17 Sep 2016

Buying a bike and routes around Auckland + GOPRO videos

I've been wanting a bike for a few months. I need to get my legs moving and get fit, especially before my half-day ride across the Golden Gate Bridge coming up.
I wanted an entry level bicycle with a low-step frame, lightweight and does not rust as quickly. I will use it for riding around the park, running errands and taking on the ferry to Waiheke.

There were a lot of factors, which I was discovering after every browse.
Road or mountain?
Aluminium or steel?
Disc or brake pads?
Full suspension or hard tail?
It was a little overwhelming if you don't know your jargon.

I started off with an initial budget of $300, which turned out to be impossible. New bikes under $300 do not have gears, which is not at all ideal for Auckland riding.
Bike Barn had the cheapest bikes but the clearance ones did not have any stock in my size :( I am 164cm tall and fit a 17" bike.
So I looked at second-hand bikes but was discouraged after visiting a shop and seeing dirty, almost rusting bikes. Not worth the $300 investment.

Turns out The Warehouse sells bikes for less than $200! Only the bigger stores had some on display but I wasn't sure about the quality... Will "you get what you pay for"? Being not at all knowledgeable about mechanics, I didn't want to have to do some fixes later on or assemble it myself from the box. Besides, the customer service and knowledge at a bike shop is far better.
I finally decided to buy the Merida Juliet from Bike Barn. I also got a detachable basket, gel pad seat and kickstand.
It was a windy and chilly day when I rode it home so I took the train part of the way (also because I did not want to ride through Newmarket).

It is easy to take the train with a bike. There is a carriage specially for bikes, prams and wheelchairs. There were a few people taking their bikes too; adults and children. In Britomart, where the entry and exit to the station is above ground, there are large double-sided lifts which fits bicycles.

I also bought a GoPro Hero a few months ago! I bought it brand new on TradeMe for a very good price. So I take it with me when I ride. I find that it is a good incentive to ride further #doitforthevlog

Ride 1 Cornwall Park On a clear (but windy and chilly) day I rode around Cornwall Park for an hour and it was a leisurely ride. I am still getting used to changing gears quickly; something that will take practice. But I enjoyed it and rewarded myself with a coffee at the cafe near the rotunda afterwards. I saw two women with a selfie stick each and I asked one of them to take this photo of me. They were there for at least 10 minutes; same spot, different angles hahaha.

Ride 2 Waterfront The next day I took the train to Britomart with the intention of riding around my favorite place in Auckland; the Viaduct.
It was an amazing ride! The sun was out, although still slightly chilly with the wind, apparently it was 18 celcius.
I saw a lot of people young and old enjoying their city. Scooters, bikes, dogs, cameras and families were out in the sun. I was not the only cyclist, which was great to see!
I started with the train to Britomart, used the segregated cycleway on Quay Street (thanks AT) then around the Viaduct, behind Vodafone and KPMG buildings through to Westhaven Drive and the promenade. I went all the way to the bottom of the Harbour Bridge and back... Had lunch then back to the Harbour Bridge via Wynyard Quarter.
The Westhaven Promenade is gorgeous. It is a wide boardwalk right next to the water, a smooth flat ride and the view is stunning. I was there about a week ago on an evening photography course with Three Little Wishes. These are some shots I took.
In the evening it felt very romantic; slow stroll, holding hands to keep warm. In the daytime it had a high-class feel... Maybe because you can see right into the yachts and started planning a Sunday afternoon party wearing all white, sipping cocktails on the leather seats...
The cafe at the end of the promenade was open and the outdoor tables were occupied. Coffee with a stunning view. Around Daldy and Halsey Street, I picked out my dream apartment; the one with the glass wall balcony, spacious enough for an easel set-up.
In Wynyard Quarter I discovered love locks next to the silos. One of them said "we both swiped right". #2016lovestories
There was an old man busking. He had a skeleton puppet and made it dance and sing along to jazz music. Children gathered close to him, nose-to-nose with the swinging puppet (1:53 in the video below)
I got home five hours later, eager to repeat the route again soon.
Ride 3 North-western Cycleway This is mostly a commuter route, it is also a shared path so you will see joggers along the way. I rode up Nelson Street from Britomart. Unfortunately the segregated cycleway doesn't go all the way down Quay Street yet. But that turned out to be okay because the steep gradient forced me to walk part of the way. It was a good decision to do this on a Sunday, a lot less foot traffic.
On to the Light Path! The old Nelson Street motorway offramp which was constructed into a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians in 2015. Very wide path and high fencing to isolate you from the cars going 80km/h. The Canada Street bridge connected the off-ramp to Canada Street. In which a narrow section of the footpath was painted red to act as a warning for opening car doors/ cyclists. Another steep hill to push the bike up. From there, on to the North-western cycleway.

More wayfinding signage required along here. I almost ended up on New North Road before realising I wasn't next to the Western motorway, which was where I wanted to be.
Sunny sunny day. A few other cyclists and pedestrians sharing the path with me on a Sunday afternoon. A lot of it is next to the Western Ring Route construction. And a short section near Unitec is through a local road. There is a bike repair section along the way! How thoughtful, great work AT
I wasn't expecting it to be this scenic! There was someone kayaking in the harbour. It looked so peaceful despite being right next to the motorway and construction zone.

The cycleway currently ends at the Lincoln Road exit. By this point I had biked for 16km or so and it was almost 4pm. I didn't have bike lights or the energy to turn around and go back so I went to Henderson Train Station and took the train home.

Unfortunately my GoPro somehow did not charge properly the day previous. So I'll have to film this route another day...

Ride 4 to Mission Bay, Kohi Beach, St Heliers After the last ride, I took a hot bath in peppermint essential oil and then rolled my calves on a foam roller to help relieve the muscles. No pain the next day so I started looking at next routes to take before an upcoming week of rain.
This coastal route is perfect for mid-week exercise. Usually on sunny weekends, the central beaches are packed with people and so are the footpaths which are shared by cyclists. So when I went at 2pm on a Tuesday, there weren't as many joggers and children to dodge. I still should get a bell though.

It took 40 minutes from Britomart and the route is flat, so I managed to build up some speed and get my legs moving. What I didn't like about this route is that because there are parked card on the road, you really gotta watch out for opening car doors. And the tree routes make a bumpy ride. It was very scenic though and I managed to sneak in a coffee break at St Heliers end before rushing back to catch the train before it got too full for bikes. I think it could be improved by widening the shared path, because walking groups tend to overtake the whole width.

Okay that wasn't supposed to turn into transportblog, but there you go. Some easy routes to get you started. There is also a FANTASTIC Beginner's Bike workshop held every month in The Cloud. I went there and learnt how to repair a punctured tyre! They also teach you how to find a bike that is your fit. It is so awesome that they have events like these. I feel so encouraged to use my bike more often. I wish the routes were close to train stations though, it would make it a lot easier to get there.



next trip; Onehunga-Mangere and Devonport via ferry??

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