Biking for a brighter future
Ask anyone who rode a bike during lockdown, and they’re sure to tell you it did them a world of good. Now we’re free to ride further afield, it’s time to reconnect with friends and family, plan a biking holiday, and explore our regions – and keep the feel good factor rolling on.
Biking has boomed. Our streets, urban cycleways and neighbourhood trails have been busier than ever as new riders joined the ranks. More people have cycled to work or the shops. Others have hopped on their bikes for exercise or fun with their bubble. Some bike shops have been as busy as they are at Christmas.
Across the world, urban planners are seizing the chance to create more cycleways. Here in New Zealand, government-funded pop-up projects are making cycling safer. Free e-bike charging stations are springing up, and rent-to-own e-bike schemes are in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, news feeds have been full of feel-good stories around the health benefits of cycling and walking during lockdown, boosted by quieter streets and cleaner air.
Over ANZAC weekend, Christchurch’s Adventure Park surveyed 1000 people about their mental and physical health during Level 4 lockdown. Half of the respondents said they felt better than they did before lockdown. The main reasons why were more family time and exercise.
This is hardly surprising. There’s plenty of evidence that cycling is great for your health. Even gentle riding expands your lungs, gives you more oxygen and gets your blood flowing better. It also calms your nerves by purging built-up stress hormones and stimulating endorphins, leaving you happier, more relaxed and energised.
Biking is also a brilliant way to spend time with friends and family. E-bikes have totally changed the game here, with grandparents and less able riders now joining in the fun.
When it comes to expanding your riding horizons, the New Zealand Cycle Trail is the perfect place to start. The 22 Great Rides are spread throughout the country and offer riding experiences from super-easy to extreme. Short loops, day rides, or multi-day trips – there really is something for everyone.
The Great Rides are a healthy hook for a weekend away or school holiday break. Pack your bikes on the back of your wagon or head to local bike hire companies, and enjoy memorable adventures in our own backyard, with all the social-distance space you could possibly need.
Rolling through some of our most spectacular landscapes, our world-class trails take in forest, wetlands, mountains and coast. Other rides head through countryside dotted with all sorts of must-see sights and neat towns full of Kiwi character.
Whether you want to wine-tour, wildlife-watch or just escape into the great outdoors, our cycle trails serve it up at just the right pace.
Making your adventures more rewarding and easier to arrange are New Zealand Cycle Trail official partners such as cycle-friendly cafes, accommodation and attractions. Locally owned tour and shuttle operators offer everything from bike hire and luggage transfers to fully guided trips.
As we look for ways to holiday at home, support local communities and rebuild our economy, cycling can give us many the answers we need. It has massive potential to effect positive change, not just now but for generations to come.
So, support what you love, and help us spread the word!
Where do you want to ride?
National partner, AA Traveller, is also full of inspiration. Their Cycling Must Do’s Guide features all the Great Rides as well as many others (also available in print from AA offices and i-SITEs). You can also browse all sorts of cycling stories on their AA Directions online magazine.
Words by Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater (bennettandslater.co.nz).