A cycle a day
For most people being taken off the road for a traffic offence can be a real pain. Shopping is a problem, getting to and from work needs adjusting in fact for those who are used to having a bike or a car life suddenly gets more complicated.
But when Rupert Steede was disqualified from driving for three months in 1986 the ban turned out to have a silver lining.
Mr Steede, now 81 years old, got on a push bike and has never looked back. Although he has been retired for a number of years now, Mr Steede can be seen every morning on his bike usually cycling to St George's from his North Shore home.
“I cycle rain, blow or shine,” he said.
“Getting taken off the road was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he added.
Before cycling he didn't do any exercise and also did not eat properly.
“In 1986 I got caught speeding and they fined me and banned me from driving for three months. At the time I was staying near Richardson's Restaurant (on North Shore). The day after I got banned from driving I went to Wilson's (cycle shop) and bought this bicycle and decided to ride to work.”
At the time the distance from his home to work in Hamilton was very short. “Two weeks later I decided to ride down to my sister's house at Radnor Road (near Shelly Bay). I remember I got to a hill and had to walk up it (with the bike). When I got to my sister's I remember that I could hardly breath. I was also smoking cigarettes at the time about half a pack a day.
“I slowly rode back to my house from my sister's and then after that I started riding a little bit further every day. Then I started riding more and more.”
He retired in 1995 but continued to work until 1999. “When I retired I got a bike as a present. I was 56 years old when I started riding and now I feel great. Before I started cycling I had done no exercise whatsoever.
“I now stay at Radnor Road and most days I cycle to Town Cut (in St George's) and then over and into St David's and then to Harrington Sound and cycle around there before heading home. I suppose I do between 20 and 25 miles every day. And then when I get home I do sit ups things like that. When I get off my bike I feel I have so much energy. That is something I cannot understand.”
Mr Steede starts his ride every morning between 8.30 and 9.00. “Going to St George's is better since all the traffic is going the other way and then when I turn around all the traffic is gone. It is nice and peaceful and riding around Harrington Sound is very pretty.”
When the weather is too bad especially the wind Mr Steede will often head to Hamilton. “In the winter when it is really windy the Causeway can be very tough. But I don't care about the rain or anything. I ride rain, blow or shine. Some people have said that I shouldn't ride in the rain but when you are riding you don't feel it.”
He now has two bikes which he alternates. “They are mountain road bikes old school.”
He also eats better than he did in his younger years. “I don't eat before I go out in the morning but have fruit and bran flakes later. I also eat a lot more fish and some chicken. My diet is better now. I like lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwiches as well.”
He added: “A lot of people see me riding in the morning and they all admire me old and young alike. A lot of the young guys say to me 'I want to be just like you when I get old!' There is no doubt about it going off the road was the best thing that ever happened to me.”