We have become minor local celebrities. Everywhere we go we collect a comet tail of kids saying “that is so cool” and adults saying “aren’t you hot?” Sadly, I think the adults are referring purely to temperature.
This is all thanks to a whole new lifestyle. Nearly all our local trips are now done by Christiania bike. It is a large trike with a box in the front for kids, shopping, almost anything you can comfortably carry in a small car. It has a carrying capacity of 100kg (excluding the rider), so we can easily take a 3 year old, a 7 year old, and a full trolley load of shopping home from the shops, even up the hill.
It is incredible fun in its own right, once you get used to the behaviour of a trike, as opposed to a two wheeler, but by far the best thing about the Christiania bike has been our sudden full immersion in our local community. Indeed, we plunged in so fast I am still gasping. We chat to the people we pass (those brave few that still walk). We wave at people in cars, who look variously astounded, appalled, or envious. Once we get to school we are invariably mobbed by a crowd of enthralled primary school kids, and a bunch of amazed parents.
We are cheered on up the hills, and admired while we coast down them. We are getting to know many of the people on our regular routes, as they come out to chat and check out this bizarre creation.
We have had to slow down our lives somewhat – I see this as an upside, although some might not. It takes around 10 minutes longer to do the school run on the bike instead of in the car, but that’s a pretty small price to pay for the fun we are having, the fitness I am gaining, and the environmental footprints we are not leaving. It means we have to factor in a little more time for some trips, and I am yet to discover our limits with respect to heat – there is an excellent sunshade on the bike, but the hills are rough on the rider in high temperatures. Still, we have managed 35 degrees without trouble, with help from a spray bottle of water, wielded by the kids with great enthusiasm (I may need windscreen wipers for my glasses). I suspect we will be driving on the 43 degree days, but it remains to be seen exactly where we draw the line. I am hoping it will help me lose some weight, but it is not nearly as much work as I expected, so it might not be quite the silver bullet I was hoping for on that front!
I need to get a cycle computer for it, so that I can see how far we are traveling. All those short trips add up. Today we did the school run morning and afternoon, and a short local trip in the morning as well. Rough mental arithmetic suggests that we did at least 12km, all on one 35 degree day. That’s not a bad effort, now that I think about it. That should add up to a lot of fitness and a lot of friendly conversations over the next few years.
I haven’t tackled Wheelers Hill yet, the local mini-mountain – I’m working up to it gradually. But we seem to have knocked off the mountainous lifestyle change without breaking a sweat. I am sure there will be times when we don’t use it. When I am too tired, or sick, or haven’t got time. Our mileage will vary, but the richness of our lives has increased immeasurably.