In her heyday, Mum could hold her own in any gaggle in the pen. She could make a story out of a brush with fame while her inabilities to swim and enjoy the water were due to an incident during her teen years.

She was a sprinter of some note, according to one afternoon tea discussion. When I started gymnastics coaching, I was greeted with anecdotes about her own impressive career.

There was, of course, a ballroom dance career touted and dissected as the social occasion demanded. It was of course a rare occasion where foxtrotting, waltzing and a smooth tango were put to the test. I don’t mind that the facts, fiction and time modified every story with each telling.

Discussions regarding the technical difficulty of gymnastic movements revealed a lack of fundamental skill and understanding. Could it be that she was mixing a performance she had seen on TV with one of her own Year 7 gymnastic classes?

The cycling career’s abrupt end at about age 25 is, however, the tale that will withstand dinner party scrutiny. Probably following in my father’s manic footsteps, riding bicycles from the train station to his next place of employment, bicycle mum learned to get around the town where they lived in some style.

If you ever visit Calw in the Bavarian Black Forest, head to the cathedral at the base of the hill. Stand on the top step and look up. It is not quite vertical, but the road up the hill is steep enough to force Mum to dismount for the return journey.

Now reverse the process. Climb to the top of the road, taking care not to roll your ankles on the cobblestones that have enhanced the streetscape and provided ‘smooth’ passage for horse-drawn vehicles since before homosexuality was considered a crime.

It was a Sunday morning, the bells tolled to attract churchgoers, urging them to be on time. Mum set out from the flat on the bike. The cobblestones were as rough as always, and it began to rain. The combination of slippery cobblestones, terror of late arrival, and incessant clanging proved to be her undoing.

With skirts and scarf flying, hymnbook arcing through the air in an attempt to enter the holy place ahead of her, and her overcoat caught in the spokes, Mum slid over the cobblestones to the base of the cathedral steps.

The tale came out by accident, when a friend attempted the Aussie version into a gum tree. During the three hours spent gathering bluestone chips and road base from gravel rash on every limb of her body, Mum’s soothing tale, including a statement that the injuries would have been much worse on cobblestones, set the ball rolling.

Isn’t it time to get your ball rolling? Take up a sport and the new-look website: www.teamsydney.org.au

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