A steam powered recumbant trike?

29 06 2010

On my way back from Central Otago I stopped once again in Oamaru and the Cycle Works had acquired from their Steampunk friends a recumbant tricycle that looks like it is steam engine assisted.

As a rusty old recumbant it rode quite comfortably, but alas all that copper tubing is only for show.

So has anyone out there got a steam assisted bike or trike in working order?

And has anyone made a full size penny farthing with electric assist? (Kind of steampunk in reverse.) And I don’t mean one of those mini penny farthing contraptions like a Yike Bike.


A winter ride on the Otago Central Rail Trail

28 06 2010

I’ve been quiet on Wellington Region Cycleways lately. This is because I haven’t been in Wellington, but down in the deep south. I was working down on the Maniototo and I had a chance to ride bits of the Rail Trail. I rode at odd times in odd weather, and at night sometimes, whenever the opportunity arose. I had to ride each bit twice because of logistics, and I did miss out a couple of sections because I ran out of time (Omakau to Lauder, and the Ida Valley Station to Oturehua). I had some shortish rides (such as Ranfurly to Wedderburn) and my longest was Clyde to Omakau and Ophir and back to Clyde (80km). I had a couple of stacks in the snow. I saw Venus set behind the Rock and Pillar Range. I got sleeted on. I got some frostbitten toes, and I saw a lot of beautiful country.

Would I do it again, in the traditional manner of starting in Clyde and riding to Middlemarch over 3 or 4 days? Yeah I would. Would I do it only in summer? Nup, I’d even ride the whole thing in winter. There are a whole lot of worse things you could be doing for four days. Would I stick just to the Rail Trail? Nup. Ophir, St Bathans and Naseby are worth detouring for, and I’d ride my bike to each.

So these photos aren’t in the order I took them, but rather as if you started in Clyde and rode to Middlemarch.

So my first bit of advice if you are starting in Clyde at the start of the rail trail is to ride in the wrong direction down through the houses of Clyde to the historic district and then find the red bridge and cross it:

This is because the Otago Anniversary Track on the true right side of the Clutha is a helluva nicer ride than the boring 8km straight of the Rail Trail from Clyde to Alexandra. It’s a little longer at 12km, but it is beautiful, see:

and then go over the bridge into Alexandra:

The Clutha is a powerful river, and there’s a bike trail planned for the whole way down to the coast, which with the Rail Trail will eventually make part of a 10 day Otago loop:

After Alexandra you cross the Manuherikia River for the first of a few times on a handsome bridge. That’s a little left over snow:

Then there is a long straight through Galloway. In the little station building there is a display on some silicified wood found in the river. I loved the fence posts that Obelix could have carried.

The trail is long through here. There are kilometre posts. They mark the kilometres from Wingatui (down near Mosgiel) where the Otago Central Railway branched off the South Island Main South Line.

Looking down the Manuherikia from yet another bridge to the mountains on the other side of Alexandra:

Here’s the view of the Dunstan Mountains as I climbed Tiger Hill just past Chatto Creek:

At Omakau I took a scenic flat detour across to Ophir to see the old buildings and the bridge:

Another day saw me riding from Lauder to the Ida Valley Station. It had been a bit snowy, but it was mostly gone. This is supposed to be the most beautiful part of the trip through the Poolburn Gorge. I suppose it is. There are two tunnels:

And there is a stunning viaduct:

The views are choice, and even when you’re in a cutting you won’t mind:

The Ida Valley was pretty snowy:

And on another ride I rode from Wedderburn to Oturehua. It was bloody cold that night. The trail was also under snow across the high parts. I had to detour onto the road for bits of it:

and on the road I rode past the Idaburn Airport, which has an honour system for landing fees:

You can see the trail I bypassed with snow from the road. It’s the flat ribbon. The altitude is about 600 metres here:

I was coming from the other direction, and this is where I gave up on riding on the snow:

It was shortly after I stacked it, with the bike landing on top of me. That’s my skid mark:

The famous rail shed in Wedderburn:

From Wedderburn to Waipiata is the Ranfurly Straight. This is perhaps the dullest part of the ride:

but the views are ok:

After Waipiata the trail descends to the Taieri River. It gets prettier around Kokonga, and the day I rode from Daisybank to Hyde was pretty wet. I don’t think this would normally be a waterfall:

There is a couple of interesting bridges through this section, and there is the tunnel:

A bridge near Hyde:

From Hyde to Rock and Pillar and onto Ngapuna and Middlemarch isn’t a hard ride, and it isn’t the most spectacular part of the trail, but it still has it’s charms. I rode it one way just before dusk, and then back in the dark. Here’s dusk at Ngapuna, with only 6 kilometres to go to the end:

And at Middlemarch there is some sculpture and a jigger to finish your journey. I like a good jigger:

A lot of people ride the rail trail in the peak season. The country pubs and businesses really love all the traffic. In winter when the days are short, and the weather is changeable and cold, and parts of the trail can be under snow, it is quieter, but there were a few riders out each day. It has a bit of charm with the snow, and the ice sports at Naseby are an added attraction. So be a little stoic and have a midwinter ride. It’ll be fun. I only stacked it in the snow twice. Keep your feet dry and bring some thermals.

Quality used Japanese bikes in Wellington

18 06 2010

This is a free plug for some people I’m yet to meet, but I love their idea. It’s such a great idea:

Quality refurbished Mamachari bicycles from Japan are being restored and sold in Wellington.

