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Level 4 Burbing

31 August 2021

Words and Photos: Emma Bateup

Last Tuesday, like many Kiwis, I arrived home to hear on the news that Covid-19 Delta had turned up in Auckland. We were to batten down the hatches for a short, sharp lockdown at midnight. With an assignment looming and exams to study for, I had plenty to keep me occupied. I dutifully spent the first couple of days chugging away on my essay - it’s still not finished btw - but I was in serious need of some pedall time to clear the fug clouding my brain. So, distracted, I started scheming a mini-mission.

All missions start with a plan 

Level 4 allows for appropriate local exercise. Local = within 5km of home. Appropriate = low danger - so cycling the tarmac all good, hucking gaps less so.  The most popular option last lockdown was to climb the height of Everest on a local hill. I did a Mtb Everest earlier in the year, so was keen to try something fresh.

An idea popped back into my head that I’d previously only briefly considered - to ride all the roads within my 5km 'local' area (I've since discovered this to be a variation on "burbing'). I found a website that displayed a 5km radius from home and was astonished at just how much road that encircles - about 300km by my estimation. Two 150km days seemed like a realistic time frame.

Masked up and ready to go 

Friday was originally signalled to be the last day of level 4, but I was fairly certain it would be more protracted than that. With this in mind, I hatched a bit of a game plan for a relaxed 6am kick off - start on the motorway while traffic was sparse, work my way back through Stoke to home for lunch, and then wing it from there. I committed the first 'stage' to memory so could attack with no navigation stops. Once I moved further away it would require frequent pauses to figure out the most efficient route to tick off each road without too many unnecessary repeats. Nav is not my strongest point so fingers crossed I'd get to the end before the end of the year!

Sticking to level 4 rules 

Street stuff 

With lots of snack and map stops I wrapped up the Stoke area by early afternoon, perfect timing for lunch at home. Refuelled, I headed back out and rode some of the Port Hills and Tahuna Roads before stopping to check in on the daily Covid update - as predicted we would be in level 4 for at least a few more days. I returned to a delicious fish curry made by my flatmate and a firm intention to ignore my essay that evening.

Day One: 180.27km, 2137m climbing.

Day one, tick 

I treated myself to a day-two sleep-in and set off at 7am. I elected to put away most of the hill work in the first session. This made for a slow start and lots of thinking about route choice. After all of those cul-de-sacs and double backs,  I’ve become much better at turning right. I saw a lot of people out exercising and others working their gardens. I was greeted with more than the occasional perplexed look when they saw me multiple times, followed by lots of waves, smiles and socially-distanced good vibes.

Made it on to the flat for a bit and worked my way towards a Night & Day to collect supplies. Found myself eating jelly for the first time in many years - might have to make it a regular as it went down a treat. The friendship of some cheeky seagulls bordered on harassment as they stalked  my chips.

Lunch - local dairy style 

Re-discovering jelly-to-go 

Resident hot chip thief 

Back on the bike I ventured out to the furthest streets, which I rode while dot watching my phone to ensure I turned around exactly at the 5km perimeter. A couple more hills and a bit on the flat around town put me on the final stretch for home via a short grunty climb up to a new subdivision.

Urban views 

Got home to learn that my flatmate had just shot out for a ride to the beach - any excuse for an ice cream. I turned around and tried to catch her - no luck there but I got my ice cream so was a happy girl.

Post mission rewards 

Day Two: 130.20km, 2371m climbing.
Total: 310.47km, 4508m climbing.

What now? Should probably finish that essay.

Day 1 squiggles

Day 2 wiggles