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Living Lightly column

Riding towards freedom

By Chris McGorlick

I think I’m becoming a materialist – I’m learning to love my material objects. I recently bought a bike.

Let me be clear – I’m no consumerist. I got no thrill from the act of purchasing this bike. In fact, researching and finding a quality used model were excruciating.

But as soon as that gleaming green beauty rolled out of the box, I knew I was in love. Functional, no bells or whistles (well, there was a bell), fit for purpose – a perfect match.

And what was that purpose? To transport me to Brisbane under my own steam.

That goal will shortly be complete, however the lessons I’ve learnt along the way indicate this love affair will be a long one, ensuring it is a treasured object for years to come.

Knowing that I can make a journey of this magnitude by bike changes the way I see the world. No longer do I see all my domestic commutes in terms of a drive/walk binary. If I can safely make a 2000km journey, what is a 20km journey?

I am by no means an athletic person, but knowing I can power any trip to work or the shops, rain, hail or shine, gives me a profound sense of freedom.

On the road I learnt to make simple repairs to my bike. I got to know its sounds, its behaviour, and could recognise when something was amiss. Anything beyond my abilities could be resolved with a phonecall to my local bike mechanic. Knowing that between us, we can keep this machine on the road also gives me a profound sense of freedom.

Every journey on my bike makes me love it more. I can’t imagine ever wanting to “upgrade”, to trade in something perfectly functional for something flashier or more “on trend”, and every shared experience will strengthen that resolve.

Our shared resilience against the insidious forces of consumerism gives me the greatest sense of freedom of all.

When I return home, I’ll see my possessions with new eyes. I can sense a new resolve to love and care for my material objects. The longer I can make them last, the less time and money I’ll need to replace them.

Who knows? Maybe I can work less, and spend more time on my bike…