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Cycling around Motueka: Easy cycling for gentle folk

January 2012
[by Ian Miller]

You don't need a $2000 drop handlebar racer and wardrobe of lycra to get started. There are some enjoyable short cycle rides around Motueka that are ideal for those new to cycling. They are great routes to build confidence and fitness.

Cycling can be a gentle art, something that can be tackled gradually and lead on to expanded horizons - but only if you want to go beyond a gentle twiddle around.

Be warned though - while cycling is addictive the immediate challenge is to get started. The first journey or two can be uncomfortable, painful and hard work. Uncomfortable because for a start you are simply not used to sitting on a bike and your bike may not be adjusted to suit you. Painful because your nether regions will be unaccustomed to being perched on hard narrow bicycle seat; hard work because your legs and lungs are probably not used to exerting themselves beyond the walk from car seat to couch.

The positive thing about cycling is that if you persevere it gets better. After the first ride, give yourself a couple of days to recover before you mount up again and you should find the second ride not too bad. The third, even less painful. Then one day you will go for a ride and suddenly realise that you've been riding for a while and not hurting.

Here are some free tips for you that will make your riding easy:
 - Keep your tyres hard. Hard tires easy riding - soft tires hard riding.
 - A squirt of oil on a clean chain can only make things go better and last longer.
 - Set the seat high enough so that your leg is almost straight when the pedal is bottom dead centre - but not too high that you can't put your toe on the ground. It's embarrassing to topple slowly sideways at an intersection while smug motorists sit in their armchair comfortable cars and smirk at you.

Other things that can be adjusted to increase your comfort are the height and angle of the handle bars and the fore, aft and angle adjustment of the seat. You will change your mind on these adjustments as you get more accustomed to cycling but eventually you will fit your bicycle like a comfortable old shoe.

Your fitness level will increase quite rapidly especially if you push yourself a little. Eventually you might even get gung-ho enough to incorporate a hill in your ride. However, I suggest you forget about hills for a start and just get familiar with riding the many flat rides around Motueka while you adjust to a life on wheels.

Depending on your age, fitness, ability and familiarity with cycling I suggest starting with an easy ride just around a shared path such as beside the estuary and through the track around the estuary perimeter of the cemetery.

A slightly longer ride is to go along the coastal track behind the golf course north to the Raumanuka Reserve. Then get onto the cycle track over the Motueka River and along Lodder Lane and past the little boat harbour to the creek mouth at Riwaka. Take a break and enjoy the scenery - if you were a tourist you'd think it very quaint.

Lazy boats on a sultry summer day at Riwaka wharf

Next go around to and along Green Tree Road, stop again for a different take on the scene and then back track to School Road, turn right and explore the quirky stock in the Café and elegant junk shop 'Retrotonic' on the main road corner.

The people there have plenty of good natured opinions and relish debate. The gent there tells me he will be writing to Motueka OnLine again just as soon as he's figured out who next to pick on.

In the collectibles side of the café I was fascinated to watch a young girl of about 11 parading around wearing a pair of spectacles she'd taken off the counter. They would have been just the job for Dame Edna Everage and when I told her she looked like a film star she believed me, blushed and replied "Thank you". The coffee's not bad either, which brings me to Rule #1 when cycling: take cash for a coffee.

Retrace your track home, park the bike and check how many bits hurt. In a few days, when the healing is complete, you can venture forth again.

MORE CYCLING TRIPS:  This is the first of a series of articles written by Ian Miller about various suggested cycle routes in and around Motueka for recreational cyclists. Read his other articles here »