Today was Griffith University’s Education and Professional Studies HDR Student Conference. Although I am on the organising committee, I did not attend the proceedings today because I am Melbourne for another event (WSSC 2016 – see upcoming post).

The reason I am posting about the HDR Conference now, is the theme for this year’s conference “Aiming for the future: Learning from reflection and reality” really resonated with me. In developing my PhD research proposal, I was very strategic about synthesising certain professional and civic dimensions that I think are very important – education, social justice, community development, and of course, bikes! One of the reasons I am so motivated in my research is that it is inherently practical to implement. It is not difficult for me to translate my research into practice. This is not necessarily the case for other researchers.

So this conference theme aligned well with my personal approach to research. I think there is great value in exploring and trialling methods and praxis, and feel that unless research can be operationalized to contribute to a better outcome for all, then a project does not fully reach its potential. It is also an excellent forum to not only get together and network, but also to share ideas about work being undertaken. I was looking forward to hearing the abstract sessions detailing what others were working on – I find it perpetually inspiring and engaging to hear the range, types and topics that others are working on. Most of all I was looking forward to the Guest Speaker Workshop “Possibilities: Knowledge into action” session (understandably why) to get some fresh insights and motivation.


The need for peer contact

Whilst organising this conference, I sometimes caught myself thinking that there were certain aspects of this conference I was sorry I was going to be missing. At this stage in my PhD, I am preparing my Early Candidature Milestone (Feb 2017) and coming out of my most challenging time working on this project so far,  I recognise that I wanted to go to this Conference to reconnect with some Uni contacts. I had been feeling quite awash, distanced and anxious after not having my usual regular contact with peers and supervisors. So I was craving to discuss and mull over a few challenges and to get some suggestions, motivation and ideas. I found that just by working on organising the conference, meant that I had more contact with some of the other candidates and started feeling much better. By the time I met with my supervisors mid this week (a meeting which I had been very much looking forward to), I felt was already feeling much more settled and refocused.


Actioning the theme

Now that I am down in Victoria for some bike riding and exploring some research possibilities, I am back in my element – the physical realm. I most certainly would have attended the Conference had I still been in Brisbane, but I like the idea that, instead of sitting in a room talking about how to energize research and translate it into real world practice, I am out in the real world investigating ways to translate the lived experiences into research. In a strange way, I’m putting into practice the main theme of the conference, which, I suppose, if I was not there to participate, is a bloody good alternative!

I am looking forward to hearing how the conference went and some attendee feedback as to what they got out of it, what worked and what didn’t. It is a great opportunity to get the HDRers out from behind their screens to network, share and stimulate each other. You never know where a conversation topic might take you, or how participating in a workshop can unlock a new idea or direction – after all, I am now doing my PhD because I sat at a table in a workshop last year and got chatting to those around me on the table – and boy and I glad I did. I hope the attendees today had an equally provoking and restorative experience.

Now back to the bike and making some contacts for recruiting singlespeed research participants!



I’m gearing up (pun intended) for this weekend’s Singlespeed World Championship (SSWC) 2016 – the Carni-velo festival of the bike in Woodend, VIC. I’ve been so looking forward to this weekend – and have been getting more and more excited about it since I entered back in July (with a post of my favourite Singlespeed videos).  Last year I didn’t go to the Nationals, (but I did post about it), so it is extra special that the World Champs are in Australia this year.


Cancel everything…

I’ve turned down an acceptance for me to do a poster presentation at the Australian International Education Conference (in Melbourne on Sun) and I’m not going to the HDR Student Conference that I am on the organizing committee (on Friday) – as this opportunity is too good to miss! I could well go to another WSSC, but certainly not on home turf as well as being physically willing and able and having the means!

So, packing up the singlespeed tonight. I took her for a ride out in the rain this afternoon. She’s riding like a dream and I can’t wait. I’m decorating her in a similar vein to Leki (my flower bike) and you can see a prototype of when I rode my single speed at an MTB event last month. I’m going with colour and flowers so that she will be easy to see at the starting line – just in case there are any shenanigans.  I’ve also bought a beard to wear, which I am very happy with and am very excited about catching up with some old and new crew. See some of last years photos here.

