Like Riding A Bike

Rottnest Island, 2004
Rottnest Island, 2004

I went shopping today for a new bike. It’s several years since I’ve owned a bike (never having replaced the one that was stolen about a decade ago).

It is also about a decade since the last time I’ve ridden a bike. The last time, I know for a fact, was on Rottnest Island (near Perth) in 2004. As vehicles aren’t allowed on the island, there’s a good business there for bike hire. It was a terrific way to make my way around the island, stopping occasionally to look at the flora and fauna, and occasionally for a swim.

Before that, I can’t remember, though, of course, I’ve been riding bikes all my life.

Although I have a vague memory of little bike with training wheels, my first “proper” bike was a Malvern Star bike I received for Christmas. I can’t recall if it was 74 or 75, but by the looks of the photograph I was about eight or nine years old.

Backyard, Lismore c. 1975
Backyard, Lismore c. 1975

I remember falling off that bike, once, and into one of mum’s rose bushes. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I also remember riding that bike to school and almost swallowing a sparrow. I’m one of those people who likes to sing. And so, as I made my way along to school, a sparrow flew into my open mouth. I spat it out, of course.

I don’t know whatever happened to that bike. After my mum and dad died, my uncle and grandmother continued to live in the house until they died. I suspect a fair few of my things were thrown out.

Years later, living in Wagga I bought a bike which served me well for a few years in Sydney.

Sadly, the bike was stolen over a decade ago and I never bothered to replace it.

But for the last couple of years I’ve been thinking of purchasing a new bike.

My Balcony, 2014
My Balcony, 2014

“Don’t worry, I won’t be mountain-biking or going in 100km races”, I told the bloke in the shop today. “I just want a bike to ride around on the weekends from time to time. A little bit of exercise, a ride around the park, that kind of thing”, I added.

After some discussion about what was important to me in terms of quality, weight, price and so on, we settled on a Malvern Star. So yeah, back to where I started with the classic Australian brand.

I was a little wobbly at first, but got my balance back pretty quickly. Having not ridden a bike in close to a decade, I worked up a bit of a sweat as I rode back from Newtown.

I also discovered why Surry Hills is called Surry HILLS :)

Off to a fiftieth birthday party soon around the corner – I think I’ll walk.

6 Replies to “Like Riding A Bike”

  1. I bought Bessie’s fab pink bike from her over a year ago, thinking I’d ride around the neighbourhood – so far it has sat untouched and unloved, taking up space in the garage. Really must bust it out, though I wish there were more bike paths about.

  2. Your blog is looking very smart.

    I was given a bike a few years ago. I paid to have new tyres put on it. I lubricated the chain and rode it around Albert Park Lake. I wobbled a lot and at a narrow part as I passed a construction site, I nearly went into the lake. I rode it to Port Melbourne and thought it was a great way to look at houses along the way. I rode it to the South Melbourne shops and it was as quick as taking the car. And a few years later, it sits unused since then. I hope you do better for longer.

  3. On my 18th birthday my bike was stolen from outside the railway station. I reported it to police and they actually came around to the house to take details. Some months later I bought a (very) used car, then after visiting friends 17 kilometres away from the station, what did I see but my bike being ridden in the opposite direction? I stopped the rider and got his name. Turned out he was “known to police”. I got the bike back but it wasn’t worth having. How can you wreck a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed gearbox? He managed it. I don’t recall what eventually happened to that bike.

    After riding another bike to work for years in Canberra, I took it off the road to replace brake & gear cables. The new ones needed adjustment, a fiddly job with the gears and the bike was not actually very rideable, I intended to do that on the weekend. Saturday morning I nipped out with a load of stuff for the dry cleaner and foolishly left the gate and garage open. Anonymous was giving the Scientologists near the dry cleaners a hard time and I watched proceedings for a while, then decided to pick up a few items on the way home. So I was away a little longer than expected. When I got back I thought that there was something wrong. I could not place what it was, so I went inside. A few minutes later went out again to start work on the bike and it was g-o-n-e.

    Strange thing was that a few weeks before I had accidentally left it unchained by the office for a whole weekend and it was still there on the Monday.

    You never know. . . . .

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