Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018

At the start of this year, I posted on the interesting range of 2018 ‘International Day of the ..’ events. So, I was excited when I found out that the latest International Astronomy Day was on the weekend. Especially when I saw how a few cycling groups took advantage of this unique celestial event to organise some community night rides. What a wicked thing to do! Check details to suit as per where you live (i.e. Northern or Southern Hemipshere).

Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018Image: The Astronomical League

I am a BIG fan of night rides.

On this blog, night riding is celebrated in many ways, such as:

And this weekend provided another exciting night time ride opportunity!

International Astronomy Day 2018!

Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018Chart by Guy Ottewell

What is Astronomy Day?

Astronomy Day is a global event observed every spring and ‘fall’ (autumn).

This an annual event is intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals.

The event was started in 1973 by Doug Berger (then Astronomical Association of Northern California president). His intent was to set up various telescopes in busy urban locations so that anyone could enjoy looking at the heavens.

Since then the event has since grown and is now celebrated in many ways around the world by people in science and the general public.

Originally, Astronomy Day occurred on a Saturday between mid-April and mid-May, and was scheduled so as to occur at or close to the first quarter Moon. For this year, that meant that this latest official International Astronomy Day fell on April 21, 2018.

In 2007, an autumn equivalent of Astronomy Day was added. The next Autum Astonomy Day will be on October 13, 2018, so, put it in the calendar and organise a night ride!

What does this mean for cyclists? See what these guys did!

It means you get out on your bike with a few others and go for a killer night ride to learn and enjoy our incredible cosmos!

My favorite Astronomy Day bike event for this year was held by Bicycle Tree. They are a nonprofit community bike centre/shop in Santa Ana (Orange Country, CA).

See more of their work and good times on Instagram: @Bicycle Tree.

 Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018Image: The Bicycle Tree

The Bicycles Tree: Sabor de Santa Ana Community Bike Ride.

The Bicycle Tree instruction for this event were:  This Saturday is Astronomy Day, so we’re going to gaze upon the universe during our ride Saturday night!  Telescopes and guidance will be provided by Jeff Schroeder, a former JPL engineer and Mount San Antonio College planetarium lecturer, and current Outreach Director for the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers! Jeff will be bringing meteor samples as well.

We will, of course, also be getting food along the way. We’re going to TCW – Tacos Churros and Wings for stellar food!

The ride meets at the shop at 6:00 pm and we roll out at 6:30. We’ll be back at around 9:30. We do this monthly ride to get together and enjoy some of the great food that Santa Ana has to offer while cruising through this city’s streets and neighborhoods! .

We’ll be riding about 12 miles at a mild pace. We’ll end up back at the shop at around 9:30.

Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018Image: The Anime Gallery

Talk about making the most out of a biking community event!!

This event is brilliant because it really does create more positive community change, in that it provides an opportunity for partipants to:

  • be part of a key international event/date
  • brings a range of community members together
  • riders get to learning about the universe – something new
  • gain some experience using specialist astronomy equipment
  • have fun riding bikes around your local area
  • get out and be active in the evening

What a great idea this kind of community ride is!

I’d love to see more of these kind of events happening.

These events provide great examples and inspiration to plan for other upcoming ‘international’ dates.

I can’t wait to see what kind of innovative bike ride you put on!

Best of luck and happy star gazing on your next ride all!

Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018

Here’s what is coming up for those in the Northern Hemisphere – have fun! Bike rides on Astronomy Day 2018 @Bicycles Create 23rd April 2018Image: The Astronomical League

 For more Astronomy Day info: click here for a Fact Sheet, history and more about ‘when’ and ‘where‘ about this event from The Astronomical League (what a great name!).

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Ruby the trail dog

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

My trail dog Zoe (above) and I have had many adventures together, both on and off the bike (see Instagram). I continue to learn valuable life lessons from her and could not image my life without her. As a trail dog, she is energetic, attentive and runs with wild abandon and joy. One other such trail dog is Ruby – and if you have not meet Ruby before, you are in for a treat! Enjoy! NG.

Dogs and trail riding just go together – it’s a universal pairing.

For a long time, I have been a strong advocate to have more MTB locations that allow dogs and to have more rider-dog events and competitions.

This blog continues to promote more dog-inclusive cycling, like:

Coincidentally, the #Bikes_CISTA project was initially partly inspired by a photo I saw of Ruby ages ago (below), which was so exhilarating, that I used it as my first contribution to kick off the project…and that was how I found Ruby!

