For the last week, I have been taking time to look back, reflect and appreciate this last year.

The final day for 2015 was sunny, beautiful and well deserved. I had a fantastic afternoon session riding some new and (now) favourite trails here in New Zealand, culminating in an exhilarating final trail home riding with the man I love – a wonderful finale. This year ends with a series of relaxed, energetic and thoroughly enjoyable rides racing around the Whakarnewarewa Forest trails at Redwoods Rotorua – a perfect end to a very stimulating and rewarding year – and I know 2016 will be just as formidable.

Looking forward to more adventures where Bicycles Create Change in 2016!

Best wishes for a Happy New Gear and happy and safe riding!!!

Bicycles Create Change - Bikes not bombs (Pinterest)

Source: Bikes not bombs (Pinterest)

Digging through Rotorua’s mountain bike archives, I found this little gem. I thought it was a particularly interesting initiative as it was focused on getting more men riding, whereas it is usually women who are the focus of such programs. I was especially excited about the follow-up outcomes that emerged out of this program.

Background

Indeed, this program was developed following the highly successful Women’s Activator Series and its ongoing positive outcomes (a collaboration between Sport Bay of Plenty (BOP) and Rotorua District Council and Primary Health Services) in conjunction with the results of a 2006 survey, that found “that men enjoyed male-only environments and opportunities to get active with family members. Men preferred an element of competition and challenge to the physical activity as having a structured and encouraging environment was as important a motivator as the fitness benefits” (Fowler & Mansell, 2008).

The Program

The Program was 1-1.5 hour every Thursday evening for 10 weeks. It had support from local individuals and groups who provided shuttle transportation, expert guides, a personal trainer for the weekly pre-ride stretch sessions and the like. Basic bike skills were learned and practiced at the local BMX track for the first fortnight to build confidence and skills while individual fitness levels were determined. The rest of the Program was conducted in the forest, where a new skill was introduced each week – designed to scaffold skills and confidence.

Bicycles Create Change - First timers in the Whakarewarewa Forest

First timers in the Whakarnewarewa Forest. Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.

The Program identified three main aims (Fowler & Mansell, 2008): first: to increase the frequency and commitment participants have to physical activity over and beyond the 10-week series period; second: to increase the skills and 
confidence of beginner mountain bike riders; finally: to increase the usage of the 
Whakarewarewa forest by participants for mountain biking and other forms of recreation with family and friends.

Participants

An ad was run on December 18th 2007 in the local Daily Post newspaper (see image below) reading: “Calling all men. No matter your age, shape, size or speed (in fact, the slower the better) – this training series is for YOU & it’s FREE! For the past 3 years, we have had the Women’s Activator Series, but now it is time for something for the blokes…. Dad ‘n’ Lads is a 10 week fun run and mountain bike training series aimed at men who are currently not very active, but would like to improve their fitness, have some laughs at the same time and discover some great walking/running/cycling to share with family and friends once the series is over. For 10 weeks you will enjoy a weekly training session, which will have options for the beginners and progress to more challenging routes as your fitness increases. How much you challenge yourself is up to you!” 42 men responded to the ad (including 3 father and son partnerships) – of which 20 completed the program.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads

Source: Daily Post, December 18th 2007

Outcomes

The 3 main aims of the program were met. Overall there were 5 main noteworthy outcomes of this program.

  1. Activity levels increased remarkably by week 10 with 60% increasing their activity to 2-3 days per week while the other 40% had increased their activity level to a minimum of 30 mins per day.
  2. Increased assertiveness using the Whakarewarewa Forest for recreation. Confidence and familiarity with the forest meant that participants felt confident to take family and friends into the forest for recreational activities.
  3. Setting and achieving goals such as fitness, strength or weight-loss, increased general activity levels (on the bike and in the forest) father/son bonding and forming new friendships were some of the top goals achieved.
  4. Educating others was a key feature of the program that every participant identified with, having involved or taken out for a ride, at least, one family member (wife, child or grandchild). The top 3 skills that were instrumental in taking out others that were learnt from the program, was: setting up the bike correctly, basic riding techniques and being able to change a flat tyre.
  5. Valued outcomes for the participants included: structured, yet informal/social setting, having bikes available to rent for the activity and the mutual support of the other men.
Follow-up positive changes

This Program had clear aims and solid support throughout, which meant that there was a consistent and reliable basis for the participants to develop their confidence, skills and networks. I think it is exciting that many participants put these skills into action and took others out into the forest, for family outings for example, increasing fitness; increasing appreciation and use of the amazing forest on their doorstep; and enhancing quality time with others – which shows the potential that such community programs have for ongoing indirect positive impacts benefiting a greater number of people in the community.

