I had a great time on Sunday riding around the cycleway for six hours! The idea hatched a while back after watching the short film Solo Twenty Four at the New Zealand Bicycle Film Festival. Why not do a similar ride around the cycleway? My wife accurately observed it was "a pretty stupid idea" but I was still drawn towards it like a moth to a flame. 24 hours did seem a little extreme though so eventually I settled on six hours as being a decent challenge. It was also a great opportunity to get a group of friends down to the park for a BBQ and a few laps around the cycleway with the kids.
After a couple of weeks of nearly continuous rain (and getting washed out the weekend before) Sunday turned out to be beautiful day and the kids were amping for a decent burnout. At 11am I set off from Shorland Park in jeans and a hoodie - just everyday clothes for everyday cycling. I was lucky enough to be joined by Alex, another Island Bay dad, who in the true spirit of Solo Twenty Four's Brett Bellchambers was riding a fixie. Lots of other people joined in throughout the day, doing as many laps as they felt like, which made it a lot of fun. The BBQ at Shorland Park later in the afternoon provided a welcome pit-stop and, yeah ok, it wasn't exactly six hours of continuous riding!
All photos taken on the day by Irene and Regan.
I had thought that riding around for six hours could get boring but it wasn't at all. In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to discover what an interactive and social experience it was. There were friends and family on the cycleway pretty much continuously throughout the day and in lots of places it's wide enough that two people can ride side by side and have a conversation. The other great thing about riding in an urban environment is how easy it is to stop and talk to people you see in the street, much more so than when travelling by car. For example, I noticed that the pop-up community space at 132 The Parade was open so I just hopped off the bike (no need to find a park) and dropped in for a chat with Phil Becker from WCC and Vicki Greco from the Island Bay Residents Association. I even had a chat further up the road with a Parade resident who clearly wasn't a cycleway supporter and was quite interested in what was going on. I'm not sure that anyone changed their mind about things but it was amicable and it's always good to talk!
Over the course of six hours Alex and I both managed 30 laps or about 90 kms. I'm not much of a mountain biker or recreational cyclist so that's by far the furthest distance I've ever biked in one go. It makes me smile that I could so easily do that in my own suburb. There were also absolutely no issues throughout the day in terms of interactions with traffic. In fact, Alex and I both noticed something quite interesting. Apparently there are well over 200 driveways along The Parade. That means that over 30 laps we each made over 6,000 driveway crossings but Alex counted only six interactions with a car entering or exiting a driveway and I counted five. The frequency of cars coming in and out of driveways is much lower in reality than you might think, and in every case there was no problem.
Thanks to everyone who came out and I'm pleased to report that there was plenty of chatter about doing something similar again, although maybe not for six hours!