After the kids go to bed, my husband Justin and I have a chance to talk about the day over dinner. Inevitably, our conversations turn to bicycling. On this occasion, we were trying to remember when Justin started bicycling to work. For those of you who have children, you will understand that one’s memory is hazy after their arrival. All memories become BC – before children or AC – after children, with how full life becomes.
We determined that he started cycling to work after our daughter Ofelia arrived in 2007. I bought a Giant Elwood in early 2008. She was nearly a year old and was able to wear a bicycle helmet. I was wearing trainers, t-shirt and black bicycling shorts back then and we happily explored the parks. Justin bought his Giant a few months after I did to ride to work. I insisted that he wear fluoro. I thought it was dangerous. The Kent Street Cycleway hadn’t yet been built. How time flies. We laughed because we tried to remember how he used to get to work. “Walking? That was so slow.”
When I went back to work after our son Julius was born, Justin took long-service-leave and looked after Julius for two months. He transitioned him into childcare. He also lost fifteen kilos. The beard he grew disappeared with the last remaining kilos.
Justin started riding more regularly to work afterwards. He never organised extra clothes or a shower for himself. He stopped wearing the fluoro jackets too. Instead, he upped his style quotient. After having lost so much weight, we bought him a new wardrobe for work and for the weekends. There’s only so much alteration a pair of trousers can accept, we discovered. We had most of his suits altered as well. His belly disappeared. The six-pack emerged. His long frame looked even longer. The double chin was no longer. His dad came for a visit and said that he looked like a “racehorse” with how fit he had become.
Sadly, the Giant was stolen one day from the garage. He hadn’t locked it up and the thieves had their opportunity. We were both sad because he had installed Ergon grips and pedals, fenders and mudguards. For weeks, we kept looking for it in our neighbourhood as if the thieves might just leave it somewhere for us to find. Silly. He was bicycle-less for a time but soon bought a Merida from the now-closed City Bike Depot on Kent Street. He became friends with the owner, Hugh. Hugh said it best when he called bicycling a “journey.” We were on that journey unbeknownst to us.
Justin decided that he wanted a fixed gear bicycle, a “fixie” one day. He had seen one advertised on Cell Bikes website for $200. When it arrived, he brought it home from work in its box on the Yuba Mundo, the long tail cargo bicycle that we bought a year after the Nihola tricycle. The delight on his face was obvious when he test rode it down our street in the late summer. He adopts a different persona on the fixie with the u-lock affixed to his back belt loop, a charmingly badass attitude and the ability to climb hills fast.
And then there was the Hill Climb at Observatory Hill a few years ago. It was part of the City of Sydney’s Rides Festival in the Spring. I suggested that we go and try it. The format was simple, race up a hill. He balked at first. He said he would be the oldest and slowest person there. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “So what?” We went and had the best afternoon. He raced on his fixie. I raced on the Nihola, fully loaded with kids. Justin was hooked. Instead of starting to road race, he became an aficionado of cyclocross.
He came home one day with a bicycle design book from Hugh. He had decided that he wanted to buy a special bicycle. The Speedvagen that our children call Sophie came into our lives. Justin still rode to work every day but started wearing lycra for going fast and training for cyclocross races on the weekend. One Friday morning, Justin crashed Sophie while on a training ride one Friday morning. Very sadly, he sent it back to Vanilla Bicycles in Portland to be fixed. In the meantime, he kept riding to work and bought a used Focus Mares as a training bicycle.
The journey that is the bicycle? My husband Justin is on it. What a journey it has been and what amazingness will come? Bring it on!