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« Along For The Ride

4 - The New Cool is Old School


Now Available on Vimeo

 Finally back in the ol’ home town, but with a long way to go, Simon Morton investigates the new cool in Wellington city. He starts in the bowels of the national museum, Te Papa, were he wheels out a rusty old Raleigh Chopper that is now part of the technology collection. Are ape-hangers and banana-seats making a comeback? Well, not if the traffic department can help it. Simon is (re)introduced to the youthful nightmare of cycle safety lessons in a school playground by former traffic officer Glenda Donnell, who chides Simon on the importance of bells, the danger of skirts in the workplace, and the importance of chimpanzees to traffic safety in New Zealand. It was the 70s once.

Suitably told off, Simon recaptures his cool with the Moonshine Bike Gang on a rally around the Wellington waterfront. A bunch of hopped up rebels, peddling low-slung dragsters, the ‘gang’ specialises in beer, sausages and bikes so low-slung their bums are draggin’ on the ground. Simon is patched-up, before escaping to the hills. He finds the godfather of BMX, Rex Harris, in the paddock where the first-ever nationals were held. Then he meets Gilbert Wortman (who won said first-ever nationals) then finds a law breaking octogenarian Grant Preston-Thomas who has stayed alive by building secret mountain bike tracks through Wellington’s rugged bush.

All this hard work makes a man hungry. And thirsty! On the way past a Kapiti Coast brewery, beer connoisseur Jessica Venning-Bryan helps Simon rediscover the ‘radler’ – a fancy German word for shandy, and also for ‘cyclist’ – which was invented by an unscrupulous Bavarian. And to top it all of, Simon mixes margaritas and guacamole in another garage, with bike-blender David Stuart. It all goes to show, cycling never ceases to be cool. Unless it rains.