I do so enjoy just being out about town on my bike. Mine is a sprawling, car dependent city, where going for a walk down the main street might see you pass no more than a few dozen people. Well you might think that’s sufficient, for your daily fix of interaction, but if you were as discerning as I am, about who you will talk to, you need to be passing hundreds, or thousands. When I lived in New York, I had to walk along Broadway, and in Singapore, it was Orchard Road. I want to be out there having casual exchanges with that 0.001% of all people, who are semi interesting. Seen in those terms, 10 blocks along Broadway, equals a 50 square kilometre zone, in a shit hole like this one. And thus I ride.
I’m not complaining. Monday afternoon, I happened upon a cafe in an industrial area, with a view of a warehouse. A slither of Williamsburg hipster culture dropped into Newcastle, just waiting for our fixie brigade to discover them. Come on you guys with tight jeans and cool quiffs: they serve double ristrettos when you ask for espressos. The dude surfs and the girl should be a model. No one, but no one, knows where it is. It is right next to old train tracks. What more could you possibly ask for?
My last chance encounter of interest on Monday, was with Michael the super commuter. Until last week, I knew him only as the guy who rides to the city every day, along the route via which I depart. He is of but a handful of people, who I know, ride regardless of weather, who don’t cloak their lives in bike cred, but who give themselves no option but riding to work.
I’ve always wanted to know him, but the black helmet, chopper bars, rack of lights and air horn, told me “beware”. What a surprise, to learn he is an absolute softie! He reads my blog, is building a box bike as a bonding project between himself and a few dozen uncles, and wrote to ask if they could come have a look at my shop-bought version. Here is where they’re up to with theirs: