Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.  — James E. Starrs

I’m in love with my bike. Though I’ve always had a bike, recently it has become like a new lover. I want to be near it, talk about it and dwell upon it during every moment of every day. I want to get on my bike and ride off into the sunset forever. I want to gaze into distant horizons and whisper sweet nothings into its handlebars.

Destination? Nowhere.

That’s the special thing about riding a bike: you don’t need a place to go because bike riding is essentially flying through the air at ground level, just like we do in dreams — but real. The endless exhilaration of freefalling towards nowhere is the destination.

On my bike, pedaling through Melbourne city, I see features that I’ve never noticed before, even though I’ve driven down the very same streets a thousand times in my car. Perched on a saddle with my leg powered vehicle, I’m transported to a city that I’ve never been to.

Along Melbourne’s tiny streets and laneways, I zigzag, taking in an exhibition of art that has been splashed and pasted to walls and telephone poles. Old art peels at the edges to uncover layers and layers of self-expression. Tiny sculptures hide in tucked away places — little artists’ gifts to strangers who have the patience to look for them.

On one street, a super-sleek mansion towers above a ramshackle townhouse that is sinking into its foundation, skewed like it has fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole. These streets are as eclectic and exciting as a trash and treasure bazaar, yet somehow I’ve never noticed that before.

I see houses for sale, houses being sold and young couples moving into their new home. I’m not a fly on the wall but a traveling fly, zipping by unnoticed as the couple balances lamps and floppy tartan couches, lugging a clash of furniture into a new nest, beginning their lifetime together with elated smiles.

Odours of cooking garlic arrive in delicious explosions. People’s homes each have their own unique arrangement of smells: cedar wood, blooming flowers, fresh laundry, chip bark, and sometimes children, animals or annoying in-laws mixed into the olfactory stew. Sometimes, even though I see nobody in sight, I smell a sweet perfume that has traveled on the breeze like a piece of fine silk from a faraway place.

It sure beats the old sock funk that pours from my car’s air conditioning vents.

When the sun goes down and the street lights come on and everyone scurries off into their homes, I want to carry on charging into the darkness just to feel the burn of cold air on my cheeks.

Dear bike, I love you. Love Torre.

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Whimsical house with a hidden sculpture (bottom right, near the weed).

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Hidden sculpture up close.

See more pictures here –>

Author’s bio: Torre DeRoche faced her fear of the ocean by island hopping across the Pacific for two years aboard a humble boat with a man she met in a bar. She has written a book titled Swept – Love With A Chance Of Drowning. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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19 Response Comments

  • Lauren  April 19, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Om my gosh, I’m in love with my bike too! And autumn is such a beautiful time of year to ride around our fine city isn’t it! Riding to work is the best start to the day and riding home is just perfect to ride and just think about stuff, you know?
    Love your article Torre!
    That artwork looks like Ghostpatrol, is it near you? Love that creepy little face too, nice find!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 19, 2011 at 5:24 am

      The creepy face is in Fitzroy between Smith St and Brunswick. We’ve had the most perfect bike riding weather, and yes — it’s a great time to do your thinking! It’s because ideas float around in the airwaves, so when you’re out zipping around in your bike, you catch them.

  • tom  April 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Hi Torre, first time ive read your blog properly 🙂

    I love this post. Just recently the weather has been heating up here in the UK infact is 22 degrees today! I got my bike out of the garage last week and gave it some TLC and went for a ride at the weekend. I didnt go anywhere in particular like you I just rode in a general direction. I ended up sat at a lovely riverside pub and had a beer before cycling back.

    In a car the scenery just passes by – riding on a bike you are there in the scenery taking it all in and enjoying everything you see! I will be riding my bike lots this year!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 20, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Hi Tom, Thanks for your comment. “In the scenery” is a great way to put it. I love how, when I get on my bike, I’m never quite sure where I’ll end up. Often my whims lead me to a place with beer, though 🙂

  • Shelley  April 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks for the great story. You nailed it! Do you mind if I share with my local cycling community here in Boise? Can’t it for your book to come out. Let us know when the book tour will start, Boise and Tahoe will have to be on your stops.

    Miss you.
    Shelley and Mark Maclean

    • Torre DeRoche  April 20, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Of course you can share it! I look forward to seeing you guys again when I make it back to the States. xo

  • Debbie Beardsley  April 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    In the last couple years I have rediscovered my bike too! We love to take bike rides in our town but also take them with us to explore on the weekends. Great post.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 20, 2011 at 5:30 am

      Hi Debbie, thanks for your comment. I think there’s a sensory memory in bike riding and it comes from the freedom of being a kid: riding the streets until late, going nowhere, completely unburdened by adult problems. Unfortunately kids these days aren’t often permitted that bike riding freedom!

  • hugh.c.mcbride  April 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    “That’s the special thing about riding a bike: you don’t need a place to go.

    Of all there is to love in this post (and believe me, there is *much* to love in this post), the line about not needing a place to go is my favorite. This line is also, I believe, the excerpt that best captures the beauty of bike riding — it truly is much more about the journey than the destination.

    Thanks so much for writing & posting this. Now I need to finish up my workday so I can go for a ride =)

    • Torre DeRoche  April 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

      Thanks for your comment, Hugh. When I went sailing, the destination was the destination! The journey (sailing from place to place) was hard and it was a matter of endurance. With bike riding, I don’t care so much about the end point because it forces me into the moment, though admittedly, I do look forward to the long strips of downhill!

  • Kim  April 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Oh, I totally hear you. I love my bike too. I commute 9 miles (each way) by bike to work and every day I’m so so so happy to be zipping by on two wheels. How many people can say they love their commute to work?

    • Torre DeRoche  April 20, 2011 at 5:34 am

      Nice work, Kim! You must be nice and fit. What’s Oregon like for bike riding?

  • Tijmen  April 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I ride my bike everyday to work, but since spring has arrived here I can finally ride my racebike again in the weekends. Was the first time last weekend since Sept last year, forgot how much I missed it. There are so many empty long roads to cycle on around here, cant wait for more sunny weather 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  May 5, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Where are you? Guatemala?

      • Tijmen  May 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm

        No, I live in Holland. It’s pretty flat all around, the highest point is only like 340 meters and if you would translate the name of the hill, it would even include the word “mountain” 🙂

        • Torre DeRoche  May 7, 2011 at 12:10 am

          Hills are considered to be mountains in Australia too. My hometown is called Mount Eliza but the ‘mountain’ is just a small bump of a hill.

  • Grace  May 2, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Believe it or not but I suck at riding bikes. I did not grow up riding bikes and have this fear of riding one on a street with real traffic. What’s even totally weird is that I find it hard to turn right on a bike! A little like how Zoolander’s inability to turn left on a stage.

    • Torre DeRoche  May 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      That’s funny. Do you also ride with your face posed in a Blue Steel? Sounds like it’s just confidence, you learn a lot of that when you grow up on a bike which you missed. As for traffic, it’s a little scary but also exhilarating, especially when you zip past lines of bumper to bumper traffic 🙂


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