Kelly Millar – 27 March 2022

Today I donated my road bike to The Bike Shed at Ceres, to ensure it is recycled, giving it a second life, and also giving someone else the opportunity to enjoy cycling. I also wanted to support the team of volunteers at The Bike Shed who do a great job encouraging a circular economy and bike riding in general.

In handing over my gift, it would be remiss of me not to tell you about my trusty bike’s first life, given I have owned it for over 35 years. I distinctly remember the day I purchased my Shogun road bike from The Freedom Machine in Chapel St, Prahran. As a Uni student, it was a significant purchase for me, but I opted for a good quality bike as I planned to do some significant rides. Turns out that wise investment was very worthwhile, as the bike has truly stood the test of time. My first big adventure on the bike was the 1987 Great Victorian Bike Ride (GVBR), a 600km ride through Victoria over 7 days, and an incredible event with friends (and 2000 others aged from 7 to 87)!

The training was intense, most likely due to the sheer terror of managing to ride 100kms each day, and saw us ride from Melbourne to Red Hill on one training ride, the final hill proving to be as brutal as we imagined. The event itself was mind-blowing, with 2000 cyclists camping every night before jumping on bikes every day to do it all again. The sheer logistics of organizing train rides for cyclists (with their bikes) to the start of the event, establishing campsites (where we pitched our tent every night after riding 100kms!), feeding riders every day and night (it was like an army mess hall), organizing semi-trailers to cart camping gear and bags from site to site, and of course the backup wagon for those riders who needed help along the way is mind-boggling in hindsight. We finished the ride cycling over the West Gate Bridge, and I can’t tell you the sheer elation at finishing, although I will admit on more than one occasion over the seven days we contemplated getting the train home……it was tough going some days – think rain, headwinds, wet tents, sore muscles, along with the psychological challenge of knowing how far you still had to go.

Although I didn’t ride for a few months after the GVBR (think Zorba and the cherries), it didn’t stop my love of cycling. The GVBR was followed by Easter Bike, a similar style event run by the same organisation, where cyclists camped over Easter and rode their bikes on short rides around the Castlemaine area. Now we’re talking; it was a much more relaxed event at Easter Bike, where you could cycle to a winery, enjoy a tipple or two and then catch the train back. Super fun, especially when done with a bunch of great friends.

My trusty bike then took things up a notch when I decided to take up mini Triathlons. It didn’t skip a beat, as I jumped on the bike after a swim leg, pedalled maniacally to complete the bike leg, then practically threw it to commence the run leg. Of course, as life changed, so too did my riding habits. I left the very, very active early cycling years behind, and weekends became more manageable rides along the wonderful Yarra River trails with
my husband, enjoying a picnic midway before riding home.

When babies arrived, it’s fair to say the bike spent a good couple of years gathering dust in the shed. But once our twin boys were old enough to ride, we delighted in introducing them to the joys of bike riding, and loved nothing more than riding along Melbourne’s many bike tracks, or on the peninsula bike paths around Somers, Balnarring and Hastings.
With the arrival of the boys’ sister, we swapped panniers for a baby seat, and my daughter got to experience her first bike ride with the family. It wasn’t long before she had her own bike, and so her cycling life also began.

As the kids grew, life with a busy family curtailed my bike riding for many years, so it became more intermittent for a time, but it didn’t stop my love of riding, and that true sense of freedom that comes with a self-propelled vehicle and the fresh air in your face, and wind in your hair. No e-bike for me just yet, that’s cheating!!

Wind the clock forward to February 2020, and my bike was pulled out of the shed and given a well overdue service when we moved to a new house on the doorstep of the Yarra Trails. Little did I know that within a month of our move, my beloved retro bike would become my saviour!!!

Yes, in March 2020, as the world shut down, and Melbourne went from the world’s most liveable city to the world’s most locked-down city, my bike was my ticket to sanity. Every weekend, myself and one of my besties set off on a bike ride, to escape the sense of doom and catastrophe, and to
keep ourselves fit both mentally and physically. I can’t tell you how important my bike was during that time.

More recently over summer, we rode part of the East Gippsland rail trail, and absolutely loved the challenge and the stunning scenery and history along the way. Now as the world opens up, we have moved to a new home, again just a stone’s throw from more bike tracks in Melbourne and the bike has been used regularly. As I had promised myself a new bike
with this final downsizing move, I decided it was finally time to upgrade my road bike. A new hybrid bike awaits, but my challenge will be finding one that is just as perfect as its predecessor – no mean feat.

I will miss my trusty bike, it’s been alongside me for more than half my life, and a part of my life’s journey. But I am so pleased to know it will continue to have a second life through The Bike Shed, and I hope will bring as much joy to its new owner as it has to me for many years to come.

Happy cycling!
Kelly Millar
Hawthorn, Victoria