Saturday, April 2, 2011

Woman vs Bicycle

So, here's a fun fact about me: I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was 23. Where I grew up we were basically surrounded by steep hills, and there was a warehouse in our street, so there were always massive trucks coming and going. Trucks + hills = not a terribly safe place for kids to have bikes.

I finally learnt to ride while I was in the UK, staying with a cousin whose husband is a keen mountain biker. You should have seen the look on his face when I told them I couldn't ride a bike! It was like I'd just casually mentioned that my parents kept me locked in a cupboard until I was 16. So, I became a bit of a pet project, and was gently ushered onto a spare bike. Fast forward a week or so, and I'm making my way with reasonable confidence down a picturesque English country lane. I stop for a moment to catch my breath, and put a foot down on the edge of the path. Unfortunately, the edge of the path turns out to be a ditch cunningly disguised by a thick layer of fallen leaves, and I pitch sideways into a blackberry bush. "Luckily", there were some stinging nettles to break my fall. So, yeah... Didn't get back to cycling for another 5 years.

Never mind the wherefores and whys, but I have a bicycle of my own now. This is the first time I've ever been in charge of a vehicle on proper roads with cars. Scary stuff! Being a cyclist is very exciting, but considerably more complicated than I expected. (Did you know, there are TWO gear changing thingies? One on each hand. I didn't figure that out until last week.) Luckily, I find myself with one or two skills that are transferable to the world of cycling.

For starters, I'm really good at gluing things to other things. Check out my sweet helmet:

It makes me go faster, I swear.

And I have a bell to match:


And then, I found this brilliant tutorial on CRAFT for how to cover up a bike seat. They suggest it for hiding your top-quality saddle from thieves. I use it to make my dreary old arse-rest fab-u-lous:


With a seat like that, you want to make sure you can keep it out of the rain. Plus, I was a little worried about the effect Melbourne weather might have on stuff I carry in my basket. So I whipped up a couple of elasticated rain covers for the seat and basket.

They're made out of the plastic rain poncho I got from participating in the 2010 Field of Women. With all due respect to the wonderful work of the Breast Cancer Network of Australia, wearing that much pink brings on my eye twitches. I was never going to use that poncho again in a million years. However, the recycling crafter in me couldn't bear to throw away such a useful expanse of free material, so it got stashed. Once again, my habit of saving things that might be handy one day pays off handsomely.

So, here I come! Look out on the roads! And on the footpaths... And walls. Walls are definitely a high danger area when I'm on my bike. Just 'look out in general' is probably the best advice, I think.