Friends and acquaintances always ask how many bicycles I own. Six is the answer. In our family, we have eighteen. Why so many? Each one has a specific function. In winter, I commute to work daily on the Gazelle CityZen, an urban bicycle. In the Spring/Summer and on rainy days, I ride the eZee Sprint, an e-bike. The Giant Elwood that started it all eight years ago has a Burley tag-a-long attachment that Julius can now ride. A mountain bike (Cannondale) and road bike (Merida) are the less frequently ridden of my bicycles. Most importantly, we have a Nihola tricycle which is a the “mini-van”. Our nanny picks them up in the Nihola. During the week and on the weekends, it is the most often used bicycle.
This past weekend, I was on my own with the kids. Friday, Julius and I did the usual – swimming lessons and grocery shopping in the Nihola.
We picked Ofelia up from school and had dinner together. On Saturday, we tackled the giant weekly mountain of laundry, packed away toys and games, changed bedsheets, practiced violin, cooked and cleaned. I organised an afternoon of beading for the kids on Sunday afternoon. I invited a friend for Julius and Ofelia each to come over Sunday afternoon. The forecast for was for rain and cold. I also organised Saturday night out for myself.
Where was my husband Justin? He left early Friday morning for Perth. The phone call that we have all come to dread came the other week. This time, it wasn’t for me. Justin’s mum had been hospitalised and was scheduled for immediate triple bypass surgery. His family live in Western Australia. My parents live in Seoul, not that much closer. When my parents lived in the US, I used to worry that the phone call would come in the middle of the night. At least now, we are all in the same time zone. We discussed when he should depart. It’s difficult to know how to be helpful to a parent after major surgery. In the end, he decided to visit when she was in recovery at the hospital.
Justin took his cyclocross bicycle with him to go for a long ride, to travel between the hospital and his hotel and also to manage some of the emotions that arise when a parent is very ill. Saturday, I cooked the triple crown of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone enjoyed French toast, pizza and potato and leek soup. I had organised to see a movie and to attend a Tour de France party that Saturday evening. After a busy week and kids, especially with Justin away, I knew that I needed some time to myself.
The nanny came early and I took the eZee Sprint to the cinema on George Street. The Sprint is heavy and has excellent disc brakes. In the rain, I am reassured of my ability to stop quickly. Magic Mike XXL is a worthwhile stress reliever. I haven’t laughed so hard in the cinema in a long time. I now understand the appeal of Channing Tatum. A Tour de France party at York Lane was next. I planned to bicycle up Kent Street Cycleway but found it blocked off and the surface unrideable. Nearing Erskine Street, a young man crossed the street in front of me. He shouted, “Do you pay rego?” and answered his own question, “No.” I responded quickly, “Are you a di%$? Yes.”
The TDF party was uneventful and full of men. I chatted with Dieter the owner who was lovely and a fashion photographer in a past life. He cooed over my velvet jumpsuit.
I finally managed to see the Frenchman on SBS who shares his love of French food prior to the broadcast of the race. I met a few others and we discussed bicycles. Dieter was under the impression, from a mutual friend, that I was bringing a group of fashionable women to this party. A girlfriend, who is not a cyclist, had considered attending with me. It was understandable why she had bowed out this cold and wet evening. It was a fun evening despite the poor conditions. My very own Tour de Sydney. At home after a warm shower, my bed was very warm and inviting.
On Sunday morning, I made pancakes and bacon and adjusted our plans for the day because the sun was out.
Ofelia’s friends were busy but Julius’ friend Sophie would be coming over. We went to Prince Alfred Park for a play.
Ofelia rode her scooter. I took Julius, Sophie, his balance bike and her scooter in the Nihola. Apparently, Sophie had been looking forward to a ride in the Nihola all weekend.
The park is vast and riding around its perimeter is an accomplishment. There is a small incline that Julius wanted to descend. He’s become accustomed to speed on his balance bike. Sophie not so much. She gained speed, wobbled, fell, did a somersault, and stood up again in one quick motion. It took her a moment to understand what had happened. She didn’t start crying immediately but when she did, the tears were giant. She said her hands hurt. I saw her put them out to stop her fall. They were a little scraped. I gave her a cuddle and suggested afternoon tea.
She and her mum had made blueberry muffins which we all shared in the sun. The apples, cheese and Nutella biscuits disappeared quickly too. Back to riding. We hit the slide and the swings.
I showed Sophie how to use the back brake on her scooter instead of dragging her foot. The sun descended and it became chilly. The little kids got into the Nihola again with Ofelia leading on her scooter.
We arrived home safe and sound. Onto beading. The kids made some lovely necklaces. It’s always alarming to have your child swallow something that shouldn’t be swallowed. In this case, it was a bead. I heard my son Julius’ inhalation-swallow sound and my daughter Ofelia exclaimed, “Oma (Mummy in Korean) Julius just swallowed a bead.” I looked over and saw my son’s guilty four-year-old face. I presumed that it would come out the other end soon without incident.
Justin arrived home late Sunday night. He had ridden eighty kilometres on Saturday and seen his mum Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. She would be discharged for home on Monday. He had ridden his bicycle without incident and discovered paths through Perth which he had never known because he had always driven.