Bicycle Network: Women's Cycling
Once a week Mum’s Taxi stays in the drive and Kulja Coulston takes her treasured treadly for a ride
I never thought I would yearn for my bike, but now I do, big time.
When I had my first daughter last year my life changed, but not in the way I expected. The biggest transition was becoming a motorist first and cyclist second. Although my daughter and I cycle together to local activities, our car usage is more frequent than I’d like.
However, I believe a balance can be struck. So, once a week, on a Tuesday, I get my bike fix and cycle 45 minutes across the city to my office. The office is in a delightful beachside locale, the work’s great and the people are lovely, but that’s not what I look forward to – it’s the ride.
I leave bright and early, before 7am if I can. At this time, there is still freshness to the air and I’m hit with a refreshing chill as I cruise down the hill onto the Main Yarra Trail. At this time of day there are teams of rowers on the river and, if I’m lucky, mist on the water which parts only for the boats.
Cycling to work was something I have always taken for granted but now it is something to relish. When riding, I am alone with my thoughts, able to push myself to go faster or deliberately taking a new route, just because I can.
It didn’t take me long to realise that, like many women, I had chosen the wrong type of bike for me. Although I have used my bike on cycle tours around south-west Western Australia, Bali and Tasmania, it’s never been a great city bike. Now that city cycling is my focus, I needed to find the perfect model.
For years I got around town on a middle-level mountain bike with thick tyres, straight handlebars and stiff seat. The frame was also a little big and the handle bars a little too straight, which meant I hunched forward. I wanted a more upright bike, with a really comfy seat.
I found what I wanted at a backyard bike shop in Brunswick where they specialise in restoring old bicycles. For just a couple of hundred dollars I had a classic old-school frame with elegant gearing and a spring seat. It’s a perfect contrast to my mountain bike, and has whetted my appetite for more riding.
With just one day to capitalise on cycling, at lunchtime I ride along the beach to meetings or appointments, and at the end of the day look forward to riding and chatting halfway home with colleagues.
Before I started riding to work I caught the train and tram. It allowed me to read (albeit standing up in the peak-hour crush) but took longer and didn’t invigorate me at all. As soon as I took to the bike, I noticed that one by one, my colleagues have too. All of them live closer to work than me, but along the same route. Together we’ve collaborated and developed the most efficient, bike-friendly route.
On the way home we often pass ranks of ‘Mum’s Taxis’ dropping off and picking up kids from tennis lessons, music classes, the swimming pool, shopping strips and the like. I feel so free on two wheels, and out of the traffic, for my work day at least.
When I get home my young daughter, Pepper, sees my bike and almost always says “Mamma’s bike”. She then points to our car and says “Pepper’s car”. As far as she’s concerned the car is hers, and the bike’s mine, which is the way I hope it stays.