Simon Morton sets out from his home in Wellington, on a quest through time to find the spiritual home of cycling in New Zealand. Where did it all begin? Clutching the earliest known photo of a cycle taken in the land of the kiwi – an ‘iron horse’ snapped in 1866 – Simon travels to North Otago and lands in Oamaru where the Penny Farthing National Champs are being held. Simon mounts ‘the ordinary’ and promptly falls off, learns the secrets of the ‘wheelman’ from Oamaru club captain David Wilson, uncovers the madness of Steampunk with Lady Helen and Agent Darling, then joins the Penny Farthing race.
He continues his quest in Geraldine, where he finds a couple of ‘knitters’ who included the bicycle in the world’s largest jersey, before trekking into Mt Cook National Park. Simon tells the tale of the first person to attempt to mountain-bike from the top, discovers how cycles helped the first summiteers in 1896, and hits the road with ex-All Black Stu Cron who now makes his living cycling around the high alps.
To round out the adventure, our intrepid host scoots out to Temuka, to scare himself silly trying to fly a replica of the world’s first ever-powered airplane, which was built by Richard Pearse using bike parts and bamboo. Historian Gordon Ogilvie tells him how Pearse used the bike to get airborn. Somewhere near Temuka? Spiritual home to the bike in New Zealand? Simon says ‘yes’!