One of the joys of growing up is getting your first bicycle and riding away from the control of your parents as you escape into childhood on your own personal transport. You may remember that with fond and sometimes funny memories. Such adventures as memories are made of.
For most of us with the busy schedule of being a teenager, we had to abandon the bicycle and go places faster by motorbike, car, bus or train. Gone was riding up and down dirt tracks with the wind in our hair, and the bike often went to rust in the shed.
The thing about being over 60 is, if you plan it right, you begin to get more of your own time back. So I sold the car and bought more bicycles. In my 30s I had to drive more than six hours a day in traffic to and from work. At 60 I abandoned cars and got back on my bike with a glorious sense of freedom I hadn’t known since being a child.
I have two bikes now: an ordinary push bike that that requires me to get off and push it up the steepest hills in Sydney or peddle like mad up the less steep hills until I triumphantly reach the top. Going down hills it’s ‘Gung Ho’ like Boadicea and away we go.
I have also bought a three-wheeler, electrically-assisted tricycle – a Dutch cargo bike with a large box in the front for four small children or, in my case, my partner and the shopping. My partner, Katrina, has bought an electrically assisted two-wheeler bike that sails up hills with the greatest of ease without requiring her to break into a sweat.
In NSW we have to wear crash helmets and also need to carry identification now the new bike laws have come into being. However, there are states that don’t requires cyclists to wear helmets and there is talk of studies that question whether helmets are necessary in areas where cyclists can ride on the pavement or have their own sectioned-off dedicated bicycle lanes.
One of the great new laws in NSW is that motorists will be required to stay one whole metre away from cyclists at all times. Another plus is that pavements in Sydney are getting much bigger in redeveloped areas and many of those are shared pathways for both cyclists and pedestrians, so I ride on the pavement 80 per cent of the time. On the three-wheeler that’s not possible but motorists tend to steer very clear of a senior riding a bright red tricycle!
So would I recommend you get back on your bike?
Oh yes! The exercise alone is worth it as you get from A to B to C. Not waiting for buses or being stuck in a traffic jam gives a sense of winning over those imprisoned in their four by fours going nowhere fast. The variety of shopping baskets or paniers you can attach to your bike means you can carry most things you need when you’re going out or popping to the shops.
Bikes have come a long way from the bone shaker I rode to school. Now they have new suspensions, electric assist so peddling is easy, on-board computers and even solar mobile phone rechargers. And just recently a manufacturer has launched a portable water bottle that refills itself with water that it takes out of the air as you ride along the road.
I feel another picnic coming on…Get on your bike and enjoy!