It's one of those Saturdays where the sky streteches coast to coast like a big blue perfect dome, and it's time to ride once again. This Saturday's a rest day, a day that I'm supposed to take easy, drink coffee and roll around for an hour or so.
Ten minutes into the ride I get hungry. I realize, hey, I haven't eaten anything yet today. SO. To the coffee shop I go.
Double flat white and an eggs benedict later a couple of local rider-types I know from races show up, drink coffee with me and chat about bike related things. When they suggest "you want to come with us?" it's a bit of a dilemma. I'd really like to ride on my own today. I'd really like to take it easy. But.... I'm not Weak... am I? Of course not, I'll go.
Four hours later I'm getting agitated. My inner self (that annoying little dork) says "dammit I'm tired, this is not what I was counting on... you tricked me." I'm on my way home, a mere hour from the couch and a PB and J sandwich, but it still feels like the world is trying to punish me. Someone (a big someone) is telling me what I can do with my impulsive nature. Long story short, my one hour easy spin turns into 5 hours of Training. BUT... Things can only get better from here...
And they do. The call comes through just after I'm home and soon after the old stationwagon full of rowdy bike racers pulls up to the curb. I'm still a little shot from the morning and pretty uncomfortable, smashed in the backseat of this againg Audi for what seems like forever. Out the windows the suburbs give way to unstoppable uninterupted green, and now I know where we're headed. Smiles all around, Piha is a few minutes away.
By 4:00 we're standing on the beach while the whitewashed sounds of Salmonella Dub (a fine NZ electro/ska/reggae act) wash over myself, my mates and a lazilly dancing crowd of several hundred. This beach we're taking over, it's the beach you see in dreams of sunny paradise. It's banked on all sides by palm and jungled hills, the Waitakere Ranges. Lion Rock stands tall just barely off shore like a hundred story tower of birds and stone. This is a place that is obviously a mission to get to. 45 minutes of driving through twisted, scary jungle roads keeps the beachgoing population well below California levels, but more striking is the surrounding valleys. Every direction your head turns, it's gorgeous. It's deep green, sand or sky blue. Even the light shorebreak waves, a perfect sky blue. Palm trees and deep ferns sway just off the beach in a light offshore breeze. Salmonella Dub has thier soundstacks pointed right out into the ocean, so we go from saltwater swims to sundried daydreams under the influence of basslines and soaring trumpets.
Another afternoon melts into lazy evening on a postcard beach, and by now I feel like I haven't ridden for weeks. Legs feel like new, lungs feel like new, brain fires at an alarming rate. Drifting in and out of sleep reclined on a driftwood log, I half people-watch, half panic. Everything familiar seems far away, as it is, and it's all at once unsettling and comfortable. I didn't know these people 3 months ago, and now they treat my like I've been here all along. I'm completely out of place, but this enormous city feels like a second home. Makes no sense, but I'm getting used to it. Just as I start packing to come home, I'm getting used to it. I'll be back at Piha someday, I'm sure of that. Only a matter of time, but Goodbye For Now, my new favorite beach. Farewell Piha, I'll miss you.
2 years ago