Tour de Bush- and other places

The Tour de France is an event I look forward to every year. I adore the stunning scenery and it reminds me of the true joy of bike riding. Freedom and fresh air. It was one of my favourite childhood pastimes when growing up in country Victoria. Glorious independence on two wheels.
I rode my bike on flat dirt roads, two and half miles to get to the Gunbower Island school. Kids had to ride their bikes to get to school in those days(1950’s) On weekends, I rode along the tracks near the Cockatoo Lagoon, across the road from our house and out the bush, in the Gunbower forest near the Murray river.
That cleansed feeling of fresh air reaching the bottom of my lungs was intoxicating. And the wonderful healthy ache of tired leg muscles after they had pedaled non stop until they couldn’t push anymore, painfully pleasant..
On the way home from school we wove our way through the dairy cows on the roads and avoided snakes. On hot summer days my elder sister and I would stop to rest under a big shady gum tree half way home. The temperature was usually in the high 30’s. In winter the muddy roads became a challenge. We had to stop to unclog the mud from beneath the mudguards with sticks and despite wearing mittens our hands felt freezing when we got to school. They stung as we warmed them in front of the school heater. On foggy mornings moisture would drip from the overhanging tree branches and made the dirt soft and smooth .
My childhood love of bike riding endured .
In 1980 a girlfriend and I decided to spend 9 months cycling in Europe. I’ll never forget the astounded look on the face of the airport worker when we unpacked and assembled our bikes outside the British Airways terminal ” Where to now?” we said . That was the beginning of our adventure. It was the first time I had a bike with gears.
We rode, without helmets, through England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Holland, West Germany and Hungary. In other countries we opted to take the train. Some days when the roads were flat we rode up to 95 miles. On hilly days we did shorter 35 mile rides. I’d never felt so fit in my life.
Hungary was my favourite country. The open plains, the small friendly villages where orchestras played at outdoor cafes. Where the men drank strong liquor first thing in the morning and horses and drays moved at a pace slower than us. Where people took us home without asking if we needed a bed for the night. They just took us in..
On returning to Australia, weekend bike rides staying at country pubs became enjoyable excursions . A Christmas spent cycling round Tasmania, another wonderful trip
When I see those fit Tour de France cyclists powering up mountainsides I’m in awe of their physical stamina. What must it feel like to be that fit ? I know that drug allegations have tarnished the reputation of the event – but still, I watch the event with fascination. That gorgeous scenery is as stunning as ever. And bike riding on flat dirt roads is still a simple pleasure,

Pamela Sherpa

Comments

  1. Hi Pamela, what a great idea. Riding around Europe would be awesome. You’ve inspired me to get outside and go for a ride…uni study can wait. Thanks.

  2. G’day Pamela, loved your Tour de France item. I like you love watching the highlights on the tele, not only for the actual race but for the scenery. I still ride a bike daily, it’s the best way to get around.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    Hi Keiran, Rod, I’d love to be able to ride to work like I used to but have to travel too far these days
    Another thing I like about the Tour de France is the way the spectators are allowed to stand so close to the road, A touch hazardous at times I know but the people can feel so much part of the event. I also love the effort the farmers go to creating displays in their fields.

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