me versus e

There has been an amazing explosion in the number of e-bikes that are out. I think there are more e-bikes than regular bikes. It’s cool. A buddy of mine and I had thought about going into the e-bike business about 15 years ago. We figured the technology would come around, but finally concluded the market wasn’t big enough. Doh! Coulda been a billionaire. Some people get their panties in a wad over them and think they are not real bikes and should be banned. I think that is stupid.

I do like that they get governed to 20 mph, that seems rational. But to think that it is not a good thing to have people out riding e-bikes is ridiculous. The number of people out riding, that in the past would never have been riding, is huge. Not to mention the environmental impact too. Good on ya! Bring on the e-bikes.

What great foresight I had

We have had relatively bad luck spotting penguins since our encounter on the very first day. It has not been from a lack of trying. Since we are so close to Bushy Beach, we have gone down there at 3, 4, 5:30 and 6:00 pm to see if we can see them return. Nothing. After reading a travel blog on penguins, we decided twice to drive down to Katiki Point and see if we would have better luck there. Although, just sitting there watching the seals, waves and beautiful scenery is more than enough, we still saw no penguins. Bummer. Whenever you first show up, you think “oh, not very many seals today”. Then you start noticing them. 1, 3, 8, 12….. they blend in well and are everywhere.

No penguins, but wow what a view

In desperation, we caved to the pressure of penguins and decided to go and pay to see the blue-eyed penguins return one evening. It’s quite a set-up with grandstands and a visitor center. Not cheap either, but it goes to a good cause so we sucked it up and went. We decided to make a night of it and first went to Craftworks for a beer and some more cheese. We struggled with the cheese choice again so I told the cheese dude that “our lives were in his hands.” He failed to get the Lebowski reference and pointed out it was just cheese. Anyway, he picked out good cheese despite the lack of translatable dude humor.

After our lovely Belgian ales we headed over to Del Mar (right next to the penguin colony) for dinner. It was quite good and the view was great. We decided to have some ice cream so I went up to the counter to look at the flavors and order some. In Kiwi fashion, I ended up in a lively conversation with the manager of the restaurant about Oamaru, penguins, biking, Steampunk, and all manner of things. Susanne was sitting at the table wondering where her ice cream was. I ordered two scoops. The manager questioned my sanity but I insisted we wanted two scoops. Well, what came out was two scoops of each flavor. Holy Frozen Dessert! Oops. Small translation problem, but to avoid an embarrassing situation, I just sucked it up and figured we would eat it to be polite. Sadly, it was so much we couldn’t finish it, but we tried. We all had a good laugh at that one.

They don’t allow photos, so I had to “borrow” this one

The penguin viewing started at 8 pm, so we bundled up and grabbed our seats in the stands. There were, of course, seals everywhere. We watched them for a while wondering where the penguins were. Then the first group showed up. They made their way up, through the fence and into their colony. Then more. And more. It was pretty cool I have to admit even if it is a bit expensive. They have a webcam if you want to check it out:

Susanne’s video of the yellow-eyed penguin

After reading many articles on penguins, we decided maybe we would have better luck in the morning. So right when we got up, we headed on down to Bushy Beach to see if we could see any. As we approached the trail to the beach, Susanne whispered “Penguin!” Sure enough, right where we had seen one the other time, there was a yellow-eyed penguin standing on the trail. We stood there watching him for quite a while. At one point he let out a screech and then ambled over the edge and into the bushes, never to be seen again. But we got to see another one!! Yeah. I was excited. I don’t know why I like them so much, but I do. They are the rarest penguin in the world, swim over 50 km a day and can live for over 20 years! Amazing.

A high pressure system passed by south of New Zealand which means that Oamaru gets really strong winds from the North. On Saturday, I decided I would go ride with the Oamaru Coffee Riders again despite the hurricane force winds. They were starting the ride in Kakanui, about 11 km south of our place. It was an easy ride there thanks to the tail wind. There was a surprisingly big group for such a windy day. We headed south along the coast at a pretty leisurely clip to Waianakauru river.

Bunch of freakin’ hammerheads

At this point about 2/3 of the group opted for the shorter ride back the way we came. About 10 of us decided to do the hillier, longer route. After a short climb we turned onto a gravel road with a series of short but steep climbs, straight into the raging headwind.

I looked around and noticed I was the only one not on an e-bike. Great. It was me versus the e-bikes. There was some reason that everyone had to get back to the cafe by noon, so they had said “we really need to hustle.”

I made the Strava list

And hustle they did. I was having to go all out just to try and keep up. Every hill required me to go full gas. I tried to grab a wheel here and there to get some shelter from the wind, but it was tough. I couldn’t believe how hard I was working. I felt like I was in the Tour de Flanders chasing Mathieu van der Poel. I finally lost contact with everyone on one of the longer climbs. Bummer. When I got to the top of the road, there was a fork and I couldn’t tell which way they went.

I chose incorrectly and ended up riding alone back to the cafe. I went inside and got a coffee and hung out with the group. I told them they nearly killed me and they told me to harden up. These Kiwis. Tough bunch, I tell ya. The wind was blowing so hard at this point that I decided to take Susanne up on her offer to pick me up. She drove down and joined us for a while. They all said she needed to get an e-bike. Great, yet one more hammerhead I was going to have to keep up with. When I looked at my Strava data, I had actually made the top 10 all time on one of the climbs. That never happens. That’s how hard these dudes we were working me. Damn hammerheads … but I had a great time.

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