Thursday, 11 February 2016

And now what?

Its six weeks after our return to Melbourne.  I have a place to live. Its starting to look homely.  I'm back at work and for the large part I've picked up my life where I put it on hold just before the bike tour.  This is a danger time. The big goal is achieved, even the little goals of getting settled are achieved.  I'm at a loose end and prone to speculate, "And now what?"

For months after the 2002-3 ride I was unhappy and frustrated.  I had achieved this epic thing. I had circumnavigated Australia by bike. Yet within weeks of returning to Melbourne I had returned to my pre-ride routine.  In my mind the ride had changed everything.  In my daily life it changed nothing.

Sharing the experiences of the ride proved harder than I imagined.  People were interested, but didn't empathise.  They loved the tales of mechanical problems in remote places and slightly crazy country people, but no-one really understood what I meant when I praised the daily rhythms of life on the road.  My highlights, waking to the animal noises of first light, the comfort that comes from packing up, the routine of hour upon hour in the saddle, these things meant nothing to my city friends.  Talking about my highlights typically got a "I think what you've done is a amazing achievement but I could never do it" type response.  Talking about the stuff that was important for me only highlighted how much of an outsider I had become.   I had lost the common ground with many of my friends, and gradually we drifted away.  In many ways returning to the 'real world' proved much harder than the ride itself.

I resolved the 2002-3 post ride blues by shaking my life up.  A year after the ride I returned to uni, and was training for a brand new profession.  Six months after that I had changed career, was in a new relationship and was happy again.   However, I'd lost the best part of a year to introspection, and with it the chance to create anything valuable with my writings from the road. I'm not going to make that mistake twice. 

This time I'm going roll over that sense of achievement from the completing a big ride into the next big project.   I want a create a professional blog about city making and sustainable transport.  Through that blog I will engage with important issues affecting my profession and participate in a global discussion about what makes a good city.  I take the following blogs as my inspiration:

  • Chris Loader's Charting Transport- an Australian transport and city planning blog that knows better than to bring an opinion to a data fight.
  • Daniel Bowen's Daniel Bowen dot com - A Melbourne discussion of all things public transport related.
  • Brent Toderian's Planetizen - An Vancouver based urban designer reflects on the big question 'What makes a great city?

That's it.  I've announced it to the world.  Nailed my colours to the mast.  Time to get writing. 



  1. Thanks Simon for your thoughts. I once went a a three week bush-walk in SW Tasmania, and had a touch of the feelings you eluded to. All the best for your project. I'll have to refer my daughter to your blog, who starts uni studying town and regional planning this year.

  2. Some very interesting insights, I should fill you in on some Sydney transport issues.
    #1 is the Airport train link aint perfect by a long stretch. My biggest bugbear is the missed opportunity it represents.
    The distance between Green Square and Central is 7 minutes, much too great a distance. The alternative would have been another station in Redfern/Waterloo but they couldn't have that!
    It would have obviated the need for the new metro proposed to run through the area (over-engineered and favouring developers of course).
    There should also be an additional station at Doody St, which is in the heart of the industrial employment areas near the airport. Ecotransit Sydney have been advocating this for some time.
    But they wanted to do something on the cheap
    The Chatswu interchange is well done, however. I got the chance to go there (it's otherwise a part of Sydney I have no cause to go) during the Vivid (light) festival last year. Fantastic!
    But be careful what you wish for, however. Chatswu is exhibit #1 for the Hong Kong towers development mentality in Sydney right now

    And one final thing, you didn't note the new Homebush Bay bridge. The bridge really does represent a step-change in transport for the area, even if the payoff is increased building heights in Wentworth Point (some of the towers going up are massive).
    Jake Saulwick from the Herald makes some other good points too in this recent article:
    Let's hope we do see some backflipping from Baird, this city sure needs it.