Life Wellbeing Catherine Deveny: My love affair on wheels
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Catherine Deveny: My love affair on wheels

Jesse Booher
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Riding a bike is simply the happiest, most life-affirming and convenient way to get from A to B. But when you are on a bike A to B is more likely to end up being A to B, C, D, E and F on the way to G.

The cycle-mad Dutch have a saying about riding in the wet: “You are not made of sugar.”

I’ll leave my house for a gig in the city and drop in the library books, nip in and check out that frock in the shop window, pick up some curry paste and a bunch of flowers, post a letter, grab a coffee and still get to where I’m going faster and happier than I would have any other way. Parking? Nailed it.

I don’t ride a bike for fun or sport. It’s my mode of transport. It’s how I get around. I adore it. I’m a comedian and a writer. I’m not making a living, I’m making a life. How I get about is not time spent waiting to be somewhere and do something, my time on a bike IS being somewhere and doing something.

Catherine-Deveny-1I ride everywhere. To work, gigs, appointments, errands, off on dates, picking up shopping, checking out festivals, going to sporting events, concerts, galleries and getting my three boys to where they need to go. I have even ridden to funerals.

Truth be told I’ve also been known to walk my overactive Jack Russell riding my bike. One hand on the handlebars, one hand on the leash. Often I ride off to a meal with friends, a party, swim or a movie and as wonderful as the event or activity is it’s the ride that’s the best bit.

Early morning smelling the crisp air with a waft of coffee escaping from of the cafes. Listening to the birds, feeling the glow of the sunrise as I watch all the other riders with their sleepy kids strapped to the back of their bikes. Blowing kisses to people I see on the way. Afternoons rugged up riding through the golden autumn, leaves fluttering.

Peddling through the cloud of intoxicating spring jasmine. Home from the pool still wet in a sarong and sandals, picking up some watermelon and icy poles on the way home. Summer nights cruising through the back streets hearing happy people laughing in their backyards. Coloured lights, the smell of barbeques and the sound of people playing music.

But winter’s my favourite. Rugging up in boots, scarf, coat and hat and peddling off into the chilly air, feeling my body warm up and feeling alive as I see people stuck in their car while I happily face the elements and nimbly weave through the lanes and backstreets. Arriving at my destination feeling alive.
What about the rain? The cycle-mad Dutch have a saying about riding in the wet: “You are not made of sugar.”

Riding is faster. I know exactly how long it will take me to ride anywhere. Traffic and weather don’t make a difference. Sure the odd head or tail wind can give or take you five minutes.

I hate being in the car now. It’s frustrating and I feel guilty! I don’t think everyone should ride everywhere all the time. I just want to encourage more people to ride more places more often.

I ride a big old Dutch grandmother’s bike called a Lekker. Lekker is Dutch for ‘yum!’. I ride in heels, frocks and lippy. I have even had a loan of an electric bike, which I highly recommend those who are worried their fitness isn’t what they’d like, their distances too long or they are worried about sweating.

Until recently it was only kids, posties, Lycra lads/ladettes and outdoor types and BMXers who rode bikes. But commuter cycling is booming. Copenhagen (considered one of the biggest cycling cities in the world) was like Melbourne 20 years ago. So get on your bike.

My tips for people keen to get back into it?

1. Get your groove back. Get back on that bike or learn again if you need to.
2. Get your ride. Fix your bike, loan one or buy one you love that makes you want to ride.
3. Get your route. Map out the best, safest and most fun ride to get to where you are going.
4. Get your mojo. Some attitude people!

My cycling mantra is maintain your line, be predictable, own the road, assume you’re invisible and look hot.

See you out there!

Deveny heads the Pushy Women army in March featuring Melbourne’s most prominent writers, comedians, thinkers and performers who will present their take on what bike riding means to them.

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