Whoopee it's Spring: 2 days of epic Cokering

Just finished an epic weekend of Cokering. My aim was to do 70km over each day. If you just want to see some pics, which takes you on a visual tour of Wellington, check out my gallery:
Wellington Coker Tour


It was a beautiful Spring day. I hopped out of bed- scared myself in the mirror, and then decide that I probably should get out for a ride. At least the hair will be under a helmet. I had promised Andy Cotter that this weekend would be my registration ride for the Alps unitour. In order to participate in the tour, riders have to do a 70km ride on two consecutive days before registering.

Well, being totally disorganised- I had not planned any particular route. Might as well do a tour of my home town- nothing beats Wellington on a good day. I headed into the crisp Spring afternoon with nothing but a 2L Camelbak, $5, a bank card, a camera, cellphone, some tools and my trusty Diet Coker.

This was the first decent ride on my new Diet Coker. It was converted to a tubeless system, using Stans no-tubes kit, by Blair (the chief wrench at my LBS) last week. I would have done it myself, but nothing short of gorilla fingers are required to position a Coker tyre back on the rim. Which is probably why Blair is always grumpy after working on my Coker.

Anyway, first impressions were good- the Coker Wheel accelerated and decelerated like a racecar. I was pulling tighter corners with minimum effort. Whoopee! It was going to be a fun day.

First up was Old Coach Road- an old farm track about 1km from my house. The challenge was to avoid steaming blobs of cowdung as I descended into Ohariu Valley. It must be lambing season, I thought, as I chase several baby lamb down the trail. I got off the unicycle as I pass the horseback riders.
“How do you ride that thing- it’s huge!”
“Not as huge as that skittish creature you’re sitting on”
Apparently horses are happy riding along the road with cars, but terrified of anything on one wheel.

Into Ohariu Valley- my favourite ride. This back road takes you all the way to Makara Beach. I am surrounded on both sides of the valley by green pastures, pretty yellow weeds (Gorse actually- the scourge of farmers everywhere). The farm animals stare at me with a befuddled expression as I cycle past. It was starting to warm up. I appreciate the crisp breeze as I spin through the valley, following a sparkling stream all the way.

As I turn off toward the beach, I see a road heading up Quartz hill. Oh well, time to test my climbing legs. It was a 15min grunt up a very steep hill. From the top you could see all along the valley road and across the ocean. It was windy at the top. So windy, if fact, that they plan to build a wind farm up here. The locals hate the idea- save Quartz hill signs are up everywhere. The idea is that it looks stupid and will spoil the environment. Hmmmm….maybe they should build a coal/gas power station here instead? Or dam up one of our rivers. No one lives here…

I race back down the hill and turn into Makara Beach. If “beach” conjures up images of glistening golden sand, scantily clad people roasting themselves- then this is not it. Makara Beach is a pile of black rock hacked out by wind and waves on a deserted part of the coast, 17km from the closest town. On this weekend- it was teeming with people, probably 20-30. Too crowded for my liking- during the week I have the beach to myself. I climb the cliff overlooking the Pacific- it was my favourite place in the world.

With my energy levels dwindling- I purchased two giant cookies at the Stoney Beach Café. It was rough. You can’t get more homemade than this- as I crunched through blobs of unmelted sugar.

Turning out from the coast- I am passed by a couple of road cyclists. I tried my best to keep up, but alas, 125mm cranks were too long and choppy for me to stay with them for long.
“Are you doing the Day/Night thriller (12hr MTB race) next week?”
“Seeya there”

I turn up to the major climb of the day- Karori Hill. I was glad of the tubeless conversion, and my stiff Carbon seat- as this is one grunty hill. Ok- it is only 400m or so high, but from near sea level to the top in a few km’s- it takes some effort. I reach the top, take in the views, then descend into Karori- civilisation at last! Karori is the biggest and oldest suburb in Wellington, and boasts one of the best mountainbike parks in the country. I’m greeted by dozens of mountainbikers as I speed through the main road.

