Often when I am cycling on my Pashley Princess, albeit under a baking Brisbane sun rather than the dappled shade of an English laneway, a phrase from ‘The Windhover’, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, comes to mind: ‘the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!’ Hopkins was writing about a bird (in a marvellously onomatopoetic and slightly incomprehensible way) but the sensation of wind blowing past my cheeks and the freedom of wheeling along the paths seems the same.
Riding in Brisbane is bliss compared to London. There are bike paths that aren’t too busy, I can ride on the footpath when the traffic is threatening, the sun shines and there are lovely parks and rivers for scenery. The broody magpies have been something of a problem, as are the testosterone-driven men who barge into pedestrians and never say thank you when I give them right of way (and nothing infuriates me more than a want of manners), but on the whole it is altogether very pleasant. I especially like putting my and the children’s library books in my basket and cycling to the local library, and pinging my bell to make people jump out of the way and make the bush turkeys run like mad. It is a very satisfying bell.
Cycling attire has been something of a problem however. Naturally I abide by the laws of the Copenhagen Cycle Chic Manifesto:
So, when looking at the ugly helmets in the bicycle shop I said to the man, ‘Don’t you have anything remotely feminine?’ and he handed me a pink version of the helmet he was holding. This wasn’t very helpful. I solved this by asking H to get me a Bern helmet from cyclechic.co.uk for Xmas. I also wanted to wear my kitten stilettos, but after losing one of them in the middle of the road in one instance (fortunately, there was no traffic, and I daintily retrieved it), and tangling them in the pedal and nearly falling off in another, I had to abandon this idea. I found some more practical shoes from childrenoftherevolution.com.au but they don’t go with many of my outfits, which of course is an excellent excuse to purchase some additions to my wardrobe. And then there is the difficulty of one’s dress flying into one’s face, as I found when I set off in a silk frock. I had to dash back home to put on a pair of bike shorts underneath so as to avoid flashing my knickers to the world.
Unfortunately, I fail on the point ‘I will endeavour to ensure that the total value of my clothes always exceeds that of my bicycle.’ To remedy this, I shall need to find a string of pearls to wear as I ride.