Friday, February 19, 2010

Yikes! Yike Bike!

A friend sent me a link to this YouTube video:

Small, yes. Folding, yes. 10kg, yes. Impressive the way it packs into a cymbal case, yes.

For me, no.

I can just see myself falling off this.

On the other hand, it's electric, so perfect for those lazy days.:-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back in the day... my 1980s bicycles

I got my first bike, a second hand, one speed, coaster brake boy's bike, from my grandparents' neighbours when I was seven. I was a tomboy so the fact that it was very plain and didn't have ribbons on the handles suited me fine. It was rusty red. My mother, as a surprise, painted it purple as that was my favourite colour. I rather liked the red. I got laughed at a LOT with with purple. Still, it was a lovely gesture of Mum to do that, unknowing of how cruel kids can be when you have something that's 'different'. Anyway, I grew out of it in a few years and didn't get another bike; going to high school in town, a ferry and bus ride away I didn't need one. At weekends I went horse riding not bike riding.

Then in the late 80s my then boyfriend decided to start cycling, and I wanted to get back on two wheels too. However, having overbalanced and fallen off while trying his men's racer, I decided I wanted a bike like my little old purple one. Sturdy with wide tyres. Only with lots of gears to get me up hills. The only choice, in those days when comfort bikes hadn't been invented (let alone eBay) was a mountain bike.

Like most beginners I got a cheap K-Mart type bike. In the photo below, when you've stopped sniggering at the jeans, my first bike is the one on the right. It cost me about $250 I think. 15 speeds, and good enough for a while. Then, as often happens with those of us who start researching the new interest we have, I decided I wanted something with better gear on it. More upmarket equipment. Lighter weight.

Thus, the frame I am holding - yes, the purple one! - was my second bike.Better quality Shimano gears, better rims, better most things, CroMoly frame. 18 speeds. $450.

This setup lasted about six months. I then decided I wanted even less weight and more stability. So my boyfriend, who had by then modified his own bike and liked tinkering with mine, went shopping with me and we found this wonderful 80s neon-coloured CroMoly diamond frame, just right for my height. It was made in Italy, and cost me, I think, in the region of $600. We put all the gear from the purple bike onto this frame, and suddenly I had a lovely little bike I was happy with for many years. I swapped the knobbly tyres for city slicks and it went like a bomb on tarmac after that. What I'd built up was essentially a comfort or city bike, I guess, in an early incarnation.

The first bike I sold to my boyfriend's flatmate. Nobody wanted to buy the frame so years later it went to a charity shop.
Here's me with my final two-wheeled incarnation:
Yes, I do see that the saddle is way too low for me when I look at this pic now, but it seemed OK at the time. I think I gradually put it up as I gained confidence and rode longer distances. I hadn't ridden it for many years until a couple of years ago and the saddle was certainly a better height then.

This bike is now in the hands of one of my oldest friends, who wants to get back into riding and wants something sturdy and comfortable like she had when she was a kid :-). Only with lots of gears to get her up hills.

So there... a gentle cycle down memory lane on knobbly tyres.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sssh... I'm writing!

It's been a bit quiet here lately and I apologise for that. My intention was to a blog on a very regular if not daily basis, but the last few weeks I've been going through a bit of a watershed. Have been thinking long and hard about what I really want to do with my life. Which is essentially what I've wanted to do since I was twelve: write novels for a living.

I got talked out of by my mother, who wanted me to get an office job to bring in some money for myself and write in my spare time. I did write a novel when I was 17 and at my first job but it was so horrifically awful, I realised when I'd finished the first draft, left it for a bit and read through it, that it should be consigned to the garbage. I was writing about things I had no experience in, viz.: a love affair. I burnt it.

After that I lost patience with writing long works. I like the satisfaction of getting a draft done in one long sitting, and have since then written short stories. A large number of short stories (and not so short) over the years, hundreds if you include fan fiction and specific genre stuff. I've had some published in mainstream women's magazines, I've won prizes with three of them.

Lately though even writing short stories has become more difficult as work has become so busy. I don't have the mental space to shift into a creative mode. The only fiction I've written lately, as I joke to my husband, is timesheets.

Now I'm in my forties. The Great Australian Novel has still eluded me. Enough is enough. I've read plenty of trashy, poorly-edited and badly-written novels to know that I could produce one that is better. If some of the dross I've read has made it to the bookshops, there is hope for me yet.

So for the last few weeks I've been tossing around ideas for plots, for genre, for characters. I've developed some characters, had imaginary scenes in my head, but am still working on the finer details of the plot. I've researched HOW to write a novel, as it's a different world from that of the short story. I've declared I will spend an hour a day on the writing process, turning off the phones and email.

This last is the hardest part. Making myself unavailable to clients. There's always someone with something urgent and I tend to drop everything and do it. I really have to commit to myself now, as I'm feeling boxed in by people, by clients, by work, and it's taking a toll on my health.

I need to write this novel. I need to reclaim and rediscover myself. I have the support of my husband (morally... it might have to be financially for a bit if I really get serious on my writing). So plot.