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

 Ruby the trail dog

Ruby is a 5-year old Vizler. Ruby’s owner, Tom is a wicked photographer, keen MTBer and has created an impressive business brand and following based on Ruby.

Ruby has her own website which is filled with her adventures, extra material and more info about her.  She is also on Twitter and Facebook.

My recommendation (and favourite) is Ruby’s beautiful and inspiring Instagram account @rubythetraildog. This is where I first encountered Ruby – and I am still an avid follower.

This account is exceptionally well curated and has endless stunning shots of Ruby out on trails, with mates, chillaxing, spending time with family and friends, celebrating holidays and just goofing around.

I have loved watching the development of Ruby over time. Her Instagram photos are not only a beautiful collection of images in and of themselves, but they also tell a warm and personal story of the various ages, stages and places that have contributed to making Ruby who she is – and her sunny personality just shines through.

Kudos to Tom, who has not only successfully and strategically developed Ruby into a successful personal brand that supports his craft and hobbies, but has done so in a way that is balanced and inspiring, and allows him to do what he loves most – wicked!

Why I love Ruby the trail dog

Well, er…. just look at the photos!

Who can argue with the happy, positive, healthy, outdoor, active and social sentiments that each picture so beautifully represent? Don’t we all long for such quality time? On our bikes, in nature, with our four-legged besties and a few mates riding somewhere spectacular with nothing else to do but to fully enjoy life.. hells yeah!

As a trail dog owner, I love seeing dogs out with riders. After moving to Brisbane, this became more difficult due to the militant dogs-on-leads rule. But we still manage to ‘be creative’ and get time riding tails with Zoe, although not as much as I did in Melbourne, or would like.

Ruby is my favourite go-to if I am ever feeling overwhelmed, disheartened with the news or the way the world is heading. Ruby reaffirms for me all the good things the world has to offer.

For me, Ruby is a salient reminder (as are all dogs) to live in the moment, enthusiastically enjoy riding bikes, have more fun, frolic in nature, rest when you need to, and love unconditionally.

So, grab a four-legged friend (or someone else’s!), ya bike and get out there!

Life on a bike is better with a trail dog.

Living the dream!


Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.

Ruby the Trail Dog. Bicycles Create 18th April 2018.All Images: Tom @rubythetraildog

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MTB – Commonwealth Games 2018

For the last fortnight (April 4-15th), the Commonwealth Games (GC2018) has been on at the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is only 1 hour away from Brisbane, so it is an opportune time to go see some world class cycling!

Australia has 36 riders in various cycling events for the GC2018.

There were many cycling events for GC2018, but I was most interested in seeing the MTB on Thursday 12th at Nerang.

There are two Australian MTBers for GC2018, Rebecca McConnell (nee Henderson) and Daniel McConnell.

The MTB was a free event, so I headed down to cheer them on.

MTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create

MTB – Commonwealth Games 2018

It was a beautiful, sunny day.

The facilities, track access and the central hub were very well organized. It was super easy to get in and out.

I went earlier so I could do a bit of scouting out for the best trackside spot. I decided on a spot where the track went up the hill on one side, and down over some jumps on the other. It was a great spot.

I ended up running into a few familiar faces, which was great. Always good to see some of the crew and catch up.

I was fully prepared for the day with food, drink and tambourine.  I made good use of the tambourine as years of experience means I pace myself so I don’t lose my voice too early (rookie mistake!). It was also great to be able to let fly with my ‘outside whistle’. I only unleash it at certain open-air events due to volume – perfect for this event!

The crowd came out strong to show support and did a good job of cheering.

One particular group of women were such good cheerers that I went up to them after the race to congratulate them .. ‘best cheerers of the day award’. They didn’t move the whole time (most others were moving between two tracks) and they cheered equally hard for every single rider, no matter what country. It was  very impressive. Their positivity added such great energy and camaraderie trackside.

But, I was surprised at how small both fields were, especially the women’s. Then again, my experience has predominately been with big international World Cup DH and MTB, Cranworkx and Enduro/EWS races, so I had to remind myself that only Commonwealth countries could complete.

It was awesome to see the riders out on the track… super inspiring to see them charging up the hills and overtaking on the tight technical sections.

Overall it was a really great day. Congrats to all those who rode and for those who made the effort to get out and support – Great job!!

MTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create

Source: Roostville

Interestingly, Irish rider Marc Potts was the only rider to compete in all three disciplines of MTB, road and track.  Epic!

