maidenhair voyage

Long time, no see. Let’s not dwell. It will all make sense later.

For the world is wondrous and difficult and heartbreaking and wild. And that which we give freely is the richest gift. So I’ve only given you what I have had to give lately, which hasn’t been that much. Obviously.

So, you may remember that – some time ago – I talked of the species that indicates. And then I introduced you to  Claire, Zoe, Kate and now – Talia.

This has taken me some time, and Talia some time, because basically busy people are the best people, they have lives that are full and exciting and dazzling. They don’t need to be frantic, or jammed full of the senseless and silly, I don’t mean busy that way, I just mean busy in that things are being built and watched and thought of and rounded up and rounded in. If you can help them figure it out, they will figure you in. So you can’t blame busy people when they take a bit of time to come up with the goods.

Let’s meet Talia.

1. What was your first bike?

My first bike was a cheerful 70’s orange trike, lots of vinyl-seated fun tearing through the sprinklers in my parents’ backyard.

2. What are you riding right now?

My current beloved is a sky blue Schwinn Traveler, circa late 70’s.

3. How the hell did that happen?

My first new bike search in NYC was a little daunting. New to the city and living in Manhattan, I was hoping to just pick up a second-hand pushy, give it some love and be on my way. Yet, I found that bike shops were thoroughly over-priced (the cost of high shop rental being passed onto customers?), and the prospect of subway-ing around town following Craig’s List pipedreams was frankly an odyssey I could do without. I then came across a great non-profit (big plug!) called Recycle-a-Bicycle, which combines youth advocacy and environmentalism with all things bicycle. I dropped into their East Village store, Blue caught my eye, booked her in for a tune up and a little customisation, and now couldn’t imagine sharing this city with anyone else.

4. Favourite ride-on song?

The gentle rhythm of Cycling Trivialities, Jose Gonzales.

5. Anyone to thank for getting you into cycling?

I would say my Big Sisters, it was the only way I could keep up with them.

6. If you could take your bike anywhere, where would that be?

Right now, only about 10 minutes from my house, cycling along NYC’s waterfronts at sunset, my absolutely favourite NYC-thing to do… Heading over one of the bridges from Brooklyn to Manhattan at dusk, then riding up the westside of Manhattan along the Hudson River Greenway with the sun sinking heavy and red over the Hudson, glittering starchitecture on the right.. And then returning late enough so that the Brooklyn Bridge is less tourist-choked, indulging a ride over one of NYC’s most elegant bridges, and then gliding downhill-wards towards home in Brooklyn.

7. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “like eating a good breakfast” and 10 being “this is the meaning of life”, how important is cycling to your life?Hmm a good breakfast is actually one of my favourite things, so this is a little tough… But, well >10!

8. How do you feel about helmets?

Haaawt. Especially when the mercury inches over 35 deg! …yet even in all of NYC’s summer stickiness and the freedom I have to legally not wear one, it’s a compromise on my safety that I just can’t make, especially considering my daily Frogger-style commute to Manhattan. And of course, having grown up with Leggo-man stackhats, there are now comparatively awesome ways to style up and keep my grey matter in tact.

9. What interests you about women and cycling?

It’s a really great moment for women and cycling right now, the gender balance is visibly equalising, from riders and mechanics to designers.  I can feel the difference when I enter bike shops now as compared to 15 years ago (am recalling one conversation in a Melbourne bikeshop which I won’t name, running along the lines of ‘oh, you want to buy a bike? Red’s a really nice colour. There’s also blue?’ I’m not a bike expert, but geez). It does seem that ladies are at the vanguard when it comes to customising the cycling experience, drawing aesthetics, utility and pragmatism together in really innovative and inspiring ways. I’ve been coming across some really beautiful design work recently, and which I’m looking forward to sharing on this blog.  Bikes and ladies are simply a combination of the finest things :)

10. Complete this sentence: “riding my bike makes me feel…”

…free to the wind.

Learn more about Ms T, here in the place where the brain opens up.

Then thank the universe with me for all the amazing women who have ever passed through my life, their kindness and their intelligence, and their indulgence of my crazy hobbies.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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