Two years after my second child was born, I realised that my life had shrunk to something that I didn’t recognise. I had immersed myself in the Things That Must Be Done for many years already. I enjoyed the second maternity leave because it gave me time to concentrate on being Oma (엄마 , Mum in Korean) with work as one less distraction. But in 2013, I found that I had lost some vital part of myself. As my daughter was about to start kindergarten, I realised that being Mum alone, was not enough for me. My daughter needed me a little less and eventually my son would follow in her footsteps.
Compounding my sense of despair, I returned to work and found that my role at the bank was no longer rewarding. The manager who hired me had departed. My ride to and from the office was one of the best parts of my day. Apart from that, I felt stale and uninteresting. I was afraid of change and the difficulties it would pose. Then, life seemed bleak. I had given birth to two children. What now?
Eventually, I would resign from my role in investment banking and start a new career as a writer. I would start a lifestyle company. My children are both in school now and need me in a different way. My husband remains supportive. My world has expanded to the point where I recognise myself again. Yet, I have changed as I have continued to evolve. I feel vital and alive. More patient. More willing to negotiate and come to a solution or at least try a different way.
The constant in all of this was bicycling. It has helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. It helps me to stay positive when things look bleak. I am not dependent upon the vagaries of traffic or my wallet for parking, petrol, insurance, registration. It is time to myself when most of my time is spent working and parenting.
Consequently, when my EZee Sprint was stolen at the end of January, I was shocked and saddened. My first thought in the Uber ride home from the studio in Petersham was, “How am I going to manage?” It was late summer and still hot. I prefer to ride an e-bike in summer to make my journey to work seamless. I thought of “how to turn the frown upside down” by test riding some of the current e-bikes that are on the market. I hoped that it would also give the police some more time to find my e-bike.
Recently, I tried Lekker Bicycles‘ E-Jordaan. It seemed to supercharge the happy feeling that I have when on a bicycle. Why? It’s brilliant design inspires. One Friday, I received five thumbs up and dozens of smiles. I first saw the Lekker in Melbourne when I met Catherine Deveney for a #bikeshopeat ride. I couldn’t quite believe that an e-bike version was available.
Despite the evidence of the contrary, we are all inspired by beautiful design. We search for symmetry in people’s faces as a measure of attractiveness. Symmetry in architecture is a design principle. I know that I will ride a well-designed bicycle more than one which is poorly or unattractively designed.
In conversation with Lekker’s founder in Sydney, I discovered that these bicycles, while Dutch-style, are actually quite different. They are made of aluminium, which makes them lighter and rust-resistant. They also have slightly different geometry which makes them easier to ride in hilly Sydney. The grip shift, which I found kiddie-like at first was a deliberate choice. It has less chance of breaking off parked in a crowd of bicycles.
I remember the sun on this day and the ride back from Bondi Junction. Leona Edmiston dress.
Riding the E-Jordaan around Sydney was a fantastic experience. The wide cushioned seat and upright position made it incredibly comfortable to ride. I was riding with hips and shoulders in perfect alignment. Later, while suffering through a bladder infection, I noticed the lack of suspension but taking some of the air out of the tyres was the easy solution. Instead of 60psi, 30-40psi was more comfortable with the wide tyres absorbing the bumps and jolts of Sydney’s roads. The 36V battery gave me a range of about 60km if I was judicious with use of power eg. A setting of 2bar of power instead of 5bar. I noticed that the front hub motor was half the size of the EZee Sprint’s but I never felt that I was lacking in enough power. Going up hill required some additional effort but not enough for me to break out into a sweat.
Initially, I couldn’t manage a hill start because of the motor’s delay. The delay is typical of front hub motors because the e-bike sensor requires a few pedal revolutions for the motor to kick-in. On the EZee Sprint, the throttle helps to manage this gap. But I managed on the Lekker by finding a kerb from which to push off. Eventually, I learned how to balance and push off from a hill start without the kerb. Like most things it took a little practice.
I rode this e-bike everywhere from Surry Hills to Bondi Junction, Petersham, the CBD and 40km for Gear Up Girl. We had all kinds of adventures together and it’s beautiful blue colour inspired me to clean it every week. And then a bit of bad news.
On Facebook, I read a death announcement of one of our graduating class from the University of Chicago. I had to go back and re-read it carefully. My old flatmate Jennifer had died from breast cancer. We lived together in Hyde Park with another flatmate during our third year of university. She was a brilliant girl and had become a consultant, wife and mother. The shock of her death hit me harder than I expected. I found some photos and sent them via Facebook to her twin sister Anne. She told me that Jennifer had had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Three weeks after her initial diagnosis, she died of liver failure.
It made me reflect on my life and how it has changed from 2013. The importance of doing one’s best to live life well. We all have difficulties and hard times. The important thing is to keep learning from one’s mistakes and working towards something better when times are tough. In the midst of everything that must be done, keep your dreams alive and try to see the positive. Keep going. And ride a bike!
Lekker Bicycles is a supporter and sponsor of the Bicycle Mayor of Sydney. Until May 2017, use the code “Spice up your commute” for 10% off the price of an E-Jordaan online and in Sydney and Melbourne shops.
In Memorium: Jennifer Lynn Locascio 1970-2017.