HughieP wrote:My memory may not be great but I am pretty sure it was kilometers. Late 70s - The counter was new. When did we from miles? BMT- cough cough.
Ahah, OK. Metric conversion was in the early 70s - about 1974 for road distances I think.
I must be a tad older than you then. My first bike was a 24" single speed - green with painted and hand pinstriped mudguards from Barry Waddell Cycles. We used to dreeeamm of riding a 3-speed! I never even had any mile-counter either. That was when I turned 9 yo in 1967. Later I got a bigger grid for high school transport and then the 24" became my first hack bike on which I was doing MTB rides (before MTB existed) in the bush of the freeway reserve, the apple orchard lands and through the Blackburn Lake reserves 'whoop de-doo' trails. Dad was never a cyclist so my brothers and I , and a few mates had to forge our way out to discover our surroundings.
I have a grand memory of one afternoon after school with a mate, out exploring when we came across a guy who asked for help - he was being threatened by another bloke. We were wary of getting involved in someone else's private dispute (there was no obvious violence or threat) so declined and rode on. Up the road we had an attack of conscience and turned back, only to find this kid had joined with the 'aggressor' and was throwing rocks at us
We rode off but then faced a problem at Burwood Hwy. Aged 11, crossing the highway to turn right was too intimidating, so we went left. Even at that young age I knew the road rules well, and was not going to ride on the wrong side of the road. This took us the long way to get home - about 7-8 kms, on darkening peak-hour main roads. We struggled with single-speeds walking up the 2km hill on Boronia Rd, and finally raced off for home at ~6.30pm (now well after dark). Fearing the reception I hurried in the back door. "Oh there you are! Tea's ready so go and wash your hands"
When I had passed through most of the teen years and rediscovered the utility of the bike to transport me to Monash for studies, I also discovered the idea of travel by bike. It fascinated me, although not my dad. He did not think much at all of my choice of a bicycle to get to uni "Not the sort of thing a professional
should be riding! You should spend your money on a car." $1500 for a cheap second-hand car (plus running costs) or $110 for a new 10-speed? The choice was obvious to me.
One summer break I organised a few friends and my brothers to go for a day fishing at Warrandyte. Fishing was a passion we had taken up - our minimal success at it assured that it was short-lived. We rode our bikes to Warrandyte (and discovered the hills
to get there.... and worse to get home) with fishing rods, tackle, bait, lunches and swimming gear. Most of us had single-speeds, in fact maybe all IIRC. A grand day out. Next holidays we planned a similar trip, 7 of us riding to Warrandyte for the day, fishing and swimming, then on to Wonga Park to camp by the river for 2 nights. Only 4 of us rode to Wonga Park, the others went home. Camping by the river on a farmer's cattle land (permission, what?), we fished and had great campfire cook-ups and story-telling. Then on the second night, disaster. Awoken at 2am, my brothers and I were sick as dogs. Our mate was OK, so he rode off at about 3am to get help. He found some shooters and they drove him to a phone booth (mobile phones
- nup) where he phoned home. Our dads were summoned from bed and eventually found their way to our campsite at ~5.30am just before dawn. Some medicine quickly resolved the vomiting for myself and one of my brothers so we were able to help in the pack-up of all our gear, bikes and tents.
Turned out the 3 friends who went home early got ill on the same night we were. All of us had drunk water from the Yarra on the first day out. We were so naive
After such a troubled start to bicycle touring you'd think I would have been deterred completely or banned from it by the 'olds', but no. I later joined YHA and their cycling group and have gone on to pursue this wonderful way of travel to see a large part of Australia by bike, and meet my wife through cycling in the process. I've tackled all types of touring - MTB trail riding, including MTB-style riding on the old tourer in 1979-81; Audax - my first taste of this sort of touring before Audax began in Australia, doing a 320km ride in 24hrs as a club event; organising group tours to all sorts of destinations including the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania; one summer running commercial tours in Tasmania where I met my wife; and tandem touring, the first major tour after we were married was 2 weeks on the tandem along the Great Ocean Road. Cycling for transport and touring to explore this land has been a wonderful part of my life and a life-time activity.
So back to the thread, night rides - several of my earliest cycling experiences have involved cycling at night in adverse circumstances. I am certainly not bothered by night riding - I love it. But I do it now with very good lighting.