Have I already mentioned, that Townsville is like a village? A giant village. And everybody who have lived in that kind of place knows very well, how the transportation there looks like. If the village is small – the easiest way is to walk everywhere. You can meet friends and neighbors, spend some time chatting, collecting new gossips – and so on. If you wanna go to some other village or to the city – the best way is to drive a car. But then – what if you don’t have one? Well, in the city you’d just take a public transportation: metro, tram or at least a bus. In a village buses are rare, unreliable creatures, they come and go as they want. That’s why the best solution for a poor student is to own a bike.
It’s not very different here. That’s why I’ve decided to buy one myself, cause I thought it’s gonna be easy. So silly of me.
At first I tried to find a second-hand bike. I’ve checked blackboards on campus, ads on gumtree and newspapers… Nothing. Literally, there was nothing that I would like to buy. Not even because I didn’t like the color or shape. Some were too expensive, the rest needed extra work and I didn’t even know where I could get them repaired.
Later my landlord offered to borrow a bike for me from his brother. But repairing it would cost a fortune, so I had to think about something else. In the bike shop, where my landlord asked about costs of repairing, a salesman told him about a person, who’s running a private workshop for bikes. So we went there.
It was the most outrageous place I have ever seen. Behind high, whitened fences there was an old house surrounded by pretty big grassy backyard. Covered with bikes, bike-pieces, wheels, tools and anything you can imagine. It was like an old, neglected bike-cemetery. When we entered the property and started looking around, I’ve heard a voice coming from the inside “George! George!”. It was the wife of the man we were looking for. Because he didn’t seem to response, my landlord went to the workshop at the back to ask if there’s a bike for me.
After a couple of minutes an old, fragile man showed up.
“I’m George, the Bikeman” he said. And left me completely mesmerized.
Well, it’s not like he looked particularly great or anything. But his expression, his posture and this unbelievable surrounding made me feel as if I was just in the middle of a movie…
After listening to our request he started “fishing” bikes from the sea of grass, and explaining what is there to repair. After seeing a couple of those crazy vehicles I decided that I like the blue bike the best. Unfortunately the chain was slipping and the seat was too high for me, so I had to choose a different one, that needed just some small work.
My landlord took me to an ATM, cause I didn’t have a hundred dollars in cash and when we came back… well… George was working on the blue bike and he seemed completely unaware that he was supposed to repair the other one…
In the end he told us to come back in 3 hours.
We came after 4 hours. My landlord even called him beforehand, just in case. But the bike still wasn’t ready. George postpone it for the next day, although he wasn’t really sure at what time we should come.
My landlord got angry and so did I. We spend there a half of the day and we weren’t even sure, when or even if the bike will be ready. I gave up and decided to buy a bike in the shop.
The cheapest one I could find was pink. Well… not my favorite color. But I was happy to find it, at least until I started riding it. After 5 minutes of sitting on it I knew, that everyday ride to the university will be very painful… I really started wishing, that I had bought one of the George’s bikes then…
In the end I returned the pink bike and bought completely different one in a different shop. Now I’m pretty independent, I can go wherever I want (not like I have stamina and strength for that, but well) and since I bought a basket, I can also make bigger shopping at once.
However I was a little upset, when I realized, that there’s a place on the campus, where you can get your bike repaired for free, or even buy a second-hand one for 50 bucks – with the possibility of returning it later and getting 30 dollars back! It was already too late when I find out about it. But I hope, that I’ll be able to sell my bike for a pretty good price, so I don’t think about that anymore.
I’ve never returned to the George’s place. But it’s definitely a place to see…