Our foodbags bulged, our batteries were charged and we each had an A4 sheet of trail notes folded into our stem bags.

Our tyres were pumped. And so were we.

It was Tuesday, August 17. You know…the eve of our latest lockdown.


Talk about feeling deflated.

It’s been 10 days since Jacinda and Ashley cancelled our bikepacking holiday and I’ve only just taken the bags off my bike. They’re still packed, although we’ve just raided them for instant soup. We removed the camembert 5 days ago. It was perfect.

Since we wisely got sent in to Level 4, the only trips we’ve been doing, like most of New Zealand, have been for walks or rides around the locale. There has been quite a bit of virtual adventuring on Netflix and YouTube but we were getting itchy feet. Things changed a few days ago.

“How about we go for a real adventure?” I suggested to Fiona as she turned the lights off in her workshop. She didn’t say no, but was doubtful.

“We’ll go for a ride around the hood, but will take turns deciding which way we go at every intersection.”

“Like follow the leader?” She was sold. 

“Yeah…but the leader gets deposed every 50 metres or so.” 

We’re kind of over The Chase and the six o’clock news, so it didn’t take us long to prepare.

Within minutes we’d put on our helmets, gloves, lights and the brand new Ground Effect Baked Alaskas we’d bought specially for our big trip. We were out to have some fun!

In a nutshell, these are the rules we set:

  • Stick within the bounds of the current lockdown’s exercise guidelines
    (I’m not going to tell you what those guidelines are – you’re grown up enough to figure them out and figuring them out is half the fun).
  • Trust the person or people who you share your bubble with to keep you safe.
  • Wear a face mask. This adds to the excitement because it’s quite hard to breath. Consider it a poor person’s altitude training.
  • If you’re riding, decisions don’t need to be made if you’re following the natural flow of the street you’re on, however if it’s your turn, you can choose to take any corner that presents itself. Once you’ve made a choice it’s the other person’s turn.
  • If you’re walking, these same rules can simply be applied to any corner.

The adventure is that you won’t know where you’re going to end up, nor how you’re going to get there. You’re also going to have to be able to trust the person you’re on the micro-adventure with to not-get-you-arrested. The tension this creates is a little similar to the tension you get when you’re belayed up to someone on an icy mountain…but not really.

As lockdown rules change your micro-adventure can widen.

Our first round of Follow the Leader ended at the supermarket, but not before Fiona led us around a circular street more than once. It ended when a cop pulled up beside us. When she got out of the patrol car she locked with a loud BLEEP. I just about fell off my bike – was she going to arrest us? Had we gone too far?

She went across the road and home for tea. She even waved.

On another occasion we’d stopped for a photo (bloody tourists!) when a cop who was keeping an eye on the park we were crossing rolled up in his patrol car.

“All good?”

“Yeah. Just taking photos!”*

“All good…” He waved and did another circuit of the park.

We got home from our first lockdown adventure an hour and a half later. We’re pretty sure we didn’t break any rules, although I reckon Fiona pushed it with the circle. We were warm, hungry…and strangely satisfied.

It’s not much I know. But it beats the hell out of doomscrolling on the couch.


* it was dark and the photos were taken on a cellphone – you’re just going to have to imagine the awe-inspiring scenery.