any particular route. Might as well do a tour of my home town- nothing beats Wellington on a good day. I headed into the crisp Spring afternoon with nothing but a 2L Camelbak, $5, a bank card, a camera, cellphone, some tools and my trusty Diet Coker.
This was the first decent ride on my new Diet Coker. It was converted to a tubeless system, using Stans no-tubes kit, by Blair (the chief wrench at my LBS) last week. I would have done it myself, but nothing short of gorilla fingers are required to position a Coker tyre back on the rim. Which is probably why Blair is always grumpy after working on my Coker.
Anyway, first impressions were good- the Coker Wheel accelerated and decelerated like a racecar. I was pulling tighter corners with minimum effort. Whoopee! It was going to be a fun day.
First up was Old Coach Road- an old farm track about 1km from my house. The challenge was to avoid steaming blobs of cowdung as I descended into Ohariu Valley. It must be lambing season, I thought, as I chase several baby lamb down the trail. I got off the unicycle as I pass the horseback riders.
“How do you ride that thing- it’s huge!”
“Not as huge as that skittish creature you’re sitting on”
Apparently horses are happy riding along the road with cars, but terrified of anything on one wheel.
Into Ohariu Valley- my favourite ride. This back road takes you all the way to Makara Beach. I am surrounded on both sides of the valley by green pastures, pretty yellow weeds (Gorse actually- the scourge of farmers everywhere). The farm animals stare at me with a befuddled expression as I cycle past. It was starting to warm up. I appreciate the crisp breeze as I spin through the valley, following a sparkling stream all the way.
As I turn off toward the beach, I see a road heading up Quartz hill. Oh well, time to test my climbing legs. It was a 15min grunt up a very steep hill. From the top you could see all along the valley road and across the ocean. It was windy at the top. So windy, if fact, that they plan to build a wind farm up here. The locals hate the idea- save Quartz hill signs are up everywhere. The idea is that it looks stupid and will spoil the environment. Hmmmm….maybe they should build a coal/gas power station here instead? Or dam up one of our rivers. No one lives here…
I race back down the hill and turn into Makara Beach. If “beach” conjures up images of glistening golden sand, scantily clad people roasting themselves- then this is not it. Makara Beach is a pile of black rock hacked out by wind and waves on a deserted part of the coast, 17km from the closest town. On this weekend- it was teeming with people, probably 20-30. Too crowded for my liking- during the week I have the beach to myself. I climb the cliff overlooking the Pacific- it was my favourite place in the world.
With my energy levels dwindling- I purchased two giant cookies at the Stoney Beach Café. It was rough. You can’t get more homemade than this- as I crunched through blobs of unmelted sugar.
Turning out from the coast- I am passed by a couple of road cyclists. I tried my best to keep up, but alas, 125mm cranks were too long and choppy for me to stay with them for long.
“Are you doing the Day/Night thriller (12hr MTB race) next week?”
I turn up to the major climb of the day- Karori Hill. I was glad of the tubeless conversion, and my stiff Carbon seat- as this is one grunty hill. Ok- it is only 400m or so high, but from near sea level to the top in a few km’s- it takes some effort. I reach the top, take in the views, then descend into Karori- civilisation at last! Karori is the biggest and oldest suburb in Wellington, and boasts one of the best mountainbike parks in the country. I’m greeted by dozens of mountainbikers as I speed through the main road.
Time for another hill- this time, Wrights Hill, Karori. It was the toughest climb of the day. It comes close in difficulty to riding up Signal Hill, Dunedin (which has the steepest street in the world going down the side of it). I made it about half way up without stopping before my legs turned to jelly and I crumpled into a heap.
At the top of Wrights Hill- I bump into a mountainbiker named Struan. Turns out he is one of the doctors at the hospital I work at.
I had no comeback to that line- he was training to be a psychiatrist.
From the top of Wrights Hill I rode across the infamous roller coaster MTB track. Unfortunately the effect is lost on a unicycle, unless you’re able to rev your unicycle to 30-40km/h.
I descend the Roller Coaster into Brooklyn, and then wind through the old Aro Valley streets with houses perched precariously on the side of the hill. The descent into Wellington City was fun- especially after all that climbing. I cycle through the middle of town and up Mt Victoria. Not a huge climb, but great views of Wellington. Then it was across town and up the hill back home to Johnsonville.
This was one of the hardest rides I’ve done recently. Total distance was about 80km, total time 6hrs 45min, total riding time- less than that (I kept stopping to take pictures). Amount of climbing is around the 700-1000m. I have to do something similar tomorrow!
If you want to see my gallery, it’s a nice visual tour of Wellington:
Wellington Coker Tour
I had to do another 70km ride today, but again had not planned a particular route. I have been wanting to follow the Hutt River trail for a wee while, so this was my perfect excuse. The Hutt River trail is gravely track following one of the major rivers in Wellington. Not exactly hilly but it was a chance to test the tubeless tyre on gravel. My ride nearly ends at the start as I came close to rubbing myself into the dirt. After letting most of the air out of the tyre, it hummed along the gravel like a hovercraft. That’s more like it!
It was another beautiful day. My pockets were stuffed full of bananas and apple and cinnamon rollups (yum!). There were plenty of people about, walking their dogs, walking their kids, walking themselves, etc. I race a guy on a wheelchair as we headed past Stokes Valley. He was fast but no match for the Diet Coker.
After meandering along the river for 40km or so, I got lost. How do you get lost when there is a river running beside you? I don’t know but I did so anyway. It took me a wee while to get back across the river at the turnaround point of my ride.
As I head back downriver, I exhausted my supply of rollups and bananas. Feeling the onset of the bonk as I approach Lower Hutt- I stopped by for some refueling at the the service station for a cheesy meat pie and a soggy muffin….MMmmmm.
Only a few kms to go- I am nearly home when…
“Can I take your photo? I’m a reporter”
Ok- so I get my photo taken for the second time in a week for a local newspaper. How many local papers are there? It turns out that this off-duty reporter, who was walking along the Hutt River trail with his wife, hails from Minnesota, USA.
“My Son unicycles too”
Hmm…you guys come from the Twin Cities after all.
I finish the ride in about 6hrs, 80km, with only about 100m of climbing. Not a lot, but there was a lot of gravel riding, so the legs were hurting a bit.
I proved to myself that you don’t need to travel long distances to do a Coker tour- this was as good as any distance ride I’ve done.