Concerns I Have With Getting A Bike

– Finding a spot to lock it up when I arrive somewhere
– Falling off the bike when stationary at the traffic lights
– Taking one hand off the handlebars to indicate
– Being hit by a car door
– Being hit by a moving car
– Riding up hills
– Hitting a pothole
– Annoying other cyclists with poor technique
– Turning right

The Kid With A Lot Of Trophies

As a 7 year old kid, my bedroom looked more like a trophies room than somewhere you would sleep. From my shelving unit filled with trophies and medals, you’d assume that I was a successful junior basketballer, footballer and drag racer.

On another shelf lined a large collection of Goosebumps books, another pride and joy. On winters days, I would fill my school bag with as many books as my bag could handle. I’d then lay them out on a spare bookshelf at school, allowing classmates to read them during wet timetable. Some people describe a person’s library of books as trophies — an indication of your intellect and a marker of success.

The love of my Goosebumps books may have been the reason that it wasn’t until halfway through grade one that my teachers realised that I couldn’t read. While many days were spent fussing over my books (that were actually acquired from my older brother), I hadn’t actually bothered to read them. You might ask: Between basketball, football and drag racing, when would I have time to read? However, just like the books, you could describe me as a collector; They were won by my Dad and Brothers.

I loved the idea of being a successful junior sportsman or avid reader, however, it’s clear that the idea of something can be miles apart from actually doing it.

Just like collecting trophies doesn’t make you a sportsman, buying a camera doesn’t make you a photographer, buying a Garmin watch doesn’t make you a runner (annoyingly) and buying a Moleskine doesn’t make you a writer.

Why Chocolate Isn’t Chocolate

I handed a friend a piece of 99% cacao chocolate yesterday. She took a bite and with a disappointed look on her face said “It doesn’t taste like chocolate”.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with some of my American friends over lunch one day. Peanut butter and jelly is a quintessential part of the American child’s lunchbox. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Australia, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was clouded in mystery; a reference to American culture typically seen in Hollywood films and Nickelodeon TV shows. The closest thing I ever got to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a concoction my childhood friend Allyson introduced me to. Her recipe included the two ends of a bread loaf, which was both exclusive, and in hindsight, a brilliant trick by her Mum Sharon to make someone eat the typically undesirable crusts.

With a slather of PB and a squirt of honey, it was a quick recipe that had the perfect mix of sweetness from the honey and the calorie density of the white bread and thick peanut butter.

I’m sure that this pastime has now been retired, with the influx of allergies now plaguing every kindergarten playground around the nation.

With further inspection of the PBJ sandwich that my American friends grew up with, came a number of rules and expectations that could only be cultivated through years of American lunchbox experience.

I made the mistake of assuming that “jelly” was what we would refer to in Australia as “jam”. Over the next 15 minutes, I was given a lesson in the nuances between, jam, jelly and jello.

As an adult, I have even tried combining strawberry jam (made by Nana) with peanut butter. I now know that this is an abomination of the true wonder of the sandwich, a bastardisation that in Melbourne would be known as American-Fusion.

In Australia, jello is known as jelly, jam translates well in both countries as fruit preserves, but I was left confused by America’s definition of jelly.

I learnt that while jam is of a high quality, using real fruit, jelly, is a much more desirable, smooth, silky — even synthetic — semi-solid product.

While every ingredient list would point to an inferior product, it is the preferred weapon for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Which brings me to our view on chocolate. While I gave my friend a close to perfect bar of pure cacao — the main ingredient of chocolate — she saw it as less desirable, compared to those purple bars with popping candy.

She’s not alone. Having spent a good part of three years seeking the perfect hot chocolate, I have visited a selection of chocolate shops around Australia.

These shops, however, are thinly veiled sugar factories, riding on the back of article headlines proclaiming the benefits of chocolate.

Just like jelly isn’t jam, maybe chocolate isn’t always chocolate. While the definition of chocolate isn’t its raw form, are we tricking ourselves into what we’re actually consuming? Soft drinks contain between 89% and 99% water, yet we’d never call it water. So, what are you eating? Is it chocolate, or it lollies with a bit of cacao for good measure?

Buying A Bike As An Adult

Lance Armstrong once said “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on”, which is precisely why I haven’t bought a bike in my adult life.

The last bike I owned was a purple and yellow Huffy. At the time, I thought it was pretty professional. It had gears, along with those cool handles that stick up at each end. (I now know that they’re called bullhorn handlebars). It was 2000 and my bike was my pride a joy. While the other ten year olds were grinding their skateboards on their makeshift skatepark at the bowl of our Court, I was cautiously exploring the 100 metres of road.

I was a paranoid kid. My bike had a security system, which included a rear wheel sensor, a speaker, and pin code unit that sat at the handlebar. When I set the alarm, any movement of the wheel without entering the pin code would set off a loud siren, followed by a recorded voice which announced “stolen bike!”. My bike had never been stolen until I got that alarm. The next door neighbours and my brothers would get a real kick out of seeing me run out to the side door and chase them around the court with my “STOLEN BIKE”.

Maybe all of these experiences made me a little bit bike-shy in my adult life, or it could be all of the horror stories of what Warnie has done to cyclists on Beach Road.

Either way, today was the day. I was buying a bike. I enlisted my German friend Till to help me with the purchase. Till is an avid cyclist and has a strong appetite for designer clothes, organic food and anything German or expensive. He also doesn’t shy away from giving his opinions. Even if they’re a little bit unpopular (he thinks Chin-Chin, the Melbourne restaurant, is shit).

