I LOVE bedtime!

Felling a little tried from a big day? Today I wasn’t able to get on my bike as much as I’d have liked – so as a consolation, I thought I could make up for it with a little double helping of extra special bedtime bike love…

Bicycle Love

The first is to snuggle up with a good book – this one is BICYCLE LOVE  – the synopsis on Amazon states that ‘All athletes love their sports, but cycling has a fetishistic side to it—the love of this deceptively simple machine that allows you to silently float, race and climb. These 50 essays on the many varieties of bicycle love range from dreamy reminiscences of childhood bikes to powerful, sometimes insane adult attachments to mountain bikes, road bikes and tandems. They all celebrate the freedom of cycling, the elegance of the machine and the beauty of the act. The characters are everyone from a teenage girl on a moun-tain bike to old men crossing the country on touring bikes to couples falling in love while cycling. Funny, revealing and intensely emotional, these stories show the secret inner life of every cyclist’. Now that’s a nice collection to finish the day with – and what a great cover illustration!

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

Cycling Doonas

Then, an ex-stduent of mine sent the picture below over. She is from Russia and a friend from home had sent her this picture. Knowing my love of bicycles, she Facebooked it over to me, so it is a little hard for me to track the origin of it, but I’ve also since seen it on Pinterest (type in ‘bicycle bed cover’). Either way, I love the idea of smuggling under this doona to dream of the next ride. GOLD!!!


Using Bicycles to teach Systems Dynamics

I recently found an older academic paper that was published from the Uni of Illinois from 1989 reporting on an ‘innovative approach’ to teaching mechanical engineering undergrad students System Dynamics. It involved the students investigating open-ended engineering design questions in relation to bicycles for a full semester.  I love how in the introduction section pointedly justifies that ‘the bicycle is not a trivial topic, as one might suppose at first glance, but it is a rather formidable subject of study’ (Klein, 1989, p 4).

Bicycles challenging engineering ‘truths’

The paper goes into detail about the learning, philosophical and pedagogical principles for using bicycles as the instruction tool and how the program, class and resources were managed and major beneficial outcomes from the program.

The students applied a number of the theoretical concepts they were learning in class to the bicycles, thus modifying bicycles to take into account engineering qualities such as ‘zero-gyroscopic’ bicycles, which are ridable and therefore refute a common held scientific misconception that it is the gyroscopic effect of a bicycles rotating wheels that keep the bicycle upright -mythbusted!

Engineering modifications

The students put the bicycles through a number of different hardware modifications (such as flyball governors, raw egg dynamics, hydraulic servomechanisms and Passive R-L-C circuits) and apply various calculations and manoeuvrer to the bikes to test an array of laws, theories and modelling dynamics.  One of the most successful modifications the students applied was a rear-seated bicycles. Overall, many of the augmentations to the hardware that the students applied were evaluating outcomes of how power, stability, dynamics and functionality to see how they were effected.

So can they now answer..

Also, the engineering students were required throughout the semester to write their findings up in essays, of which included topics like:

Source: Klein (1989).
Source: Klein (1989).

Invisible Bicycle Helmet

There are a number of things I love about this innovation – the invisible bike helmet.

Yes, it is primarily about bikes and most certainly about creating positive and safe biking change.

However, it is a reinvention of the normal and breaking many (social and technical) barriers. Here are some reasons why this innovation is so special:

  • it is NOT from an English-speaking country (and not presented in English – how refreshing!)
  • it took the two inventors sooo long to get the research right (seven years!!)
  • their overall commitment, passion and teamwork is inspiring
  • and most importantly … the creators are two Swedish female Industrial Designers leading the (male dominated) field …. and kicking ass!!

How the hell…

I like the revolutionary and stylish innovation they have come up with.

It directly responds to current changes in urban biking as well as being understated and no fuss (the model only comes in black  – how Swedish chic!).

I’m still in awe of the engineering behind how it is deployed and works and I think the concept is magnificent.

The speed and responsiveness of the sensors and algorithms they have used are quite remarkable.

In Australia?

It is tempting to look into the legality of using one of these helmets in Australia.

I know you have to have a registered Australian Safety Approved helmet here. But let’s face it, in some respects Australia can be so far behind the times and considering this is a recognised international safety and protection device…. the larrikin bugger in me would love to use it and see what happens!

The company who is producing it Hovding, have them currently retailing for €299. They are up to their second model already and have won an European Patent Office Award (2016) patent. Models can come with stylish personalised covers. Sign me up!!

“Cars are so yesterday, bikes are the future.”


What an EVENTful weekend!

Well, even though I have a mountain of uni marking, (perhaps despite it!), I thought it was important to get out and about on the bike – and I ended up having a thoroughly enjoyable and an EVENTful weekend – two events in fact!


Style Over Speed Ride (Fri night)

The first event was Friday night’s Style Over Speed Ride for Bike Week. It was the first time I have participated in this event and I had a wonderful time! I meet some cool kats, some funky chickens and some down-right lovely souls. There were all types of stylish and customs bikes, the variety and array was beautiful to behold and certainly VERY stylish!! After meeting and mingling, we had leisurely and fun roll around town – cruising, chatting, being a little cheeky, dinging bells – oh it did make me miss Melbourne! It was great to be hitting the streets en mass riding after dark – it is something I have sorely missed since moving to Brisbane, but tonight, I made some new friends and my art bike Leki (below) had a great time too!


