Glory Days guest reporter Stuart Attwood went along for the Sunday Best ride as part of Auckland Heritage Festival...
If word got out to the good people of Auckland that one hundred and seventy five bikers were about to descend on their fair city, parents would no doubt be shuffling themselves and their children to a safer place to avoid the potential ensuing mayhem. Fortunately the Sunday Best Ride held just as much spectacle but was a somewhat more demure affair.
Mustering at Auckland Museum and held as a part of the Auckland Heritage Festival, this event was to prove itself not only wonderfully organised but well attended and thoroughly enjoyable for all involved.
After registration and a scone, there was an opportunity to mix and mingle and admire the costumes and beautiful bicycles of varying vintages dotted around the place. The crowd was, of course, impeccably dressed and ready for a jaunt around the city. Even before we left there was a genuine feel good vibe surrounding the group, with old swing numbers being played, a brass and glass photographer posing the riders for a six second picture to be taken and a million other shots captured on a more digital format. The scene reminded me of the Queen song 'Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon'. All this and no Lycra!.
There was a quick message from the organisers regarding the route and safety, then everybody lined up for the go ahead, ready to launch into it!
It was a shaky start for some, but with a few wobbles, the tinkling of many bells and the hoot of the odd horn, the bike train got rolling, and by the time we arrived at the entrance to the Domain everyone appeared relaxed and ready for a gentle amble through the city. The Mean Streets appeared reasonably welcoming, and the run across Grafton bridge started to show how special the ride was going to be, with people waving, stopping to watch and shout encouragement to the participants. The marshals held traffic for the group at red lights and for the most part it appeared that drivers were quite happy to just sit and watch this elegant parade unfold before them.
Up Karangahape Road and through Ponsonby with cheers from the cafes and more iPhone coverage than a Papal Crowning, we headed for our first rest stop.
On we went down to leafy St Heliers, admiring the architecture and turned back toward the City. It was an amazing sensation with so many riders and the relative silence in which we traveled, a chance to chat and laugh as we made our merry way. It seemed that something from a less complicated age had returned, an easier pace and the pleasure of being out with a large group of people who were there simply for the love of cycling.
We meandered along which suited everybody, but by the time we had arrived at Westhaven the group had strung out some distance and it was time for a break and re-gathering. The Viaduct was busy with more bars and people smiling and waving, again, happy to see us go by.
One more stop and we were on the final run for the Parnell Rose Gardens. In this final phase a MAMIL (yes its a 'thing', Googe it!) approached passing in the opposite direction, looking not unlike a streak of lightning, bespoked, day glow, lemon sorbet, he took it upon himself to provide the group with a public service announcement regarding the flouting of helmet laws. I don't think he got it really, any form of helmet simply destroys a perfectly good hairdo. I heard someone comment that, ''if we did happen to get hit by a runaway bus, at least we'd go out looking good!''.
From there it was a final uphill slog for some great period-correct finger foods, club sandwiches and the like, topped off with a well earned Gin and Tonic to revive the flagging muscles. To top it off, the hair do's had survived!.
Seeing a column of around a hundred and seventy five cyclists in their finery, snaking around the city streets was something quite spectacular. It was even better being a part of it, with many people commenting ''It was simply the best day out Ive had in a long time''.
There was no larrikin behavior, and people were grinning from ear to ear, pretty much the whole way through. The word is that this will be an annual event and I certainly hope so. It left myself and Im sure many others with a sense that the organisers have hit on something that could well be the hottest cycling ticket in town.
On behalf of myself and all those attending I would like to thank everyone involved in organising and running the Sunday Best Ride, you really did do a superb job. Good fortune for future events, and please do it again next year!