Ding a ling: why I like bells on bikes

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Little sister can’t wait to try out the bell!

In Australia bells on bikes are mandatory. I think that makes good sense. Need convincing? Here are some good reasons for bells on bikes.

“Here I come!” A bell is a handy way to warn other path users of your approach. It avoids the “whoosh” surprise factor of having a cyclist “appear from nowhere” and frighten the life out of them. If you give enough warning you can also avoid those moments where you both move in the same direction instead of making way for each other.

“Wait for me”. Cycling with your kids or friends is a friendly activity. That means not accidentally leaving anyone behind. A bell can help with that by appealing “wait for me!”

“Look at that”. It would be a pity for the others in your group to miss some of the sights you’ve spotted, a bell can help call attention.

“Watch out for that”. A bell and some exaggerated gesturing can help warn your fellow riders of hazards like drains, glass, sand, etc

Choosing a bell. Some bells sound friendly. Others sound grouchy. Try it out and choose one that suits. I find ringing ones with a sliding lever and internal cog type mechanism last longer than the spring and ping type.

 

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Sneak Peak Napiers newest I-way

It doesn’t officially open until Sunday but we couldn’t wait that long to try out Napier’s newest cycle way. A flat 7 km loop close to Marine Pde and the city centre. 


We started from Marine parade and joined the iway opposite Napier boys high school. Cycling along the waterfront is always a joy and we promised the kids we would stop at the junior bike park on our way back.   The iWay meanders its way through reserve land. Often we were alongside the stream and criss-crossed it a number of time on bridges. The catch-cry of “ducks!” was well used, and we enjoyed glimpsing ducklings too. 


It was also tour de tyre swing. With three different tyre swings to try out along the way. The trees were also offering up some interesting seed pods to examine and collect. 


Along the way the nice smooth wide path was often complemented by an alternative off road route. An opportunity to exercise route preference and see who can get to the joining point faster. 

“I came to a fork in the cycle path and I rode both routes and that has made all the difference”

Naturally all this exploring made our outing a celebration of slow cycling (you can have slow food, so why not slow cycling) and it really was about the journey. Although for Miss7, ice cream was definitely a destination she had in mind.  We saved our discovery of a dairy until near the end…. A strategic choice. Somehow ice cream consumed after a sunny slow explorative wee cycle adventure tastes all the sweeter!

And on the home straight we checked out the junior bike track. It makes humorous and sometimes alarming viewing to see kids interpretation of the road rules. A clear indication they are not ready for the road. 

Napier and Hastings are home to an awesome network of cycle ways. You can travel near and far on safe, sealed and mostly separate shared paths. It is a great spot for a family cycling holiday as there is so much to see and do. Thumbs up Napier!

Further info also available on the. NZ cycle trail website

Trail Tales – Rimutaka Incline

For Wellingtonians this favourite ride is right on your back doorstep.  It is a great family ride and easily completed by riders of all levels.  Suitable for families with one caveat: if you have a cycle trailer you’ll need to be able to lift it over the gates (two near the start).

Part of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail, the incline is a gradual ascent following the path the old railway took prior to the current tunnel through the Rimutaka’s being built.  At one point you pass by an exhaust vent for the current tunnel.  Along the way there are remnants of railway history to explore, and informational signs highlighting the history and points of interest.

The trail is wide with a pretty good surface.  Some parts are pot holed, and you need to take care of the deeper/looser surface on either side and the middle of the track.  It is quite manageable and a good place for kids to learn about riding on this type of surface, providing they can exercise some restraint on the downhill.  The natural environment is pretty and varied, with some pretty spots to stop for a snack.

When we do this ride we drive to the start, which is signposted off SH2, on your right past the Kaitoke turnoff.  We park and ride to the summit and then enjoy the coast downhill back to the car.  We usually clock it at about 22-24 km return.  For years we did it with children in tow, firstly with trailers, and then on the trailgator.  The first time I ever did it not towing a child was a revelation.  Not that it is all that hard – gentle gradients were required to accomodate the steam locomotives that plyed the tracks up until 1955.

Logistics:

A picnic lunch, plenty of water and snacks are essential, as are jackets as it is often a tad chilly at the summit.  There are toilets near the start, and again at the summit.  See also: What’s in the bag?

Bring a torch or bike lights – just beyond the summit is the summit tunnel.  And what child can resist a tunnel, especially a good long one like this! (584 m long).

Notes:

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: The areas between Tunnel Gully and Cross Creek and around the south coast are remote and have little or no cellphone coverage.

DRINKING WATER: Carry enough water and food for your trip, as there is none on the way.

CHANGE OF CLOTHES: there is plenty of water nearby, including one water crossing with a choice of bridge or ford.  If your kids are like mine, and magnetically drawn to water, then a change of clothes back in the car might be a handy thing to have.

WALKERS use this trail too, so mind your manners and speeds on the descent.

Resources: Printable Map, Closures and Repairs info, Trail information website.

Going the Distance

The incline is just part of the whole adventure available to you:

Named one of the world’s hottest travel experiences for 2015, by travel guide Lonely Planet, the Rimutaka Cycle Trail is one of New Zealand’s Great Rides.

It’s part of Nga Haerenga – The New Zealand Cycle Trail and starts near the coolest little capital Wellington.

Through a broad river valley to bush-clad hills and gullies; from lakeside farmland to rugged southern coastline, the Rimutaka Cycle Trail is a 115km journey through distinctive New Zealand landscapes in the Wellington and Wairarapa regions.

Source: wellingtonnz.com

We have ideas of doing it as a four day family adventure, so stay tuned for the full story.

Have you cycled the Rimutaka Incline or other parts of the Rimutaka Trail?  What did you think?