Every day, all over Auckland, essential workers set off to their workplaces by bike. We’re keen to shine a light on their experiences, what’s different under Level 4 besides a lot less traffic on the road, and their thoughts on the road ahead.
This week, we talk to three great guys who help make the news – and who get where they’re going on wheels. Thanks to Jon Bridges, Jack Tame and Jesse Mulligan for sharing their perspectives.
Jon Bridges, Executive Producer, The Project
(aka the guy who literally wrote the book on everyday cycling in NZ)
My regular bike commute is five days a week, no matter what the weather is. My ride is only about 5kms. Not long, but I love it. Two good hills in there, and on the way home I hit those hills hard and get about 30 seconds of high-intensity effort in on each hill (I call it micro-training, and I think one day this will be a thing, and I will be the godfather of micro-training).
Tell us about your bike. Do you really want to know about my bike?Nobody ever asks! What I did was build up my own ideal commuting bike, starting with a lovely aluminium road bike frame – an Avanti Giro. I spent a glorious month online and local bike shop shopping to buy all the bits for it. Flat bars, Shimano Ultegra wheels, a mix of 105 and Ultegra groupset, the same saddle as I have on my racing bike, Keywin pedals (an NZ company making the best road pedals in the world), low-profile mudguards from BBB, Cateye lights. It’s an utter beauty – stiff, light, fast, safe, dry and easy to navigate in traffic.
I go by bike because the more I can get out on the road on my bike, the more chance that someone will ask me about my bike. I’ll normally stop at traffic lights and look quite approachable for a few phases. This rarely works.
Also because I have just grown accustomed to the convenience, fitness, economy, speed and planet-friendliness of a bike. I now find I’m too old and set in my ways to take up something more expensive, sedentary, time-consuming and annoying – as attractive as those benefits apparently are for others.
How my work has changed under Level 4: Here at The Project, half the team is working from home, and the other half is divided into 5 “silos” which are like work “bubbles”. We don’t burst each other’s bubbles. It’s working well, and so far nobody has come down with Covid-19, or any of the other Covids, thank goodness.
It’s a significant challenge to keep producing the show to the same level with our team located all over Auckland, but it’s nothing to the challenges other people are facing at the moment.
Normally, the most challenging part of my bike-to-work is that I struggle with whether or not to say “Play the Game!” to other people on bikes who are running red lights. It’s like people not socially distancing. Do you say anything? And what would I even say? Because it’s only a few people breaking the rules (it’s actually a LOT of people) and because of them, we all become just “bloody cyclists”.
The other challenge is not letting people on e-bikes pass me, but also not looking like I’m trying not to let people on e-bikes pass me. It’s very hard when your heart rate is 160 to appear relaxed and keep whistling.
Whereas during lockdown, my commute is now more boring because it’s just me on the roads, and joggers and walkers swerving onto the road to avoid other joggers and walkers on the footpath. The walkers and runners are reclaiming the roads like forests will retake our cities when our civilisation falls. I never know whether they are on the road because they are thinking about crossing it, or because they are just going to walk on the road – and I don’t think they know either. I don’t mind them being there as it’s lonely just me, and I hardly ever hit them.
I did see a car on the road yesterday on my way to work, so that was interesting.
The best thing about riding a bike is it is the most beautiful machine ever devised: the freedom supplied by its simple mechanical efficiency has never been surpassed. The childlike joy it gives you never diminishes. The culture that grows around cycling is one of joy, community, endeavour, self-determination and equality. From training wheels to the Tour de France and everything in between, the bike is a force for good.
That’s a lot more than one “best thing”, but that’s bikes for you.
A message I’d love people to hear right now: I see a lot of talk around, but let’s not all rush to marry Ashley Bloomfield right away. I’m as big a fan as anybody, but I’m just saying: the guy you want to lead you through a pandemic and the guy you want passing you your dressing gown are possibly two different guys, you know?
Jack Tame, Host of Q&A for TVNZ and Saturday Mornings on Newstalk ZB
My typical bike commute is a very easy 5-minute commute down the Nelson St bike lane to work from where I live near Karangahape Road. I work six days a week, and eschewed a carpark at TVNZ to ride instead.
I ride a 29” hardtail mountain bike with city slicks. I have a spare wheel set in my apartment so I can switch out and go mountain biking without faffing about deflating and inflating tires.
I go by bike because it’s cheaper, faster, and more enjoyable. I don’t love mornings, but I find that having the wind and elements in my face is a good way to wake up on the way to the office.
My work has changed under Level 4 in that, where possible, I’m working at home. I only go into work when I’m live on air. My team is living the Zoom/Skype life.
Normally, the most challenging part of my bike-to-work is crossing Nelson St from the bike lane into the TVNZ building.
Whereas, during lockdown I’m in the office much less, but if anything I’ve been riding my bike even more than usual. I ride to Mt Eden and do a few laps up to the summit for a bit of exercise.
The best thing about riding a bike is you’re exercising without realising it!
A message I’d love people to hear right now: It’s a GREAT time to ride a bike, as there are so few cars on the road, and cycling is an excellent way to de-stress.
Jesse Mulligan, Presenter on Afternoons RNZ and The Project (TV3)
My regular bike commute is a three way ride each day – a pretty flat slightly downhill run from Grey Lynn to RNZ, just over ten minutes uphill to Mt Eden for The Project, then mostly downhill home to the family by 8pm.
I go by bike because it’s faster, cheaper and a useful way of including some daily exercise in my routine.
How my work has changed under Level 4: I’m now hosting RNZ from home, so I miss that morning ride. But I’m still going to The Project each night. I have to say, though, with no traffic and free parking everywhere the car looks pretty tempting each day…
Normally, the most challenging part of my bike-to-work is the uphill puff and the cold ride home!
What’s different about cycling during lockdown? Our family has turned into a bikey gang, rolling six abreast through Grey Lynn like we own the place (we sort of do, now the cars have disappeared). We tend to have about one spill per outing, so we now have a box of Frozen sticky plasters in the baby buggy for when dad grazes his knee.
The best thing about riding a bike is there are some unexpected and intangible mental benefits to taking a ten minute exercise break between gigs.
A message in particular I’d love people to hear right now: I get way too many chances already to share my messages! My message is “listen to other people”.