Life in the Bike Lane: Colin Stokes

Life in the Bike Lane, brought to you by Bike Waikato, showcases how bikes fit into the everyday lives of people in the Waikato.

“It’s a smell the roses kind of thing.”

Colin Stokes is a father of three, nature lover and a regular bike rider. He works as a Wastewater Engineer for WSP. In Colin’s line of work he “deals with the stuff you just don’t think about”. When cycling, he takes this ‘off the beaten track’ attribute with him.

A socially distanced photo of Colin and his Marlin 6. Photo: Supplied

Since the age of 18 Colin has been riding to work. He’s 51 now. His current commute from Hillcrest to WSP is a 13-kilometre round trip. He joked, “It’s enough to keep my fitness up and the doctors happy.” 

Colin enjoys the convenience of cycling and not having to find a car park. He rides a Trek Marlin 6. It is mostly used on asphalt, but he appreciates the versatility and the size of its 29” tyres, saying “I love it, it’s the only bike that has actually fitted me properly.”

Colin described his cycling as “a smell the roses kind of thing.” The scenery and fresh air of it is his reprieve from his time spent in the office. In 2010 when living in Taupō, he rode along Lake Terrace daily as part of his commute to work. One day he stopped and thought “man, this is such a cool location. I’m so lucky, I’m going to start taking photos of this.” He then proceeded to take a photo of the lake at the same spot, every day for the rest of the year.

The following year, Colin took photos for every calendar day he had missed the first time. Completing what he calls “a flavourful way to view lake Taupō.” A video collage of Colin’s 365 photos can be found here

For his next adventure, Colin plans on chipping off parts of the Te Araroa Trail. Completing it in segments over multiple years. It is New Zealand’s longest trail, starting in Cape Reinga and ending in Bluff.

Colin has become a “subconsciously cautious” rider, finding driver behaviour to be a challenging aspect of the activity. Following two incidents involving car doors and many other near misses, he now regularly wonders whether or not cars have seen him before biking past. Despite his concerns, Colin said “I love my cycling, it’s not going to stop me.”

Colin advises new riders not to skimp when purchasing a bike, suggesting they get a bike that is comfortable and set up right for them. He also suggests getting knobby tyres because of their increased resistance to punctures. More importantly, Colin says to “Just enjoy it, it’s such a fun thing to do… Look around you. Slowdown, take in the scenery.”

Words by Benjamin Wilson.

Benjamin is a Hamilton based photographer, chef, and journalism student. As well as being an avid environmentalist and cyclist. He believes firmly that cycling has a big part to play in the future of transport.

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