When Bike Lab generously donated a gorgeous Avanti Metro 2 city bike to help promote our recent membership drive, we thought the timing was perfect: a new name, a new push, and a chance to give someone a Christmas surprise. We didn’t realise quite how exquisite the timing would be until it came time to hand over the bike to the lucky recipient…
After making a full list of all existing and new members, we asked Bike Lab director Nigel Cliffe to select a random number. The winning name: Brent Morris.
We emailed Brent, who was stunned and excited. Could he come in to pick up the bike some time before Christmas, we asked? Sure, he said – but not before the 21st, as he’d be flying in from Oklahoma.
Turns out Brent and his family – wife Sharon, and two sons of 15 and 12 – have been living in Tulsa, OK for the last six years, after leaving NZ with four suitcases and two bikes and winning the Green Card lottery along the way. And while the kids have picked up local accents, they’re all still Kiwis (and Aucklanders) at heart.
That’s why Brent signed the family up as long-distance members of Bike Auckland. “I love all the work you’re doing and I just wanted to play my part,” he said. “If we still lived here, I’d be doing voluntary work with Bike Auckland, so joining up was the next best thing.”
He regularly reads our website and Transportblog to keep up with all the developments at home, especially when it comes to bike news. And in Tulsa, he’s a keen commuter cyclist even though the city streets aren’t especially bike-friendly. “I try and do my own small-scale bike advocacy at work, although everyone thinks I’m a bit of a freak!” He’s done 30,000 km on his commuter bike: “The coldest weather I’ve ridden in was -12 deg C, and the hottest was +42”.
Biking’s in the blood for this family – road biking, MTB, Brent even has a unicycle – and they like to get out and about on Tulsa’s 70 miles of leisure trails which run along the river and parallel to the freeways. From their travels across the US, Brent and Sharon singled out some great places to bike: in Colorado, Boulder and Aspen and Crested Butte; Park City, Utah, and Portland, Oregon. Until quite recently, the family managed with only one car, which as Sharon joked is “almost like having no car, in some parts of America”.
In conversation at Bike Lab on Monday, Brent and Sharon both said a huge part of coming home to visit is seeing what’s improved since last time, and they’re impressed with recent cycling developments in Auckland. “As all the bike paths start to link up, it’s going to be amazing,” said Brent.
Nigel said he’s already seeing the effect, with more cyclists of different kinds finding their way through his doors on Beaumont St next to Victoria Park. Bike Lab’s traditional clientele has been people in search of top-end road bikes, but they’re also seeing more regular commuters pop in (heads-up – Bike Lab will run a back-to-work tune-up special in January/February) as well as casual weekend bikers and families on their way between the waterfront and Lightpath. And it’s not just about the central city: as a keen member of the local group Bike Kaipatiki on the shore, Nigel offers special deals for members of Auckland’s bike burb groups.
Brent and Sharon were itching to head off on a bike adventure, covering the new central city paths, the Westhaven boardwalk, a chunk of the NW cycleway, and then around the bays out to Kohimarama to see family. Some sunshine and summer air, a catch-up with familiar trails – and a chance to see their home city from the fresh perspectives of the new paths.
And what of the yellow bike – would Brent and Sharon squeeze it into a suitcase to take back to Oklahoma at the end of the summer holiday? Well, their next stop was Hamilton to hang out with Sharon’s family. Let’s just say someone is the world’s best son-in-law this Christmas…
Thanks again to Nigel and Bike Lab for your generous support, and a special thank you and a warm welcome to all of our new and renewing members – we only had one bike to give away, but you’re all winners as far as we’re concerned, because we couldn’t do what we do without you. Looking forward to a great 2016!