It’s easy to forget how lucky we Bendigo cyclists are. Someone who only took up cycling in Bendigo last winter sent me a reflection on his first ride here and reminded me.
The chilly air was biting nose and ears and I could see my breath forming clouds over the handlebars. I picked up speed, cruising down Specimen Hill Road towards the meeting point at the Caltex on High Street.
We moved off down High Street towards Kangaroo Flat, with the early Saturday morning traffic casually passing us by. Left at the fish and chip shop, a right, a left, a right as we followed the road, left over the bridge that crossed the train line, right again, and suddenly I found myself on the outskirts of Bendigo.
The houses became further apart, slowly blending into the thickening clumps of gum trees. I was sure that we had only been riding for a couple of minutes, and already I had ‘Gone Bush’!
Over the first hill and suddenly I was struck by the quietness. The only noise was the rhythmic clicking of the chain and the rolling of rubber on road.
I had to stop. I could not let this moment pass without absorbing the entire revelation.
I drew all the air I could through my nose, acknowledging every scent possible. The fresh crisp and chilly air filled my lungs with the sensation of breathing for the first time.
The early morning sun glistened through the droplets of water suspended on the tips of leaves and blades of grass. The whole atmosphere was breathtakingly beautiful, clean, clear and still.
Eventually, we moved off, desperately trying not to break the perfectly peaceful ambience. I thought, I am going to love riding around here if it is like this.
For the next 30 minutes, we did not see a single person, and the only sounds were those of the bikes; mechanical, detached and intrusive in the tranquil stillness.
Finally, a car went past. I could **actually** taste the exhaust fumes, which seemed offensive, obscene and disturbing, compared to the past half an hour of pure country oxygen. I reflected on all the Beach Road rides over the years, and to think I was breathing that toxic air!
I feel blessed to have been able to ‘Stop and smell the roses’ on this enlightening day.
I will look forward to the weekend rides around Bendigo and continue to be jealous of those out there who have experienced these scenes and ridden through this environment for years.
I resolve to regularly ride on the weekends, and continue to be alert for those spectacular moments that need to be cherished and acknowledged.