Also, it is great to hear that the participants formed their own group ride after the program finished – to maintain the camaraderie, skills and habits they had learnt. Their monthly group ride also includes their family members, which is a wonderful way of extending the enjoyment, fitness, ability and community that this program began.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads group

Dads ‘n’ Lads Participants Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.

 

Fowler, A., & Mansell, L. (2008). Dads ‘N’ lads – getting men on the move with rotorua’s beginner mountain bike series.Australasian Parks and Leisure, 11(2), 34-37.

Leaving today for a 10 day mountain bike trip to Rotorua NZ.

Bikes are loaded on plane and we are waiting to board.

I am very excited about riding new trails, making new friends and discovering what the NZ biking community has to offer.

I will be posting as usual and looking forward to including NZ related content for the duration of our trip here.

 

Arrived 6pm on Christmas Eve, so had a slow roll around town, checked out some thermal hot spots, views of the lake and settled in for an early night. Next day was great – rode up to first main shuttle junction and checked out some trails. The weather was beautiful, the giant fern and Douglas fir forests are stunning (a little confronting riding out of the shady forest bliss into the desolation of the logging trails, though!).  I am loving how accessible, well signed and quiet these trails are so far – what a great way to spend Christmas! – No fuss, maximum fun riding!!

Happy holidays and safe riding.

I’ve been away for four days in Regional Victoria visiting family who live just outside of Castlemaine. On Saturday, we went to the Wesley Hill markets to get some supplies. It was a lovely market – very inviting and really showcasing local products. You know you are onto a good thing when you see this out the front of a local market….

Firebean Organic Coffee

Image: Firebean Organic Coffee

We thoroughly enjoyed the local community market stalls and produce, stocking up on mangos, amazing mini loaves of semi-pumpernickel, rye and soaked seeds (I got 4!) and local Yandoit farmer John who was selling the latest fantastic cherries he harvested from his property. As we were wandering around, I was delighted to see these two young entrepreneurs  (picture below) who were running “The Bike Bar” making cold-to-order drinks. As well as this, the right-hand sign on the table also advertises their other add-on service which is bike building. We stopped to have a lovely chat with these industrious young lads and overall I was very impressed by how bike friendly this market was – it was great to see bikes being integral to the fabric of this market.

Wesley Hill Markets, Regional Victoria

Wesley Hill Markets, Regional Victoria

We also stopped for a coffee at the Firebean Organic Coffee Stall – which, if you order an iced coffee the ingredients are prepared and then ….

Firebean Organic Coffee

Image: Firebean Organic Coffee

…. the customer who made the order gets on the bicycle to blend their own iced-coffee. Not that this a necessarily new invention, but again, just great to be in an environment where bicycles are so productive, valued and indispensable. It was a delight to visit this market and be part of this progressive and bicycle-loving community!

A friend who lives in Darebin City Council area in Melbourne sent me through a link to the Darebin Shared Path EtiquetteThis is definitely my kind of community project – fun, positive, effective, low-cost and high-impact community participation, consultation and awareness-raising. I was delighted to see a city council being proactive and engaging the locals.  Appropriately sharing pathways for all users; be they cyclists, pedestrians, dog walkers,  or fitness groups, can be an issue. Such problems need to be recognised and discussed – bringing it to the streets makes this conversation a lot more personal, accessible and immediate – and the free ice-cream was also an added  bonus for some I am sure!

Initiative

This Council Community Engagement Initiative arises from ‘concerns about behaviour [are] raised by the community on a regular basis, which led us to embark on 4 community workshops in November – we are now inviting the community to develop a shared path etiquette that encourages safe, respectful and considerate riding and walking on our shared paths, so everyone can enjoy using them‘ (Darebin City Council Facebook page).

Outcomes

During these community workshops, participants were asked to contribute their ideas and the responses were posted on the council event facebook page (a sample of which I have re-posted below). The input from these consultations and workshops will help inform the Darebin City Council’s Shared Path Etiquette Strategy.

To contribute your own vote to this discussion click here – voting closes January 5th 2016.

Darebin City Council's Shared Path Etiquette Facebook Page

Darebin City Council (Melbourne) Shared Path Etiquette Facebook Page

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The pre-loved high-end bike in the picture below was on sale at a property auction. No one wanted it – it was too old and daggy and from the reaction of the crowd appeared in no way cool enough to buy, let alone ride. I looked at this forlorn bike and thought of the previous owner who had purchased, loved (I hoped), and ridden this bike – then it has been cast out after however long and was now forgotten and miserable. It was a sorry sight to see; as it seemed that there was still so much more spunky and happy times to be had with it– yet here it was discarded and sad long before its expiry date.

