On a sweltering Saturday in February, outside Gap Filler’s RAD Bikes on Cashel St, a healthy crowd bore witness to the Inaugural RAD Cargo Bike Race. Organisers Dan Nielsen, Nic Sewell and Richard Sewell did a fantastic job, drawing big crowds and a large field which made the event competitive and fun. A surprising number of cargo bikes came out of the woodwork for the event, with competitors travelling from Wellington, Arrowtown, Christchurch and even Copenhagen. Though many were first time racers, there were a few cargo aficionados around, including cycle couriers, bike builders and the world champion cargo bike racer Angus Edmond (he was the one who came from Copenhagen).
The race itself was divided into four heats, with three cargo bike heats and one for bikes with trailers. The aim of the race was to load up a bike with beer kegs, cycle one central city lap, then load an old bike frame and a sack of gravel on also, before completing one more lap. All of the heats were very close, with the large crowd enjoying some frantic sprints to the line.
Bicycle courier JT from Energy Messengers was racing in his first cargo race, and said the transitions were the biggest challenge, especially as he has never had much demand to courier beer kegs or sacks of gravel before. Nic Sewell was also racing for the first time, and in fact riding a cargo bike for the first time. He found that the biggest challenge was actually staying upright, especially in the tricky gravel section. Despite these difficulties, all of the competitors I spoke to emphasised how much fun the race was.
It was also a day of firsts for the organisers. Dan Nielsen had never organised an event before, and he was delighted to see so many bikes and people. Rich Sewell was also pleased with how much support there was from the community. A number of volunteers lent their time and skills, and the bike community was also very enthusiastic. Sponsorship from Energy Messengers, Crank Cargo/Bicycle Junction, C4, Cassels, and 3 Boys was also much appreciated and essential for the event’s success.
Oh, and the winner was the world champion Angus Edmond.
Words by Olly Crawford-Ellis
Images by Anna Halliday and Dean Kozanic