Written by Mel Alderton
I’ll never forget the moment I laid eyes on my first bike. I was about 14 years old, we were going on a family trip to the USA after Christmas so had been told there were no Christmas presents. On Christmas morning Mum threw open the doors to the lounge room (the lounge room was kept for “special”) and there was a shiny red bike! A Malvern Star “Family Star”. Fixed speed, coaster brake, at the time the best bike I’d ever seen! Possibly not the most suitable bike for someone who lived at the bottom of a couple of steep hills, but anyway, it was a bike, something I’d lusted after for a very long time, and given up all hope of getting.
That bike meant I could muck around with the other kids in the neighbourhood. I spent hours just riding up and down the streets, just having fun. I could join in something everyone else was doing. No helmets in those days either! We lived in a quiet area too, so didn’t have to worry about cars. I may have even ridden to school a few times – challenging as it was with the hills and single speed!
Of course as I got older, a car license beckoned and those hills suddenly became a lot easier. It wasn’t until I met my husband, an avid cyclist at the time, and was made redundant from a job I had in my early 20’s, that I purchased my first proper road bike – a 12 speed Apollo Delta. I used that bike for a few years, riding with hubby, improving my fitness and bike strength until children came along. I still have it today, and am hoping to restore it soon.
Over the years I’ve had a number of bikes – mountain bikes, step through “granny bikes”, flat bar road bikes, racing bikes, cruisers - however they have all had one thing in common – they have all brought me great joy. No matter what, they have never failed to lift my mood.
I got serious again about cycling about 7 years ago, after losing weight. I have a family history of heart disease, so decided I needed to do as much as I could to live a full and healthy life. It was at that point I started running, still doing a bit of cycling for cross training, and after seeing some photos of the cycling in a Pinkie Triathlon as Sydney Olympic Park, took up Triathlon.
There is nothing I love more after a hard day at work than to come home, jump on the bike and go for a quick spin around my local area. It blows away the cobwebs, relieves the stress, and lifts my mood instantly. Whether I am on a training ride for my triathlons, riding to my local parkrun, or simply riding around to take photos or drop into the shops, I remind myself how lucky I am to be where I am, and take in my surroundings.
Competing in a triathlon recently, I was observing a large number of riders quite openly breaking the rules, bunch riding and drafting. There was also another two riders drafting and cutting in and out of the other cyclists. I could have let this ruin my day. Instead, I reminded myself of my goals for the day. My goal was to push myself to my limits, and see what my bike could do. I had new race wheels, and it was only their second outing. I shut out everyone around me, and it was just Geraldine and me (yes, I name my bikes!) So despite the behaviour of others, despite the fact it was hot and humid, despite the fact I was one of the last cyclists off the course, I ended up with a PB for the course, a smile on my face, and had a fabulous time.
I have had a few times where I have been off the bike for a various reasons. When I get back on, it reminds me how much I love it. So much so I’ve now taken to commuting by bike/train to work. I can jump off the train early on the way home and go for that post work stress relieving ride! Sure beats sitting in the Sydney traffic. Less stressful, and much better for both my heart and my wallet. I think I’ll be riding for as long as I can stay upright!