There was an official website for updates on the GC2018 cycling events and news, but it had little MTB coverage.

Final MTB results for the GC2018: 

1st. Samuel Gaze (NZL)
2nd. Anton Cooper (NZL)
3rd. Alan Hatherly (RSA)
4th. Ben Oliver (NZL)
5th. Frazer Clacherty (ENG)


1st. Annie Last (ENG)
2nd. Evie Richards (ENG)
3rd. Haley Smith (CAN)
4th. Emily Batty (CAN)
5th. Isla Short (SCO)

Here’s the info the GC2018 released for the MTBMTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create Change.comMTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create MTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create MTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create


GC2018 – Final Overall Medal Tally

MTB - Commonwealth Games 2018. Friday 13th April at www.Bicycles Create

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DR Congo: Chukudu bikes

Chukudus are very unique Congolese wooden bikes.

They resemble an elongated kick bike.

In Goma city (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo), Chukudus cost around $100 to make. These bikes are made out of scavenged motorbike and other recycled parts, with the bulk being hand-crafted out of wood.

Increasingly, young men in Goma are using chukudus as a way to earn money.

DR Congo: Chukudu bikes

Although these bikes provide income generation opportunities, they are also incredibly dangerous. Roads in DR Congo have hazardous conditions and are precarious as driving is unregulated and there is a lack of driver etiquette for other road users, which means increased road traffic accidents and deaths.

This is a major issue because in the past, the DR Congo rated as having one of the highest road fatality rates in the world.

For people living in poverty, especially youths, transportation is critical. It is the key to access basic services such as health, education, and is a means to improve current and future livelihood opportunities.

Why is this film important?

Horaci Garcia Marti’s film (above)  How DR Congo’s wooden bikes drive profit in Goma is a valuable and important work for a number of reasons.

The film centers on a local young man Tumaini Obedi. With a duration of only 2 mins 37sec, it packs a lot of food for thought by providing Tumaini’s personal experiences riding his Chukudu – and of poverty, urban living, road safety, family and hopes of the future – issues that many people can relate to.

There is a real elegance to the coasting scenes in this film, where the riders are flying along seemingly effortlessly.

Watching this film, I can’t help but think of the exorbitant amounts of money charged by Western bikes companies. But bikes don’t need to be top of the range to make this contrast challenging.

Once you have seen a Chukudu, you’ll view pretty much any bike thereafter differently.

That’s why I like this film. It is short, relatable, and tells an impactful story.

Not only is it important for this story to be told in and of itself, but further, it will give riders specifically pause to think – and be grateful.

DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018

DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018

DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018  DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018All Images from: How DR Congo’s wooden bikes drive profit in Goma 

DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018  DR Congo's Chukudus bikes - Bicycles Create 9th April 2018All Images from: How DR Congo’s wooden bikes drive profit in Goma 

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Bicycles in Prison

I love the wonderful ideas and projects that my PhD bicycle research uncovers. Today, I was reading about the many ways that bicycles are used in prisons.

Time, space and access are factors that constrain prisoner bike use (funding too of course!). However, this does not necessarily mean that the positive impacts of cycling and bikes are necessarily reduced. By this, I mean that for most people, having access and time with a bicycle usually means going for a ride, which is obviously not possible for people who are incarcerated.

There are a few inventive prison programs where inmates can still use, work with, and ride bikes that are not based on riding the bike on road or trails.

Below are three examples from today’s readings.


  1.  Santa Rita do Sapucai Prison (Brazil)

According to a report in the Jornal Nacional, the Santa Rita do Sapucai prison has a policy that prisoners can reduce their time in jail by generating energy by riding stationary bikes. If they pedal for 16 hours, their sentence is reduced by a day.

The energy produced by riding the bikes charges batteries that are taken to the closest city to power lightbulbs. The prison started with only two bikes. But the voluntary program has been so popular, that the prison will soon have 10 bikes to deal with the high demand.

Reports indicate that good behaviour is up and that prisoners are fitter. What a great way to break up the daily monotony and encourage more positive outcomes … all this plus generated power for local community use.

Bicycles in Prison. 5th April, 2018Image: BBC

2. Rimutaka Prison (NZ)

This prison trialled a 100-bike recycling program, where inmates repaired second-hand bikes that have been donated by the community. The refurbished bikes were prioritized for community members who previously had no access to a bike.

Aside from the beneficial recycling and community side of this venture, working on the bikes also provides a fresh change from the usual prison work and routine,  as well as providing useful technical skills that inmates can then use once they get out to help their families or get work.