There are apparently 1,000 registered of the event form all over Australia and the world. Checking the latest weather updates this morning, showed that it is going to be  raining and between 1-12C! After being in Brisbane’s balmy and sunny 26C – this could be a real challenge and reduce the actual riding cohort on the day – but certainly not the festivities!! Just more people to cheer on those who are game enough to ride!


Weekend Events

The events run all weekend and on offer are activities for riders (and competitors), non-riders and kids. There are heaps of entertainment and satellite events in the week leading up to the main event in Melbourne. If I was there, I would be getting down tomorrow for My Mechanic Rules.

General Run Sheet for the weekend.

Tuesday 18 Oct: My Mechanic Rules heat 1 (Melbourne)

Wednesday 19 Oct: Melbourne pub ride (Melbourne)

Thursday 20 Oct: rides, early bird drinks at Holgate Brewhouse (Woodend)

Friday 21 Oct: social 12 kms ride and Opening Extravaganza at Holgate Brewhouse (Woodend)

Saturday 22 Oct: Group ride, Carni-velo at Hanging Rock Reserve (Woodend)

Sunday 23 October: SSWC 2016 race day, hosting rights competition and after-party


Social observations – new directions

I find the singlespeed community so welcoming and interesting. I love how it seems to naturally evolve and is so accepting of all types of people, with minimal pretension, yet in its own way, maximum membership identification. This aspect in particular is very curious to me.  I’ve often thought that its a pity there is not much accessible, authentic, respectful and insightful work undertaken about the singelspeed lifestyle – sure popular media and advertising has gone to town – but not so much from academia.

As I ride along on my single speed, I’ve often thought about this. I’ve got a few research ideas that I am hoping I might be able to put into motion about some sociological work and/or possible collaborations using the WSSC as a basis for participant recruitment. There are a few areas within the ethnographic literature that are void of original voices and narratives – and none more so than within cycling subculture communities.

After reading work discussing alcohol in sports such as Ultimate Frisbee and Roller Derby (as opposed to Football and other sports which use it as a way of team-bonding or representations of hypermasculinities), I’m curious to see how this might factor in at WSSC. I’m not a big drinker myself, so I’m interested to see if/how that will factor into my experience of the event.

In considering such deliberations, I’ve come up with a general list of sociological perspectives I’m keen to keep massaging and working on. SSWC is a great opportunity to see it all in action, add some new ideas and reevaluate others. I’m interested in seeing what the social functions and mechanisms of the WSSC as a singular event is, as well as singlespeed culture as a whole, such as:

  • The role of alcohol as a social integrater: drinkers, abstainers, defer-drinkers and under-aged
  • How SSers self identify individually and collectively – aspects of social distinction – what are the differences between hipsters, fixies and singlespeeders??
  • Role of gender (women/girls and hypermasculinities?) within the SS community
  • Values, indicators and central themes to the singelspeed lifestyle
  • Networks, groups membership and representations of self and image (as opposed to media diffusion?)
  • Subcultural/Subsocial artefacts, behaviours, norms and signifiers

However, this weekend I am going to enjoy, relax and get amongst it all – who knows what might come up!


I am often equally baffled and concerned riding bikes around Brisbane. It is not a city designed for easy bike use. There are areas and bike path networks dotted around, but the amount and ferocity of the road traffic is of leviathan proportions. Finding and linking the Brisbane bike paths to ride to work has had a remarkable positive impact. Which is why this new Polish bike path not only useful for urban mobility and to promote bike use, but I also see it as an fantastic aspirational challenge to other cities worldwide to lift their game and invest in more infrastructure to support cycling and walking. It serves as a wonderful precedence for other urban developers, city councils and political lobbyists to use as an example of what is possible – not just for resident use, but also as a tourist draw card and showcase of national technological advancement.