When I told him I was going to buy a $400 bike, he paused. I’m sure he probably did a bit of vomit in his mouth. He explained the economics of bikes and how it’d be impossible to buy a bike that he’d feel safe riding on the road for that price. That being said, a $400 bike undermines his $300 pedals for his $4,000 bike, which he described as ’midrange’.

I know Till had my best interests at heart and did a lot of the talking at the three bike shops we visited this afternoon. “Is the frame made of steel? What type of brakes? What sizes do you have? Can Josh test one of them out?”. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was buying a bike, or if we were in the middle of the show Shark Tank, and Till was about to put in an offer.

With all of the questions answered, I felt comfortable in finally deciding on a bike that the salesperson recommended. It had been around 45 minutes at this stage, and I could feel the sense of relief from the salesperson when I was ready to do the deal. “Let me just check to make sure we have your size in stock” he said, making his way over to the store computer. Moments later, he returned looking a bit dismayed. “Sorry, we don’t have any stock left”.

It was an inexpensive single speed bike. Only $350. He suggested that I could buy the newer model which they could order in. “$599 for that one” he said. Obviously I would only do it if he could throw in a helmet. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything like that, we’re not making much on the bike” he said.

Now we played a classic game of sales-tennis, where I ask the annoying questions like “does any of your other stores have the cheaper one in stock?”

A few moments later, he checked with his manager. He couldn’t call another store (they’re all independently owned), however he’d do the better bike for $599 with a helmet. Sold! He told me that’d he’d just need a 50% deposit to order it in. While he was on the phone, I proceeded to Google the bike model. As a rule, I Google everything I buy to make sure I get the best deal.

Given it’d taken an effort to get the helmet chucked in, I knew that they were looking after me. That was until I saw the second search result: the bike advertised for $399 down the road.

With my credit card in one hand, my iPhone in the other, I had one of life’s biggest retail conundrums. Do I ask them for a better deal? Normally this answer would be easy “YES!”. However, the deal was basically a tap away from being complete. A minute of banter later and I had to try. “Hey, I’ve actually just found the bike for cheaper”, I’d just hit a volley so close to the line, we’re going to need the camera umpire for this one. I handed my iPhone to the manager. He scrolled up and down, looking at the details of the bike, where he commentated under his breath “I just don’t know how he’s doing that price. How are they making money?”

They couldn’t do any better than they’d done and I awkwardly put my card back in my wallet. “I guess I should just shop around a little bit more”. I did an awkward face, looking a little ashamed. “Thanks, guys. Your service has been fantastic”.

As I slowly stepped away from the counter, the sales guy and the manager nodded in agreement. I think even Till was a little shocked.

It felt like one of those moments where there’s a life lesson. Maybe it’s that I was never meant to buy a bike in the first place.

Coming Soon: My Daily Rituals

So, you’re a professional grown-up, with a real job, real responsibilities and most importantly, real rituals that you do everyday of the week.

In preparation for this day, I’ve spent the last five years listening to audiobooks, podcasts and reading websites to make sure that I’m doing it right.

Rather than waiting for my grown-up rituals to be implemented, I’ve decided to release it early!

Disclaimer: Some of these rituals I have already implemented, like email, showering and eating.

Here it is:

Morning

6:00am – Wake up to electronic free bedroom with no alarm.
6:05am – Drink 1 litre of cold lemon water.
6:10am – Meditate (TM) for 20 minutes.
6:30am – Write in my gratitude journal.
6:40am – Stretch using my foam roller. (buy a foam roller here)
7:00am – Walk for 45 minutes listening to a podcast or audiobook. Get coffee from my local cafe on the way.
7:45am – Arrive home at the same time as my girlfriend (who has been at the gym) Cook breakfast. High protein. High Fat. Greens.
8:05am – Sit with girlfriend. Read out gratitude journal while eating breakfast together. Read RSS feed of curated blogs from my iPad.
8:45am – Shower. Starting with a warm temperature. Finishing for 2 minutes on cold.
8:55am – Put on clothes (prepared the night before)
9:00am – Take a seat in my home office. Work for 1 hour (undistracted) on a task set the night prior.
10:00am – Check email for the first time that day. Use standing desk.
10:30am – Respond to important emails and flag email that I’ll reply at a later date.
11:00am – Any client phone calls. Using headphones to avoid arm strain and to allow for note taking.
11:45am – Check back on important emails.

Afternoon

Midday – Walk to the local shops to buy groceries for lunch and dinner. Buy meat from Cannings, or similar organic, free range, grass-fed expensive butcher.
12:45pm – Cook lunch. Typically chicken or tuna with greens and salad dressing that I make fresh for the week on Sunday.
1:00pm – Eat lunch and check Instagram.
1:30pm – Add meat to the slow cooker (Lamb shoulder or similar)
1:45pm – Work on edit (distraction free). Drink tea. (no caffeine after 4pm, guys!)
3:45pm – Send client new edit. Check email and respond to important emails. Flag emails to deal with later.
4:15pm – Client phone calls.
5:00pm – Stretch and walk at the park.
5:45pm – Prepare salad for dinner. If I have time, create new zany dressing that’s different to lunch. If I don’t have time, use the one from Sunday.

Evening

6:15pm – Girlfriend arrives home. Chat about the day while we set the table.
6:30pm – Eat dinner. No electronics. Phones out of sight!
7:30pm – Tidy the apartment and do any washing. (listening to Apple Music)
8:30pm – Sit down on the couch. Check emails and catch up on my RSS feed subscriptions and Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.
9:30pm – No electronics after 9:30! Have a shower.
9:45pm – Read a book until tired.
10:30pm – Sleep.