Bicycles in Prison. 5th April, 2018Image: Rimutaka Prison instructor Aaron Jeffs, left, volunteer Jorge Sandoval and a prisoner in the Community Bike Recycling project.

There are a number of prisons that have a similar program to Rimutaka’s.

Like this heartwarming story from Westgate Prison (Bermuda),  whose inmates last year refurbished some bikes to give local disadvantaged children for Christmas. The video below is the final ‘award’ presentation of the bikes.

3. Pedal Vision in Tent City Jail (USA)

To achieve this, stationary bikes were rejigged to generate 12 volts of electricity, which will run a 19-inch TV. An hour of pedalling equals about an hour of TV time. Prisoners sign a contract so that only those who agree to pedal, have access to the inmate-powered TV.

No pedal, no TV.

Bicycles in Prison. 5th April, 2018Image: CBS News

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MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra)

This blog prides itself on staying true to the essence of community and grassroots cycling and presenting the more local and personal side of riding bikes. This means on this blog you will not find any advertisements, product reviews and very little road riding – all of which are already overrepresented by cycling mainstream and online media. The road riding fraternity is often criticised for being elitist, alienating other codes of biking and being the sole domain of ‘rich white guys’.

As a counter to this, I think it is important not to tar all road riders with the same brush.  So it is my pleasure to host this guest blog post from Denise Raward, as a wonderful example of how a group of road riders used cycling to create more positive personal and community change. Enjoy!

MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) -Bicycles Create 31st March, 2018

New Film: MAMILS documentary

Let’s be clear, this is not a story about bicycles versus cars.

It’s probably not even so much a story about bicycles, except perhaps as a metaphor for something that keeps you pedalling because if you don’t, you’ll fall over.

This was to be a story about MAMILS, those much derided Middle-Aged Men in Lycra, slowing perfectly clear roadways in their matching knicks, talking loudly about their next carbon frames, polluting coffee shops with their post-ride perspiration.

But it turns out to be a story about a couple of blokes who ride bikes to get them through what middle age can throw at men.

Here is the trailer for the MAMILS film:

Curiously, Australian filmmakers Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe struck the same phenomenon in their recent documentary MAMILS, a study of men’s cycling groups across three continents. They set out to take a wry look at the male mid-life obsession with expensive bikes but instead uncovered touching stories of camaraderie, community and hope.

Perhaps its most poignant case study was an Adelaide man who credits his cycling group with literally saving his life, staying his planned suicide with each ride. Steve Holmes understands how cycling can keep you hanging in there. In October 2016, he was diagnosed with a rare form of bile duct cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, the same one that had claimed his brother’s life only two years before. It was a blow he never saw coming. He felt like he’d played all his survival cards when he recovered from a broken neck he sustained in a crash of the lead pack during the Gold Coast 100 cycling event five years earlier.

It was during his eight-month lay-up, wondering how much of his paralysed body would return, that he conceived of the idea of an online resource featuring everything you ever needed to know about cycling events in Australia and New Zealand.

He followed it up with another site encompassing Southeast Queensland clubs, recreational groups, regular rides, events and retailers. An internet novice, he started building the sites with his one functioning left hand. “It was a passion,” Steve says. “Cycling is huge. I didn’t know how big it was. I was just the person who was trying to pull it all together. I could see where it could go.”

The sites were just beginning to gain traction in cycling circles, catching the attention of cycling tourists and corporates, when – bang – Steve was back off his bike.”I was on a ride one day when I thought I had a stomach virus and the next thing, I’ve got this cancer where the survival rate is nil – nil! What do you even say to that?”

Here is Craig and Franko being interviewed on Ch7’s Daily Edition about their MAMILS documentary:

Steve Holmes’ Story

Steve’s cancer story is a long tale of operations; complications; unsung doctors who appeared from nowhere to save him within minutes of death and pure, sheer, brilliant luck. The tumours, which an 11-hour operation painstakingly removed, came back with a vengeance and took hold on the outside of his liver. He was in so much pain, he knew he couldn’t have long.

Then his oncologist unearthed a trail for Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug being tested on rare cancers, being run out of Hamburg, Germany. “I was that sick, he virtually had to move my hand on the page so I could sign the consent form,” Steve says. “It was a long shot that I even qualified for the trial.”

