The Little Shop of Bikes, Stones Corner, Brisbane
It was just before Easter when I pulled up outside the bike shop on Logan Road. I was sporting a beard, carrying a bit of weight, and excited about buying a new bike. The bike shop had been there for years and it had a wonderful array of new bikes. I put down my helmet on the counter and opened my leather jacket. I looked at a spanking new Honda CB750F along the rear wall. I was trading in an older 750 motorbike, which I’d bought 2nd-hand a year earlier, just after I’d got my bike licence at 18. I’d saved for a year, and it was time for a new bike.
The Honda had silver and blue trim, ample polished chrome, five gears to make it fly and two large disc brakes to make it stop. This bike put out 57kw or 77hp at 9000 rpm. For a 750cc moto, it was quick. I loved that bike.
Roll forward several decades, and I’m walking into the same building, on the same corner. It’s just after Easter. I’m again sporting a beard (lock-down can’t-be-arsed-shaving beard), carrying a bit of extra weight, and excited about buying a new bike. I don’t have a helmet yet, nor any bike kit either. I didn’t plan on being locked down for several months in Brisbane. My nephew Brendan, at whose place I’m camping out at, is an excellent cook, one of the best I know, and that’s not helping my waistline. I began looking for a bike two weeks ago.
Thoughts of carbon parts, aerodynamic frames, technically advanced components were parked in the bike shed. I needed two wheels, a few gears, and something that worked from the get-go. I didn’t have the tools or the motivation to tackle a cheap and cheerful fixer-upper or the patience to wait for the right-sized bike that didn’t need a lot of TLC to pop up on Gumtree or Facebook. I found an ‘urban’ cross-bike online at a local bike shop for an acceptable price after doing some research. A bike that would allow me to simply adjust the seat height, add a bottle cage, plot a route, and go.
My new bike was basic, black, had 24 gears and 2 simple but effective disc brakes. At present, I’m lucky if I can hold 200w at 90rpm for a few minutes (my triathlon mates in London will know what I mean). So that’s about 1/4 of a horse – one leg effectively and probably a gammy leg a that!
Brisbane is crisscrossed with shared paths and bike-ways and I felt this was a great opportunity to re-explore my home town while I attempt to claw back some fitness and make use of my time in lock-down Australia. My beard will come off when I find a razor. My navigation will improve as I relearn old routes and discover new shortcuts. And, hopefully, I’ll burn a few kilos off as I explore.
Today I did just that, explore. At 33km I didn’t ride far, compared to what I was used to in London. But it was a start. I can always go a little further tomorrow. My new bike may not have the horses that my 750 Honda had all those years ago, but there was a real joy in working up a sweat, feeling the sun and breeze on my skin (yes I applied sunblock people) and just moving forward.
South America may currently be closed but I’m exploring again, even if it’s home-town Brissie.