Hello, I’m Kevin. Born five days after World War 2 ended in 1945, I grew up in an age when there was no TV, no computers, no mobile phones, and no obesity. In fact we didn’t even have any form of electricity until my dad installed a diesel-driven 32 volt plant in the early 1950s! The only grass was what the cows on our farm ate and the only ice was what we took out of the fridge to put in our home made lemon cordial or ginger beer brewed from a yeast plant. Life was simple and good, we felt safe and our parents allowed us to roam free.
Living in a rural district called Talgarno on the Murray arm of the Hume Weir, my childhood was spent kicking a football around the paddock, flying kites, fishing in a flat-bottom wooden row-boat on the weir, tramping around the hills catching rabbits with ferrets, making bows and arrows from willow tree branches and a piece of binder twine, and making shanghai slingshots from a forked stick and rubber from old car tubes. In the hot NE Victoria summer we ran around in bare feet, wearing nothing but a pair of khaki shorts. Sunscreen had not been invented, so we would get so sunburnt that we would be covered in blisters that could only be soothed by methylated spirits or calamine lotion. The next day we would be outdoors again getting blisters on our blisters … no wonder my visits to the skin cancer clinic are so frequent now! There was no such thing as pocket money, but dad would reward me with a few pieces of chocolate for helping him milk the cows. Sometimes I would avoid the farm chores by escaping to the hammock that I made from two chaff bags sown together and tethered under a willow tree hanging over the dam.
But the thing I enjoyed doing most was riding a bike because it gave me freedom and a means of transport to go and play with Ronald and Peter, the only kids around my age, who lived a couple of miles away. It is more than 60 years ago now since I taught myself to ride on my grandfather’s full size, rusty, gear-less bike that I found in the barn. Then one day the frame snapped in two while I was riding down a steep hill, the front half going forward, the back half going rearwards and me going face down. No broken bones, but there goes another toenail! But then I soon saved enough money to buy my own bike by selling rabbits that we caught with the ferrets, and I have been riding ever since.
We made our own fun and created our own adventures in those days. I am still creating my own adventures today, but now with a Garmin Edge 1000 navigator and Booking.com. The spirit of adventure is still there and there is still strength in my legs and air in the lungs, so my touring days are not yet over. During 2015 I enjoyed two fabulous solo tours in Europe. Over a period of four weeks in May-June I cycled Croatia, from Dubrovnik in the south to Trieste in Italy (a distance of about 1,000 Km). Exploring this beautiful country on a bicycle was an amazing experience, from the spectacular Dalmation Coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west coast of Istria via the luxuriant islands of Pašman, Ugljan, Hvar, Rab, and Cres, as well as (in contrast) the stark, rugged, moonscape of Pag. Then in July eleven pleasant days were spent cycling the Tour de Manche route in France, from Cherbourg in Normandy to Roscoff in Brittany (a distance of around 700 Km). In November 2015 I rode the 4 Rivers Bike Route in South Korea, a fabulous 660 Km ride from Seoul to Busan that far exceeded my expectations. The year of 2016 has been just as exciting, with marvellous tours of Spain/Portugal (550 Km) in May and the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Northern Italy (500 Km) in June/July, followed in late August/September by a bike-barge adventure with friends from Sydney down the Mosel River through Germany, Luxembourg and France, then a solo ride through the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France (450 Km), ending in Basel in Switzerland.
When people ask me whether I am afraid when riding on roads or travelling by myself in a foreign country, I always quote an old saying “If you are born to hang you won’t drown”. So just get out there and do it!
Childhood was good … but retirement is even better.