In the recent months, cycling in Auckland has become one of my favorite activities. At the same time, I have come to loath this activity too. I love cycling down-slope, even though my nerves fire up whenever I ride in such high speed, I am glad I bought a cycle. When I cycle up-slope, if I ever do, I curse my decision to buy a cycle in this sinuous city. I love the fact that I can ride really slowly around the places, the coastal areas and enjoy the view. But I hate it when some other cyclist overtakes me in their absolutely amazing cycle. I love the wind on my face as I cycle. I just hate it when I have to cycle against strong winds.
“He is still so short”
Everyone would talk about me “make him ride a cycle, that will give his growth an impetus.” I never was a fan of cycling, especially because learning to cycle meant falling down a lot and I didn’t want to get hurt. But whenever anyone would talk like that about me, I wanted to learn cycling. In my family, everyone is at least 6 feet tall. I was not tall at that time and I was slightly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to my cousins and siblings. So one fine day when one of my aunts said that line, I decided that I will learn cycling.
I learned cycling when I was in grade 9, and my learning curve did not include lots of falling. The few bruises and cuts I got were eclipsed by the joy of learning something I never thought I would do.
And to this day, I have not found any scientific correlation between cycling and getting taller. However, I don’t care anymore as I am taller than everyone in my family. Not really that tall in Auckland though, the people here are gigantic.
When I went to Hamilton, I was mesmerized by the green pastures that stretched for miles and miles. However we were driving at more than 100 kmph so there was hardly any time to actually absorb the views. I knew that if I was cycling or walking, I would have more time.
My first home in Pakuranga (East Auckland) had a great coastal cycleway. Almost every chance I got, I would be there cycling as slowly as I can, but not walking as I had a cycle, to soak in. The sounds of waves crashing into the rocks, the chirping seagulls(do seagulls chirp? I don’t know) and gushing wind. It was bliss.
Then when I would be heading to a friends’ place or the church I would again ride, this time fast as I was on the road. Every car that whooshed by me would be terrifying, especially on the bridge that I always had to cross. I never got used to that.
New house (West Auckland) and luckily I no longer have to cross any bridges. Only here, I saw other cyclist and damn they are fast. They would out pace me as if I am standing still and every single one who did made me want to go faster. It took me a while to grasp the truth: they are better cyclist on better cycles (their tyres offer less friction). I hate that and I want to go faster.
My first cycle was whatever leftover from my brother. He brought it and then after sometime hardly used it. We didn’t maintain it much I realize now. He had also custom painted it, if I could call it that. So when I started learning, I had to fix it up first and then ride around.
I rode it to my school, but for some reason I no longer remember, I stopped using it. We sold it off as scrap metal. Years later, we brought a scooter and at that time I was applying to many universities. Then, I wanted something for myself as well but I wanted a cycle again. Only for some reason, I never bought it. Money was not an issue, I had started earning and a cycle is cheaper than a scooter. With months passing, I got my visa and I left for Auckland never really buying a cycle. However I knew there are great pathways for cycling here.
Brought my first cycle here with money saved, and immediately did something stupid: tried to ride up-slope. Never have I ever been so tired. It took me a while to remember how cycle gears worked but I still never did try up-slope again. I always dragged my cycle to the summit and had a breathtaking panorama of the entire city now trough of the valley below.
Maybe there is a metaphor in there somewhere but I would just leave it as that.
With a couple of issues in my cycle recently, I vowed to ensure that my cycle is always properly maintained. I have put too much efforts in cycling to just drop it off now. I Google for every small thing, YouTube for tutorials on how to adjust the dérailleur. Maybe I am being excessive but I do love cycling. And sometimes I hate cycling. Maybe it is not a paradox but just me being lazy.
PS: Excuse my bad photographic skills