Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The time I became a cyclist

Up until about eight months ago, I was very wary of bikes. Primarily because the majority of times I had hopped on one in the last twenty-odd years, which I could count on one hand, I had hurt myself. Once it was simply running into a tree, another it was seeing a car come out of a driveway and deciding that they were most definitely going to hit me so the preferable thing to do would be to fling myself onto the road. Oh yes, they were all very much self-inflicted and entirely my fault. As a result, I felt like bikes and I were best off avoiding each other forever after. But in the last few years, bikes have become somewhat popular and Brisbane has started to embrace the cyclist. I use the word 'embrace' lightly as there is still plenty of cyclist rage going around but I think we're getting there. So for my birthday a few years ago, my boyfriend decided that he wanted to get me a bike so we could go riding together. The idea was horrifying at first, but over time I became slightly intrigued. Especially when I saw the variety of cute bikes you could get... So after 6 months, I finally became the owner of an Electra Townie. Once upon a time (for about the first five minutes), my bike looked like this:

Image from http://www.electrabike.com
Besides the fact that I liked the look of it, it was also the most comfortable bike I trialed  It's a heavy cruiser bike though, so not made to go super fast. But that wasn't really my concern at the time. So after a few slow rides around the footpath in my local park, reminiscent of my park rides as a five year old, I tried riding on some longer bike paths and even managed some quiet roads. To my surprise, I really, really enjoyed cycling. I am lucky to live in an area which caters well to cyclists and the majority of my ride into the CBD is along the mostly flat Bicentennial Bikeway along the Brisbane River. So I now ride to work at least three times a week, attach my front wicker basket and cycle to the West End Markets every Saturday morning and make breakfast dates on Sundays to places I can get to on my bike (West End, Wooloongabba, New Farm and Toowong/Milton are all good options...blog post for the future). Being able to cycle to these places has given  me a lot more independence since I don't have a car. Plus, due to not wanting to ride too late to avoid the strong sun and heat, I have somehow turned into a morning person who gets up by 5:30-6:00am instead of doing the slow, reluctant rise around 8:00am. I also love that I'm saving money on not having to get public transport and run for the bus every day, inevitably missing it by that much at least once a week.

This week is Bike Week in Brisbane (16-24 March), which is a 'celebration of all things cycling' and involves several bike-related events such as organised group rides, cycling seminars and 10-speed dating. You can visit http://bikeweek.bq.org.au/ for more details. I personally plan on participating on Thursday for Ride to Work Day and will be stopping off at Redacliff Place for the free breakfast! The 10km Sunday Family Ride is a possibility also...as is the Post-Ride Festival being held out Southbank. Had I had time last Saturday, I would have loved to have gotten involved in the Papergirl revival, which involved delivering artwork via bicycle (see http://www.papergirlbne.com).

Image from Bike Week website

So if you have a bike available to you, think about participating in Ride to Work Day! There are several meeting spots organised if you want to ride with other people but don't know anyone. Cycling is fun and while Brisbane doesn't quite have the bike culture of Amsterdam, we do have some nice bike paths available to us and has definitely gained a lot of popularity. And as long as I don't have too many more run-ins with helmut-less lycra-d-up cyclists who cut me off and then don't indicate when they're turning off, causing me to run into them, I will be cycling around the place for the forseeable future.

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