Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bicycle Bores

Yes.  I am a bicycle bore. 

I’m not a hipster with a fixed gear.  I’m not a prancing pony with team gear and a 10K bike.  I’m not 2 thighs on a bike who likes to boast that I did 200k before breakfast but I’ll do my proper endurance ride this weekend.

I’m just a 40 something with 2 bikes,  my commuter and my racer and I like to pull out 40ks every now and then to pretend I’m fighting off the grave. And I like to head out for a couple of hours and just get lost.

I’ve always been a cyclist but now trends have caught up.  The bike porno that is Torpedo 7 and the thrill of picking up Gordon MacCauleys bike and marveling at how light it is.

But I like to think of myself as being David Byrne, after David Byrne became David Byrne :the bike nut.

In his book “The Bicycle Diaries”, David tells of biking the world on his sit up straight, foldaway bike.  It's a great book that you can pop in and out of and he crystallizes what I love about bikes.

He’s hooked on the liberation a bike provides; the speed and feel of flight.  And he is convinced that urban biking opens your eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population.

You’re slow enough to observe and yet fast enough to put a neighbourhood into a perspective.

And so I pulled out a 40k ride yesterday.  In under 2 hours.

First I exploded my lungs climbing Mt Eden, and played dodgems at the top with tour buses and Japanese schoolgirls in short skirts straight out of “Kill Bill”.  (Close the road, except for bikes and runners, and add a funicular, Len)

And then a burst down the bus lane of Mt Eden Road connecting with the bike lane beside the South Western Motorway.  8ks of uninterrupted 30+ riding.

Through Richardson Road and past the Masjid e Umar mosque.   

Men from the Horn and Africa slinking across the street in pristine white robes heading for the steaming coffee urn and hookah pipes set up outside the spice markets.

Later up Sandringham Road.

Through the village where the smell of Indian cooking hangs heavy and saris blow in the wind. 

And then past Edendale School

A brave new school.  But it is cowering behind massive security gates around it's perimeter.  Presumably designed to keep the theives and arsonists out, not the kids in

 It's these moments that make you love the bike.  You travel, you see.  But unlike a car you smell and you hear and you notice details.  And you love those pockets of Auckland that never existed for my parents and you marvel at how we've changed..


  1. Howdy! I loved Byrne's book, especially the lengths that NYC bike thieves will go to get your gear - seat one night, wheels another...etc.
    As for smells - nothing tops the smell of a ripe dead possum on the Thames Coast rd in the height of summer. Mm mm.

  2. And nothing beats the anticipation of another speed run as you turn off Remuera Road into Victoria Ave, with the tricky curve after Cluny, eyes watering... Killer uphill: Ayr St. Killer downhill: Ayr St. Doubly so with that bloody roundabout. Surely familar to a man on his way to Parnell on two wheels, Dickens? ;-)