Considering how rapidly bike technology, marketing and styles change, my heart broke: that no-one wanted this bike anymore, that this bike had been so quickly and uncaringly superseded – and although it was in perfect working order at auction, was regarded as objectionable and obsolete.

So I took pity on it and was the only person who bid on it – and got it for 50c.

On my way home from the auction, I found a bag of clothes someone had tossed on the side of the road. All the clothes were brand new – tags still attached, never worn. Amongst the clothes were a set of blue athletic work out tracksuits, not dissimilar to those I’ve seen people wear on an exercise bike. It felt very serendipitous and ironic acquiring these two items.

I was inspired to create this art bike as I acquired both passion (bicycle) and fashion (clothes) items on precisely the same day. As well, both were items I have bought on a number of occasions elsewhere. However, on this day, I was even more strongly, blatantly reminded of the immensely wasteful and consumeristic society we live in; personified by these two items presenting themselves so closely and prominently within the same hour. It was both saddening and humbling.

So I refashioned these two items together to generate a new, valued and wanted artefact, that urges us to be more mindful of products we buy and to be more prudent with our passion and fashion purchases.

As the title of this art bike CONS_U_ME BLUES identifies, this bike highlights how often our CONSUMErist society CONS YOU and ME into buying more and more products – the result of which, when honestly critiqued, makes many of us quite depressed and BLUE.

 

Please be more mindful and responsible with your purchases.

 

Art bike: CONS U ME BLUES by Nina Ginsberg

Art bike: CONS U ME BLUES by Nina Ginsberg

I have been posting for about 6 weeks now and I am still experimenting and getting more familiar with WordPress and the ins and outs of blogging. It has certainly been a steep learning curve, but one in which I have enjoyed and gained much satisfaction. I will continue!

As I look ahead, I am glad that I have a clear outline of what it is I want to achieve from this blog. I know that much of this will change when my schedule changes next year to accommodate for work or study. Part of my learning about blogging includes many of the same ideas and concerns that other (academic) bloggers have.

I’ve been wrestling with my own ideas and choices about my blogging. How many complex aspects there are! I can see how it can easily become overwhelming and all time-consuming! I have been very happy with how I have gone about learning the WordPress skills needed and being resourceful about finding helpful advice. One interesting aspect of this has been talking to some trusted friends and colleagues about blogging – and although many of their suggestions echo information I have already encountered, or thought of myself, below are some of the more interesting ideas they have raised:

  • You are all excited now because the blog is new and you have many ideas – but you will soon run out of things to say.
  • Comments are a great way to bounce off ideas, get suggestions, look at things from a different angle and consider aspects that did not occur to you at the immediate time of writing.
  • You will spend more time posting than working on your dissertation.
  • The focus of your blog is totally different from the same old diary product and news bicycle blogs – your emphasis on biking projects and community development is so positive and engaging –it sets you apart and makes your content interesting to a much wider readership.
  • Warning- how regularly you blog sets a precedence and an expectation. Can you maintain it and/or are you okay when your posting timetable changes?
  • You can make a massive online income from your blog – you can advertise and get a passive income – that way you won’t need a scholarship to study!
  • Doing a blog is like hard drugs – once you start with blogging, it is a downward spiral into twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Integra – next stop social media addiction – goodbye Doctorate.
  • Are you writing for yourself or an audience? What if you end up with a large readership that will influence your content, approach and process?
  • The blogosphere is a perfect platform for your work – you can share ideas, connect with your community activities and network with an array of people who are interested in biketivism – which is precisely what your research is focused on.
  • It is a great way to document and record your thinking and research – very helpful for you – and you will be surprised about how interesting it will be to others.
  • Be clear about the time you have and will afford for the blog – otherwise, it will get out of control and before you know it you will have spent four hours on one blog post and still not be happy with it.
  • Your spelling is so terrible –aren’t you self-conscious about everyone seeing your mistakes?
  • Careful – there are academics who will read your blog and steal your ideas and publish them for themselves – be selective with what you share.
  • Great idea to find your voice, clarify some ideas and get into a regular writing habit.
  • Be careful of people’s comments – the public can say whatever they want – and they will. This has the potential to have an impact on your ideas and skew your thinking and confidence, both positively or negatively. This is a major concern in writing your thesis.
  • It is an excellent way to process and test ideas – you will find that you often go back to ideas to include or edit later.
  • People all over the world love bikes and they LURVE talking about them – your blog will be perfect!

Three awesome pieces of news arrived today.

