Advanced cycle touring – the Riversdale ride

Some may call it a degeneration of standards, but others may refer to it an effective use of resources – the promise of some poor weather was overshadowed by the generosity of some club members and some effective planning. 

Harry Smith, Jerry Gabriel, Peter Wills, Gerard Galvin, Bruce Sommerville and I headed for a cycle tour of the Wairarapa countryside, hoping to enjoy some rural and coastal views. Unfortunately the bad weather rolled in on Friday afternoon, my frustration compounded as I tried to get out of Blenheim airport necessitating a late departure.

The usual Friday night grovel of pitching a fly in the Tararua rain and wind was replaced by a more gentile and pleasant arrival at John & Ann Rhodes place in Greytown. The accommodation decidedly warmer and drier than the Holdsworth road end a few kilometres away, though it would still be damp for Harry as John had staked out a wonderful pine tree for him to bivvy under. Dessert and slide shows of Easter trips followed, reminiscing over the cycle journey through the Rainbow & Molesworth followed by the damp trip over the 3 passes in Arthurs Pass when Harry had offered John a pine tree to bivvy under.

We awoke warm and dry, even Harry, as John softened in his threats. John and Ann joined us as we set forth for the 20km journey to the Gladstone Pub where we farewelled them – they had more sense than to be out in the damp weather. The hills of the Wairarapa may not be high but they were unrelenting as we were up and down all the way to lunch in a bus shelter at Te Wharau. The trip proper was beginning as the post lunch riding was great, a short steep climb on a gravel road followed by a long windy descent through the bush and out to the coast. The conditions still a little damp, one could be forgiven for not realising these were public roads as we travelled 30kms without seeing another vehicle. Arrival at Riversdale was greeted by the shelter of the campground caretakers house and a brew, although Peter forgot these winter conditions and headed for a swim at the beach. The waves rolled in under a grey sky, a summer haven now looking a moody wild exposed coast as we strolled the beach. Again it was a hard life in the evening as we settled down to brew after brew and a hot shower added in for good measure. It was with some amazement to think it would have cost more to pitch a tent here than endure the ‘hardship’ of a warm house.

The gods obviously looked down upon us, thought we were soft and needed hardening up – the weather was to make up for the excessively comfortable accommodation. The rain was heavy as we headed out on Sunday morning, the southerly adding an extra chill to the early winter conditions. Soon the rain eased and the road headed up and up. The ride back followed a more northern route, the main road to both Riversdale and Castlepoint, more cars but still a pleasant ride. The pleasant hills covered in grapes brought back memories of Beaujolais and Provence, the weather bringing back different memories of the Tararuas!

We rejoined our outward trail at the Gladstone Pub where hot chips were ordered in vast quantities as we sheltered before the flat easy ride back into Greytown. We were once again greeted with John & Ann’s superb hospitality, with dinner served in Greytown to conclude a cold, wet but interesting journey.

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