Saturday, August 30, 2008

Le Tour de Poo

I haven't been riding the Pugsley much lately as the weekends have been busy with family stuff and the weather has been so rotten. The first half of winter was dry but it seems like in the last three months it hasn't stopped raining. 

Today I had some rare time to myself so I went out for a ride along the beaches despite the wind, the cold and the threat of rain. 

I call this regular route the Tour de Poo because between each beach in the East Coast Bays of Auckland there is a sewer pipe that runs along the bottom of the sandstone cliffs. Makes sense from an engineering point of view to keep it at ground level around each headland but it's hardly a scenic asset. To lessen the visual impact most of it has been covered in coloured concrete shaped to look like natural rocks. At least it would look like rock if you were stumbling home from the pub with a skinful. I think most sober folk would realise that rocks don't run in such straight lines and sandstone doesn't have manhole covers.

On these beach rides I normally don't even need to put a foot down. Sand, streams, stairs, rocks and small children can be ridden over with minimal effort on a Pugsley. My recent lack of off-road riding was highlighted today as I managed to fall over executing a turn in soft sand at no more than 1 kph. Luckily the beach was deserted and no one saw me. How embarrassing.

Pugsley Tip #1:  Don't turn in a tight radius when you are in the soft stuff

There are sections between some bays where even at low tide you can't get around the coastline at sea level. There is a path up and over the cliffs but shouldering a Pugsley up hundreds of stairs is not an option for this weakling. I prefer to go inland slightly and ride on the roads. I love grunting up steep hills but the winter clothing I was wearing today was just too hot. It was fine on the beach in the wind but I was cooking buy the time I got to the tops of the climbs. I really need some sort of lightweight, windproof jacket instead of the thick polar-fleece I had on today. Another bike related purchase I'll add to the wish-list.

On the return leg the tide had come up very fast and I got a bit wet as the sea was really churning and it was hard to judge when the waves were going to break over the path. 
To top it off about ten seconds after I had taken the photo above a rogue wave broke over most of me and all of the Pug. The camera was dry but I got a good soaking and the Pug got a longer shower than usual when we got home.

I procrastinated for an hour before I got out the door today but as usual had a lot of fun riding in the stormy conditions. I think as long as you're warm it can be more enjoyable than in good weather. There are less people around and you don't over-heat. A bit like running in the rain.

Still, summer brings better visibility, girls in bikinis and icecream stops, so I will attempt not to enjoy these winter rides so much in the future ;^)


Jeff Moser said...

Those sewer pipes look like fun riding!

Marla...O.A.F. with altitude said...

You're making me jealous! I'm 2 parts away from being able to get the Pugsley one the road. So, poo rocks to ride on, eh? Sounds interesting:0

Antoine said...

Well it ain't Moab, but you use what you got.
I'm getting the POO RIDER shirts printed up next week ;-)

Marla...O.A.F. with altitude said...

Poo Rider shirts! Oh my;-P

Chris said...

Some of my best rides have been in some of the crappiest weather.

Doug said...

I love crappy weather rides (sewer pipe pun) as long as I have a hot shower and dry clothes at the end. Some of my most memerable rides have been the blizzard rides I've done the past couple of winters on the Pugsley. Nothing like riding in blinding snow and 60 mph winds to make you feel alive!

Marla...O.A.F. with altitude said...

Hey Antoine,

You've given me an idea. But a question first. when you ride the beach at low tide, no problems sinking into the really wet sand? I'm thinking, I live by the lake and every winter they lower it. Which produces a huge amount of land around the edges. And I can get to this just down the road. Any input?

Antoine said...


The wetter the sand the easier it is! On my beach rides I cross streams draining into the sea and even in a foot of water you just ride along as normal, no sinking-in or losing traction at all. You just have to have very low tyre pressures for soft surfaces like sand and snow, thats the secret. I run between 5 and 9psi on the beach.

I can also ride the deep powdery sand at the top of the beach if I keep up my momentum but it is harder going.

Lake bottoms might be a different story. You will just have to give it a try. Pebbles or silt would be okay but sticky mud would not be fun. A normal MTB tyre offers more grip than an Endomorph on some of the slippery wet clay we have here in Auckland.

I'm looking forward to your ride reports.

Antoine said...


Marla...O.A.F. with altitude said...

Awesome! Man, I can't wait to try it!

Tom said...

all these pugsley photos make me jealous. Though I think my next bike will be a LHT

Antoine said...


I so nearly bought a LHT "complete" but went for the Cross-Check instead as I won't be doing much touring on it and wanted something a bit faster. They are a neat bike and good value too (Even better value in the USA).

Read Doug's blog (above) if you want to hear from a happy LHT owner.

I have ridden the Pug to work this week and you wouldn't want to tour NZ on it, but it is just so much fun to ride you don't mind going a bit slower up the hills.

welshcyclist said...

Yes, you're right on both counts, being warm and dry makes up for the bad weather, but then again beaches with bikini clad girls are very attractive to this cyclist also