The next thing he was in Brisbane hooked up to a Keytruda infusion. Four days later, he was on the floor, sicker than he’d ever been, but with each dose, things improved. One day, he realised he couldn’t feel pain any more but thought he must be just getting used it. “I spent a lot of time lying on the couch,” he says. “And I would think about riding and my cycling sites and how I was going to make them better. I’ll tell you one thing, when you’re preparing to die, it really helps to have a passion.”

Steve still can’t speak about the miracle that happened next without a few tears. It’s still too new and perhaps he doesn’t quite believe it yet. Last month, he got word he was in complete remission, one of only two known people in the world to escape the clutches of cholangiocarcinoma.

“When you’re ready to die and it doesn’t happen, it sounds ridiculous but you go through a ‘well, what do I do now’ phase,” he says. “But I knew what it was, it was getting going with all the ideas that came to me while I was dying.” He’s currently revamping and relaunching his cycling websites and newsletters, creating a BuzzFeed-style app with his curated cycling information and an online magazine. He’s back on his bike too – just twice a week, finding his legs again, being back out on the road with his old cycling mates.

MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) -Bicycles Create 31st March, 2018

Dave McCrossin’s Story

Retired paediatrician Dave McCrossin has his own tale of riding for life. Dave was an early adopter of cycling for fitness and mateship, certainly well before anyone had heard of a MAMIL. He started out on a sturdy hybrid bike wearing shorts and a t-shirt more than 25 years ago but later switched to lycra and has ridden in many of the country’s major recreational cycling events.

The former Director of Paediatric Services at the Mater Hospital, Queenland’s specialist children’s hospital, took an early retirement when Parkinson’s disease made it difficult to keep up the demands of his work.

He and his wife sold up in Brisbane, bought an apartment on the Gold Coast and Dave joined an old mate’s local cycling group. He found a bunch of blokes who took him under their wing. Someone would hang back with him if he was having a slow day but mostly they didn’t change too much on his account, just as he liked it. But Dave doesn’t move like he used to. Parkinson’s symptoms include shaking, increasing rigidity and slowness of movement. Yet cycling, preferably faster than you’re physically able, is clinically proven to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms. Researchers believe the action of cycling improves connections in vital areas of the brain.

It was something Dave was already onto. Over a year ago, he switched to an e-bike, fitted with a small, silent electric motor, to help his legs keep pumping when he needed a boost. His mates particularly love it when he powers past the A-listers on a Sunday morning.

Be warned, sales of e-bikes are booming as recreational cyclists age and want to keep riding into their 70s, even 80s. Old MAMILS, it seems, never die… that’s why they do it.

MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) -Bicycles Create 31st March, 2018

Thanks to Denise Raward for this great article, which was originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, on 25th March 2018. Images from the film.

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30 days of Biking – 1 week to go!

As many of you know, World Bicycle Relief is one of the NGOs that is aligned with many aspects of my PhD bicycle research. Next week is April. That means a full month of extra happy riding! Why? Well, it’s 30 Days of Biking time of course! So get motivated and get amongst it! Now is the time to register! Have fun! Ride bikes! Do good!

30 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 2018

What is the aim of 30 Days of Biking?

The goal is simple: Ride your bike every day in April, share your adventures online, and help your community provide life-changing bicycles to students in rural Africa!

What is the 30 Days of Biking?

Click here for the link to the official 30 Days of Biking website.

From the WBR website, the most important info to know is, you…

  • Pledge to ride your bike every day in April
  • Join riders from all over the world and make it more meaningful by fundraising for WBR
  • Share your adventures on social media using #30DaysofBiking

30 Days of Biking began in 2010, in Minnesota, USA. Today, it boasts thousands of pledged riders in dozens of cities around the world. #30DaysofBiking also encourages you to join or lead your own rides during April. It’s free to everyone, everywhere.

Whether you ride for exercise, environmental advocacy, socializing or for fun, you can make an impact.

There is no distance too short and no donation too small – keep riding and don’t give up!


Last year, the 30 Days of Biking community collected over 7,000 pledges and raised over $15,000. The aim this year if to unite as a global community and reach 10,000 pledges and raise over USD$30,000 for life-changing Buffalo Bicycles in rural Africa!

You can see a list of who pledges (as long as they are public) here. At the time of this post, the total number of pledges to date is:30 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 2018

  • Pledge by visiting 30DaysofBiking
  • Start your #30DaysOfBiking fundraiser to share your joy of riding with students in rural Africa!
  • Share your 30 Days of Biking journey on social media using #PowerofBicycles and #30DaysofBiking
  • Follow this global movement via Joyful Riders Worldwide Facebook page.

