Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pashley Picnic.

Before high-tailing it across the Tasman, Ginger and I had the rare opportunity of using bicycle transportation during the middle of the day without the 6 litres of sweat which usually accompanies anything more strenuous than getting up from the sofa during a Perth summer. There was a 'Jazz Picnic' being held by the river, less than three kilometres from our house, at Bayswater Riverside Gardens. Usually we would walk that distance but it was breezy and bright outside and perfect for a Saturday morning bicycle. It was also a lot easier to bring food if we cycled. So, Jazz Picnic. Deciding that sounded suitably pretentious an event to bicycle towards, we slathered ourselves in several layers of sunscreen and set off into the unseasonably cool late morning. After the requisite posing on the front lawn, obviously.

When your belt matches your handbag so perfectly, you have no choice but to record it for posterity.

This was my first time with a heavy weight in the Pashley's rear basket, and I was interested to see if it affected the handling. I asked Ginger to ride his 3 speed cruiser rather than his road bike, just in case I was a lot slower. I strapped sun hats, a large IKEA insulated bag full of multiple large drinks (The heavier portion of the load), fruit salad and cold rice salad into the basket, put an enormous handbag in the front basket and proceeded down a fairly major road. Fortunately, the usually intimidating road was abnormally quiet. It was still warm but a lovely sea breeze was drifting from the coast and preventing sweat from forming. The Pashley steamrolled over the uneven surfaces in typical fashion and I realised that I couldn't actually feel the load, I wasn't even in a lower gear. The great thing about the heft of the Pashley is that even a microscopic downwards slope can keep you rolling for a long time. It's the initial collecting of inertia that could be perceived as taxing. Once we arrived (the entrance is 'Official' bike path and runs through a Bird Sanctuary) we were pleased to see a few other bicycles around but raised an eyebrow at the council decision to allow cars IN the park. What was usually a green open space quite removed from the road, full of exercise equipment, BBQs and right next to the Bird Sanctuary had transformed into an ugly car park. This was extra-stupid for the fact that there were real car parks right next to the gardens and they weren't even half full. Sadly, people took the opportunity to park 20 metres closer to the bouncy castle. I wonder how much the lawn rehabilitation cost afterward?

You can see Ginger's back wheel on the left, it's already parked in the bike rack next to the real car park.
This is the same spot from a different angle (as we were getting ready to leave).
I am next to the bike rack and one of three car parks, yet you
can see the cars blotting the lawn behind the tents.

Having been regulars to the gardens on foot several times a week for exercise, Ginger and I had never consciously looked for bicycle parking but we eventually found an older style rack near the public toilets. We were the first bicycles to use the lone rack but just after we locked up, a woman arrived on a hybrid bicycle towing a bike trailer full of her smiling offspring. The trailer had bench seats, a pennant shaped safety flag streaming behind, a solid awning top and enclosed fly-screen sides, the kind which makes me wish they had been available when I was a child as they look like the very best way to experience the neighbourhood. Somewhat bizarrely, the woman was decked out in full lycra with logos included. Her children were wearing everyday clothes and not sports specific fabrics for their ride in the trailer. I looked around for some kind of roadie gathering but she was alone. Perhaps she was planning to unhitch the children and leave them to be raised by birds so that she could finally live her dream life of sweaty hybrid cycling? I can't believe that she really thought she HAD to wear that simply because she was on a bicycle but if by some black magic that was the case, I hope she was encouraged by the ordinary clothes of the few other cyclists in the park. We exchanged smiles in the way bicyclists do, acknowledging our stubborn freakishness.

Note almost empty car parks in the distance as well as right next to this bicycle rack.

There was a community policing station set up next to the bicycle rack so we felt totally at ease about leaving our bikes and wandering around on foot. There was a jazz band on a stage, some market stalls and plenty of entertainment for the children. I purchased a pair of vintage, costume jewellery clip-on earrings from a second hand stall because they were identical to a pair my maternal grandmother wore when she was alive and I was already feeling nostalgic thanks to the bicycling and summer breezes. Ginger bought a hat for a costume party we were attending later in the season. We sat in the shade of a tent to eat and drink while the band played to a mostly disinterested audience. Somebody from the council was distributing free watermelon slices, a lovely idea for a summer day. The temperature was starting to climb so we decided to make our way home before the sunscreen sweated off to uselessness.

As most of the people had driven, the area outside of the cluster of tents and cars was deserted and we had the bike paths and bird sanctuary to ourselves, enjoying the leafy shade and heron sightings. I do wonder why there was a such an unusually high rate of car transportation for a small, local outing; Bayswater events are generally full of local area residents who live within walking distance. I surmise it was because of the emphasis on children's entertainment in the promotional materials. The people of Perth seem to find transporting their children to be a herculean task requiring the latest in equine absent horsepower, as confirmed by half of the park by our house being filled with cars for the tiny Carols by Candlelight later that summer. Obviously the bicycle trailer industry needs some serious advertising.

View from a Pashley. The Bird Sanctuary.

The Ginger-crested Wanker in its native habitat.

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