Starry Night  Bike Path

This is the new glow-in-the-dark bike path that was unveiled this month in Poland (near Lidzbark Warminiski). This bike path is revolutionary in that it made of synthetic particles call ‘luminophores’, which charge in the sunlight during the day, and glow at night. Luminophones can emit an arrange of colour, but designers decided on blue for visibility and to blend into the surrounds. Once charged these luminophones can radiate light for up to 10 hours – making it a beautiful and safer ride home at the darkest time of night.

This next offering in the evolution of safer, more eco-friendly and cost-effective bike lanes drew on inspiration from the Dutch solar-powered TPA Instytut Badan Techniczynch Sp. Z o. o bike path from 2014, however, unlike the Dutch path by Studio Roosegaarde, this Polish contemporary requires no external batteries or power – which really steps up the innovation and utilisation factor. Find more info about the Polish Starry Night Path here.

I hope that having such beautiful, productive and eco-friendly developments such as these, that promote city bike riding will go far to set the scene for other major cities as a means to inspire and stimulate policy discussion about encouraging and supporting increased urban bike use.


Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Source: Inhabitat

Today is Australia’s National Ride to Work Day 2016.

Last year was my first year registering and it was one of the best things I did since coming to Brisbane. I registered last year thinking I would give it a go, support the event and try something different. I was a little unsure of how I was going to get there, as I find the Queensland roads spectacularly challenging and unsafe – especially when you have no orientation or experience in the area.  So to find the best route, I ended up using the Bicycle Network’s quick and easy Brisbane City Plan my Route  – and it planned my whole trip door to door, while linking up all these backroads and bicycle tracks that I had no idea even existed. I have been riding to work ever since.

This year

So I am excited about the event this year and registered as a co-ordinator for my department. Although many of the teachers are supportive of bicycle riding, very few actually engage with it – so I did as much email promotion and talking to people as I could and looked at it as a awareness raising campaign. The event has a lot of activities and associated initiatives that go along with supporting riders to ride to work on the actual day – and the list of resources, info and details on the Ride to Work website is quite impressive.

 Breakfast BUG

Although I was (regrettably) was unable to ride myself this morning, I met up and joined the Griffith Uni BUG (Bicycle Users Group) for the tail end of breakfast at Nathan Campus. It was lovely to meet some new cycle-minded staff and I felt very welcome.  A number of them introduced themselves and thanks especially to MD who ended up inviting me to join their monthly ride with them all from Brisbane City to campus. I am now on their mailing list and look forward to more potential future cycling adventures with some new faces!  Overall, breakfast was cheap and cheery and I am looking forward to seeing what other groups did for the day – and of course keen to see how the daily stats and results end up. I hope that it was as popular this year as last year. Click here to see some great photos from the fun last year. I know that last year 43% of all new riders who took part are still riding to work – so I am hoping that this statistic will improve.
Happy riding!

This rise of the e-bike is a polarising phenomenon. Some people love them, some people hate them, many don’t care either way. Currently in a number of places in the USA, there is a  concerted interest and investigation into the potentiality of the  e-bike market. One such study was undertaken by OTEC and is particularly interesting as it provided 120 bike set up with GPS tracking as well as engaging the participants in a very interesting survey – the results of which are below.

I have had very little contact with e-bikes. A few years ago, my brother was using an e-bike to get around Melbourne, which, after getting over my initial amazement that my brother had been on a bike (ever – at all), let alone had bought one (even if it was an e-bike) was my first direct contact. I tried his e-bike on a track and was surprised at how comfortable the ride was. I had to admit that, although I am one of those people who has an immediate staunch mountain-biker aversion to e-bikes, I could see how and where there was a place for their use.

Recently I was in a mountain-bike event where one of the competitors was on an e-bike. In my opinion, that was not the time, nor the place for and e-bike. Based on the responses of other competitors, I was not the only one. However, I did find myself recommending to my 74 year-old father, that utilising an e-bike conversion (for uphills) on a tricycle (for stability) was a sound alternative for him to get around and stay active – an idea of which he loved. In the cases where age, mobility restriction, or those who are severely overweight but want to get out and start exercising, I can see the cost-effectiveness, comfort, mobility and access arguments for using e-bikes.