Further questions and inquiries? Email: Mary Beth Johnson at

30 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 2018Image: Instagram #30daysofbiking

What kind of events can you do for 30 days of Biking?

Anything you want!

Limited only by your imagination!

You can host a regular weekly bike ride, a movie night, a family ride, a tiny bicycle shop concert (my personal favourite!) – or any other manner of social events that involve riding.

What a great way to build community and do some good!

If you already ride a lot and are keen to give it a go – now is the time to register!

To whet your motivation, here are some fun ways other US cyclists are kicking off the challenge (click here to see more events). Good luck with yours!

30 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 201830 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 201830 days of Biking - 1 week to go! Bicycles Create 26th March 2018

All images: World Bicycle Relief 2018

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English Australia – PD Fest

 English Australia (EA) is the national peak body for the English language sector of international education in Australia. On the weekend, the Queensland English Australia – PD Fest was held. This event is a precursor to the national conference coming up later this year.  I always enjoy this event and have been looking forward to it. Here is what happened. Enjoy!

English Australia – PD FestEnglish Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March 2018

I really enjoy going to the English Australia PD Fest each year. I love catching up with industry news, meeting other teachers in my field and seeing what others are doing in the PD sessions. I presented for the first time in 2016, but last year went as a participant and had an equally great time. So this year, it was time to present again. Turns out I ended up presenting twice and here’s how it went!

Session 1 From EAS to collaborative internship: Lessons and insights where bicycles create change

Abstract: This session presents the results and insights drawn from the 8-week collaborative internship I worked on over the Summer of 2016 with 4 DEP students: Sachie, Mauricio, Juliet and Gabriel. This session outlines the multiple theoretical perspectives that underpin the course design and explains how the project focused on providing the participants with genuine and English, academic, professional and practical workplace skills and opportunities in inventive and engaging ways.

Presenters: Sachie Togashiki is in her third year of International Liberal Arts at Soka University, Japan, majoring in Philosophy. Juliet Alfred is Special Educator at Sommerville Special School, Auckland, NZ. Mauricio Gonzalez is a Software Developer working on private contracts for the Queensland Government. Gabriel Besong was unable to present. All are graduates of GELI’s Direct Entry Program (DEP) and were participants in the 2016 Bicycles Create Change Summer Internship. Nina Ginsberg is a Language Instructor and Academic Tutor with Griffith English Language Institute (GELI).

How did it go? This session went well. I had to really condensed the session down as the afternoon sessions had less time than the morning sessions, but it was a good challenge to hit the high points of theoretical perspectives, aha moments, what worked and what didn’t work.

I spent a bit of time going through the Internship outline as this was the crux of whole venture.  I explained the different components, how they work together and gave some examples of  tasks and activities undertaken to show critical points of skill development, which the audience were really interested in.

It was also great because the audience got to hear directly from three out of the four participants about their experience: Sachie and Juliet had pre-recorded video (they are both overseas) and Mauricio attended in person. Congrats to all three who presented – they did a great job!

Bright Ideas Nomination: This session was one of five on the day that were nominated for a Bright Ideas Award. This means that there was representative of English Australia in the audience evaluating the presentation. Their review is coupled with the distant feedback and a summary of the session written by the presenter.  The Panel then assesses each of the five sessions and announces the winner.

The prize for the Bright Ideas Award is a full expenses paid trip (all airfares, accomodation, gala dinner, registration etc) to present as the Queensland representative at the 2018 English Australia (National) Conference to be held in Sydney on 19-21 September.   Bloody wicked!!

Click here to see the 2017 Bright Ideas (Queensland) Winner’s session.


Session 2: You’ll never believe what happened in class today!

Abstract: Teaching is hard, but rewarding work. Every teacher has memorable moments that has made it all worth it. This fun and positive participatory session celebrates the unique, wonderful, hilarious and often touching moments in our collective teacher experience. Join us for a few laughs and double entendres as we reminisce magical class moments!

Presenters: Just me!

How did it go? I hadn’t planned on doing this session this year. I spoke to the organisers a week before it was being held and they were still short a few sessions. I had the idea to do this session next year, but the discussion forum format was easy to organise, so I volunteered to double up. I’m glad I did.

The premise that this session was the provide designated space the teachers to sit down and share their experiences. I wanted to steer away from the usual pedagogy, theory and practical skills PD session to really acknowledge and celebrate the personal and often unknown moments that many teachers have, but are all too rarely shared.

