This bike adventure from Hobsonville to Onehunga will inspire you to ride

by Genny Stevens / 28 September, 2017

Genny Stevens

Sunday ride

Genny Stevens lives in the city, rides an e-bike, and doesn’t own a car. Wanting to expand her horizons, she decided to go on a carshare-bike adventure.

As a CBD cyclist, I’m spoilt for cycle routes, but I tend to get stuck in my daily A-to-B routine. Going further afield requires planning, energy and a fully charged battery. A big day out is usually a single destination, and spontaneous crosstown visits are tricky. So when I discovered carshare service Cityhop now has bike racks, I went for a spin.

Ready to go

Have car + bike, will travel

Gearing up for a day out of the central city

I’d been meaning to join Cityhop for the last, oh... maybe four years? What got me over the line? They’ve switched to a monthly membership fee rather than all upfront, and as a member of Bike Auckland I get the first three months free. The next step: booking a car with a bike rack, with a choice of roof-mounted or tow bar style. The latter suits me best – e-bikes are heavy! A confirmation email told me where ‘Bonnie the Corolla’ was, and how to use my swipe card to gain access. It took 10 minutes to get my bike secured, and then I was off.

Dog party

Hobsonville Point ahoy

From the city to Hobsonville Point

I love a good market and a bike-ferry adventure, but the Hobsonville Point ferry only runs on weekdays. So driving was just the ticket, although literally a change of speed. Sitting in a car with other big metal beasts zooming past is incomparable to being on a bike with the big sky above and lots of space around you.

Arriving in Hobsonville Point, I feel like I’ve stumbled onto a movie set. The streets all have bike lanes! Am I still in Auckland? This looks… planned! I head for the market and (old habits die hard) hunt for the closest parking spot. There’s a greyhound meetup in the car park, with people who’ve driven from all over Auckland. I imagine a regular ferry service catering for bikes and greyhounds.

Grocery grab

To market, to market

A stop at Hobsonville Market

The market is cute, with lots of lovely things; the kind of market that makes you feel you’re living some kind of bougie dream life. I buy coffee, doughnuts, bread, and fancy expensive cheese. Back at the car, I realise I’ve locked the swipe card inside. Uh oh! Note to fellow carshare newbies: use the key for turning the car on and off, but use the card for locking the car. Luckily, Cityhop comes to the rescue while I head off to explore Hobsonville’s bike paths.

Old and new

Exploring on a bike

Around Hobsonville’s bike paths and neighbourhoods

I follow my nose, which takes me to some other world. I’ve slipped into a different time-space continuum. There are marshes, boats, water, wetlands. I start to panic. Am I lost? I see the legions of activewear walkers updating each other on the state of their lawns. I see the greyhound meetup, walking in formation. I turn my bike around and seek the sanctuary of asphalt and buildings.

Beautiful old derelict buildings are fenced off, under construction. I press my face and camera against the fence looking for the soul that lives in old buildings. I weave in and out of the suburban streets, stopping to snap pics of matching houses with matching cars. Some blocks are still in progress, some half-inhabited.

I spy a proper bike path running alongside the highway. A peloton of lycra-clad cyclists whizzes past. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on my bike just staring at houses. It makes me feel… like a kid! Was this what it was like in the 1960s, roaming the neighbourhoods that were springing up faster than you outgrew your hand-me-downs?

Riding the rainbow

Next stop: Waterview

Hobsonville to Waterview

I get back to Bonnie and drive to Waterview. I often ride along the Northwestern Cycleway, but a friend and her kid have promised to take me over the rainbow path and off the beaten path to explore Waterview. Under the looming motorway flyovers, a heritage area runs along the creek. There’s something surreal about biking and walking paths that trace the outlines of houses removed to make way for cars to drive to even more distant suburbs.  

We ride through new spaces created for people – playgrounds, skate parks, scooter tracks – to the friendly and colourful Waterview Coffee Project. And for this bridge nerd, a double highlight awaits: a tiny skinny historic bridge linking Saxon and Fir Streets, barely wide enough for our handlebars; then the broad new bridge over Oakley Creek. The new Waterview Path is still a few weeks off opening, so we meander back through Unitec, feeling like kids wandering aimlessly looking for adventure and misadventure.

Exploring Onehunga

One more stop in Onehunga

Waterview to Onehunga

Having the car means I can drop in on a friend who’s moved to Onehunga, rather than waiting for the next time she comes to town. It’s nice catching up; it’s also nice to just get on our bikes and go for a ride. We ride around the lagoon, and along the waterfront. The salty air barely masks the motorway smell. We look at the sky and see a temple spire and say ‘hey, let’s check that out on the way home.’ We do, and chat and laugh and wobble our tired way back to her new place.

Homeward bound

Onehunga to the central city

I load the bike back onto Bonnie and set the GPS. I should be able to find my own way home, but a bike rider navigates differently from a car driver. I decide to trust the GPS. Perhaps it will take me the long way but I have no deadlines today.

‘Aimless’ has a negative connotation sometimes, especially to adult ears. But this day, it sounded so sweet. Every day is full of aim, even if your target is the mirror on the other side of the hamster wheel. To be aimless for a full day was the sweetest gift. The Cityhop car took me out of my comfort zone, and back in time to when friends and bikes ruled.

Sunday Ride is brought to you by Bike Auckland, the non-profit advocating for more people on bikes. Visit bikeauckland.org.nz for cycleway developments, bike events and resources.

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