Meet Chris Winwood: Groovy dude and sweet cyclist!

Welcome to the long-overdue part 2 of my series investigating local Wellingtonian musical scene-celebrities who ride bikes. As I mentioned previously, Wellington is full of amazing people doing all sorts of cool stuff.   Chris Winwood is one of them who also happens to be a cyclist and generously accepted my request for details regarding his bicycling lifestyle.

If you have been to the Southern Cross lately you may recognise Chris as being the frontman of Wellington’s 12-piece funk extravaganza Newtown Rocksteady.



That’s Chris getting the crowd to raise the roof at a recent gig. His mellifluous voice is featured in a few other Wellington acts, including Roy G & the BIVinators.  By day Chris is an architect and can also occasionally be seen outside the Newtown market canvassing for signatures to stop asset sales.  Basically, he’s a totally awesome groovy dude.

This is what Chris says about himself and cycling:

Firstly is general background info – where are you from? Have you lived anywhere besides Wellington?

Born in Auckland, raised in Nelson, half-baked in Wellington……..I have lived in Berkeley while on exchange from university, lived and worked for an architect in Genoa, Italy and Groningen, Netherlands (the city with the highest bicycle usage in europe- over 50%! – you can image in the bike jams!).

Chris participating in San Francisco’s critical mass in 2012

How and when did you first get interested in cycling?

My family has always been pretty keen on bikes. My first bicycle memory is learning to ride on top of a water reservoir in Auckland – just stay away from the edge! Since then I have always had a bike, from delivering papers on the first bike I bought – an Avanti Montari (still goes) to the ‘Tour de school’ – a daily bike race (complete with drafting – not enough for a peleton though) with my neighbours to our intermediate school on the other side of Nelson. It seemed like miles and miles back then but I’m pretty sure it’s about a 2 minute ride….My dad has always been into riding and getting us involved, starting with road rides on family holidays through to mountain biking – even introducing former NZ champion Tim Vincent to the sport (his main claim to fame). My brothers are MTB addicts too (mostly downhill) so I have always been around bikes and riding.

Why do you ride a bike?

Now it’s mostly about commuting – beating the cross-town traffic on my way to work on the hill in Khandallah with the odd ride in Makara/Brooklyn thrown in on the weekend. Whenever I am home in Nelson I end up riding down/off things I never thought I could or should have with my bros – the things you can do with full suspension………

What’s your all-time favourite bike ride?

Hard to say – definitely something off-road, single track, flowing, nicely bermed corners, not too many drops……Makara, Rotorua, Nelson all have good convenient trails.

What kind of bike do you normally ride?

Round town I ride an ol’ Italian Stallion called a Viaggio – though I am not certain if that is the original make. It’s so much smoother and more enjoyable than riding my mountain bike to work! although it is nice to take a detour over Mt Vic or Mt Kaukau on the way home some days after work.

How do you think cycling infrastructure could be improved in Wellington?

A hell of a lot! Cycling needs to be recognised and treated as a separate category from vehicles (and pedestrians) for obvious reasons. Sharing with buses is OK but not ideal due to the overtaking issues. Dedicated cycling lanes with separation from vehicles (lose some carparks if you have to WCC) need to happen along key routes at least.  Adelaide Rd is one which has been done up recently without consideration for cycle lanes. Some green paint with a bike symbol does not count for anything – cars still drive on it – do you see cars driving on the footpath!? right….

I reckon it’s like that wise guy said on Waynes World 2 – if you book them – they will come (alright!). If you invest in some decent infrastructure – not half arsed bullshit like the ‘cycle lane’/gauntlet) that is the old Hutt rd footpath – more people will enjoy riding – and maybe one day there will be more people riding than driving and the cars will have to wear the hi-vis and helmets…….Party on Wayne!




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