Simply the Best – A Sunday Best Ride roundup

What do you call a couple of hundred vintage-clad hotties rolling on bikes through Auckland’s premiere streets to celebrate the Auckland Heritage Festival? A raving success, we say! Check out the photographic evidence. (All pics below by our photographer unless otherwise specified)

From the moment the Sunday Best Ride bikes and their beautiful riders began to gather in the Domain last Sunday around noon, it was clear to all that something special was up. Museum-goers, picnicking families, tourists, joggers and dog-walkers all stopped to check us out.


The Domain was an inspired starting point, with the Museum as our backdrop: a treasure house of historic taonga in a field of green. And quiet stretches of tarmac to warm up on and practice a few tricks.


It was all run so smoothly, you’d never guess at the hundreds of man-and-woman-hours that went into it. Here are two of the main organisers: Sarah Duff-Dobson from Blend and our own Jessica Rose, looking as fresh as daisies with only minutes to go before the start of the ride.



The fabulous Lois Hong from Lescyckill Bicycles was another key member of the organising crew, and brought along a whole bunch of her gorgeous bikes to lend to those who didn’t have any. Here she is being interviewed by local Chinese-language TV station WTV:

Pic via WTV
Pic via WTV

The crowd picnicked and sipped their coffees from the Tin Man caravan (free with entry ticket!)…

Photo by Himalaya Studio
Photo by Himalaya Studio

… and were entranced by the work of Martin Sowter and his tintype photography set-up. Strike a pose, and hold it for six seconds…

Martin Sowter, tintype photographer. Pic via Auckland Tweed Run Facebook page.
Martin Sowter, tintype photographer. (Pic via Auckland Tweed Run Facebook page)

…and see what develops! The pop-up photography studio really was magical, and produced a fantastic souvenir of the day for those lucky enough to get one.

Photo via Glory Days Magazine, on Facebook.
Photo via Glory Days Magazine, on Facebook.

And speaking of Glory Days, they’d done a special deal with Frocks on Bikes: Rose from Decadia transformed the gals with picture-perfect hair and make-up. Check out gorgeous Nic Wiliams (a linchpin of the organising crew), all dolled up! Victory rolls FTW!

Pic AND hair AND make-up courtesy of Glory Days.
Pic AND hair AND make-up courtesy of Glory Days.

Not pictured, but also crucial to the successful outcome of the day: the very smart Andrew Mobbs, who sorted out the route – brilliantly, it was almost all a gentle downhill ride – and his team of magical marshals, who kept us safely moving along the route, zipping ahead at intersections to hold the traffic, encouraging us to stay together, and making sure no rider was left behind. Never anything less than efficient and congenial, they were a key to a safe and happy ride, not just for us – but for everyone we pedalled past.

I mean, look at this crowd! Waiting patiently for the instructions before setting off…


Here we are, all ready to go…

Pic by Himalaya Studio

And off up out of the Domain we went…


Across Grafton Bridge, where no buses or taxis dared overtake us!


Along Karangahape Rd, where the merchants are WAY ahead of the game in asking for protected cycleways. Watch this space.


And then along Ponsonby Rd, which was a particular highlight, especially given our recent coverage of less happy events here. At every turn, we were cheered and welcomed, which was a lovely feeling. It was a Sunday afternoon, so people were feeling festive, and there was plenty of ringing of bells and cheery waves and calls of “thank you” as we passed through – but it really was one of those days you actually felt welcomed in the city as a person on a bike.

Indeed, it wasn’t impossible to imagine a future in which this sort of parade could be an absolutely ordinary daily phenomenon along K Rd and Ponsonby Rd, morning and evening, with riders stopping wherever they feel like for a quick coffee or a shop. (For now, things are a moving a bit slowly along here; see Pippa Coom’s latest roundup for the state of play when it comes to bike lanes on what could be a showcase street)

Ponsonby parade, pic by John McKillop via Facebook.
Ponsonby parade, pic by John McKillop via Facebook.

What was also amazing (and instructive) was that even though for much of this section we took up a whole lane, nevertheless the traffic kept flowing freely. There was room for all.

And what was equally magical about the day was that all kinds of people joined the fun, in all kinds of outfits and on all kinds of bikes.


Duncan in his kilt; Caroline, who's a practicing midwife and rides a 90 year old bike to work, on the right.
Duncan in his kilt; Caroline, who’s a practicing midwife and rides a 90 year old bike to work, on the right. (Pic via Glory Days Magazine)
Our own Richard Barter, with grandson (and, out of sight, a real live little tweed-coloured dog!)
Our own Richard Barter, with grandson in the bakfiets bike box (and, out of sight, a real live little tweed-coloured doggy!)
Emily scored the very last ticket on the day! Just as well, it’d have been a shame not to show off this outfit and bike.
Amy had only been in NZ a couple of weeks, and brought her grandma along for the ride.
Grant's been biking round Auckland since before it was cool, and has amazing stories to share.
Grant’s been biking round Auckland since before it was cool, and has amazing stories to share.
Well, hello there, Auckland Transport cycling czarina Kathryn King and family!
Vernon Tava from the Waitemata Local Board, with partner Julie Vernon, looking spiffing!
Pic by Panda Wong. Probably the most delightful costume of the day (see what we did there?)

We trundled along Jervois Rd, then back through Herne Bay along Sarsfield St, under the Harbour Bridge (one day, we’ll go up and over!), and along the waterfront. As we biked past Wynyard Quarter, I overheard the following exchange. “I wonder what time it is?” “I’d guess about 3 o’clock.” “Ha, you’re right, it’s exactly 3!” “You see? An Englishman always knows when it’s time for tea.”

Appropriately, we wound up at the Parnell Rose Gardens, the perfect spot for some light nibbles and a post-ride cup of tea (or a G & T). Our heartfelt thanks to the walking and cycling wing of Auckland Transport, who came to the party with logistical and moral support, and topped up the extremely reasonable $5 ride fee to allow for all the goodies we enjoyed.



Also thanks to the AT folk for printing out the souvenir ride tags. A nice memento of the day.

Pic by John McKillop, via Facebook
Pic by John McKillop, via Facebook
One thing we all kept hearing along the ride – both from participants and observers – was “When’s the next one?” and “How can we join in?” We are massively keen to do this sort of ride again, and hope it will become an annual spring celebration. If you can’t wait till then, keep an eye on the Auckland Tweed Run Facebook page (we hear rumours of a ‘Need for Tweed’ ride in November). Plus, there’s a Bike Rave scheduled for December 5, so start thinking about lights and costumes for that!
Keep checking in here for updates and announcements – and, dare we say it, come and join us in the campaign to make this sort of casual riding an everyday occurrence. At the very least, sign up for our email updates. We’d love to have you. You’re the best!
Not even the clouds could dampen our smiles! Pic by Panda Wong.
PS Hundreds more photos available on the Sunday Best Ride website, in various albums all over Facebook and social media, and in the phones of everybody we biked past on the day. And two last pics that sum up the day for me – meet Yohanes, Anne and baby Cynthia, who were enjoying their first ride together as a family. Cynthia’s face in that second pic says it all – the ride was a knockout!

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