I also wanted to recognise and honour the positive and fun side as a counterbalance all the hard work that goes into teaching, which is usually the central focus of many PDs.

The session was simple. After a quick introduction, I told a few funny stories of faux pas, pronunciation confusions, hilarious misspellings and cultural misunderstandings to get the ball rolling. We then divided up into four groups of about six people and spent the time exchanging the memorable times that it made us laugh in English class.

This session was informal, friendly and funny. It was a wonderful way to end the day. The participants who came were very generous in sharing their stories and experiences and it was lovely to hear laughter flowing easily.

Here are a few highlights from my two sessions. A massive thanks to Elliot Kirkwood Photography for providing all session photos other than my presentation slides – what a professional!

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

English Australia - PD Fest Bicycles Create 22 March

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Bicycle Short Film People’s Choice Winner

'LEKI' Brisbane Bicycle Short Film People's Choice Winner - Bicycles Create 18th March 2018


Great news!

Our short film ‘Leki’ took out the People’s Choice Award at the 2018 Brisbane Bike Short Film Festival on Friday night!

For this film, I collaborated with Isabel Turner, who is the spunky, young designer who really made this film happen.

Thanks to all!

Bella and I wanted to say a big thank you to all those who people who voted for us! We very much appreciate your great sense of humour and for supporting more inclusive, active and colourful (cycling) communities.  We need more happy people out there like you! Thank you!!

Congratulations also to all the other entrants who made a great effort and contributed their stories and creativity! It was wonderful to see such multiplicity in their approaches, themes and celebration of bikes in Brisbane.

A big thank you also to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors who worked so hard to make this a memorable and fun night.

Without further ado – here is this our 2018 Brisbane Bike Bites People’s Choice film. Enjoy!!

Click here to find out more about the lead-up to the Festival here.

Click here to see the finalists films. 

'LEKI' Brisbane Bicycle Short Film People's Choice Winner - Bicycles Create 18th March 2018

'LEKI' Brisbane Bicycle Short Film People's Choice Winner - Bicycles Create 18th March 2018

‘LEKI’ Brisbane Bicycle Short Film People’s Choice Winner!

The night started out with a Style over Speed ride for those who could make it (I had to teach). Then there was a boisterous welcome by the bike band on arrival at the Kangaroo Point Multicultural Centre.

It was great to see lots of bikes parked outside for the event. Inside, people milled about eating pizza, drinking and chatting. Then the bell sounded for us to take our seats.

First up was a screening of the six short film finalists. I loved the diversity of each entry – they were all completely different.

I really appreciated the effort and thought that had gone into each entry. I especially liked the moving simplicity of The Route and the down-to-earthiness and kool kustom bikes (and lit-up allure) of Anthony’s Ride your bike. Free your soul.

Before interval, the Spaces for Cycling Brisbane judges announced their top prizes for first, second and third.

A special award went to Tegan Methorst for being the youngest film-maker to enter with her film It moves you.

Then it was time for intermission. More drinks, socialising and pizza. This is where the audience got to cast their votes.

The second part of the night was a filming of the film Why we ride. This is a documentary from Copenhagen exploring the ideas and experiences of a range of cyclists in the Netherlands. It was super interesting and had lots of ideas that have stimulated and progressed very interesting conversations since! (See the trailer for this feature film trailer below.)

The People’s Choice Prize was awarded at the end to close.

What a night!

The making of Leki

At the end of January 2018, Bella moved to the UK for work.

So as a final farewell collaborative project, we decided to put together a bicycle short film entry about my flower bike Leki. Bella did all the hard work behind the screen (scene?) that made this film happen.

We had a great time doing the filming in and around our community.

The interactions and conversations we used were all total strangers that I accosted on the street then and there to interview. We wanted an authentic and true, unedited representation of what local people thought and said about Leki.

It was a little daunting going up to random strangers and asking them to go on film to talk about Leki, but our community was super supportive and up for it.

We filmed around Bayside Wynnym Manly area in Brisbane.

We had many ideas about what we were going to put into it. We discussed doing some of the stories about Leki in animation and adding in some more creative aspects to show off Bella’s skills.

However, in the end, we wanted it to be no-fuss, low-key and accessible, so opted for a straightforward vox pop and storytelling format.

We wanted Leki and the community to speak for itself without ‘jazzing it up’ with any frills – just take it as it is – and enjoy!

