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Melbourne Bicycle Blues

Holidays are for hanging out at the beach, summer flings, catching a tan, drinking cocktails, eating too much and at the end of it all getting sick with the flu.

The holiday head cold is an inevitable part of a great holiday, but I had not expected to also get the “no-bicycle” ills as well.

The no-bicycle ills is the phenomenon of when you’re a serious bicycle babe and your butt, which usually gets a 15km workout everyday, no longer does so because you’re curled up with a head cold.

What occurs is a serious amount of soreness and leg twitching which can only be eased by some stretching, and even that is no match for the serious amount of blood flow that occurs on a bicycle.

So while getting sick is no fun, it’s made worse when your body goes in to protest at not getting it’s twice daily hit of blood-cleansing, butt-toning, healthy-glow bicycle ride.

It’s a wonder, with a three-step beauty solution as good as that, that I got sick at all.  And yet I did, and in fact my bicycle has been the source of some serious ill health.

I’ve harpooned feet on cogs, got jean hems caught in chains, had eyes spiked by flying road grit and tyers pop mid hill climb.

Which is not to blame my bicycle. Hell no! I blame the bad advice of Melbourne’s bicycle businesses.

These is something seriously amiss with Melbourne bicycle scene, and especially the bicycle shops, which up until half a second ago sold nothing by sports bicycles.

The sports bicycle is a machine designed for Lance Armstrong and his buddies, and their team of mechanics, who are on mission a to be aerodynamically non-existent.

The average Melbourne bicycle shop specialises in selling bicycles that were never meant to see the light of day unless it was between the legs of a Lycra-clad Tour-de-France riding, muscle-bound cycling nut.

And yet, they sell them to cycle sistas, urban bicycle bunnies, and commuter dudes without so much as a glimmer of guilt. But guilty they are!

There are certain things on a bicycle that no commuter should ever see, touch or feel, but most of Melbourne’s bikes have their private parts exposed to the world, and we wonder why cycling here is so small fry.

Go to most other urban cycle cities and you can’t see a bicycle chain for 100 miles, their gears are all enclosed and every wheel has a mud guard to maximise the cycling-in-style factor because no one cares about the size of their slip stream.

Bicycle shops in Melbourne will also sell you a sports pump and a spare set of tubes as if somehow you’ll grow a set of bicycle mechanic’s arms that can lever off a bicycle tire, change a tube and pump it back up to 95psi, as you step out of the door of a morning. Which, in my experience, might actually be easier than changing a tyre.

So it’s time to kill off the hang over from Melbourne’s dark days of the over-kill car culture that hit in the 1990’s when the helmet came in, and bring back the urban bicycle with its chunky chain guard, its half-moon mud guards, its kick stand and its utterly un-streamlined, but cushiony seat, and start a riding rage that is an aerodynamic disaster, but a complete riding delight!

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