Remember the Love to Ride Team Challenge, back in March? The winning team (across the whole country, out of a field of 135 teams!) was based at Auckland Council – and in a wonderful and unexpected act of generosity, they donated a large part of their cash prize to Cycle Action so we can continue our work for a more bike-friendly Auckland. We caught up with Team Champion Lisa Dowson to find out more about this great bunch of people who wanted to share their love of riding with everyone else.

Your team had 26 people on it – five of whom were new to riding. Over the six weeks of the challenge, your team rode 12,564km. That’s amazing!

Jon (R) loves to ride the whole of New Zealand.
Jon (R) loves to ride the whole of New Zealand.

Yup, that’s an average of 480km each. Our top mileage was done by Josh Aldridge, with 2,824km in total (he’s a semi-pro rider though, and clocks up quite a bit of mileage). The last week of the challenge was particularly tense, with Kapiti Cycle Club proving to be a very hard rabbit to chase. Our brave riders went the extra mile for the team with some incredible stats, e.g.:

  • Richard C commuted more kms than his age each week (he’s not young). He came in 14th overall on the Community Riders section and cycled 14km, twice a day. Every. Single. Day.
  • Simon managed 43 trips (and 786km) despite being away tramping for the last 10 days of the challenge.
  • Jon (right) had the 2nd highest mileage in our team, with 1,172km in 27 trips. He spent his annual leave cycling the length of South Island as part of Tour NZ.

The team name was “Stormwater on Wheels”! Where did that come from? 
One of my colleagues at the Council’s stormwater unit asked me to put together a work team; then the team expanded to include a few other cyclists we know outside of Council, and we even had some family members join the team, which was lovely. “Stormwater on Wheels” reflects the fact that virtually all team members work in the stormwater industry, although we’re mostly based at Auckland Council.

All too late, someone suggested the name “Pipes on Bikes” – perhaps I’ll save that for next year’s challenge.

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Lycra and leggings, looking good!

Sounds like you were a good mixed bunch?
Many of the team are already dedicated commuter cyclists, or do a lot of cycling for fitness and leisure. But we had new cyclists as well, and this was a great motivation for them to get on their bikes. It has been very inspiring to see what we are all capable of achieving. The best part was that everyone in the team was so encouraging towards everyone else.

Where did you ride from?
Our commuters come from all over the city, from St Heliers, from out west along the NW cycleway, and from the North Shore. Our North Shore commuters either cycle all the way around via the NW cycle route on e-bikes, or cycle down to one of the ferry terminals to catch a ride into town.

How did you keep each other motivated? 
Motivation was easy. As most of us work together, we could check up on how everyone’s rides went whenever we saw each other in passing. The Love to Ride website also includes a team messaging function, so its easy to post encouragement to the whole team.

Any issues along the commute?
We all seem to have the odd issues that crop up along our routes, whether it’s road works, discontinuous cycle paths, problems with vehicles, the occasional dog running out etc.

How are your workplaces, when it comes to welcoming bike commuters? 
My work has a Bicycle Users Group, which is wonderful. We meet for breakfast several times a year and usually have an invited speaker come along. I’m pretty sure we’ve had someone from Cycle Action along on occasion. Our workplaces are all generally pretty good in welcoming cycling commuters. Everyone in the team – mainly from Auckland Council, but from a couple of other organisations – seems to have access to hot showers, lockers for storing our gear and secure cycle cage facilities in our buildings.

What inspired you to so generously donate a big chunk of your hard-won prize?
We were hoping to win the $400 towards a team lunch for the team with the most points overall. We were very surprised to hear that we’d also won $600 towards bike gear. Love To Ride suggested we split the full value of the prize money as we chose. Most of us have the gear we need, and most of us don’t need to line our tummies with more food than we already do.

So we decided to spend $400 on gear for the work bike cage which could be shared by a wider pool of cyclists, not just those in the team. This includes a repair stand, a comprehensive toolkit, a good floor pump and some spare inner tubes to be used on a pay it forward basis (i.e. use a tube to get you home and replace it with another).

The remaining money we wanted to donate to a charity, particularly one that promoted cycling with NZ. We also considered donating to Nepal earthquake relief, but we recognised that the sponsorship towards prizes was provided with the intention to promote and encourage cycling within New Zealand. It was a tough decision, but we decided that Cycle Action specifically contributes to improved cycling infrastructure for all Aucklanders.

We are humbled, and will work even harder to fulfil your confidence in our work. So now that the challenge is over, do you all still Love to Ride?
We’re not still racking up the miles as a team, but all our regular commuters still commute to work, despite the descent of winter. The solidarity that developed from us all being part of a team is still there. We regularly catch up with our other cycling colleagues. A number of us cycle regularly in the mornings before work together with some colleagues from other departments. It’s very sociable, and a great way to start the work day.

Love To Ride have also now linked the website up with Strava, so your rides are automatically logged to the website. Great for authenticating those kms. I would definitely do it again next year, it was loads of fun!
Some members of Stormwater on Wheels (Lisa on left), in the workplace bike storage they stocked with bike repair goodies. Generous souls!
Some members of Stormwater on Wheels (Lisa on left), in the workplace bike storage they stocked with bike repair goodies. Generous souls!
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Lisa and family love to ride on weekends, too.
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