For anyone that lives in Auckland, the waterfront is a welcome 8-kilometre stretch of road that extends from the city and has few traffic lights. It is an interesting place that could almost be turned into a television drama series. When cycling down the waterfront you are guaranteed to see other kindred cyclists, although a wave of acknowledgement is not always such a sure thing. You cannot deny cycling that particular day, as someone will see you and spread the word.
The waterfront provides endless entertainment. From the tourist buses stopping at Kelly Tarlton's all taking photos of the city view, to the seemingly elite cyclist who drives to the waterfront, does a couple of laps in their new matching pro team kit (from the jersey all the way down to the sox) and then heads home in their spotless 4x4.
It is a place of finding out who is training with who and at each hour of the day it has predictable actors and actresses to entertain the flow of traffic. Early in the morning you will find those wholesome souls who love getting up early, thrashing themselves before they head off to work. By 8.30 the traffic is too bad and commuters are to be found dodging in and out of cars or scooting past on the footpath. You can almost hear the snarl of the single lone drivers as they know they will be just arriving at work when the cyclist has showered, checked their emails and had a cup of coffee.
By mid-morning those lucky students or retired folks have finally gotten out of bed and enjoy the seemingly quiet waterfront. Mid afternoon dedicated schools zoom by team time trialing there little hearts out in restricted gears, training for those early morning team time trials played out on Sunday's, before most of us have fluttered an eyelid. Then the commuters and general exercisers turn out in force, along with roller- bladers, shirtless old men jogging and single 30-something women walking with calorie counting heart rate monitors and pump bottles in hand.
In the winter it is a harsh environment, one way flying, the other way creeping, but little traffic to contend with. The summer is a complete opposite with windless days in the sun, looking out to Rangitoto Island it is a beautiful sight to see. However, every other man and his dog comes out in force on the weekends and Mission Bay is turned into "the big day out". Caution is required for cyclists in summer, as the redneck little westies with water bombs and pistols love giving you the fright of your life. Orange, red, or blue lycra can be seen from such a distance that it provides time to formulate a fantastic "fright" plan.
For the racing cyclist it is commonly used for interval training or other similar efforts. This is certain to raise some eyebrows. It is almost a given that if you want to psyc out your competition, ride down the waterfront, on the drops, and look like you are riding hard. It's a bit like Chinese whispers, as you will hear through the grape vine that you were "flying on the drops doing some efforts, maybe for those club champs coming up?" If you don't want to be seen training, you don't want to head for the waterfront.
Possibly the best part of the waterfront is the availability of coffee stops. Latte loving Aucklanders at their best. Not only is the coffee good but the people watching entertainment is a ten out of ten. I'm sure a photographer could do an award winning photo essay titled "Facial expressions of customers and staff who stare at cyclists sitting in lycra at cafes." I do believe the people from Mars have landed.
For all its advantages and disadvantages it has and will, for a long time provide Auckland cyclists with a place to ride, have a laugh and some refreshments. It has a certain magnetism for all cyclists that lures them back time and time again. And I don't think the trend will change any time soon.
By Amy Mason