So it was no surprise that the infographic below caught my eye. It is a quick and easy report of the results of an online survey about e-bike usage in Portland, Oregon (one of the most progressive and up-and-coming bike friendly cities in the world). This infographic details in a succinct, balanced and visually appealing way, the responses, concerns and reasons for e-bike use. This is understandable, as it was produced by the Portland State Transportation Research and Education Center, which I applaud for undertaking as an online initiative and in the effectiveness of community awareness raising/promotion of e-bike use. I think this image goes a long way in helping to better explain to those who maybe totally resistant to e-bikes some of the more practical or uncommon dimensions of bike use.

I know many mountain-bikers who completely dismiss e-bikes for a variety of reasons (most often cited are accusations of laziness and ‘cheating’). However, this perspective is a knee-jerk reaction to something new based, and is based on their own personal fitness and lifestyle situation – which is certainly not the experience for millions of other people who may want to get out and about on a bike, but for whatever reason, may not be able to on a conventional bicycle.

To this end, I think this infographic is quite successful in being able to collate and communicate some of the more interesting aspects of e-bikes, so that people can have a better appreciation for such factors.

Source: OTREC

Source: OTREC

Although this story is a blast from the past, it is still such a great story – hence it’s addition here.

There are some rare events were adventurers and dogs can travel, race and tour together, but not enough. There are a few, rare remarkable stories of stray dogs joining teams of travellers, like Arthur who joined Swedish Team Peak Performace Adventure Race Team in Equador and the story below fits into this category.

As a bike enthusiast and trail dog owner, I am a big fan of riding with dogs and have often lamented that there is such a restriction about dogs on trails. I have long argued for a mixed species MTB event that is made up of a rider, bike and dog as a team for MTB festivals (mixed species teams – and then as the attendance grows, move into new divisions such as same sex and/or mixed gender species events … to cater for the understandable and obvious growth in popularity of such events!).  Anyhow, until such events eventuate become mainstream, international newsworthy stories such as this gem are certainly welcomed for its positivity and feel-good vibes promoting the unique bond between dogs and their riders.


Xiaosa’s Story

This is a story of a stray dog that joined a band of cyclists on their epic 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet. There are many links to this story as it was quite a hit, but many of the English-speaking print media just gave perfunctory details, whereas this news report went the extra mile to present some interesting facts and a few extra pictures – it is well worth the read.  Having lived and travelled through China for a couple of years, I also find this story particularly heart-warming as I very challenged during my Chinese travels about the way I saw most dogs treated – so this story is doubly positive for me – an encouraging cycling trip and an affirming dog story.


The cycling trip across China

The cycling trip was arranged as a graduation get together. Very early on, the group had stopped for lunch, and one of the cyclists took pity on first seeing the poor wretch, lying forlornly, tired and hungry-looking in the street, so he fed her. From that moment on, the dog joined the group, running alongside them and ending up as the team mascot due to her feisty nature.

The little pup, named Xiaosa or ‘Little Sa’ made a big impression keeping up with the 60 km per day, over 12 mountain ranges, (some of which were over 14,000 m high) and outlasted some the cyclists (who opted for buses) to complete the rest of the trip. She also protected the cycling group from being attacked by other dogs, as well as keep up the group for the entire trip – no mean feat off the couch and on such little legs.

One of the cyclists started a blog about her exploits, which attracted over 40,000 people and comments, including other cyclists who had travelled the region who said they had also seen Xiaosa on their travels as well. The pup turned into a national celebrity. It was also great to hear that Xiaosa has since been adopted by one of the cyclists.

Either way, it is a  great story about cycling trips and the friends you make along the way.

The best English speaking video I’ve found so far about this story is from the BBC, but the below video is a British version from youtube so it embeds into the blog easier – but it is interesting to see the change in facts from Chinese news report to British.

