Thoughts on returning to cycle commuting

Northwestern Cycleway The UsersAn editorial

For the last 5 years of my work on CAA’s committee, I have often joked that I was their committee member that cycled least – generally attending meetings for CAA by walking there (since I both lived and worked in the city centre, it sometimes just didn’t seem to be worth cycling 1-2km in sometimes very prickly traffic condition, with no good bike parking at either end etc).

Since I have moved into the suburbs a week ago, I have now re-joined the cycle commuting populace.

When my partner and I chose our new house, having a cycleway into town close by was in fact one of my “go / no go” criteria, so we ended up settling near Unitec out west, and I am now adding to the daily riders on the Northwestern, clocking up some 15km a day. Half what I used to do daily for a decade some 15 years ago, but not too bad, and a bit hillier.

Flooded-Causeway-Path-To-GoSome semi-random thoughts after the last week or so of riding:

  • I could not have selected a worse time of year to start. Rain, thunderstorms, wind, icy cold – and pitch black on the way home. It can only get better!
  • I am still calibrating my clothing – I take it at an easy trundle instead of in a rush, and ditch the outer layers as soon as I am warmed up, to sweat less, but results are still a bit mixed. Wool trousers work rather well.
  • I also am learning to check all directions of the skies in the morning. I really shouldn’t have left my rain pants at home today. The clouds came east faster than I could ride! Drenched.
  • I have too much gear! I never remember my misspent youth’s rides being encumbered with all that stuff. Multiple layers of clothing (see above), trouser clips / reflective bands, pump, detachable lights, lock, pump, helmet… I am still experimenting and probably will end up ditching some of that stuff for good, or fixing it permanently to the bike or helmet etc….*
  • I am still with a clear minority, when compared to the hordes travelling (or crawling) along the SH16 motorway next to me. On the other hand, if we ever get congested cycleways, then places like the Northwestern will be it, so I better enjoy it now. Plus, I am sure those numbers will ramp up in summer.
  • I have gotten both keen interest from other cycle commuters in my bike light (a light on a flexible stalk keeping cars a tad further away from me on those parts of the route where I ride on-road – as well as a telling-off by a motoring coworker, who told me to get a better light, saying she didn’t seem me until the last second in the dark (so how did she even know it was me?).
  • For all the quality of new cycleway sections like Kingsland (noise walls are great!), many of the other issues on the Northwestern really stand out if you encounter them twice daily. Particularly the uneven surface. Lets complain a bit louder, shall we? Driver’s don’t put up silently with potholes either…
  • I am already feeling a bit fitter, going up those hills east of Kingsland – though that is probably mostly imagination. I still get overtaken by almost everyone!

* On that matter, can anyone point me to a bike pump that I could lock to my bike? I.e. one that I don’t have to worry about getting stolen when I leave my bike out somewhere? I saw them years ago but can’t find em anymore these days.

So much for my musings. What are your stories about (re-) starting cycle commuting?

Join us

Bike Auckland is the non-profit organisation working to improve things for people on bikes. We’re a people-powered movement for a better region. We speak up for you – and the more of us there are, the stronger our voice!

Suggest a new ride