When I started leisure cycling, I thought Auckland was awful for riding – lots of traffic and hills. I am happy to have been proved wrong: Auckland is full of wonderful rides that are safe, scenic and easy. I just drew up six months of rides for our ‘Café Cruiser’ cycle group with a different ride every weekend – there really is no shortage of paths, parks, and quiet roads.
The really surprising thing is that they are often beautifully scenic. So often we have riders who say things like, “I’ve lived in this suburb for years and I had no idea this was here.” People are amazed when they discover waterfalls in Waterview and Pakuranga, bushy paths weaving through industrial areas, kilometres of wide concrete path through connecting parks in South Auckland.
On your bike you see and hear and smell so much more; you talk to people and you linger if something interests you. Dawdling past cricket games and swimming beaches and through hidden parks, you see a side of a lovely side of Auckland many never know exists.
Another thing about cycling that surprised me: I can ride. Of course I learnt as a child, but stopped when I started to drive and came to see cyclists, ‘serious’ cyclists, as being another species. So I have been intrigued that cycling actually ‘works’ for me. I have not tackled cycling as a programme or a course of exercise – I just started riding when wanted and for as long as I wanted. I have not tried to build up my stamina or fitness but have been very pleased to discover it happens anyway. My first rides of only a few kilometres left me a bit puffed and a little sore but very happy; a few years later I rode 160km around Taupo, and afterwards I was a bit puffed and a little sore and even more happy.