For a few months Emma, Megan and I have been planning to do some transfer rides. These are rides where you either train somewhere and ride, or ride somewhere and train back. We had a few dinners and explored some possibilities, tentatively booking in a date for December to ride about 200kms south and catching the train back. With spring passing rapidly a 200km ride seemed as possible as surfing during a Tsunami so we decided on a convoluted ride to Ōtorohanga, a small South Waikato town that is on the Northern Explorer train line.
With train tickets in hand and the calendar telling us it was indeed summer, we left home in epic wind and rain. Our plans for roads less ridden were changed slightly, but those we did ride on provided enough entertainment to be an adventure. Especially the one with a current of water flowing down it – we were actually riding upstream.
We rolled down some beautiful descents into Ōtorohanga with smiles on our faces. Aside from the wind and rain, this was the constant of the day: big grins and slushy hands and feet. Ronnie’s cafe provided much needed hot tea and pies, along with a toilet to change into dry clothes, before we had a history lesson at the train station from the ticket man.
“Do you know what Ōtorohanga is named after?” We hadn’t asked, but the old fella well into his eighties wanted to tell us, and we wanted to hear. “To last a long way, after a Māori chief who chanted on his way to Taupomoana for his meagre food supplies to last the journey.” It summed up our ride perfectly.
The Northern Explorer train was just glorious. I wanted to move in, take residence and never get off. It rolled through the countryside, giving us views we don’t normally see of the great rolling green pastures of the Waikato. One of the staff on the train had been working on it for 24 years. She was amazing, and somewhat delighted by how light our bikes were when loading them into the luggage carriage. Later she told me “don’t worry love I put some luggage around your bikes so they won’t move.” Relaying this to Emma later in the day, she replied with “did you see the luggage? She sandwiched Megan’s bike between a Louis Vuitton bag and my bike. The bag was hard up against her big chain ring.”
We rolled into Frankton station in Hamilton and while it had stopped raining on the train, it started again, but it wouldn’t wash away the grins as we rolled the few kilometres from the station to home. The following week I noticed my bike was not dirty. This wasn’t a surprise really. The rain was so hard and consistent no dirt had a chance in trying to catch a free ride on my frame.
On this day we all fell for transfer rides. The adventure, the unknown challenges along the way and the different terrain means we will be doing more, this is guaranteed.