Published in Treadlie Issue 4, September 2011
Fittingly for this issue of Treadlie, ABC journalist Jennifer Macey cites two literary references as the childhood inspiration for her cycling obsession. First, the bicycle adventures that featured heavily in Enid Blyton books; and second, the Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Perfect Summer, in which the Wakefield twins and their friends do a drama-filled bike tour up the coast of California. “My sister and I were obsessed with bike touring from a really young age,” Jennifer says. “It took a while before we actually went on our first tour – we were in our twenties when we went around the south islands of New Zealand. It’s so great. I guess that’s my main love – bike touring.”
Her other big love is husband Adam Hogan, owner of Sydney cycle store Cheeky Transport. The two Malvern Star-crossed lovers met at his shop when Jennifer returned to Sydney after working and riding in Germany for five years. Adam proposed while they were mountain biking in Switzerland (“Dad says he had altitude sickness”) and the two rode to their wedding together on Brompton folding bikes.
“We passed this group of boys at the milk bar and they said, ‘Are you getting married?’ And we said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said ‘Don’t do it!’ But we did it anyway!” Jennifer laughs. “The best thing was that the fifteen minutes it took us to ride to the wedding was the one time during that day that Adam and I had completely to ourselves. It was really romantic – the excitement of riding together to our wedding.” The ceremony took place at a school, so when they arrived they did a lap of the oval, Jen’s dress tied in a big knot above her knees.
Having a direct line to the supply chain allows Jennifer to feed her bike addiction. She has five treadlies (so far): the Brompton, an old Giant mountain bike for touring, a fixie, a “very beautiful double shock mountain bike which has all the bells and whistles”, and a road bike. She also has an impressive collection of tour stories, having ridden everywhere from Canberra and Kangaroo Island to New Caledonia and France. “It just feels so liberating,” she says. “I think car travelling is quite exhausting, whereas when you’re on a bike you’re just kind of taking it all in. You don’t need to stop as much because the scenery is right there all around you.”
Riding also comes in handy in her work as a reporter for ABC Radio National. Jumping on a bike is often a quicker and easier way for Jennifer to cover stories on the ground. While staying with her sister in Brisbane’s West End to cover the January floods, Jennifer would borrow a bike (“I think she has more bicycles than I do!”) to go and do her daily reporting. “It was good because I didn’t have gumboots,” she says. “I didn’t have to walk through disgusting floodwaters to get there.”
Jennifer usually commutes to work at least one way each day, loving the bike’s ability to clear the mind. “You come home feeling refreshed,” she says. “It empties your brain of all the busyness from the day on your ride home. Or in the morning it can trigger ideas, and then when you turn up to the editorial meeting you’ve got something to contribute.” She takes the back streets and the waterfront to avoid the traffic, but admits to a bit of risky behaviour. “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I really like listening to the radio on the way to work,” she says. “It keeps me up to date, and if I’m on a day shift then I get to listen to my show. I don’t get to listen to it if I’m at work because I’m too busy.”
The next adventure in store for Adam and Jennifer is riding as a family. They’ve just welcomed daughter Billie into the world and are keen to show it to her by bike. “I don’t care if our kids aren’t into cycling, we’re going to drag them on long bike tours whether they like it or not!”