I've been really enjoying riding the Cross-Check recently, even more so since I tweaked my cockpit. I'll use any excuse at the best of times to run an errand by bike but if there's any distance involved the Cross-Check is now the first choice as it's so much faster.
The last day of 2009 involved a trip to the local library to return a (cycling) magazine before they repossessed my library-card. The library is only a fifteen minute ride away so I continued on to Devonport using the mainly off-road Devonport Cycle Route which I've been riding for years but is now "official" and has subsequently been sign-posted and had sections upgraded.
I'm often blown-away by the stunning countryside some of my internet cycling friends get to ride in, but you don't always appreciate what you've got in your own backyard. Most of the roads I ride have sea views and you're never more than a kilometre or two from the coast.
I borrowed my son's camera and attempted to capture some of my suburban riding environment on the way.
We start at Campbells Bay Beach about 400m from our house. There are lots of well-off types on the North Shore of Auckland and by the number of people on the beaches on a warm (but overcast) summer's day they are all off at their holiday homes or out on their boats.
This is up the road at Kennedy park. I come here a lot with The Midget Assassin as it has a wonderful playground. The funny looking building is an artillery observation post from WWII disguised as a house. You can just make out one of the gun emplacements in the background which is about 10m back from the edge of a cliff overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. The North Shore is full of decaying military defenses but the majority were built to protect us from the Russians in the 1880s and the Germans in WWI. This stuff is a bit more recent to repel the evil Japanese. Now we spend all our time encouraging these people to visit as tourists.
I then pass through Castor Bay. Not a soul on the beach today. Hard to believe there are over a million people living in Auckland.
Over the next headland is the Milford Marina. It's on a small tidal stream that exits to the sea at the north end of Milford beach. It's actually pretty scungy but does scrub up okay in a photo.
A couple of kilometres down the road is Takapuna. I was born and raised here but it's a bit of a shit-hole. Full of rich wankers and bars and cafés full of rich wankers. There is a move to rename Takapuna "Takapuna Beach". How wanky is that? Maybe London could rebrand as "London River"?
This photo is taken at the northern end besides the boat-ramp. The owner of this beautiful titanium and carbon Serotta prefers to drive it around town rather than actually ride it. Roadies... Doh.
Takapuna beach again. Taken beside the yacht club. Rare sighting of an Aucklander actually on a beach in the Christmas holidays.
I finally got to the library (which overlooks the beach) and took the bike inside with me as I was in a bit of a hurry after taking all these bloody photographs. Amazing how loud a White Industries freewheel sounds in a library, but I found that by avoiding all eye contact people could not see me at all. How convenient.
Past Takapuna on the way to Devonport is my old stomping-ground of Hauraki Corner. This photo is taken at a new and very impressive section of boardwalk suspended above the mangroves that enabled the cycleway to get a bit further around the coast and avoid a particularly nasty hill. I dread to think how much of my rates were sunk into these next 200 metres but it is a great resource and well used by walkers and cyclists alike.
Mudflats are a great place to play as a child. I used to frolic in the foreground mud with the crabs, smoke dope and ride my motorbike along the shell-banks at the waters edge and paddle canoes out there in the bay. Pollution, Life-jackets and helmets had not made it to New Zealand in the 1970s ;^)
This foot-bridge takes you across yet another mangrove swamp to the Belmont cemetery. It's build over a sewer pipe and really is as long as it looks. I found out today that my bike-trailer has one inch of clearance each side and that I wobble three inches each way when I tow it ;^)
Somewhat ironic that the cemetery is next to this lovely new bike path and not situated beside the main road where it is required.
Not far past the graveyard is this fantastic grassy downhill. This is where I proved my new handlebar set-up is perfect for flying down hills over bumpy ground at speed. I can even bunny-hop in the drops.
In the distance is Mount Victoria. Smack bang in the middle of Devonport and the half-way point where I turn around and head home.
The Sky Tower is behind the trees on the left and the Auckland Harbour bridge on the right.
If you can't train your eight year old to pick up his dirty underwear he's never going to charge a camera battery so this is where our journey must end, with all the good photo-opportunities still to come. I'll take those on another day as the scenery in Devonport is really quite something.
I managed to coax one more shot out of the Sony when I got to the top of Mount Victoria. I got married right there in front of us in this "mushroom patch" by a TV anchorman. It was like a cross between a Tarantino movie and Alice in Wonderland.
The volcano in the background is Rangitoto Island. I'll be racing the Cross-Check over there at the end of March in The DUAL 50km mountainbike race. Must get fitter!