Saturday 23 January 2021

Pedalling the lights fantastic

With thanks to Power to the Pedal

Well, that was fun! Last night I went out again with Power to the Pedal. I did a tour with Eddie a couple of years ago, a daytime Inside Loop e-bike ride around inner Auckland, exploring some pretty suburbs I hadn't visited before and enjoying the cycle paths that I was only vaguely aware of. This time, we did it at night, on a bit of a different route, that included skimming up to the top of Mt Eden to see the sunset over the Waitakere ranges, and ending up on the waterfront, where the America's Cup buzz is going pretty well, considering it's just us Kiwis producing it.

(Eddie, incidentally, is from Edinburgh and his voice and accent are so very similar to the Twitter-famous Andrew Cotter that I kept expecting him at any moment to start talking about Olive and Mabel.)

The great thing about city tours like this is that you find out lots of things and places that you had no idea about - for instance, Emily Place Reserve. Eddie had suggested I walk that way en route to meeting him and it was a delight - a little park in the city totally dominated by huge and sprawling pohutukawa trees, whose branches drooped right across the paths meaning I had to step over and stoop under them. Gorgeous.

Then, once we had set off, him, Carson and me, all kitted out and instructed (happy to report, as a flat-city, non-gear bike rider from way back, his e-bikes are a doddle to operate), we skimmed away along surprisingly quiet city streets, alongside the motorway and then through Mt Eden's pretty, villa-lined streets and up to the top of the maunga. There was a fairly sullen sunset happening over in the west, but the city lights were coming to life, and we shared stories like the one about Tom, Prince Alfred's elephant, who hauled tons of rock up to the platform at the summit in 1870, in return for buns and beer.

Then we whizzed back down the hill and past various murals and illuminated artworks, and afterwards onto the fabulous pink Lightpath, with its motion-operated coloured lights and great views of the city - dominated of course by the Sky Tower, dramatically lit up red last night advertising in honour of  Prada, the main America's Cup sponsor.

It was a contrast, crossing the dark of Victoria Park, though it didn't feel at all unsafe; and then we were into the lights and buzz of Wynyard Quarter, where the restaurants were mostly busy, there were lots of people wandering along the waterfront admiring the lights and looking at the big screens, and we could only imagine how much more bustling it would have been, if our borders were open and all the America's Cup fans could have come here.

The endless roadworks along Quay Street provided some fun road-cone bending, and then we were at Queens Wharf, where the Lighthouse (a rather odd but quite appealing little state house sculpture) was all lit up with Captain Cook looking, er, reflective inside. 

After that, we should have cycled back up the hill to the start, but it was near ferry time and so Eddie and Carson took my bike and I was able to avoid the horrendously long wait until the next one. Thanks, guys! And thanks too, to Power to the Pedal for all the colour and fun.

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