I am a cyclist
I am a cyclist. Yes that’s right, a professional road cyclist… I kid, I kid – but I do ride my royal blue, slightly masculine looking treadly everywhere, everyday, weather permitting. Almost one year ago I said goodbye to my beloved Holden Astra hatchback and hello to the crisp Melbourne outdoors and never ending muscle tightness and entered into the world of bike riding. Europeans may have been doing it for decades – riding in high end fashion on their flat, wide boulevards made for cyclists but here in Melbourne we do not prove to be so stylish. Each morning, rain, hail or shine (slight exaggeration- mostly shine) I strap on my slightly askew second hand basket, turn on my lights in a mild attempt to remain more obvious and more importantly I am legally bound to wearing my dorky helmet.
In the past six months I have seen a momentous rise to the number of ‘cyclists’ on the road and or footpath and or bike… I mean walking track and they bring with them all the bells and whistles they can find, quite literally. From bright yellow reflective vests and helmets with Magpie anti swooping technology to novelty bells that suffer from overuse, Melbournians are geared up for whatever the road throws at them. What it is that they think will be thrown I am entirely lost on but I am proud to say I am not one of these riders. Unfortunately however, I have the pleasure of riding with or should I say, terribly far behind these overzealous riders and sometimes I get a little distracted by them as they whoosh past me with disappointment on their faces as if they already know they legs are shave closer than mine. There is something marvellous however about cycling apparel (including the cost) but I cannot help but admire the skill of wearing extremely tight shorts in winter and carrying a suit to work in your waterproofed crumple or $400 pannier bags.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely young women out there riding around in their winter boots and coats yet they are quite seriously the SLOWEST commuters in Melbourne, that is to say coming last by only a fraction to the male wannabe courier aka hipster rider. These hipsters do not ride with any particular finesse – I can easily breeze past one or ten on Church Street Richmond but I have never seen such an erratic rider either. Perhaps it is that they are just not quite sure if it is hipster enough to ride inside the allocated bike lanes yet. Moving on from the Hipsters and there is another dilemma when riding in Melbourne…the weather. When I started riding full time, it was spring. The days were sunny and not too hot that I would wind up sweating like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. The days were longer with more sunlight and there were fewer cars on the roads. I should have known the fairy tale would not last. Melbourne has recorded its coldest and wettest winter in ten years and I fear there is a long way to go being August.
There are times when I miss my reliable old car – like today for example, it is 6 Celsius and has been raining consistently for five hours and I am at work – but there is something satisfying about riding past lanes of bumper to bumper traffic as we all commute home that is relaxing and calming and basically says “yeah I have awesome calves and I will beat you home”.