Of Summer Heat and Bicycles.

Lone Tourer.jpeg
The Lone Tourer

Summer is hot where we live! Too hot for cottage garden plants, and this year too hot for me..

The love-in-the-mist plants have died off and their brittle corpses bestraggle themselves brownly across bits of our garden path and bestrew their brittle branchlets amongst the roses.

In this heat, I know how they felt as they dried to a desiccated death (or would have “felt” if plants feel).

The hot sky is cheerfully and cruelly blue.

It is far too hot to ride a bicycle!
Too hot or not, that hot summer sky’s blueness both blends and clashes with the gaudiness of the lycra clad pedalling racers Touring Down Under through our hills.

from the advertiser
From the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ January 18th 2019

The ‘Tour Down Under’ cycling event is always raced under the harsh South Australian summer sun.

This past few weeks, little old Nairne, and places like it, have been packed with parked cars and strangers.
It’s a cafe trading bonanza!
Touring gawpers gawp at gardens, grapes, granite, and gables as they bustle to see bunches of blokes on bikes breezing through the Adelaide Hills.
A hot, racy breezing on bikes in the heat.

The two-wheeled carbon neutral physically fit transport concept is great
– but the act of competitive pedalling turns otherwise normal and nice people into obsessed overheated fools who have lost all idea of dress-sense and sensible behaviour.
You know that can’t be good. They risk cardiac crises and dehydration.
Never-the-less they smile through the sweat as they congregate in the alfresco areas of village coffee shops.
Good on ‘em!


I remember another era when a bicycle was a different beast entirely from the one they it has evolved into – a finer beast  – a refined and elegant device.

My bike.
My ‘Bullock’ with its proud ornate “B” badge thrust forward
– all black, graceful, heavy.
No carbon fibre or light alloys on that girl.

She was steel – British steel,
Her big wheels soaked up the inconsistencies of the dirt tracks and gravel roads.
Her momentum carried this pre-lycra, corduroy and denim clad, helmet-less rider effortlessly.
She carried me over the miles, seated luxuriously on her extravagantly sprung seat.

Her horizontal crossbar had ties to hold a collapsed sports fishing rod
Her hessian pannier had room for scrumped apples,
Her wet bag held fish.

She was a bike of bikes – big, bold, black, and beautiful
… but now her kind is gone and replaced by all these lighter,lesser, mean, nasty, skinny, fast, expensive machines.
Machines that swarm the roads like locust plagues in their shiny, gaudily alloyed millions.

Sigh! … But the Bullock – that was a bike!

Morning on the Highway

The Road

A January Dawn.

The sun is up and the air is hot already.
We are 160 kilometres from home – time to change drivers.
Yumali sits quiet and warm by the highway.
I have often travelled this Adelaide – Melbourne road and, thinking back over the last half century or so, I don’t remember Yumali being anything but quiet … but not always this quiet.

The air is beautiful.
The quiet is beautiful.
The light is beautiful.

The traffic is very light at this hour of the morning, but this stillness serves to make the noise of passing trucks all the more intrusive.
Distant magpies carol, singing honeyeaters make the songs singing honeyeaters make, and a very stroppy Willie Wagtail scolds this bald, bearded intruder.

Mrs and Mr Wagtail have claimed the old Yumali hall as their territory. They have a nest secreted away from the world in its dusty eaves.

The hall isn’t really “old” so far as “old” goes. It was built of concrete block work in 1960.
Even though this building is nine years younger than I am, it has an older, perhaps “timeless” authority than I could ever manage sitting there by the Sherlock Road intersection with the highway.
It looks old with an old kind of charm.
It is plain but lovely.

Yumali Hall Morning.

The weathered doors and woodwork make the building look a little bit unloved, but I am sure it is loved.
Its silence holds quiet echoes of the life and love it once held and felt.
I am sure that life and love lives in the hearts and memories of people living not far from these doors.

And peeking through the gap in the wooden doors, holding my phone camera to the hole, I can see an echo of that life.
I can take the photo and keep a wee trace of that lovely echo for myself.

Peeking Through the Gap

Something in me wants to stay.
Part of me wants to keep the silence for my own.
Part of me longs to be wrapped in the quiet.
Part of me wants to stop in Yumali and love this hall.
But we have roads to drive, journeys to make, promises to keep.

Yumali Hall is safe under the gaze of the Willie Wagtails.