The “training” starts: Opua to Taumarere

If you asked yourself the question  “where is Taumarere?” and followed it with another along the lines of “why?”, then read on.

After a slow start I was struggling to eat Ruth's dust
After a slow start I was struggling to eat Ruth’s dust

Taumarere is a train station between Opua and Kawakawa (the place with the fancy toilets) in the Bay of Islands and we were riding there because; with less than six months to stage one of the 2015 cycle and walk-a-thon I decided it was time to get Ruth back onto the bike. The sun was finally shining, the bikes were raring to go (I know these things) and we were kind of ready to ride.

The trail starts at Opua, down by Ashby’s boat yard, as far as you can drive after passing the Marina. It was a short ride, perfect to ease Ruth back into the bike seat.

By the time we got to Opua some clouds had arrived, no worries, they will help to keep the temperature in Ruth’s comfort zone. A good start and we were quickly into some pleasant scenery, the place had a remote feeling to it.

It did not take long to feel as though your were in a remote area
It did not take long to feel as though your were in a remote area

The path follows the old rail line, the first in the North Island of New Zealand. It was used to rail coal, to the then deep water port in Opua, to send south. In many places the rails were still visible through the packed sand surface of the trail, in fact I found that they were also extremely slippery and at one stage the bike did some crab like manoeuvres which gave me memory flashes of Le Crash in France.

The helpful sign told us what the hole in the hill was
The helpful sign told us what the hole in the hill was

After around 8 km we reached our destination at Taumarere, the track was flat, a tunnel was thrown in (minus the bats this time) and we rode across an impressive wooden shared bike/rail/foot bridge although, in the event of a train appearing at the other end my advice would be jump!

The Station was unique and in it’s own way every bit as impressive as those we had passed though in Europe a year earlier.

Taumarere Station  - reminded us of Milan Station in quiter times.
Taumarere Station – reminded us of Milan Station in quieter times.
The station bathroom was free to use - and clean
The station bathroom was free to use – and clean

All was great, Ruth was impressed, she seemed (to me) to be disappointed that the track did not go further.  I was buzzing, what a dream start to training, I may even get back my role as tour leader in June. Then it all started to take on a familiar tone.

The cooling clouds decided to drop quite a lot of cooling rain onto us (my “forecast” when we left home was, “leave the rain wear at home”). Ruth was gone in a shower of gravel, slip sliding across the bridge, I leapt onto my bike like the Lone Ranger getting on board Silver and started to follow the now slight outline of Ruth that I could see through what had the potential to be classified as a cloudburst.

Share with care?
Share with care?

The sound of water entering the hearing aids forced me to stop mid-bridge to take evasive action, hopefully without fumbling and dropping them into the river below (you can sense my earlier confidence slipping away). Back on the bike and peddling frantically (I am not sure to where, as there was no cover and I was already soaked), I realised that I had taken this training thing far to seriously. My sunglasses, they were not on my eyes (thankfully as they don’t have wipers on them). Oh no, the first day of training and I have already lost a pair. I could read the headline, “Kathmandu shares rise on the news that Cliff back on the bike”.

Turning the bike I raced (distant motorists may have thought it was a Bullet train) back to Taumarere station in the hope that I would find them and not turn our training into a total disaster.

The old rail line was still visible (and slippery)
Ruth happily on the bike again – I still have a lot of work to do

Well I found the glasses, the rain stopped, Ruth was amused at my little story, the hearing aids are currently still working, we were almost dry by the time we got back and it was a pleasant ride.

Opua to Taumarere

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