Riding in fog

Day 348, Saturday 4 August 2018

I joined an Auckland Ulysses ride today, which went over the Bombay Hills and through the northern Waikato sticking close to the banks of the Waikato River. As soon as we got over the hills, we encountered dense fog, and it stuck with us until lunchtime. I don’t much like riding in fog: my visor fogs up, then the inside of the visor misted up with condensation, so wiping the outside no longer sufficed to give me reasonable vision. I raise my visor, but then the same thing happens to my glasses. Wiping the outside of my glasses lenses does help, as they’re closer to my eyes than the visor and I can see through the inner condensation layer to some extent. Also, fog is cold, and raising my visor makes a ride very cold indeed.

Today’s ride was a large one, and I was able to keep the bike in front of me in sight and follow them even though I couldn’t see very far ahead. If I’d been on my own, I would have considered using my hazard lights to make myself more visible to other traffic, but as there was a long line of us I didn’t think that was necessary today.


Photo by Jayne Willacy

Some helmets have anti-fog visors, which have a dual-layer where the middle layer of air acts as an insulator and prevents condensation build-up. I’m told they work well, but my helmet isn’t compatible with this system. You can buy defogging sprays for your visor and glasses. I haven’t tried them, and wasn’t carrying any this morning. I would consider carrying some if I rode in fog more often. Apparently, even dishwashing liquid is effective if you wipe it on the inside of the visor and then polish it off.

Distance travelled: 164 km. Total distance so far: 43,685 km

Parkinson lookout and Ian Wells track

Day 347, Friday 3 August 2018

I rode along Scenic Drive today, and stopped at a lookout I’d never noticed before. Parkinson Lookout has a small carpark, and a two-minute walk goes to a viewing platform with views over the city and Waitematā Harbour. It’s not a bad view, but there are lots of places to pull over along Scenic Drive with just as good a view, and Pukematekeo lookout has a better view than this.


I then rode to the start of Ian Wells track on Piha Road. The track starts off as a disused forest road, generally in reasonable condition (better than the Long Road track I walked last week). After a few minutes walk, it branches, with a track to the right going to the Nihotupu Auxiliary Dam, built in 1919-21, and decommissioned in 1985. The main track is closed beyond this point to protect kauri against die-back. It gets a lot more rugged further along, so I wasn’t intending to go further in any case.


Distance travelled: 52 km. Total distance so far: 43,521 km

Clevedon Scenic Reserve

Day 346, Thursday 2 August 2018

I visited Clevedon Scenic Reserve for the first time today. It’s a bit off the main road from Clevedon to Maraetai, on Thorps Quarry Road. There’s a loop track to a lookout which takes 40 minutes each way and is quite steep. I wasn’t keen on doing that today, so I did a shorter walk to Old Thorp’s Quarry, which has a small waterfall at the end of a slightly raised track. I came home via the nice twisty Twilight Road.

Distance travelled: 83 km. Total distance so far: 43,469 km

Morris and James

Day 345, Wednesday 1 August 2018

I rode with North Harbour Ulysses to Matakana today, and had lunch at Morris and James, a pottery with a good cafe. I liked the presentation of their coffee menu in Māori and English—it shows the popularity of the Māori language in recent years. I wasn’t game to try ordering in Te Reo, though.


Distance travelled: 208 km. Total distance so far: 43,386 km

Highway 22

Day 344, Tuesday 31 July 2018

State Highway 22 is a short highway connecting Pukekohe to the Southern Motorway. It’s not an interesting road at all. However, it once extended through Tuakau south to connect with the road from Hamilton to Raglan, State Highway 23. About 1990, the road was truncated to its current length. The old road is still called Highway 22 (but not State Highway…) for most of its length, and the southernmost portion is Ohautira Road. These are very nice country roads for motorcyclists, with lots of curves, little traffic especially on weekdays, and pleasant scenery.

I led an Auckland Ulysses ride down Highway 22 and Ohautira Road today, then along part of SH 23 to Whatawhata for lunch. The tight corners of Highway 22, and the more sweeping curves of Ohautira, were a delight.

Distance travelled: 295 km. Total distance so far: 43,178 km

One Tyre, Four Nails

Day 343, Monday 30 July 2018

I check my tyre pressures at least once a week. On a recent check, the rear tyre pressure was significantly lower than usual, so I pumped it up and checked it again the following morning. It was even lower. Over the next few days it became clear that a fix was required. I’ve done roadside puncture repairs previously, but they are temporary fixes and need a professional repair afterwards, and since the bike was still rideable, I took it in to my local motorcycle tyre shop this morning to have the problem sorted.

The tyre guy found a nail neatly embedded in the tyre, removed it, took off the rear wheel, and did the repair job. He remounted the wheel, and was just about to complete the job when there was a sudden intake of breath. He pulled out another nail, and the hiss of escaping air was obvious. Time to start over. This time he examined the tyre more closely, and found two other nails in it, although these had not fully penetrated the rubber. This is just as well, as there’s a limit of three puncture repairs per motorcycle tyre (that depends on the speed rating of the tyre, and the recommended limit varies by country).

Presumably, one of my recent gravel excursions went over a rubbish-strewn section of road. “Have you been doing a lot of gravel recently”, the tyre guy asked. “I’m trying to cut down”, I protested. “It doesn’t seem to be working”, he said.

Distance travelled: 6 km. Total distance so far: 42,883 km

Long Road track

Day 342, Sunday 29 July 2018

Long Road runs south from Bethells Road. It’s a twisty sealed road, but it isn’t very long. It ends at a locked gate, with an old forest road forming Long Road Track beyond. The track doesn’t go anywhere in particular; it connects up with Smyth Ridge Track and Ridge Road track, but these are closed to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease, and part of Long Road Track is closed too. There are some nice views over the Waitakere Ranges, and access to Pae O Te Rangi summit, although I didn’t go quite that far. The track is steep and in places muddy.

Distance travelled: 64 km. Total distance so far: 42,877 km

Uxbridge Arts and Culture Centre

Day 341, Saturday 28 July 2018

I rode to Howick today to look at the Uxbridge Arts and Culture Centre. I was thinking this could possibly be a destination for the Ulysses monthly cultural outing, as they have an exhibition on Urban Contemporary Art starting next month. Uxbridge has been operating since 1981, and was redeveloped in 2016 with the Malcolm Smith Gallery being added. Unfortunately, I think the gallery is too small to keep our interest for a morning, so we’ll look elsewhere for our next outing.

Distance travelled: 45 km. Total distance so far: 42,813 km

Whangateau Harbour

Day 340, Friday 27 July 2018

Today I explored the Whangateau Harbour, an inlet of the Hauraki Gulf near Matakana.

I started with Upper Whangateau Road, a gravel road going south from Leigh Road. It’s an access road for farmers, and doesn’t go as far as the coast, but it does have great views over the countryside.

Next was Big Omaha Wharf Road, which goes west from further along Leigh Road. It’s quite short and ends at a restored wharf building. In the mid 19th century, this wharf was one of the few places in the locality that a ship could tie up without risking running aground. The wharf was important and busy until the roads improved in the 1920s. A store lasted until 1953. There are information boards at the wharf and along the roadside.

Finally, I took Ti Point Road to the harbour mouth, where there’s a smaller jetty, and lots of small boats at anchor. A coastal walkway runs around the peninsula from here, but I didn’t have time to follow it.

Distance travelled: 172 km. Total distance so far: 42,768 km