Electric Travel: Te Awa River Rides

Well we have finally got away for our electric travels around New Zealand.

Our first biking break was scheduled for the Waikato area with a ride of the Te Awa River Trail from Hamilton out to Ngaruawahia and return – 40km – right on the upper limit of Ruth’s 2020 range. Anything over 40km and I would be riding back to where ever the car was and then returning to collect Ruth.

The Perry bridge indicated that we were not far from our destination. X30 image

The temperature was forecast to be over 30c, again something well above Ruth’s tolerance levels, so this was going to need to be a fine tuned outing – not too long and not too hot when both of those limitations looked to be nigh on impossible to meet.

As it transpires, our first outing was amazing. Ruth declared the trail to be a 7.8 out of a total possible score of 5. It was a perfect surface and despite the first half being downstream (read downhill) but the trail failing to completely comply with the downhill definition by being decidely undulating, Ruth was still happier than I have ever seen her on a bike. In fact her exuberance made me feel tired. For me, the km dragged by and at the end of the 40km I was feeling a bit jaded while Ruth looked as though she could ride a further 40km.

Ngaruawahia – a view I had never seen before. X30 Image

I now have some very high hopes for our rides for the rest of the trip although many I will be doing solo. She was more than happy to wave me farewell this morning as I set out on the bike headed for Cambridge (31km away) while she darted off in Zoe, hopeful that I would get lost thus giving her more time to browse the shops in Cambridge before I arrived.

I was using my new navigational tool “Kamoot”. You can plan your trip and download it into a phone app which gives me turn by turn instructions, directly into my bluetooth hearing aids. Cool huh? Well it is until you start deviating from the pre planned route. My Kamoot assistant, we will call her Technoruth, turned out to be much whinier than the real Ruth when things start to get a little airy fairy on the “am I lost” front.

A ‘Ruth friendly’ trail and some stunning scenery to go with it – a win win. X30 Image
There was no holding Ruth back, even on the board walks over the river – Gopro image

The trouble started early into the route when I flashed around a corner on the river track and had to apply the emergency brakes to stop me from flying over the “track closed” sign. I had a lot of experience with “route barree’ signs in France and the outcome was usually not a good one. I headed up off the track and onto Victoria Street, the main drag through Hamilton. Not exactly what I had intended at peak hour, but the traffic was crawling along so going with the flow was not a problem. Technoruth was jabbing away in my hearing aids about having to adjust the route and when she finally caught up with my unplanned rerouting efforts things went along quite smoothly for a few more km until I hit another ‘closed’ sign. This one was a lot more challenging and I decided to opt for what looked like a temporary track across some rural land. Technoruth went into meltdown about this unmaked route telling me every few metres to “do a u-turn – now!’. About a further 3km along the way our routes finally merged onto the same track and harmony was restored. Technoruth went off and had a sleep for about 11km while I mused on the fact that riding on the flat was harder than hills – at least on the latter you get to stop pedalling while you descend.

TechnoRuth was not impressed with these deviations – GoPro image
I had to shuffle off the temporary path to let a cycling group pass – I have no idea what they said to me because technoruth was jabbing away in my ears telling me to turn around.Excuse the hands in the photo – Gopro image.

I trundled into Cambridge about 30 minutes later and 4km further than intended. However, technoruth did not complain about me taking her 4km further than I promised and physical Ruth didn’t care as she had a little longer to browse the delights of Cambridge.

Harmony was restored when we got back on an agreed route.

After a coffe stop we headed on down to Taupo (in Zoe) and when we arrived at our designated car charging spot the chargers had cones in the parking spots. Oh no – would we have to push the car to Ohakune? Ruth went inside to investigate and was told that the cones were to keep those pesky fossil fuel drivers from stealing our charging spots. Hat tip to the staff member in The Warehouse in Taupo who decided to do this. Let’s hope it catches on in other centres.

Have the 71km warm up rides been enough to ensure that I have sufficient fitness for the 84km Whanganui river ride on Sunday? I am not convinced but tune in next time to find out.

Early morning along the river trail – Gopro image

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