Prices start just under $300 for restored foldables and sit-ups.

See this link Mamachari.co.nz to see what they’re up to and what’s in stock.

Christchurch Port Hills

11 06 2010

The Christchurch Gondola advertises that it lets you take a bike up. I love a good bit of cable propelled technology and I love my electric bike, and despite my motor I love easy ways to get up a hill, so that I can maximise the yee-hah factor in coming downhill fast. So this is my bike riding on the outside of a Dopplemayr monocable detachable gondola.

It rode up to the summit of the crater rim of the Port Hills. It was getting on towards dark.

From the top station there is a wee bit of single track down to Summit Road, and then there is lots of other single track, but I rode Summit Road, which involves a longish uphill or three, and then I came down Dyers Pass Road fast with all of Christchurch’s fairy lights coming on for the night. Here’s Summit Road from inside the gondola. That’s Lyttleton Harbour on the left.

Starting off after the single track at dusk on Summit Road:

And after the descent down Dyer’s Pass, there are marked cycle lanes on Centaurus and the Port Hills Road to get back to the base of the gondola. It’s $16 to go up one way with a bike. It costs nothing to ride with a huge grin on your face down the hill. I think it is only 20km of riding or so, and it is mostly flat or downhill. You need good brakes for Dyers Pass Road, and even then you’ll also need to use the bottom of your shoes for extra braking.

It’s definitely worth a stop on your way north or south through the South Island.

Victorian Oamaru

7 06 2010

Recently I had reason to mention Oamaru, and I hadn’t been there for a few years, but I had a reason to visit. In that post I said that the historic district would make a great arts district, and it’s slow in coming, but things have definitely changed in Oamaru, and it might have hit a tipping point, and it’s all to get a bit more lively. The town is promoting itself as Victorian Oamaru, and one of the things about those years, and specifically the 1870s and 1880s was the penny-farthing bicycle. They were the best ways to get about, Mulga Bill style, before the 1891 introduction of the safety bicycle. And now I know why the diamond frame bicycle, still common today, is called the safety bicycle, and it’s because the ordinaries, or the penny-farthings pretty much weren’t.

Two weeks ago the Oamaru Cycle Works opened. And it has a few old bicycles on display, and a workshop, and for $10 you can be taught to ride a penny-farthing, which is what $10 NZ is actually worth now, a penny and a farthing in 1882 coinage.

A penny-farthing is simplicity itself. It is a direct drive, so there’s no chain to oil and maintain. There are no brakes either. Stopping seems to be done either by climbing back down to the step above the small wheel or by falling off.

The shop has been nicely set up, and the signwriting is pretty good, and is made to look like it’s 128 years old, even if it isn’t even that old in days yet.

The interior of the cycle works:

This is me posing in a period hat. Given the opportunity I’ll always look silly in a hat.

When riding the bike though I opted for a very non-Victorian helmet. It’s probably one of the only times I’ve felt I needed a helmet. I also felt like I needed a ladder. It’s a long way up one of these bikes.

Thanks to David Wilson for helping me learn to ride. I think he prevented me falling off to the left, and falling off to the right, and falling over the front. In fact I didn’t even fall at all. From that far up it would hurt. In extreme gratitude I let David have a ride of my bike.

Oamaru is definitely worth a stop on a drive south. The historic district now has galleries, and second hand bookshops, and sculptors, and steampunk, and penny-farthings, and the last couple of kilometres of the Mount Cook to Oamaru cycleway.

Bicycle advocate trash talking

4 06 2010

I greatly admire Mikael at Copenhagenize and David Hembrow at A view from the Cycle Path. I think their advocacy for bicycle culture and safe infrastructure and cycle parking at railway stations is smart and sensible. I used to feature on David’s cycle blog links, and it sent me lots of traffic, and I thank him for it, but I’ve been removed, because I like electrics too much. It’s his blog, and I still like it, and it isn’t that much poorer for not linking to mine.

Both Mikael and David don’t like electrics. Wassup with that? Aren’t we all supporters of better, safer off-road cycle paths, and safe places to park our bikes. It’s a bit like in the Life of Brian where the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front don’t get on too well these days.

This picture comes from this post comes from Copenhagenize, and I think Mikael has started some friendly trash talking:

I’m not much of an artist and I could have done a better job in the Gimp than Windows Paint, but I’ll take up the challenge:

Some day I’m going to write in full why bicycle advocates, who personally don’t want any electric assistance on their bicycles, should embrace the electric bicycle and its place in the urban and suburban fabric, but for now I’ll just sloganeer:

and I know I stuffed up the bike logo on the blue path with a no smoking type symbol rather than a back wheel, and you can diss my artistic abilities all you like, but:

Take that Colville-Andersen.

Wellington outranked Copenhagen as a livable city according to a recent Mercer poll. I know it’s a croc, real cities have bikepaths.

Shock horror – car parks are to be “culled” in Masterton

1 06 2010

More muddle-headed than a wombat on cleanup day Jamie Morton, staff reporter for the Wairarapa Times-Age, celebrates the building of new cycle lane facilities on Chapel Street in Masterton by itemising on-street parking that is to be “culled”. This is his “got his priorities straight” story. Of special note is the reduction of on-street carparking outside the Times-Age offices themselves. How is Jamie going to get to work now, without anywhere to park? I don’t know, maybe he could cycle.

At least the three last paragraphs of the story are worth reading.