Ballarat Swap Meet: all of the bikes

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Ballarat Swap Meet is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. After getting around the vast grounds on foot, pedalling around on bike is the second most popular method. Followed by every other kind of non-motorised conveyance you can think of!

Teapot Congo Line: a welcoming display

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Making a quick stop in Beaufort on the way to Ballarat Swap Meet, I was enticed closer by this row of aluminium teapots on the window sill. Unfortunately though, the side-street cafe was closed.
This photo is the first of a “one camera one lens” series, shot with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 using 20mm f1.7 lens and in-camera Dynamic Monochrome filter. I did no editing, other than to apply a border with Snapseed app.

New Old Bike: 1980s Speedwell Classique 3

Bike - Speedwell Classique 3

Friends, I have done something rash: I bought a bike. A few decades ago, I had a nice little orange step-through fixed-gear Malvern Star with back pedal brakes, which I rode around my childhood farm and on nearby roads with carefree, helmetless abandon. Fast-forward to 2016 and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden a bike since then. I’ll be honest – the idea of riding a bike with gears scared the bejesus out of me, what with my apprehension of a system I didn’t comprehend, and its clunk-crash-clank sounds. Like gardening, I’ve always felt I was better at looking than doing.

However, a few years ago I started following a rather wonderful blogger, Velouria at Lovely Bicycle!, and on and off would visit her blog for a bit of bicycle/riding inspiration. Her words reassured me that yes, even I could aspire to riding a bike for pleasure (pleasure, what!??), and that I didn’t need a fancy uber-pricey do-it-all bike. Thank you, lovely writer!

So this month, after reading this informative post (and also this earlier post, plus loads more at her blog and elsewhere online), I posted a Wanted ad for a vintage ladies 3-speed step-through bike on some local Facebook buy/swap/sell pages. In short time I was offered an ’80s Malvern Star ladies 3-speed that had been relegated to the shed twenty years ago; with nostalgic thoughts of my long-ago Malvern Star, I made arrangements to have a look. The bike – a made-in-Taiwan Speedwell, not the anticipated make (an error made, I think, because the handbook the buyer had been given at purchase was for a Malvern Star) – was rusted but straight and seemed gently used, and when I hopped on for a quick ride up the driveway my hopes were rewarded: finally, gears that didn’t fill me with dread, and a riding experience I didn’t feel negatively about! Very quickly we settled on a price, and I drove home with a silly grin.

My first task at home was to take dozens of photos to illustrate its “before” condition, discovering that this is a great way to get to know a new project without actually getting one’s hands dirty (a thing I dislike, and which you’ll appreciate makes repairs and gardening difficult!). I am hoping that with a little effort it will tidy up nicely – nothing too ambitious, mind you, but enough to get it running safely and well, and after that we’ll see.

As a “first bike” (I like to think of myself as a born-again bike virgin) I think it’s perfect: it’s in original condition, doesn’t appear to have been crashed, has mud and chain guards, sprung saddle, a rack at the rear, and scope for improvements. It even has the original bike shop sticker and handbook – albeit not one for this make or model! – and that’s the kind of provenance I had hoped for.

Now, to find a helmet I can live with….