Pedalling the Elements


It’s a beautiful day
The breeze in my face
Bad memories fade away.
Unknown Indigenous Author

My brother James and I are flying down a hill, absolutely flying. I’m screaming so loud my prepubescent voice might finally crack.

We are two boys who love the rush of riding our pushbikes fast as possible down any hill we can.

Out on a road near Berowra Waters me and James are coasting in the eddies behind a caravan being towed down a hill. We are both eager to pass this slow load to seek out the open air in front.

Then I see a stretch of road with nothing coming the other way and look over to James with a tilt of my head and press down on the gear leaver before steering out of the slipstream into the oncoming wind. The turbulence is blustery and blowing me around in all directions, I tuck down to hide from the resistance and glance over my shoulder. James is right there on my wheel. Top gear clicks in as I draw up beside the caravan. My legs are pumping like all get out, and the noise of the world going by whooshes in my ears so loud I can no longer hear myself giggle. I turn again and a gust of wind catches in my mouth, puffs into my cheek and whips a trail of saliva out across my face.

Gravity now well and truly has us; we had better concentrate. I watch the caravan rocking under its own inertia; it wants to roll off its hitch and right over the car whose breaks are squealing under the duress. Dirt, bugs and road bits are flicking up from the tyres of the rig and into my shins, face and teeth. I draw by the car and grab a fleeting look at the driver but by now James and I have doubled our speed and we’re way ahead in our own clean wind. James pulls off my wheel, passes by and I tuck in behind him.

We must be pushing eighty-clicks! We’re on the back of a big black serpent and everything’s rolling by in a smudge of colour and movement. I forget about all the noise; forget about what could happen if the small surface area of tyre-rubber loses traction on the road underneath; forget about school exams and family money troubles.

The road flattens out and our warp speed wanes, the world catches up as we coast onto the ferry just before the master closes the boom gate. Across the expanding gap of water between us and the hill we just rode down, the caravan lurches to a stop to wait for the next ride.

About Blair Paterson

Blair grew up and lives in Sydney’s Inner West. He first realised a love of nature and the outdoors during weekends and holidays with his family on the Hawkesbury River. From humble childhood pastimes building billycarts and tree houses to spending large chunks of time in the bush, Blair now embarks on outdoor pursuits whenever and however possible – by foot, kayak, bicycle or other. He has worked in Environmental Management and currently Outdoor Education. Some of his fondest travels to date have been around Australia and through the Indian Himalayas.
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