The weather leading up to this organised Bike Manawatu ride from Mangaweka back along the Country Road through Rangiwahia to Kimbolton then back to Palmerston North had looked gloomy and dismal to say the least. But weather forecasters don’t seem to quite get it right for our neck of the woods. So the bus had been booked and everyone who had booked had been told to be at Memorial Park at 6.45am so bikes could be packed with the plan to leave Mangaweka around 8.30am.
A stop in Feilding to pick up the 2 local lasses saw their bikes put inside the bus. And off up through Halcombe to SH1. Just past Hunterville there were a few spits of rain on the windscreen but by the time the bus arrived in Mangaweka this had passed. The bus was quickly and efficiently off loaded of people and bikes. Mike Christie gave the bus people along with the other people that had decided to make their own way to Mangaweka a ride briefing and Ken Young who had driven the course the day before detailed a couple of areas to be careful of.
And they are off.
A steady pace was set and the Rangitikei River bridge was crossed without drama.
The first of the climbs was right there and although we were not warmed up, it was such an easy gradient that it hardly seemed like climbing at all. And true to their word all riders stopped at the top of the first hill and waited as we all regrouped. This was to be the scene at all hills and meant that it was a pleasurable ride.
This first part of the ride saw us riding through papa country and with the recent heavy rain there were a lot of waterfalls spilling out of the banks and plunging to the depths below. And of course there were the slip areas that all riders navigated well, just the bikes and the backs of riders left the tell tale signs of the mud that had been left on the road.
Just by Mt Huia as we came around a corner the riders in front were all slowing which appeared to be strange since we were going down a slight hill. The reason became clear as we got around the corner if it hadn’t been obvious by the other brown matter on the road. A mob of cattle was being driven along the road which meant that we were all able to regroup.
And with each hill that passed and each regrouping that took place there were nibbles pulled from back pockets and eagerly disposed of.
Although the distance to Rangiwahia or one particular stop was only 31 km the comments were from a few riders that it felt much further. But we were bow on home territory – this is the top end of the 90km Feilding Festival of Cycling route so anyone who had recently completed that ride knew what was to come over the next few kms. At Peep –o – day we had a short stop as we waited for Wayne who suffered one of only 2 punctures for the whole group.
There were a couple of mechanical issues, chains falling off etc but no dramas. Mike Christie was carrying a back pack but I never got around to asking just what was inside. No doubt Mike had all the necessary requirements, first aid kit, spares, tools etc But no motor.
Wayne Fage was spotted on numerous occassions doing the wonderful husband thing of putting his hand on Joys back and giving her a gentle push along the way. And other riders in the bunch made a number of U turns and came back to see that all riders were making it safely up the next hill. Their encouraging words were welcomed by those of us that are not built to climb hills.
It was great to see John Robson ( and he did get a bit of ribbing about it) getting passed a drink bottle at Rangiwahia by his daughter and then a banana at Kimbolton. She was to be the sag wagon although this wasn’t planned. The really great thing was that John brought along his grand daughter Genea who did the whole ride also.
The final hill climb got us to Cross Hills gardens and Val Devery who was counting hills at one stage would have stopped counting at this point.But it was hard to decipher what was a hill and what was a continuation of the previous hill. There were numerous places where you could look out over the surrounding countryside and it is a most pleasant outlook in every direction.
Kimbolton lookout passed at great speed but we were going too fast to stop. At this stage the groups splintered and headed through Kimbolton township and down the long road to the Colyton turn off with a howling gale coming from the right hand side of the road. This made the ride from this point unpleasant for anyone who was left isolated and riding alone but thankfully most people were able to get in to a small bunch for the fast trip downhill and the end of the ride.
Thanks to Mike Christie and his team for organising this ride. Hopefully there are more to come.