On Easter Monday a reduced group (Kev, Kem and Steve) set off on something which was a little bit different for 5 Men on Bikes (or 3 Men . . . in this case), riding the Hutt River Trail on the eastern side of the Hutt River. A sort of a ‘day trip’ as an alternative to riding around the Peninsula.
The Hutt River Trail is a popular recreational ride that runs alongside the Hutt River from Hikoikoi Reserve in Petone to Birchville in Upper Hutt.
Unlike most tracks in Wellington, the Hutt River Trail is virtually flat. There are occasional bumps and an overall slight uphill trend as you head up the valley, but nothing of significance. Along the entire 28.4km length of the eastern side of the river from Petone to Birchville, the track rises about 75m only, giving an average gradient of 0.25%, which is barely noticeable. The trail is also largely sealed, with only a few short sections on unsealed track, and even those are easy rides.
So at 8:00 am, the bikes were hitched up to the car (taking extra care with Steve’s brand new red and black “Crusaders” bike) and off to Petone. Parking at Sladden Park meant a quick run south on the stop bank through the Shandon Golf Club to the foreshore before crossing the Waione Street bridge to the Eastern side of the river.
Heading north the trail is fully paved, sticking to the top of the stop bank past residential areas and schools, before moving closer to the river through the lower Hutt Valley. An easy ride in a gentle northerly, and a perfect trial run for the Steve’s first ride on his new bike. Around the Avalon area there is a choice of remaining on the paved trail – but moving away from the river – or riding on the metalled river-side access road. Choosing the latter to remain by the river seemed to be the popular choice as many other riders, including family groups heading south, had made the same decision. The most memorable of these was the old school “hippy” who passed at speed – without a helmet – while belting out loud music on stereo speakers mounted to the handle bars. Clearly enjoying himself in his own “music cloud”.
Skirting the Stokes Valley turnoff there is a short section of easy MTB track as the trail drops below the main road, but with that exception the ride is easy all the way. Taking the advice of a local we left the track at the Totara Park Bridge, crossed SH2 at the lights and headed back into Upper Hutt on the road, for lunch at the first bakery we came across. Freshly made club sandwiches, a cold drink and coffee, then back on the road heading south.
At Kev’s suggestion the southward return journey avoided the backtracking to return to the trail, instead riding the main road back to Silverstream, before re-joining the trail on the stopbank. This also avoided the metalled river-side access road, and our southward trip was noticeably quicker on paved trails all the way back to the foreshore.
This proved a bonus, as for once the weather forecast was accurate, with the wind turning to the South and strengthening as we approached Petone.
Altogether a ride of just under three hours (including the lunch break), for 50 odd kilometres – and a good workout for Steve’s new bike. A trip well worth considering again for a change of scenery.