Dunc’s Big Bike Ride finished on 29th August 2015. What a ride! Knowing nothing was going to live up the complex feels felt during a complete lap of Aotearoa, I’ve been filling my days writing about it… and occasionally heading out on other mini adventures too. Here are eight picks from the last two years:
1. Walking Auckland’s Coast To Coast
This is a relatively easy day walk, joining up Auckland’s west coast harbour with its eastern counterpart. My Bike Ride team mates Scoot and Simon were up for it, so we took the bus to Onehunga Beach and walked through the suburbs into Epsom, over One Tree Hills, Mount Eden, Auckland Domain and the Viaduct Harbour. As long as you’re okay tramping on the roadside grass berms, as opposed to native bush for a day, this is a solid urban adventure. Worth checking out if you’re new to the City of Sails and want to smash out a few volcanoes in one go.
2. Walking the Tongariro Crossing
I’d been hearing about this New Zealand great Walk for years, but never understood why it was called a ‘crossing’. Was it just one huge swing bridge, with clusters of tourists in jandals all gingerly edging their way across? Well, it turns out it’s a rather awesome volcanic day trek. Yes, it’s popular in summer. Yes, it’s world famous. But, yes, it’s awesome! Recommend: parking your vehicle at the end, then catching a bus to the beginning, then you can finish when you like and not when the buses finish. Don’t recommend: Wearing anything less than half-decent walking boots, particularly if you want to detour to the summit of Tongariro itself.
3. Climbing Ben Resipole
I found myself joining my parents and friends on their annual jaunt to western Scotland, where a mountaineering expedition to the summit of Ben Resipole took place. I’d previously only camped at the coastal foot of it as a teenager one summer, so had no memories of the snow-capped mountain. Having made our way up most of it, the weather turned and a blizzard struck. The experienced mountaineers in our party herded us behind a set of rocks and we waited it out, staying close to conserve heat. As abruptly as it had arrived, the weather passed and we were on the move again, this time to the summit. Then all we had to do, was get back down again.
4. Walking from Luxembourg to France to Germany
I visited my friend Anne in Luxembourg, which shares a border with France and Germany. Since the Schengen Agreement, these borders have been essentially non-existent, meaning you can easily hop from country to country, once legally inside one of the 26 EU nations. Beautifully, the borders of France, Germany and Luxembourg all meet at the town of Schengen, so it was there that we completed this unique little adventure. ‘FRANCE’, reads the sign on the border.
5. Walking the Capital Ring
Comedian Pete Lupton and I set out to complete the Capital Ring: a 126km circular walk around the outer suburbs and green spaces of London. We set out to do it in four days, knocking off some 60km of the walk (Woolwich Foot Tunnel to Richmond Bridge) in our first two days, leaving what ought to have been 66km or so for the last two. But things are never what they seem and we always walk further than we realise, meaning those final two days came out more like two marathons. Which was fine. This really is a great walking route and you get to see many hidden treasures of London’s sprawl, plus heaps of places I’m glad I don’t live in. Try it out.
6. Driving from London to Poland
This was ridiculous and, admittedly, in a 20th Century fossil-fuel burning vehicle, but it’s still an awesome road trip and one I’d like to attempt away from the autobahns and by cycle someday. I went with my mate Mad Pete. It was for a wedding, so having the van helped us transport suits without creasing them and it came in handy with the giant piano we had to take for the church pianist, Pete. Be sure to check your vehicle’s tyres after each fuel fill.
My wild brother Matt came up with this one. Based on my ‘closest available route to the coast’ rule from DBBR, we plotted a route south from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, and followed the line of zero degrees longitude as closely as possible. We met one Sunday morning nice and early and hit the pedals for an amazing day ride to the south coast of England, totalling a little over 100km. There’s a few nods to the Meridian along the route and a monument on the cliffs at the finish at Peacehaven – it was moved in the 1960s during work to sure up the coastline.
8. Climbing Maungawhau Mount Eden 31 times in 31 days
March 2017 was Auckland Transport’s inaugural Walking Challenge month – a team event where contestants set about walking all the steps they can, in a bid to win prizes, get fitter, burn less fossil fuels, arrive at work less stressed and generally be healthier. My walk to work comes to about five minutes, so I engaged in another challenge: to the summit of Maungawhau 31 times in 31 days. Needless to say, by climb number 15, it starts to get a bit tedious. But I saw this one through.
There were a few others as well, maybe tell you about them another time. Dx