Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Friends who Cycle

Kate & Nic Part Two: Day Out in Auckland

by Tillie

Tillie & Coco are very pleased to present the second part of our guest post from Kate & Nic. (You can read Part One here.) 

Nic rides a Raleigh British Small Arms [BSA] bike from the 50’s called Nellie. She says, “I bought her off a Dutch guy here whose mum used to ride it. The rain jacket on the back denotes the constant showers in Auckland at this time of the year.  The pannier is from my previous old bike that I thought I would re-build but then discovered that patience is not my virtue, so gave the frame etc to Tim White [swoon] at TWhite’s bikes. So the pannier is foreign of sorts but so, so handy for carrying produce and all those essential necessities in lieu of a  back-pack (which unless worn as a feature is not very Frocks on Bikes culturesque).” 

A weekend in September 2011

 Nellie and I cruise down the hill to the Devonport wharf to catch the ferry into town. The knitted street art along the Devonport wharf handrail has grown in length thanks to all the overseas knitters who have sent the Knitty Graffity organiser some woollen inspiration for the Rugby World Cup. My favourite pieces are here.

 Elmo! Girly squeal. Picture taken here with one arm only. That is street art, one day it is there, the other it is not. Note for those concerned viewers, Elmo’s other arm has since been replaced.

 Dan Carter [the All Black’s legendary goal kicker and all-round clean-cut hottie pic for most chicks] or Dan the Man. Dan was also liberated for a while so now he has a little padlock to keep him around a bit longer. He was returned just in time for a good omen against the France game. French toast!

 View from the front of the 10 minute ferry ride over to Auckland’s city centre where my urban foraging began.

 Heading west out of the downtown ferry terminal and through the Viaduct [an entertainment area developed in 1999 – 2000 when Auckland held the Americas Cup Challenge and Team NZ defeated Italy’s Prada Challenger], the new Te Wero bridge which opens and closes to let large boats into the marina now provides a direct east-west connection to the newly regenerated Wynyard Quarter precinct, previously known as the Tank Farm from all the Golden Bay cement and gas silos in occupation.

 Jellicoe Street, Wynyard Quarter – an authentic working harbour that now boasts as a new destination for Aucklanders and visitors.

Trams are also back in Auckland after a 60-odd year hiatus. Must remember to ride perpendicular over the tracks Nic, just like in Melbourne. Doh, raining again. As Jan Gehl, legendary Danish architect and urbanist says, “there is no such thing as bad whether, just bad clothing” so suck it up.

After this relatively flat cruise, some strong thigh-work is in order to hike up Franklin Road to reach the Ponsonby/Richmond Road ridgeline. Here the sun is now out again and with a 40-minute window until Velociteers practice, my blood cells are telling me that some well-crafted caffeine from my favourite deli in West Lynn would make them really happy. Irrésistible!

Now peckish, I head down to the Grey Lynn Farmers Market for some fresh fare to keep me going. A quick hi to Pippa who has her cycle box full of organic goodies and it is time to head back to Richmond Road Primary school for..

Velociteers’ practice. We formed last year for the Art in the Dark festival and are now back for our second year with new moves, some new members and most excitingly – new costumes. Three practices this week to perfect our synchronicity in the lead up to our performance for Moving Earth day next weekend. http://www.facebook.com/#!/velociteers, then the week after at http://greylynncreates.co.nz/

Flying back town the hill I just make the ferry back to Devonport and am met with some more inspiration on the now tactile handrail. Dream Big. That is for sure.

Thanks for sharing my day in Auckland. Love from Nic & Nellie


Kate & Nic Part One: Day Out

by Tillie

Tillie and Coco are delighted to present a two-part special guest post from Kate and Nic. Kate lives in London and Nic in Auckland. They met at whilst studying for their bachelors in town planning, and both work in the profession on opposite sides of the globe – Kate in transport and Nic in urban design. Part One is Kate to Nic.

Kate rides an Electra Amsterdam. She says, “I chose it because I already have an Electra and really like the riding style.  I’ve had the Electra townie in raspberry for 7 years and its starting to rattle a bit.  I took the opportunity to upgrade to an even brighter, more lovely Electra.  I don’t have a name for it yet as I’ve only had it a month and am not sure yet what its name is, I quite like its model name, Tulip, as it is such a pretty tulip yellow.  I love the fact that people constantly want to talk to me because of it- it’s better than babies or puppies as a conversation starter!  It’s very practical with the built-in lights, skirt guard and the luggage rack, which is a nice change to the Electra townie where I ended up loading so much on the handle bars that the bike dipped to the left a bit.  And it’s a true cruiser, hard to get much speed up so it really gets me to relax and take things slowly.”

