Jack Tame: Savour the little pleasures

The glitzy new ride. Photo / Dean Purcell
The glitzy new ride. Photo / Dean Purcell

I moved back to Auckland and bought a bike. It's an avocado-coloured hardtail, with lock-off suspension on the front and separate tires for the city and the mud.

The guy in the shop took one look at my femurs and went straight for the biggest rims.

The first blowout on any new set of wheels is an elating - nay, exhilarating - experience.

Everything is tuned perfectly. Everything is clean. The gears snap back and forth and the whole thing sings as you zip about and skid and balance at the traffic lights.

I'd forgotten how much I love riding.

I'd also forgotten that Auckland has improved.

My previous home, New York, is trying to become a cyclists' city.

An enormous bike-share programme has expanded throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. New York even has bike lanes, and surprisingly few people die.

New Zealand should be a country of cyclists' cities and Auckland lagged for a bit. But although it isn't yet Amsterdam, compared with when I last lived here five years ago, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised.

If you've not considered riding to work, just try it. Once.

Savour the little pleasures you never experience in the car. The sound of your own heart, thumping. Terrain. Topography. The smell when you pass the fish-and-chip shop.

I went up the bike lane on Nelson St and across the snazzy new cyclists' bridge. Its purple lights reminded me of a 90s Nintendo game.

Eden Terrace. Dominion Rd. I pedalled hard until my nose was dripping and then I pulled a few schoolboy bunny hops off the kerb on a quiet street.

Since I last visited Auckland, the council banned cars from the summit of Mt Eden.

I dropped a few gears, climbed out of my seat and gave my calves a proper stretch.

Bellbirds at dusk. A dad, piggy-backing his daughter to the summit. Parakeets rushing between the trees, and then the city at my feet.

Seriously, these are life-affirming things.

• Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB, Saturdays. 9am-noon.

- NZ Herald

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