Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride
There are plenty at Bridgewater who’ve caught the cycling craze. Two or three home owners clock up substantial miles most days with their cycling clubs, whilst others prefer the occasional gentle cruise along the estuary. But, if you hang around the driveway at cycling rush hour – round about 9 o’clock – you might see a very different type of machine whizzing by.. recumbent bikes. Don’t let the reclined pose fool you, these cyclists are far from holiday mode. They cover some serious miles, often with a load in tow.
For father and son team Russell and Damon, a lengthy bike ride is an essential part of their daily routine. They head out each morning for two to three hours at a time, sometimes to the Dawesville Cut, sometimes to the town centre, often with trailers in tow for shopping. The car doesn’t get out so much.
Originally from the U.S, self-confessed gypsies Russell and Janet White decided to call Bridgewater home around 12 years ago. When their son Damon moved in with them four years ago, recumbent cycling was already a big part of his life, “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 27 years ago and my balance is not good” says Damon, “I rode normal bikes until 2005. I rode one as recently as October last year when I went up to Geraldton. I can still ride one but-” “It scares the dickens out of all of us!” laughs Russell. Russell had also been a fan of the two wheels, but he became a recumbent convert soon after Damon moved in.
We caught up with Russell and Damon after an especially long outing. They headed off with no particular plans to shop and came home with 50 kilos of potting mix loaded onto the rack. “We’ve got two trailers,” says Damon, “normally we’d take the trailers, but today we didn’t think of it”.
Damon is a keen gardener, hence the spontaneous purchase. The living area of their home has views to a sunny patio where Damon’s efforts can be seen flourishing – a strawberry tower, herbs, vegetables, flowers, even a paw-paw which Russell says reminds them of a previous home in Hawaii.
“Are you worn out?” we ask, “To be honest I’m not worn out at all,” says Russell. “We’re both in fairly fit condition because of the riding. This was an exceptional ride this morning.”
Later in the day, another recumbent heads through the village and out the gate. Ron Russell is looking forward to one of his favourite loops; along the Old Coast Road to Miami, across to the inlet, then back along the estuary cycleway to the rear gate of the village.
Ron loved to cycle, but mid last year it was taken away from him when he had a stroke, “My balance is not good. It was on my left side, I was left handed so that made it worse. I’ve still got a good two-wheeler but it’s the starting off and if I’ve got to stop. I’ve got to be careful because otherwise I’ll go over.”
To see Ron cruising through the village today, you’d never guess that a year ago it was a battle just to walk. When Russell saw how Ron was struggling, he asked if he’d like to take his old recumbent for a few days to give it a try. From that day Ron never looked back. He bought Russel’s recumbent and as a rehabilitation tool it proved to be better than anything the doctor could have ordered. Ron now rides nearly every day – if he’s not riding he’s probably in the shed pulling it apart and putting it back together again.
Being so low to the ground, you might think traffic would overlook the recumbents. Not so, say our converts, “I’ve got the flag, but yeah I’ve never had to bother with someone blowing their horn,” says Ron. “People tend to notice us more.” says Damon.
The other reason our three are so relaxed about riding, is that they mostly stick to the cycleways and footpaths. With miles of scenic estuary and coastal trails so close to the village, that’s not hard to do. Living at beautiful Bridgewater it’s easy to find the motivation to get out and get moving, and there are plenty of beautiful locations to discover, on foot, two wheels or three.