We love bicycles here at The Blue Room Theatre. Along with being one of the most environmentally sustainable transport choices you can make, cycling is great for your mental and physical health, with a whole host of other benefits too. Our carbon audit (conducted in the process of working towards our goal of being carbon neutral) tracked the modes of transport our staff use to and from work, and The Blue Room Theatre aims to make sustainable transport choices increasingly accessible to our audiences, staff, and artists. Our new partnership with William St Cycle Co. reflects these values.
While a number of our staff at The Blue Room Theatre cycle to work, a particularly familiar sight is that of Zoe Barron – writer, parent, and nurse-in-training – riding between her home in Fremantle and her shifts behind the bar or front of house. We asked Zoe to write us a guest blog on the topic – here is her beautiful piece about her relationship to cycling:
“A few years ago, I broke my left little finger in a late night cycling accident. I was riding with some friends from one party to the next. We were all jazzed up on margaritas made in a blender rigged up to a pedal generator our friend James had constructed. We were riding fast, competitively, through a dark pocket of East Fremantle and I careened full bore into a traffic island I simply didn’t see. James said I flew four metres. The pet rabbit in the shoulder bag on my back survived somehow, and I escaped with a broken finger, a cracked helmet and a bloody hand. The next day, my partner and I rode our bikes to hospital to get me patched up.
A few days later, I was summoned back to have a cast constructed. In a windowless doctor’s office, the resident went over all the the things I couldn’t do.
“Oh, and you can’t ride your bike,” he said, almost as an afterthought. “Not for at least six weeks.” It was a thoughtless command for a minor injury that effectively revoked my transport, major form of exercise and main leisure activity, while seriously restricting my social life and work life. I went downstairs, unlocked my bike, and rode home one handed.
My bicycle keeps me sane. I love riding it, but I love the mechanics of it too. You can trace which moving part affects another: the teeth of a cog attached to the cranks fit neatly between the links of the chain, to drive the rear cassette, to spin the wheel; a lever on the handlebars shortens a cable to move a derailleur to change the gears. It all fits together and makes sense in a way that life often doesn’t. There is enormous comfort in that. Fixing a bicycle on a sunny day, barefoot in my driveway, everything melts away and the most complex of problems are reduced to hex keys, bolts, cables and cassettes.
The act of cycling is similarly meditative. I often ride home from my shifts behind the bar at the Blue Room, and the 50-or-so-minute journey to North Fremantle is the perfect head-clearing exercise. The roads are mine and the world is quiet, the dark divides everything into the simple muted tones of black and amber. By the time I get home, sleep comes seamlessly.
I’ve been doing this less frequently since my son came along. The regular night wakings and early mornings make the train more attractive, and the 15kms or so a lot longer than they used to be. But my bike is still an anchor point. A couple of weeks after I gave birth, I went for my first short ride into town and knew that although everything had changed, it was going to be okay; there was still this mode of freedom.
Since then, I’ve found ways to keep cycling. I had Teo strapped into a baby capsule on a cargo bike at four months, in a bike seat at ten months, and now, at fourteen months, he knows to cry out, “weeee!” when we speed down hills together. The bike seat is just behind the handlebars and he is safe between my arms. We talk about birds, and cars, and he points out any doggies we come across.
I’m looking forward to teaching him about chains and cogs and cables and the simple physics of cause and effect: how this part moves this part to achieve this affect. But most of all, I’m looking forward to showing him how awesome the world can be from the seat of a bicycle; how it’s possible to lose yourself in sheer, uncontained movement.”