Cy­cling science


When a self-pro­pelled, low-tech, slow torque tour of New Zealand ar­rives in Palmer­ston North, it will be some­thing of a home­com­ing for per­former, bik­ing and science en­thu­si­ast David Klein.

Fol­low­ing a break af­ter cy­cling his solo show Tour de Science 2500 kilo­me­tres around the South Is­land, Klein will be bik­ing into his home­town on Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 18 for a pre­sen­ta­tion at the fx2 the­atrette in Square Edge.

The for­mer pupil of Ter­race End School, Ross In­ter­me­di­ate and Queen El­iz­a­beth Col­lege, who now lives in Welling­ton, doesn’t drive. That makes the Tour de Science a long-dis­tance bi­cy­cle ride with Klein car­ry­ing his props, set and camp­ing gear aboard a long­tail cargo cy­cle.

‘‘It’s quite heavy, but it pro­vides more than enough stor­age for the stuff I use in the show and for camp­ing - which has been re­ally fun. It has a great range of gears, and has tack­led a lot of hills in the South Is­land.’’

Aboard this trusty per­son­pow­ered steed, Klein has been spending six to seven hours in the sad­dle to av­er­age 70 kilo­me­tres a day dur­ing his sto­ry­telling tour.

‘‘Some days I did 120 to 130 kilo­me­tres, but that was a push. It’s such a big heavy bike and there were days I over­es­ti­mated what I could do.‘‘

Part au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal riff in­spired by his love for science, Tour de Science is ‘‘a tweaked and en­hanced’’ ver­sion of Klein’s 2015 show, To­ward a Bet­ter Un­der­stand­ing of the Uni­verse, which won Best New­comer at the 2015 New Zealand Fringe Fes­ti­val, and a rave re­view when he per­formed it at the Mel­bourne Fringe.

From atoms and cells to the so­lar sys­tem and be­yond, Klein shares his jour­ney of cu­rios­ity and dis­cov­ery through child­hood and into adult­hood.

He once con­sid­ered teach­ing, but re-eval­u­ated ed­u­ca­tion as a ca­reer in re­ac­tion to for­mal learning struc­tures based around pass­ing tests.

‘‘You can learn any­thing any­time out of school just for the sake of it, by ask­ing ques­tions - ‘What’s that tree?’, ‘Why does that work like that?’ Those mo­ments are much more im­por­tant than rote learning.’’

Af­ter his 6.30pm Wed­nes­day Square Edge show, Klein bikes off to Bulls for a performance in the Friend­ship Club Hall on Thurs­day.


Science sto­ry­teller David Klein and his cargo bike on the 5000km na­tion­wide ‘‘Tour de Science’’.

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