To see just how popular Xiaosa and ‘her’ bicycle trip became, Google her name and see the extensive list of news stories and posts about her. It is interesting to see how the story changed depending on what source you get it from – in some reports Xiaosa is male, in others the cycling trip was a bike race with 300 competitors and so on. I am certainly not the definitive source of accurate facts for this story, I am merely synthesising the most common reported facts here.



This article, published only two weeks ago, is an adjunct to Lloyd’s previous 2015 paper – and previous blog post – detailing the 2011 Mountain Biker rage incident on the Flying Nun track (NZ) that was caught on GoPro, uploaded to the internet and then went viral. It is by the same author, on the same topic, but analysed from a slightly different paradigm. It uses some of the main elements of the previous paper as far as the actual event, but as this paper was published in the journal Visual Studies, the analysis takes a different approach as it specifically looks to ‘examine the spatial, temporal and interactional order of a rare case of cycle rage’ (Lloyd 2016 p 206).

Source: Lloyd, M. (2016). ‘it’s on video, every second of it’: A micro-sociological analysis of cycle rage. Visual Studies, 31(3), 206. doi:10.1080/1472586X.2016.1209986

After the abstract (see below), the paper starts with an introduction to the event to establish the context and frame the video factors analysis. There is some overlap in content with the first article, which is understandable given that the contextual facts need to be provided, especially considering the audience and distribution for this publication will not be as familiar with the event as the previous paper.


Source: Lloyd (2016)

Source: Lloyd (2016)


Some useful verbage

What this paper does do well, is develop the same event, but in a different direction and with different critical lenses, such as:

  •  Macbeth’s (2012) ‘circumstantial details’
  • Spinney’s (2006, 2011) ‘kinaesthetic enthnography’ of road riders
  • McIIvenny’s (2014, 2015) ‘velomobility’ as separate to ‘mobilities turn’ and ‘disputed mobile formations’ (who also builds on Goffman’s ‘mobile participation units’ notion)
  • Katz’s (1999) ‘tight phenomenological explanation of the grounds for road rage’ and Seductions of Crime (1988)
  • Chelfen’s (2014) ‘a camera-populated world’

In this article, the methodology applied to this micro-sociological event is still ethnomethodological and the fact that both riders did not know each other is still highlighted as a key distinction. In the literature review, it is good to see a lament about the lack of mountain biking specific research – as there is currently (previous to Lloyd’s two papers) only one other author specifically publishing in this field (McIlvenny).

Given the industry ‘visual’ focus of this particular publication, the data used is divided into three key aspects: Third part video, camera position, Google Maps, Mountain biking experience and Screensnaps and transcription. For the data analysis, the below table is included and key aspects and themes are extrapolated on in more detail to draw out more nuanced understandings of the event as it ‘unfolds’ through the video analysis.

Source: Lloyd (2016)

Source: Lloyd (2016)

The final discussion section draws correlations to road rage incidents and reflection as transferable framework to ‘cycle rage’ situations such as this. In the conclusion, an aspect which was of great interest and stood out for me when I read the comments below the video, was fact that Dalton (older rider) was a former mountain bike champion. This to me, triggered implications of hyper masculinities and competitive ego at play (more psychological aspects as opposed to sociological) – an element that was not fully explored in the first paper. One of the closing statements calls for possible more work on this aspect – a suggestion of which struck me on my first reading as well.

Especially given my own particular interest in gender and cycling – I am thrilled to see these (and a very small handful) brave and adventurous researchers broadening the scope of leisure/sport exmainations into some new and unchartered territories such as these.

Leading up to next month’s WSSC, I’ve been looking at how mountain biking is being represented in academic literature – and the answer is quite poorly! Poor as in interest, detail and a general paucity of coverage. It is an area I am most keen to contribute to myself – and so finding rare gems like this article are most certainly inspiring.

This article covers a very well-known 2012 ‘bike rage’ incident within the mountain bike fraternity that happened between two mountain-bikers who met on a trail in NZ. If you have not seen the 5.45 mins video – have a look below.

