I was born in the Netherlands and as such, I have been riding a bike for as long as I can remember. When I was 5 or 6, I vividly remember the utmost terror, when my dad was taking the training wheels of my little green bike. I thought he was crazy, didn’t he realise that there was no way I’d be able to stay upright? But I did!
I spent the next 8 years on my bike riding to and from school as well as catching up with friends around the neighbourhood. It was the ultimate freedom a child can be blessed with.
Then, in 1982, the whole family immigrated to Sydney, Australia, where my bike riding days came to an abrupt halt. All of a sudden we were not allowed to ride our bikes to school anymore because it was unsafe. The roads were not set up for cyclists and motorists were not used to them, like in Holland. I felt my wings were clipped. I now had to catch a bus to school and had to rely on my parents to drive me to friends houses, or walk. This hiatus would last over TWO DECADES!
In 2003, after getting married to the most amazing man, bringing 3 children into the world, shifting all around Australia and even a brief stint in Papua New Guinea, we moved to Central Victoria to take over the family farm. I purchased a hybrid Mountain bike to use on the farm and to ride with the kids to primary school 2 kms down the road. Again this was more a mode of transport, nothing else.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I really fell in love with bike riding as a form of recreation. My daughter was going through a bit of a teenage rebellious stage at the time and I would follow her into town when she had to go to her part time job, to make sure she didn’t stray. It was a nice 10km ride both ways. I remember riding well behind her and just loving the smells and quiet and sun on my face. My poor Mountain bike hadn’t had a very good existence on the farm and was showing some serious wear and tear. But I persevered with it.
The following year, in 2010, my eldest son, who had been a keen cyclist for some years, built himself a carbon road bike from scratch. It looked mighty fine! So the next year, when the tax man was kind enough to give me a modest return, I did the same and built a bike as well. It was pure heaven! I started riding to work every day and would spend weekends doing some serious kms. Andrew liked what he saw and soon started building himself one as well. Before we knew it we were riding together on weekends. How blessed to find an interest we both enjoy.
Then one spring afternoon in October 2012, we were sitting outside having a drink and talking about the ‘future’, about what we want to do and achieve in the next few years. First off, we were talking about renovating the house, but soon the conversation changed to travelling. I have never been back to Holland, more through circumstances than choice, but have always dreamed of going back and taking Andrew with me for an extended period of time. So we talked about where we want to visit and what we want to see and do when we get there. We had both been enjoying riding our carbon road bikes during the year so it didn’t take long to put travelling to Europe and bike riding together.
After some extensive online research, the slow and expensive accumulation of gear commenced, culminating in the purchase of 2 touring bikes in January 2013. In September this year we had our first ‘practice’ ride, when we caught the train to Adelaide and rode the 750 odd kms home. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life.
I started this blog to write about bike touring, but with a bit of a twist. I won’t be boring you with daily stats on how many kms we’ve done and where we rode to and from. You can follow us on Facebook for those things. I want to write about ‘behind the scenes’. More of what’s it like to spend day after day on a bike. I want to share little anecdotes that would otherwise be forgotten and put those hours and hours of thoughts whilst pedaling through amazing countrysides down on paper. I hope you enjoy reading my stories.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” – Gil Bailie