The utterly wonderful AmyTaylor wrote perfectly about it here. The indomitably inimitable KathrynPhillips expounded powerfully on the theme here. I encourage you in the strongest terms to go and read those, and save yourself time, skip my missive.
I will however, regardless of my respect of those authors and their work, add my own endorsement to this eclectic and authentic group of people united by this small town and the cycling at its core. I have something to say about Community.
Over the last month I have been given many reasons to stop, marvel and be utterly grateful for the support that spontaneously occurs amongst the good people of this place. Part for proof, and part for posterity I will list some:
Yesterday I spent an hour in 8ºc rain (in summer kit) after I snapped a chain, and in a poorly judged miscommunication with my wife, I waved off the group and any help. It was a miserable 6km I had schlepped in sodden socks before the divine Russellvan Hyer arrived at Warp 9 in the family’s school run Odyssey, heater blasting, thick warm coat wrapped around me I was delivered home with best wishes. I shudder at the inconvenience that put upon his day. Yet, he would not hear of it.
Today I spent a very needed hour out in the wind with Amy (of above) - in fact wearing her $320 tights she insisted I take… Not enough that I wear her clothes, moreover she spent her afternoon coaching and counselling me. I am forever flummoxed at her and her wife’s generosity, aplomb and care. The best Aunties going.
Last weekend, after Kathryn’s (too, of above) merry band of hill repeaters had settled for 1,000m of climbing before 8am, Mme. L., Mlle. F., and I, all found ourselves at breakfast with them. Without any conscious agreement or even a request, they scoffed their breakfast swiftly so that hands would quickly be free to entertain Mlle. F., giving Mme. L. and I time to eat our own orders. I looked up from my eggs to see a cyclist I had met only that morning (Renee) and Adele (I quote: “I’ve never really held a baby”) making a magical pair of feeding and caring for my daughter.
Actually, I honestly wonder if I have a community daughter, as it is. There are constantly half a dozen offers to babysit open and Mlle. F. is always happy and excited to see all of the community folk.
My appreciation of this group and the care it fosters is deep and of numerous examples. I could go on, and on, and on with heartfelt expressions of thanks and love for the people around me and their acts of generosity… I really should. It’s not all cycling, my elderly neighbour’s son delivers me home kill farm meat when he visits in his archetypal sheep and beef block Hilux, I attempt to trade preserves and jams. Sometimes it’s just the infectious cackle of someone who could, in the circumstances, choose not to laugh. Really.
Whether it be within the supermarket, amongst the banter of the not very local bikeshop we frequent, at my own kitchen table, on the flanks Te Miro or Maungakawa, or heading in opposite directions in distinctive cars linked only by a wave, there is a palpable and powerful sense of belonging, welcome and care extended amongst this group of us, united by this town and our bikes.
Amy feels settled in it. Kathryn appreciates the support it gives her. I am filled to my gills in gratitude for the sense of belonging it offers me - and the tangible, practical and emotional support that provides. Community - go make one.