A brief reflection on love, loveliness, and the first year of grief

This week we marked a year since my mum died suddenly. A year of challenges, new rituals and a great missingness. A year of building a differently grounded sense of closeness and connectedness with others, of rolling with, and exploring, various thoughts and feelings as they come up, and, more recently, learning to just pause each day and breathe.

Grief is so different for everyone, which is as much to do with the person they are, as the person they lost, and the circumstances that surround that loss. One thought I keep thinking lately is to know and feel this particular experience of grief means also knowing and experiencing such incredible love and loveliness. In that way, I’m so grateful for both these experiences, even though it’s so hard sometimes.

Thank you to friends, family and colleagues for sharing so much support, joy and other experiences this year. To anyone else out there experiencing these feelings I hope you’re finding ways of navigating them that work for you.

[Post originally published on Instragram. Sharing it here as I found it helpful to stumble on webposts from others as I felt my way through this experience.]

Photos: Kath Bicknell


A beautiful obituary for my mum, Anne Bicknell

My mum, Anne Bicknell, died suddenly on October 27, 2019, the same day as my partner’s birthday. I’m still coming to terms with the shock, I’m sure I will be for a while.

In the whirl of everything-that-followed-next, one of her friends – a former colleague – wrote a beautiful obituary which was published in the Canberra Times. My mum, a proud Canberran, would often send me clippings from the Canberra Times, to fill me in on what friends and role models in the cycling and theatre communities were up to after I moved to Sydney in 2002. These clippings would often come with a little message on Post-it note and a bonus Freddo Frog. One of my mum’s many lovely traits was that she always took time to share little excitements like this, and had a way of adding extra fun to things that were a joy already (like opening mail from your mum).

Continue reading “A beautiful obituary for my mum, Anne Bicknell”

Trail therapy

I struggled last week. I’ve been patiently healing some injuries for the last 4+ years, and as part of this process I’ve learned about some systemic health conditions I never knew I had. Life has been incredible in many other ways during this period, but things have also been very challenging. My world got pretty small for a while. As I get stronger again it’s a privilege to choose what to fill each day with.

One of the best things I can do to keep my body working is cycling. It turns out I’ve been self-medicating since my teens. Last week though, was one of those weeks where managing everything – the daily rehab, the changes in diet, the changes in routine, the effort of it all, the lack of ease that comes with no longer throwing your cares into the wind – it all just got to me. I needed a mental break from it. I needed to get outside, to focus on something different (like each next corner), and have a tonne of fun.Continue reading “Trail therapy”

Long Term Review: Bontrager Ajna Pro Carbon Saddle

In a nutshell:

Curved edges, firm but not-too-firm padding and comfort for a range of riding postures makes Bontrager Ajna saddle one to try if you’re struggling with the narrow sweet spot on others.

The longer version:

I first reviewed the Ajna for Australian Mountain Bike magazine in 2017. I described the pros as the pressure mapping R & D process, the choice of three widths, and durability in mud. I described the misses as the carbon rails not being compatible with all seat posts (less of an issue these days) and the name being hard for people to pronounce without hearing it first (it’s ‘Arj-na,’ with a soft ‘j’). Having recently contacted Bontrager about a second Ajna, I wanted to offer some long term insights about what makes this design one to seek out for riders (and readers) who are on the hunt for a saddle that works for them.Continue reading “Long Term Review: Bontrager Ajna Pro Carbon Saddle”

What can mountain biking teach philosophers and psychologists about action and perception?

The answer: as many things as there are trails, bike designs and ways to enjoy them!

Earlier this year, I took philosopher colleague, Wayne Christensen, on a ride at the Ourimbah mountain bike track in New South Wales, Australia. After a lap of the cross-country track on his own bike, a ten year old Cannondale hardtail, I then encouraged Wayne to do a lap of the trails on my bike, the latest model Specialized Stumpjumper with 29″ wheels and a whole lot of bounce.

The video below documents Wayne’s reactions to the new bike after 20 minutes on board, and what this meant for the way he approached the trails. This fieldwork forms part of a journal article we are writing together on affordances – a theory which attempts to explain how humans perceive and respond to action possibilities in relation to the environment.

We argue that mainstream applications of this theory need to better account for the impact of social and cultural factors on affordance perception, as well as the rapid speed at which our awareness of these action possibilities can update. We’ve recently published a handbook chapter discussing the affordances and anticipation, also using a case study from mountain biking, which may be of interest too. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Header photo: Wayne hits the rock garden with new-found confidence (Kath Bicknell).