Bush Bandit Memories

Fallen tree - Coolidge Reserve, Henley Street

Fallen tree - Coolidge Reserve, Henley Street

My cousin Carlo (from Naples) is here on a 1 year working holiday. He’s staying at Mum’s. Mid-20s, sporty, optimistic and into fitness. I’m some of those things.

The other day I popped in for my 42nd birthday dinner. Last roast before Christmas. Carlo told me he is a bit frustrated with the lack of public transport here in Perth. Our system doesn’t come close to European standards. To me the answer was simple.

Why not ride a bicycle? There’s my old one in the garage.

In the garage was my dusty old Bush Bandit 500 bicycle from 20+ years ago. I didn’t put much hope in it working. The Bush Bandit was a popular alloy bike – cheap but beautifully made by Giant in the mid to late 80s. It was old and very dusty. We hosed it down and put air in the super-flat tyres. I rode it round the front garden. Unbelievably comfortable – if a bit heavy. Perhaps solid is a better word. I ride a CRX1 now. It’s a fast-ish, light-ish flat-bar road bike but I’ve never found fast bikes comfy. Sitting on the super-comfy Bandit took me back. I gave it a spin around the block. The Shimano gears were old but working perfectly. No grinding or awkward shifting. Click, click, click. A nice, comfy, smooth ride. I remembered having the girl’s seat put on for added comfort.

Those seats are for girls with big bums!

the guy in the bike shop said. Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls played in my head as I rode. The Bandit’s weathered tyres stayed plump . . . It seemed to remember me.

I pulled in. Carlo got on. It fit him like a glove. To him, this was simply a solution to his immediate problem.

I left Mum’s, head filled with Bush Bandit memories. Hitting the curb at 22. Flying through the air and landing in a kid’s park – on my back. Calling my Dad in case I fainted with concussion. Slipping in the rain from a standing start when I was 25 – moments after my girlfriend had just left me for England. I’d started wearing glasses and was living with my angry, crazy friend. He’d lost his Dad and now had a pile of cash instead. Weeks later, I discovered I had a broken wrist from that fall. Old girlfriends, night rides along Cottesloe Beach. It was all coming back.

Carlo now had a way to get to his job interviews. He has an international driver’s license but doesn’t trust himself to keep left on our roads.

I was very surprised when he got a waiter’s job at the Left Bank Bar in East Freo. I couldn’t believe it! The very same pub I used to work at when I was his age. The same bicycle I rode there on. I’m sure he’ll have similar experiences. Maybe even get the beach-bunny girlfriend like the one who left me for England. Freedom from care. Freedom from want.

Freedom from . . . anxiety!

I’m 42 now. Next stop 50. On the plus side, I received heaps of Facebook birthday wishes over the weekend – mostly from people I hardly know or ever see. Some I’ve never even met! Friendships are different now. Large companies mediate them. Nevertheless, I was touched. I don’t think I’ve ever had 50+ birthday wishes. Even if they were prompted by an automated social-networking computer program – each blessing legally owned, administered, demographed and target-marketed by the corporate entity ironically named, “Facebook”.

Maybe I’ll invest in one of those single-geared beach cruisers. Just for fun.

I’m doing Ride for Change on the 12th with Carlo. There’s a pod leaving from the Freo Town Hall at 8am. Maybe I’ll beat him to Northbridge. Somehow I doubt it. :)

About Heinrich

Promoting everyday cycling