We wanted to include a few local sites around our community to up the ‘Brisbane-ness’ of the film (I talk about riding in Melbourne at one stage), so we wanted to be sure people knew we were specifically located and riding around in and around Brisbane.

Local Cycling Community Hero – Richard @ Crossley Cycles

We included an interview with Richard Crossley from Crossley Cycles (Manly, Brisbane) as well. This was important to us for a number of reasons; Richard is not only a wonderful friend and constant supporter of me personally (he loves to chat about my PhD bike research and see what I’m making next out of recycled bike parts and inner tubes, so I am often in his workshop on Saturdays tinkering and chatting with him as he works on his bikes), but he is also a local hero to the Manly cycling community.

Richard has been serving local riders and BMXers at his shop in Manly for 47 yearsand he is well loved and well respected by some very big names.

So having Richard in our short film was our way of recognising and honouring his contribution to the range, colour and life of the local Brisbane cycling network. Thanks Richard!

'LEKI' Brisbane Bicycle Short Film People's Choice Winner - Bicycles Create 18th March 2018

Thanks Bella!!

A massive big thanks to Bella Turner for all her hard work on Leki – and for all the other work we did together. Congratulations…. and best of luck in the UK!!

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Holi Festival 2018

Video courtesy:  Paviter Kumar Noori

Holi Festival 2018

Last weekend, I headed down to the Brisbane Holi Festival 2018 celebrations.

I was drawn to this event for a number of reasons: it is a wonderful cultural celebration, it was being held in an area of Brisbane I have not been to, and most importantly, there was an organised public bike ride to kick off the festivities!

I saw this community event on the Brisbane City Council website – and this is what is said:

Dress in white for the Holi Festival of Colours at Rocks Riverside Park and be prepared to get dirty when the colour throwing begins. Cycle to the event with the Two Wheels Bike Ride and try yoga, Bollywood dancing, delicious food and dance in the rain before the festival closes in an explosion of flying coloured powder.

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

What is Holi Festival?

The Holi Festival is known as the ‘Festival of Colour”.

It is an Indian cultural festival that celebrates community, fun and colour. It is the original event where people throw coloured powder over each other as a way of connecting people, having fun and celebrating life.

To find out more information about the significance, background and rituals of a more traditional Holi Festival, click here.

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

So what happened?

Here’s how I first saw the event advertised:

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March 2018

Which sounded right up my alley! I’m in!

So I called my creative collaborator, Claire. We packed the car up for the day with our colourful bikes, dressed in white and headed out to have some fun.

There was lots of Bollywood dancing, food stalls, demonstrations and lots of DJs that kept the dancing crowd happy – and continuous colour throwing!

After our ride along the river, we were a little hot and sweaty. So, we grabbed some delicious lunch and hung out in the shade. It was great to watch groups of kids getting crazy, families arriving and friends frolicking.

That was the best part of the day for me.

The DJs really started getting going around 1 pm. By then, the crowd had started built and was in full swing, so we headed into the main area for a boogie and to get amongst it.

We were instantly set upon by happy festival-goers (our clothes were VERY white and obviously needed some ‘help’) and while we were chatting and meeting new people, we danced around and got drenched by water cannons and splashed with colour.

The Indian community is so warm and friendly. It was so affirming to see so many ages, shapes, nationalities, ethnicities and mixes of people – it was a delight to be part of.

This kind of event represents the kind of community that I want to live in.


Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

Leki was a real hit.

When it was time to leave, Claire and I grabbed our bikes to ride back…and we got accosted from all sides by punters wanting to have their photos taken with Leki (and the flower helmet beanie)!

How could we say no?

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

A minor hiccup

We had a minor hiccup on the day – we missed the organised ride.

Below is the ticket I received after booking. Claire and I (and Leki) happily took off on the day with our bikes to join the ride. The only problem was that we didn’t have enough info to find the location for the start of the ride in time.

The location was far too broad  – We’d never been to this area before and the GPS stopped us in the middle of a busy street – eck!

We arrived and drove around and around – there were no signs on the main road indicating where the festival was. Finally, we worked out where it was, but by then, we were too late to join the official ride.

So, we went on our own little ride/mission along the riverside, which was great fun!

We had an equally great time exlporing the new bike trails ourselves and then we headed back to join the festivities. By then, it was starting to really get going in the main arena – perfect timing!

We had a great day! We danced, got coloured and we rode our bikes of colours.

By the time I got home, I was very tired – and very happy!

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

Holi Festival 2018 - Bicycles Create 13 March

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