Hi Nic,

On Saturday the bf and I decided to make the most of the lovely weather, because lets face it we don’t get that much of it in London, and take the bikes out for a spin. We headed out from our place in Queens Park, and down the leafy streets of Maida Vale. We have a good route now where we can avoid a lot of the worst traffic, although the bf prefers to take the main roads when he’s not encumbered by me. I love the red brick mansions that line the streets near Little Venice, not far from where you used to live. Perhaps if we won lotto we could move in there! Seeing as the weather was so lovely we decided to take a detour and have a ride through Regents Park. It’s so pretty there at the moment with loads of lush blooms and the leaves just starting to turn.

By this time we were starting to get a bit hungry so decided to stop off at Kaffiene on Great Titchfield Street. There are a lot of kiwi accents in there so I presume there is some kind of Antipodean link. We had ourselves some gorgeous flat whites, which we are starting to find more and more of as the Australian and New Zealand cafes infiltrate London. When I first moved here, eight years ago (gasp!), good flat whites were fairly thin on the ground. We shared a delicious fig and goat cheese salad and a quiche. I say shared, but really I spent so long faffing with the camera that he managed to get a bit of a head start. I made sure I snapped a picture of Kaffiene for you as I left. So cute seeing people perched outside sipping their coffees. I had to stop on Argyll Street so took a picture of the mighty Liberty Department store, only my favourite department store in London.

We rode through Soho, dodging crazy pedestrians, and stopped on Archer Street to shelter from a rain storm. Well, it also happened to be a convenient place to get a gelato from Gelupo so it wasn’t quite a ‘chance’ stop. The bf had a very tasty clementine sorbet, whilst I splurged on ricotta, chocolate and black pepper which was a surprisingly good combination. On the way home we stopped at Waitrose for some dinner provisions. I got a postmodern London shot for you, cannily incorporating a London bus and a London taxi. It was a fab day of cycling and eating, with a well earnt rest on the sofa at the end. I hope you’ve had some lovely rides recently.

Friends who Cycle: Tess

by tillieandcoco

Tillie & Coco are delighted to welcome a guest post from Tess, who recently moved to Canberra with her lovely bicycle.

Does your bike have a name?
Why yes she does, it’s Ruby, Ruby Rose. Not named after the celebrity lipstick lesbian, but because I named her Ruby when I saw her online, and then in person I discovered she had a “tattoo” on her frame that said “Rose”, but she’s red, not pink, so Ruby had to stay.

Bell or horn?
Ruby came with a little bell, but I’m looking to upgrade her to an old-school bell.

Basket or pannier?
Ruby has a wire basket attached at the front, with a wicker basket that you can fit into that. She also has a rear rack, a pannier might come later.

Where do you cycle?
Since I don’t have a car, I cycle to loads of places: the supermarket, work, to a high tea and back the other day. Canberra is getting a bit chilly now, so cycling is getting a little tough with the wind chill factor, but if I can cycle in winter in the Netherlands (and I have), surely I can kick it in Canberra.

What is your favourite pose when stopped at lights?
Left leg up and right on the ground, trying not to fall off.

When and why did you start cycling?
I was moving to Canberra and thought I would need some wheels and since Canberra is so flat, everyone had talked about cycling. Of course I cycled as a kid, but that was a while ago.

Tell us about cycling in Canberra
On first arrival Canberra seems at once cycle friendly – there are obvious cycle ways all over the place, well-publicised cycle maps, and most interestingly, buses with a bike rack on the front.

One day I decided to go on a big adventure to Waramanga, which is about 20 kilometers from my house, for a bird sale to buy a new finch for my bird cage. I’d never been there, but on the basis of the bus route map and the bike route map I figured I could  get the bus out to Woden and then cycle to Waramanga, and get the bus home from there.

I got to the bus and the first challenge was figuring out how to put Ruby on the bike rack. There are some fairly self-explanatory instructions on the rack, but with the driver and a bus load of people watching I was just stumbling around trying to do it as quickly as I could, but not doing very well. The bus driver eventually got down to help: you push the bar down, fold the rack out, put the bike on in a certain direction and then pull a spring loaded clamp like thing over one wheel to hold it in place. Once Ruby was on the rack we were off. Getting Ruby off the rack is much easier now I that I know how it works a bit better!

