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Writing Memoir – Symbol

July 5, 2018


Part 1 Page 33 Symbol

Start with an image that has become symbolic for you. It could be any type of image at all. Explore the image and it’s significance to your life. Try not to worry about why the image is important. Write about your actual relationship to your image.

This prompt caused me to stop and think about my relationship with bikes and cycling. Bikes have been ever present in my life from a very young age. At every stage in my life, cycling and bikes have been more or less important, but the bike has always been there, even if only in the background. At the time, when life is just being lived, the importance isn’t noticed. It’s just something that’s there. It’s only in looking back on a long life that I realise my life wouldn’t have been the same without bikes and cycling featuring heavily.

I’m fairly sure that my youngest memory, was of me riding my brand new bike up and down the hallway of our house on Christmas Day. The bike was a blue three wheeled trike, and seemed so so huge to me. My mother was very strict, so I remember thinking that I would get into trouble for riding the bike in the house. But nothing was said, so ride I did. This is a very vivid memory.

When I was in year prep, my grandfather would often collect me after school on his bike. I’d sit side saddle on the crossbar and off we’d go. I can remember being very excited for school to finish, so that I could go riding with my grandfather.

My grandparents were caretakers at the local showgrounds, so that was our backyard. I loved riding my bike at the showgrounds. There was no traffic and lots of open space to ride around.

From Grade 1 onwards, I rode my bike to school.  It was never considered unsafe and most of my friends rode also. The bike racks at our school were huge, to hold the bikes of most of the children at the school. Right through high school, I rode to school, most days. The days I didn’t ride, were the days I walked. We didn’t get driven to school on rainy days. The rain coat would go on, and off we’d go on the bike.  I remember waiting at the corner most mornings, for a friend named Graeme who lived nearby. I rode with Graeme almost every day during my high school years, and we became very good friends. Unfortunately I lost touch with him, when we both began to have our families.

When I was about 14, I rode with my friend Nada to visit her aunty in Undera. That was a distance of 25k, which doesn’t sound much to me today. But when I was 14, it was the longest distance I’d ever ridden. I loved being out on the country roads riding, and I’m sure that was where my real love of cycling began.

I didn’t ride at all, from my late teenage years, to very early thirties, due to marrying and having children. However, by the time my third child, came along, and the older children were at school, I couldn’t wait to get back on the bike. So,with my daughter, aged one year, in the baby seat, I rediscovered my love of cycling. The two of us went out on the bike most days. We spent hours riding slowly around town and out past the orchards.  There was no pressure, just a new found love of cycling, which continued throughout my life from then.

When my daughter, Lisa, who I had carted around on the back of my bike as a baby, became older, she was also into cycling.  The first organised ride we did together was the Melbourne Bike Ride followed shortly after by the South Australian Bike Ride. When she moved to London, I spent time there visiting her. She made sure that I had a bike and we rode all around London and out into the countryside. We took a train to Wales and rode around the south of Wales for a week. The memories we made together on our bikes are priceless to me.

Over the years I’ve done many rides, organised by Bicycle Victoria, Bicycle NSW, Bicycle SA and Bicycle Qld. These are usually one week rides, though there have been a couple of two week rides. In total, I’ve done 13 of these rides, and feel like I’ve seen Australia from my bike saddle.

In 2006, when my marriage broke down, I decide it was time to make a new start in a new city. I chose Bendigo, as I knew it was a great cycling city with a very enthusiastic cycling culture. It is due to my love of cycling that I was able to settle down very quickly to life in Bendigo and make friends. The first thing I did, was to find a group of road riders, and I rode with them for many years.

Lately, I’ve had time off the bike due to injury, but I will be back in the saddle in the next few weeks, renewing my relationship with my bike or bikes.

The writing exercises in this series are from Patti Miller’s book – Writing True Stories, published in 2017, by Allen & Unwin.

What symbol has been ever present in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I do reply to all comments.



From → Family stories

  1. Another great writing exercise, Jen although I’m struggling to find a symbol. I can’t ride a bike as I’ve never had one, except like you the tricycle I received on Christmas day many years ago, which I also rode up and down the hall because it was raining Christmas morning. I’m loving your posts as you work through the book and look forward to next week. Have a great week, my friend. x

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