First, my application to undertake a Doctorate with Griffith University School of Education has been accepted and I will start early 2016!! The official offer came through in writing, which means that I will be able to formalise my community development and bicycle research. It is both daunting and exciting to consider the challenges, commitment and workload that this will entail – but I have found two wonderful supervisors and I am highly motivated and ready to uncover the multitudinous ways that bicycles create positive change around the world.

The second amazing news came in the form of an email from the Australian Academy of Business and Social Sciences (AABSS) 2015 Kuala Lumpur Conference, to say that a paper I submitted, has been accepted as a Conference Paper Publication. It was a theory-building paper investigating how to better identify and communicate context-driven considerations for international development projects – see a copy of it here. This will be my first publication and I was delighted to get very positive feedback on the content and writing. I am not going over to present at the Conference, but it looks like the paper will be published as a Conference paper as well as in the Journal of Developing Areas in some form.

The third piece of news was a double header, I received two Excellence in Teaching Commendations – one from Griffith International,  where I was nominated in two categories, one as an individual, and also as part of a teaching team (2 nominations) – as I work on the two teaching teams who were nominated in the team category –  for the Outstanding Client Service or Initiative by an Individual or Team. It turned out that one of the teaching teams I work on took out the final gong – so I felt like I won the award anyway!!  The second teaching commendation came from the Griffith University Academic Provost who congratulated me on being identified by my students for teaching excellence. Both were unexpected and humbling – and a great way to end the teaching year. It was very nice to be recognised for a long year of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.

Having these three stepping stones achieved, it is a solid move forward to getting more serious about researching, reporting and exchanging the valuable stories and experiences of how bicycles can benefit and transform lives; locally, regionally and globally. I feel very excited about the future; what opportunities may eventuate and curious to see where this all leads!

 

Cyclist are more awesome

Source: Someecards.com

This weekend was the Australian National Singlespeed Championships 2015  – Dec 5th & 6th  @ Wombat State Forest, Woodend, Vic. HOORAY!!!

I thought I would post some details about this event because I think it is very special, being one of the few cycling occasions, in my opinion, that genuinely brings all kinds of people together with the focus being on fun first and race second. It does so in such a way that the racing aspect is not the central purpose of participating – although it is for some. It is one of the rare competitions where having fun and being social (and wearing a kick-ass costume) is the norm for participation.

 

Australian National Singlespeed 2015

Australian National Singlespeed 2015

 

Event schedule

Friday evening – race briefing at the Holgate Brewery (one of the event’s main sponsors). The vibe was relaxed, friendly and very cool with people catching up and strangers chatting to each other like old friends. It was refreshing to be in an environment where the competitors had no ego. Instead, this motley crew had come from all walks of life, yet had come together out of a common link with bicycles (and beer) which meant that conversations were stimulating, convivial and unique.

Saturday Day Racing – 3 Stage race

  1. Mass start 10 km (1 beer to cut off 2 km) – then rode a short liaison to Stage 2.

Between stages 1 and 2, competitors had 2 hours to self-serve lunch, have a beer and complete the 2nd stage.

  1. 3 – 4 km time trial (with a game of darts included, where the score of your darts throw was your time bonus in seconds – given that it was a 36C day, hot with adrenalin running, so it was deceptively hard to keep concentration to get off a straight shot! If you got no score on the dartboard (which many did), you had to knock back a schnapps shot.
  2. 15-minute window to start 17kms final stage with a compulsory beer at the end.

This stage format worked very well. The timing chips used meant that riders had immediate access to ride times and results (so results could be checked in between stages).

Sunday – Social Rides

Event Highlights

There were about 95 riders – with about 15 women, some came to actually compete (race), but most were there to ride socially and to participate in supporting the singlespeed community (and to dress up), catch up with old mates and make some new ones! Being a 36C day meant that riding was much more challenging – especially for those in costumes – many of which were discarded layer by layer as the riding got hotter and hotter! The trails were fantastic -flowing and technical with at least 90% of the trails being single track. The food supplied for lunch was a real highlight – especially the vegetarian option, which was unexpectedly outstanding, wholesome and exceptionally delicious.

Overall, it was a tremendously satisfying and enjoyable event to be part of – one that truly brought a range of riders, supporters and lovers of bikes together. I would highly recommend people to come and take part in the next Australian National Singlespeed Championships in 2016 – which will be epic as it is also the 2016 WORLD SINGLESPEED CHAMPIONSHIPS!!  What a great opportunity to get amongst it. I hope to see you all there!!!

Further Singlespeed action

For more information, details and photos for this event – see the Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts Facebook page.

If you have never seen, heard or know what a Singlespeed National race is like – this clip from the 2015 NZ Singlespeed Nationals will give you an idea – ENJOY!!