Time for another hill- this time, Wrights Hill, Karori. It was the toughest climb of the day. It comes close in difficulty to riding up Signal Hill, Dunedin (which has the steepest street in the world going down the side of it). I made it about half way up without stopping before my legs turned to jelly and I crumpled into a heap.

At the top of Wrights Hill- I bump into a mountainbiker named Struan. Turns out he is one of the doctors at the hospital I work at.
“You’re crazy!”
I had no comeback to that line- he was training to be a psychiatrist.

From the top of Wrights Hill I rode across the infamous roller coaster MTB track. Unfortunately the effect is lost on a unicycle, unless you’re able to rev your unicycle to 30-40km/h.

I descend the Roller Coaster into Brooklyn, and then wind through the old Aro Valley streets with houses perched precariously on the side of the hill. The descent into Wellington City was fun- especially after all that climbing. I cycle through the middle of town and up Mt Victoria. Not a huge climb, but great views of Wellington. Then it was across town and up the hill back home to Johnsonville.

This was one of the hardest rides I’ve done recently. Total distance was about 80km, total time 6hrs 45min, total riding time- less than that (I kept stopping to take pictures). Amount of climbing is around the 700-1000m. I have to do something similar tomorrow!

If you want to see my gallery, it’s a nice visual tour of Wellington:
Wellington Coker Tour

Sunday Funday:

I had to do another 70km ride today, but again had not planned a particular route. I have been wanting to follow the Hutt River trail for a wee while, so this was my perfect excuse. The Hutt River trail is gravely track following one of the major rivers in Wellington. Not exactly hilly but it was a chance to test the tubeless tyre on gravel. My ride nearly ends at the start as I came close to rubbing myself into the dirt. After letting most of the air out of the tyre, it hummed along the gravel like a hovercraft. That’s more like it!

It was another beautiful day. My pockets were stuffed full of bananas and apple and cinnamon rollups (yum!). There were plenty of people about, walking their dogs, walking their kids, walking themselves, etc. I race a guy on a wheelchair as we headed past Stokes Valley. He was fast but no match for the Diet Coker.

After meandering along the river for 40km or so, I got lost. How do you get lost when there is a river running beside you? I don’t know but I did so anyway. It took me a wee while to get back across the river at the turnaround point of my ride.

As I head back downriver, I exhausted my supply of rollups and bananas. Feeling the onset of the bonk as I approach Lower Hutt- I stopped by for some refueling at the the service station for a cheesy meat pie and a soggy muffin….MMmmmm.

Only a few kms to go- I am nearly home when…
“Can I take your photo? I’m a reporter”
Ok- so I get my photo taken for the second time in a week for a local newspaper. How many local papers are there? It turns out that this off-duty reporter, who was walking along the Hutt River trail with his wife, hails from Minnesota, USA.
“My Son unicycles too”
Hmm…you guys come from the Twin Cities after all.

I finish the ride in about 6hrs, 80km, with only about 100m of climbing. Not a lot, but there was a lot of gravel riding, so the legs were hurting a bit.

I proved to myself that you don’t need to travel long distances to do a Coker tour- this was as good as any distance ride I’ve done.

Fantastic pics! I don’t know whether it will have a bigger impact on NZ tourism or Coker sales!! Thanks for such a great story along with those pictures, too…great read. Making me wish we weren’t facing the end of summer and the onset of winter!

Ken, great story and pics! Looks like a lot of fun. The first great ride of spring is magic, eh? What’s the total weight of your Diet Coker now? Sounds very interesting… My plans for dieting include eliminating the Wilder rails bracket and lightening the seat.

Anyway, here’s to Switzerland next summer (plus a ton of fun training rides between now and then!) We just ordered Beau’s new Hunter36 so he’ll have a decent ride with brakes for the tour.


