The Localist

Desperately seeking serenity


City life is exhausting. As work hours rise, so too does the cost of living. Deadlines tighten, skin loosens, and it’s little wonder my daily source of serenity has become a fairly large glass of Pinot Noir. However, as I heartily down Central Otago’s fermented splendour, slowly pickling my insides, I look outwards to see the rest of Sydney embracing ‘clean living’.

At some point in the not so distant past, wheatgrass started being served in the form of a shot. Kale has more recently undergone an image transformation from ‘unknown leafy green thing’ to ‘super-food’. Even couples’ yoga now exists. The wine-swilling cynic inside me crumbles, just a little, each time a new health fad involving berries sweeps the nation.

As another hangover looms, I wonder if it’s possible to calm this nerve-ridden version of myself – to whom panic attacks are a common side-affect of public transport – without resorting to trendy vegetables. Is inner-peace reserved only for those who practice downward-facing-dog? Is there a cooler, calmer way to experience inner-city Sydney life, ‘om’-free?

I decide to find out.

Gently-toned yoga enthusiasts saunter freely in the streets of Surry Hills, and as curious as I am about the benefits of group ‘omming’, the humble bicycle remains more my speed… for now.

I decide to take my bike for a whizz around Centennial Park, the closest piece of green to Surry Hills, and after dusting off the cobwebs from the spokes and pumping up deflated tyres, I wobble off towards the parklands, the sun bouncing off my oversized, shiny, black helmet.

Centennial Park doesn’t boast intricate, winding walkways, nor does it offer delicately sculptured gardens through which to stroll whilst reciting Shakespearean sonnets. There are no swimming pools to speak of and you’d be hard pressed finding a boat by which to row a lover across it’s brown, boggy marsh. One thing it provides, however, is the opportunity to ride a bike around in a continuous circle of monotony.

After 45 minutes of continuous cycling I feel the physical effects of exercise taking hold. Rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and a facial expression that sits somewhere in between confusion and chronic constipation. Oddly enough, this brings with it a strange sense of achievement. While I physically feel like I’m tittering on the edge of a heart attack, my mind is awake. I am in control.

Such physical exertion surely warrants the reward of a fairly large glass of Pinot Noir, and heading home (past the nearest bottle-o) I notice the cyclists around me. Fathers guide their offspring into the terrifying world beyond training wheels, fat-fighters diligently battle the bulge in lap after lap of endless agony and lycra-clad speed-racers fly past the hipster contingency, struggling to peddle their fixies up a subtle incline. Cycling, evidently, is the mode of exercise for the Everyman, and every man and his bike is out in Centennial Park.


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