The Article

Reference: Lloyd, M. (2015). On the Way to Cycle Rage: Disputed Mobile Formations. Mobilities, 1-21.

Essentially, this article provides an overview of the incident in question and frames the research analysis about investigating the basis for this ‘disputed mobile formation’. For an academic article, it is an easy read – the ideas flow nicely and do not go into too much conceptual detail – but enough to be well positioned and unique in its contribution.  Here is the abstract:

NZ Mountain biker trail rage

In this article, Mike Lloyd (the author) builds on McIvenny’s (2015, 2016) work on ‘velomobile formations’ – and is the first academic paper focus on analysing an event that is mountain bike specific and INTRA-biker rage related – as opposed to multiple trial user contestation – walker, biker, runners and the like.


The use of GoPros is introduced as the data collection method, and then ‘mobile video ethnography’ analysis is applied alongside Google map images being intertwined with the author’s practical knowledge experience of mountain biking to draw analytical conclusions about the situation. I like this approach as it is encouraging to see adventurous, experimental research techniques being out there.

Ideas & terminology

I like how Mike draws parallels with Cohen and Taylor’s (1976) ‘landscape activity enclave’ to explain how both riders came to be in the same situated location at the same time. His analysis also includes audio (direct quotes) and visual (stills) to describe and account for the interactions that transpire. In reading the article, I think he does a good job of linking other theoretical perspectives into his interpretation – with phrases such as ‘entangled riding’ ‘threat-demonstration-justification’ ‘cyclist-bike assemblage’ and ‘amputation explanation’ and weaving in aspects of other contested dynamics, such as driver (car) road rage, surfer ‘drop-in’ rules, this article certainly covers a lot of ground in a single snapshot.

This situation did raise local and international debates around mountain biking trail courtesy, fast/slow rider entitlements and discussions about track use among others. Ultimately, the outcome of the video saw Dalton (the older rider) going to court and paying $750 in damages. Aside from this being an interesting academic article to read, the fact that it is on mountain biking, which I have long held is grossly underrepresented (as a sport, leisure pursuit and cultural activity, etc.). Equally, it is refreshing to see a more experimental methodology being applied for analysis, as well as seeing swearing being included in academic annals.


If you read through the comment made on the Vital MTB site where this video went viral – they are quite interesting as well.  Happy trials & journal articles!!

This post showcases one of a few street artists whose murals regularly feature bicycles. I’ve chosen Mart from Argentina as he is one of the first original ‘graffiteros’ who painted whole trains in Buenos Aires, thus making his work more accessible to the public.  So he is an enduring, well-known and accomplished street artist. His work is playful, colourful, vibrant and always positive. You can see a full range of Mart’s work on his flickr site –  including one of my favourite bicycle inspired pieces of his called Una situación habitual.

Big, bright, urban bikes

I like the idea of having large-scale vibrant happy bicycles depictions being splashed about cities, which of course is why Mart is one of my favourite street artists, given that bikes feature so prominently in his work. Have a look at his Instagram for other works as well.

He often does large scale wall murals and I really appreciate his kooky style and sense of humour. While proving the internet for more information about why cycling is such a theme in his works, I came across an old short interview he did with BA Street Art back in 2011 called Me and my bike, where he is very pragmatic about his bike riding.

It is refreshing to see bicycles being central to a social commentary about movement, energy, urbanism and dynamism. I can only hope that aspiration suggestions such as Melissa Hughes (2009) vision to have street art included in secondary school curriculum due to the significance it provides for (young) people maybe taken up. In her research abstract, Hughes advocates that a deeper appreciation of the ‘social, visual and cultural aesthetics’ of local communities can be achieved. Additionally, I would like to think that doing so would also have a concurrent social critique element attached, given the impact and selection of the content, such as Mart’s bicycles, that so poetically provide a “high contrast image loaded with expression” – as the bicycle is the perfect cultural icon for an analytical mind to unpack, digest and appreciate! And so lovely to look at when presented like this!!All images by Mart Aire









All images by Mart Aires.