Nice pics. I especially liked the through the spokes shots. Very nice way to incorpaorate the uni in the phots, which I noticed you strive to do often.

As spring comes to life for you, I am enjoying the settling in of the fall. Very comfortable riding temps and the changing of the leaves is coming soon. Big downside is the shorter evenings. (come on unidaddy, you’re jumping from summer right into winter. Fall is beautiful weather in western PA! Lecture over.) :smiley:


Thanks guys,

Yeah- it was one of the best rides I’ve done in a while. The weather was great- crisp so you had to keep up a good pace to keep warm, yet it never got uncomfortably hot. It was nice to finally get out after reading about summer riding in the Northern Hemisphere! Not that I’ve been off my Coker during winter- it’s just nicer in Spring. If anyone’s keen on doing a NZ Unitour I’d love to show you around.

Nathan, I will probably start a new thread on the Tubeless Coker conversion. As for the weight- it doesn’t change that much- but it’s about 200g less of rotating weight, so you do notice it.


okay, fair enough with the dark winter outlook…I haven’t had the uni talking to me like this in 26 years! It’ll be fun on Tuesday. I noticed on the family bike ride this morning that the leaves are starting to change and it’s looking and smelling beautiful out there. Can’t wait to get out there. Hope my Schwinn bearing holds out.


Do you head out of the country with your Coker? If so how to you transport it? I have a travel hybrid bike with S&S couplings that fits in a case that squeaks in under the FAA requirements for standard size luggage…is there any way to fit a Coker into a case for putting under a plane? There’s a possibility that I’ll be getting into NZ and Australia in '07…a long way off, but worth thinking about in terms of getting the uni along with me. Any suggestions? Thanks



Yeah, travelling with a Coker can be challenging. I made a bag up early this year which has been really useful. If you click on my link to the Cambodia photos down below)- photo number 1- it’s the big blue bag at the centre.

The bag is made of ripstop vinyl- the same sort of stuff that they use for boat/truck coverings. I had it made up by a canvas workshop for NZ$80. That’s about $45-50 US.

Basically it’s a square bag with a handle and some heavy duty zips. So far it has travelled to Vietnam/Cambodia, dragged across dirt, and travelled to Tokyo (for UNICON) and Australia. It’s pretty tough material-only a couple of small tears so far.

It also seems to protect the Coker reasonably well- but you do need to line it with cardboard (or better still, corrugated plastic), but the advantage of the bag over a hard suitcase is that you can throw away the cardboard and fold it to a small package when travelling. The Coker in it’s bag also fits through X-ray machines at Airports.

As a bonus I’ve not been charged the bike fee for my last two trips. Just got to tell them that (ahem), it’s circus equipment.

Hope that helps. I can post a bigger pic if you like- when I get back to my home computer.


I take my Coker on plane flights by sticking the frame, seat and other hardware in my backpack and carrying just the wheel in a round bag my wife made that is just the size of the wheel. It has a zipper around half of it, and a couple of handles. I put padding of some sort on each side for extra protection. Packed like this, it checks in normally with all the other luggage. We’re taking 3 of them to Arizona that way in November. As Ken said, it is really great to have a bag that compresses down to nothing during the trip and is light and easy to transport. In contrast, packing the whole Coker into a bike box leaves you lugging around a huge unwieldy box plus your backpack - no fun through crowded airports, bus stations etc.


If you wouldn’t mind doing a mini-photo-documentary of this setup sometime, that would be super-valuable. What is the round bag made of? Normal heavy fabric, or something more industrial-strength?

Not sure if I’ll ever get overseas with my Coker, but I sure would like to take it a few places in the US I don’t care to drive to.


It’s 1000 weight Cordura. Not as thick as the stuff Roach uses, so it’s easy to sew, but still strong. Just last night we ordered materials to make two more bags (so all 3 of us can do remote Cokering) - I will post a photo or two of the bags soon.