Bike riding and I just don’t go together. It most likely stems from my childhood when I never had a bike of my own but, instead, zoomed around on a red tricycle. In fact, I rarely even sat on it but, rather, it had a flat plate between the rear wheels and I would place a foot on that and use the bike like a scooter.
That red trike could be anything from the Batmobile to a police car to a fire truck to James Bond’s car with all the gadgets; it just depended what I was playing at in the backyard that day.
The only times I really took to a bicycle were on holidays. For some holidays I’d stay with cousins near Beechworth in country Victoria and they had a few bikes to ride on so I’d borrow one.
And being a country home with large yards on a dirt track a few kilometres out of town, well, we had plenty of room to play bike chasey, visit some abandoned mines and even try some Evel Knievel-type bike jumps (normally over a few bricks).
The only headache was sorting out who got what bike. The loser got the old, big-framed girl’s bike on which you could hardly get up onto the seat; the winner got the purple dragster with the wide handlebars. The dragster was cool. It made its rider feel at least a whole year older when you were riding that beast.
My only other cycling memory (apart from later teaching my kids to ride a bike) was when I was about 20 and my church did a bikeathon from Northcote, in Melbourne, to Rosebud. Now this is a distance of nearly 100 km and for someone not used to riding a bike, well…
On a borrowed road bike, I reached Frankston (that’s about 60 km from Northcote) and I was done. My back was sore, my neck was sore, my backside was sore, my legs were sore, my shoulders were sore and my brain hurt. Really, exactly what sort of rear is designed to sit on a seat 10 cm wide for hours at a time on bumpy roads?
With only the slightest hint of embarrassment — mainly because I was too sore and just didn’t care — I put my bike in the support van and got chauffeured the rest of the way. Couldn’t walk for a week.
So, these days, when I see men my age wearing lycra and sitting outside cafes, I feel no envy for their physical prowess at all. Rather than think, “Wow, I wish I was doing that; what a model of health and fitness you are,” I think, “Wow, old dudes in tight clothes who like spending time with other men in tight clothes.”
I guess it’s a case of each to their own. I don’t like being picked on because I read a lot and go to church and like The Beatles, so why should I pick on someone who likes riding a bike? If everyone was the same — and even if everyone was just like me — what a boring world it would be.
The Bible has much to say about individuality. It talks about how we’re each gifted and skilled differently and also about how we need each other, just like the different parts of a body all need each other.
In the letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul writes that we should value others and look to the interests of others (chapter two, verses three and four). We’re encouraged to show humility and not operate out of conceit or pride.
So, my bike-riding friends, pedal away! I won’t make you listen to John Lennon singing ‘I Am the Walrus’ if you don’t make me don the lycra. God bless you and Godspeed to you.
Mal Davies is a Salvation Army officer serving in Geelong