Simon Lindley has become quite the celebrity around his suburb in northern Wollongong, often being recognised on the street as "the cycle guy".
Mr Lindley's love for bikes has led him to spread the love to dozens of people across the Illawarra by giving away bicycles for free, and it makes him feel "fabulous".
"It's wonderful, we're recycling," he told the Illawarra Mercury with much enthusiasm.
"You're giving somebody something they don't already have or can't afford, which is amazing."
Like many people, Mr Lindley had been struck hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After 18 years working for QANTAS, the maintenance engineer took redundancy. The A380's he was accustomed to fixing were grounded - and still are - so he found a new love to tinker with.
"It was certainly a very anxious time," Mr Lindley said of the early months of the pandemic.
"I was cycling between the days of 'OK, I need to further my training on aircraft to ensure I keep my job' to 'no, we're not going to fly international for a long time'."
When the national carrier eventually offered up a redundancy, he decided to take it.
In his early 20's, Mr Lindley used to manage a cycle store in Adelaide where his knowledge of pedals, gears and hydraulics grew considerably. Now with a lot of downtime and many mountain bike trails to ride, the avid rider began toying with his own wheels.
But it was a friend who had to return to their home in the Netherlands without her bicycle which sparked his free bike movement.
"I fixed it up and gave it away and the people who took it, they gave me three kids bikes in return," he said.
"The bike thing has just happened by itself; I already had the previous skill and I enjoyed doing it. We were all locked in our homes almost, and ... it really just flourished."
More weathered bikes began getting a new lease on life and handed over to more smiling faces, bringing sunshine where clouds had shone darkness.
The future's great, my life has changed enormously, and I'm still giving away bikes ... and it keeps the waste out of the ground.Simon Lindley
What started as a couple of bikes being fixed in a downstairs room of the double-storey home Mr Lindley shares with his wife Anita, now sees wheels and parts populating many corners of the house - including a bathroom.
"My wife and I both agreed we've got to get a bigger garage, a workshop garage," Mr Lindley laughed.
Word began getting out there was a cycle guy in town helping out those less fortunate, sparking more generosity from the community.
"We'll go get the mail one day and there's $20 in the mail box and you don't even know who left it, or there'll be a card with a 'thankyou so much' with $20 in there to help pay for more," Mr Lindley said.
Donations of bicycles also began flooding in - especially children's bikes as they become outdated quickly with growing bodies.
"If someone gives me a really nice bike with a bit of value, I'll try and sell it really cheap, just to pay for tyres and parts and things like that," Mr Lindley said.
Since April last year, the cycle enthusiast has given away around one bike per week, though there was a "blitz campaign" at Christmas with a bike a day given away.
With long wait-lists at cycle stores, people have also been seeking out "Si the cycle man" for his mobile bike repair service to get their wheels back on track.
Since COVID-19 forced the nation into lockdown and changed the way we live, Mr Lindley said it's also prompted an "explosion" of people wanting to get on a bike.
Mountain bikes, road bikes, motorised "e-bikes" and children of all ages are pumping pedal power.
"E-bikes are changing the way people ride bikes enormously," Mr Lindley said.
"The older generation reach an age where hills are really troublesome ... and you see a lot of younger people going on e-bikes in the escarpment so they can get to the top of the hill quicker.
"A lot of the systems that the e-bikes have we use on aircraft, they're very similar systems. And the new battery technology, that's all been part of my hobby as well."
South Coast NSW is gaining a reputation as a home for two-wheelers, while in 2020 Wollongong City Council expressed their 10-year vision to have cycling as a preferred mode of transport.
There are many unofficial mountain bike trails through the Illawarra escarpment amidst a push to create official trails under the Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Strategy.
The coast is also home to cycling events like the MS Sydney to Gong Ride, the L'Etape 136km amateur cycling event (in March), and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Championships (in September).
L'Étape Australia replicates a mountainous stage of the Tour de France and is "not an easy ride, but it is a ride you will be able and proud to complete if you train for it," according to the event's website.
The 2021 route starts from Kiama and will travel through the South Coast, the Shoalhaven and the Southern Highlands. The distance is 136km and the elevation 2,770m. The event also hosts The Ride, a shorter version of The Race with only one climb.
Meantime, the UCI awarded Wollongong with the title of "Bike City" - the only southern Hemisphere city to receive the honour - for "investing and developing community cycling and related infrastructure and programs".
This recognition puts Wollongong alongside other international Bike Cities like Paris, Vancouver and Copenhagen, and out ahead of any other city in Australia or even the southern hemisphere, as the only place here to earn the title.
"The future's great, my life has changed enormously, and I'm still giving away bikes ... and it keeps the waste out of the ground," Mr Lindley said.
"The upside of COVID is how strong our community has become."
If you know of someone in need of a bike, contact Woonona's cycle man via www.facebook.com/SiCyclesRepairs