The ride from Woden to Waramanga was really nice. It’s a pretty suburban area with some pockets of bushland, juxtaposed with a massive highway running down the middle. There are bike paths most of the way along the highway, but in parts I was riding next to the traffic (not as scary as it looked) and the road was very flat. Then I had to turn off into a reserve and cut across to get to the bird sale. Although there are some moments of steep hills that in my state of fitness require me to jump off and walk, it is really nice to ride through some Aussie bushland.

I bought my new bird, and then debated whether to ride back to Woden with the bird in the basket or wait for a bus on a Sunday. I opted for the ride option, and cycled most of the way back via the highway, so it was less bumpy for Akoko, my recently purchased cordon blue finch. We made it back to Woden and when the bus came I thought that it would be much easier to load Ruby on the bike rack, but of course now I have a bird in a box to handle too. Needless to say the driver had to help again, but we got the bus all the way home and I introduced Akoko to Winnie. A good cycle trip all in all.

There are a few things that Canberra hasn’t done very well for cyclists. A lot of the cycle ways are on major roads, which is a little intimidating most of the time. The street lights are shocking, so you have to stick to major roads at night, or risk riding into some unseen pothole or dog. Then of course there is the bogan element of Canberra. I’ve already had people yell abuse at me while I’m riding, and I have heard reports of cyclists being slapped on the butt from a moving car as they drove past. I suppose all cities have their pros and cons, even when it comes to cycling. I am really looking forward to a proper cycle around the lake, so I’ll let you know how that goes if I can brave the Autumn chill.

Friends Who Cylce: Imke

by tillieandcoco

Tillie & Coco are delighted to present a special guest post from Imke in Holland about winter cycling. Imke is studying at the world’s only university dedicated to museum studies in Amsterdam. She is shortly moving to London to complete a second UK internship. 

Dear Tillie & Coco,

Although the snow is already long gone, I am finally getting around to writing a blog post for you (on Tillie’s invitation, thanks – I’m honored!) about The Netherlands, snow and most importantly, cycling.

When the first snow fell around here, I claimed to love snow cycling. This was back when almost all the cycling lanes were clear of snow and the streets weren’t shiny and glittery yet because of slipperiness – it was actually fun to be cycling around town with a lovely white view of snow-covered bushes, trees and parks.

Occasionally I had to go through crackling snow, but I just thought that was fun (I like the sounds of crackling snow). These loving thoughts about snow cycling lasted until the second week of snow.

Then, the snow just kept on coming, which resulted in messy cycle lanes with mud-like snow which was harder to get through. It seemed like the streets and cycle lanes would never be properly clean again and the snow would just stick around. The problem here is that you can never trust whether your route to work or school will be clean from snow. By taking your cycle, you immediately challenge yourself, because the cleaning of cycle lanes and other roads seems to be done totally randomly. You’ll be cycling on this nice clean cycle lane one moment, and the next you will be struggling your way through a slippery road. And the worst thing is that it seems to change by the day. One day I think I have found a really nice snow-free lane that will take me all the way to work, but the next day it will be covered in snowy mess.

The worst is, of course, when everything gets slippery and you basically end up walking about 50% of your journey with your cycle in hand, just so you won’t fall on the slippery streets. I think everyone falls off their bike in the Netherlands at least once a winter. The main conversation topic at work was where bruises from your most recent fall off the bike were. Luckily, I only fell off once this year, without bruises (yay!), but it did cause my chain to detach and I had no way to fix it quickly myself because of my enclosed chain-guard (yay for my dad, who fixed it!).

Cycling around Holland is inevitable – even during winter and snow – and I would love to have clean cycling lanes, roads and nice tours around idealistic looking snow-covered places, with no fear of falling off or being surprised to find my usual cycle lane all covered in snow. I would like to be able to enjoy the short sections of crackling snow while I am cycling along on a nice, sunny winter’s day. Cycling in winter times should simply be as beautiful as that – all of the fun, none of the trouble.


P.S. Every morning my bike looked like a little snowman-bike, because I don’t keep it in the shed. Although every morning I thought ‘this will look good in a picture’, I never actually photographed it.