by Mel Howard | March, 22 2016
I, like most children in the post caveman world, was given a pretty pink bicycle at some nondescript young age. Most likely with pink hair on the handles, lights (read, glitter and/or sequins) and of course with training wheels, that probably also had lights. I recall liking this bike. I recall gleefully scooting around the pergola on it as my heart lifted out of my chest and flew up to the child wonderland reserved for waterslides, magicians, Santa-Claus-is-on-the-phone-calls and half-time whiz fizz and curly wurly binges at mums weekly netball games.
My dad did the expected thing at this stage of my bike-riding career and suggested it was time to lose the training wheels. Being the stubbornly hesitant and dramatically angled first grandchild I was (am), I declared never to ride until my training wheels were back on- I probably yelled this at my parents, throwing my hand over my forehead as they, with an expression torn between amusement and horror at having created such a monster, either watered the snow peas or hung washing on the line. Dad, rightly challenging my stupidity (my word not his) responded by leaving them off and I sauntered around for a month or two confident that I had made the right choice in my adult foundational structure.
As the years progressed I laid claim to being the roller-blading chick, until a teenie tiny rock on my friends newly laid bitumen road put a bloody end to that facet of my identity and my brand new school sports shirt. Soon after it came the mountain scooter beside my Santa sack, yes they exist and they are quite a sight to behold, or were at 9. I’ve got nothing against them really, but on the one day I dared ride my sweet enormous scooter to school, Joel Rutherford told me that my scooting leg would soon be shorter than my other, I believed him entirely and much to my mothers disgust, my days cutting scoot laps down my street were suddenly over.
There have been a few times in my life where not riding a bike has presented problems and until Byron I’ve chosen to look at these moments as strengthening my problem solving skills instead of just working through the bike issue.
I rode a bike properly, as in to somewhere and back, for the first time in November last year, with my best friend, in the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen, in Lyon, France. It was Autumn and there was a zoo and the whole day was magic. Adult wonderland magic. Of the non-sexy kind. That’s another post though.
At 26 and in lieu of a reliable public transport system I’ve had to face my biking fears and finally man up to my five-year-old self. Calmly pat her on the shoulder and say ‘sweetie, it’s time to move up to the big girl wheels’.
I do love walking. Perhaps at first because it was my only option, but I have fostered a genuine appreciation for long walks, sans time restraints obviously. It’s free time in my mind, like bus trips, or train journeys, real free time where you are already achieving your goal, making everything else a bonus. I chat with friends far away, power through podcasts, I have my best ideas usually too. Sometimes I stop over for a snooze in the sunshine, because why the heck not!
Once I work out how to do the standy-upy thing over bumps and concentrate on something other than not running into parked cars, I’m sure the riding will enhance the impromptu sunshine snoozing. And although I currently feel the physical riding action is severely limiting my already limited wardrobe choices, there’s a particular part on my bike ride in and out of town, where I don’t have to pedal or worry about pot holes and I can see what feels like forever clearly in front of me. When I get to that road, my heart flies a little and in the corner of my eye I can see the pink hair sparkling on the handlebars.
Someone get me a curly wurly!