“Surfing and cycling his way around the coastline of New Zealand, Spanish surfer/photographer Atila Madrona has so far cycled almost 7000km, surfed scores of different breaks, and made countless friends in a truly unique adventure.”
Mi amigo Michael Neilson, que conocí en Raglan surfeando, me hizo una entrevista para la revista de la universidad de Auckland llamada Te Waha Nui. Con Michael he pasado muy buenos ratos; sólo con él he ido a sitios curiosos en Auckland, situaciones divertidas y fiestas escondidas.
Como es periodista, siempre ha estado muy interesado por mi historia. Y aquí podéis ver lo que me preguntó y lo que han publicado:
Maybe you’ve whizzed by him on the side of the road, surfed with him out in the waves, or even laughed at him chasing his bike and trailer downstream after a river crossing gone wrong.
If you haven’t seen him already keep an eye out for a cycling Spanish surfer on a marathon journey around Aotearoa.
Atila Madrona, or Chino as he is commonly known, is a 26-year-old Spanish photographer cycling around the New Zealand coastline, exploring surf spots and embracing the Kiwi lifestyle.
“I have always wanted to do a year-long bike trip somewhere in the world where I can I combine all my passions – surfing, filming, and biking.
“I thought, where can I do this in one year, do the whole country? Surf places with few people? So I thought New Zealand.”
He teamed up with a range of sponsors to help fund the trip, and travels around on a custom-made bike and trailer set-up, carrying his surfboard, tent, and all he has lived on for the past seven months.
Most importantly in this social media age, Microsoft came to the party, loading him up with a few gadgets to document his trip via social media.
“Don’t follow this bike” (he loves irony), is his journey’s catchphrase, and along with weekly blog and videos updates, he is making a documentary of his entire trip, which will play in film festivals throughout Europe.
Cycling – a unique way to travel
He began his trip on 1 January this year in Dunedin, cycling through the Catlins and along the south coast before making his way up the entire west coast of the country.
The 16,000km Mr Madrona is hoping to cover in his 10-month journey is enough to make even an All Black’s legs hurt, but he says the experiences he is having more than make up for it.
“New Zealand is so beautiful, and when cycling you experience everything. Every kilometre is something different. The landscapes, the people, the wildlife.
“You can see, hear, feel, smell, touch and taste it all – it’s amazing. The way of interacting is much different, more intimate.”
One of Mr Madrona’s favourite stretches was between Te Anau and Queenstown, parked up here at the Mavora Lakes. He says cycling is a great way to travel, as every kilometre you experience something different.
Surfing some of New Zealand’s world-famous waves has been a focal point of Mr Madrona’s trip.
“I love it. It’s really pure, and the people are really nice and welcoming.
“But it’s a hardcore experience! You have to know the places, the conditions, befriend locals, sometimes ask the farmer’s permission, but that’s what makes it so special when you score good days.
“Surfing with few people, maybe just a few old locals who have surfed there for a long time. And the landscapes always blow me away.”
Mr Madrona says this is what it is all about: finding amazing waves with nobody around. “After a long day of cycling through the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, I arrived to a beach near Hokitika and found this perfect wave.”
Four seasons in one day
So far he has cycled almost 7,000km, and is making his way through the Coromandel after leaving Auckland last week.
Hailing from the Spanish Mediterranean city of Alicante, Mr Madrona could not be further from home.
Not only is his hometown on the exact opposite side of the world (give or take a few km), but it rains only a handful of times a year, slightly different to Auckland this winter.
“The amount of rain is killing me. I knew New Zealand was green and it rained, but it rains every day!”
He says the hardest parts of his trip have involved a classic Kiwi deluge of rain or two, with the infamously wet Haast Pass taking the cake.
“I can imagine in a car it would be beautiful, but on the bike it was cold, raining, and sandflies everywhere.
“Then before Port Waikato the bridge was closed because of the rain, and crossing the river my bike and trailer nearly got swept away.”
He says while those moments have been tough, especially when cycling alone and far from friends and family, it puts life in perspective and brings him back down to earth.
“You have a lot of time to think when you are cycling. It makes you realize just how lucky you are, to be doing what you are doing.”
Mr Madrona has been amazed at how Kiwis have taken him in and shown him their culture and way of life. One of his favorite experiences was with the Manuel family in Greymouth, who showed him a truly authentic Waitangi Day by taking him out on Lake Brunner in their waka and preparing a hangi.
Aside from the rain, lack of olive oil, and the price of tomatoes, Mr Madrona says he absolutely loves New Zealand.
He has camped amongst lush bush, on magical beaches, and on the banks of majestic rivers. Though whenever he rolls into a town or city he always has somewhere to stay.
“I met a Māori family in Greymouth who invited me into their home for the week of Waitangi Day.
“They took me to a lake nearby, where we had a hangi and went out on the waka. I was like, ‘OK, I am discovering the real New Zealand’. It was an incredible experience.”
“My home in Raglan,” says Mr Madrona, who spent a week there surfing the world-famous point breaks.
Cycling in New Zealand: a long way to go
Compared to Europe, Mr Madrona says New Zealand is a difficult place to be a cyclist.
“I had a couple of bad experiences with trucks nearly hitting me, especially at roundabouts. Some people have yelled at me, ‘Get off the road!’.”
He says it appears to be a cultural issue, with cycling more accepted in Europe, whereas here it is often seen as a sport, not a means of transport.
Though he is encouraged by initiatives to increase cycling, especially the Official New Zealand Code for Cyclists, from which he has the introduction taped to his front bag for motivation.
“They are doing some good things with cycle lanes but maybe they could focus on educating people more about biking and commuting.
“You are very few people in New Zealand at the moment, but as the population grows and everybody has a car there are going to be problems.”
“When I think about how lucky I am to do this trip I realise so many people have helped me out. Everyday people are doing things for me – places to stay, meals, showing me around their town, their city, their surf spots.
“Someday I’d like to repay all the kindness the people and the country have given to me. I’d like to say thank-you to everyone in New Zealand who has made this trip so special.”
Though he admits he finds a few things we do a little weird.
“Walking barefoot in supermarkets. It would be really rude, crazy to do that in Spain. And there are possums everywhere – some nights they were falling all over my tent, and then Porridge – I thought it was the worst food. Then I liked it, sometimes.”