Style over speed
My bike LEKI in all her her glory! Source: Style Over Speed Facebook page


It was lovely cruising around Brisbane in a bike pack. I don’t usually go into the city on Friday night, but it was a spectacular eventing, clear and beautiful – everyone was in a good mood and I had a great time. there were some very special bikes there that I would like to see again and speak to the owners, some bespoke bikes that were truly beautiful. I made a few new contacts, got some names and feel more relaxed about being in Brisbane. I got a few hot invitations to some upcoming bike events that I will post about later. At the end of our ride, we went to a pub on Innerly St to have beer and a chat – which was a great ending to a lovely evening. I didn’t want to hang around too long as I still had to get home and up early in the morning for my next event.

Source: Style Over Speed Facebook page
Source: Style Over Speed Facebook page


Defcon Cycles Ride Day (Sat)

Definitive Cycles had a ride day at Gap Creek which was a great chance to try some of their new stock, ride with some MTB mates and get a slap-up breakfast on top! The Defcon boys did a great job on the day, there was a good turn out of familiar faces and some new people, the weather was amazing, fun trails and other family and friends came out. It was great to see so many women out this time, last time I was the only one, but today there were some rock steady chicks! I had a brilliant longer ride up Rocket Frog, then up and back down Dingo and around the MTB loop with a few boys that I usually ride with – which was super fun (tiring, but very rewarding). It was also good to check out the new range of Intense, Evil and Banshee test bikes and see what everyone else was riding and catch up on some gossip and news. Now home to continue that end of semester marking…grrrr.



AARE Theory Workshop 2016

As support to my continuing PhD bike research, this time last weekend I attended the Australian Association of Research in (AARE) Education Theory Workshop 2016. It was the first time I have participated in this event and I went because my supervisors recommended it Griffith HDR candidates who registered got free admission. I was not sure what to expect, but I went out of general interest – to get inspired, make some contacts and perhaps even get some ideas for my research.

It was a pretty impressive event for a number of reasons. It was a very challenging and stimulating environment, with lots of academic theories, conceptual frameworks and readings being thrown around. It was at times engaging and confusing – but I let it all wash over me. I took lots of notes, contributed to extending my own understanding and I got some worthwhile advice and follow ups from the sessions I attended and the conversations I had.

I got what I wanted out of the experience and would go again. Some session were more helpful than others and I am glad that I went with a clear sense of personal purpose – I felt comfortable and productive.


Lots of big words – AARE Theory Workshop 2016

There were a number of academics from all over Australia and quite a few HDRs at different stages of their research. At first, I found the theorising quite dense and overwhelming. I had to readjust my brain to the intensity and level of analysis. I made a conscious effort to relax and glean what I could. Of course, this meant that the connections and meaningfulness of some of the ideas presented became more accessible and easier to understand – hooray for relaxing and not being intimidated by big words!

It was pretty tiring making sense and engaging with such a high level of interpretive and rigorous dialogue about abstract debates, developments and applications.  In many ways it was also quite refreshing as well. I found myself exploring connections and following up lines of questioning that, although not related to my topic, were good fun to explore just for the sake of applying critical thinking to derive some new understanding, reframing or link I could make to a previously unrelated idea.


A few gems

Without going into detail – here are a few gems that I’m still mulling over….

• ‘Glocalization’
I have not heard this term before – the next evolution in the globalisation discourse which highlights the is a combination of “globalisation” and “localization” to describe the relationship of local/global service/products development and distribution – as taken from Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity” sociologist Roland Robertson

• The ideas that academics ‘read themselves away from their friends.’

• The Critique Theory perspectives of Normadology/Hautology and Critique as ‘Exile/Contrapunctal’ (Edward Said).

• The idea that research is meant to upset your conceptual framework because this is where ‘learning’ occurs.

• That research is studying ‘spaces’ in between – What ‘space’ are you studying? What part of reality are you trying to study? What is the ‘space’ you are looking at in between?

• That there are stages and phases of (raw) data in research and that you need to develop that into a cohesive ‘story’ to write up

Luis Moll’s notion of Funds of Knowledge that create ‘unsettling deficit views’ and how that relates to my teaching practice (working with students)

• Research is not about working towards equality in the future, but verifying our equality NOW in the present.

• Interesting to hear Naomi Barnes speak about the amount and type of reactions she received in relation to her article Why I’m choosing the local state school – even though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles about the public school vs. private school debate that arose from here The Conversation Piece.er article

• I will read George Marcus – Ethnography Through Thick and Thin.

• In Faucault’s Discipline and Power he explores the idea of ‘the soul’ (presentation of subjectivity) and the internalised affect of power and how that impacts outcomes and intersects with matrices of knowledge and power.

• That research work should include an evolution of hybrid criticality as you and the content move through different paradigms (conceptual frameworks are not set but fluid).

• Exploring the difference between anthropology and ethnography

• From the anthropology session, I was moved when Liz (an Ethnomusicologist) said that the aboriginal group she worked with belived that ‘If you don’t have music on your tongue, you are not human’.

• Knowing (becoming) —-PARTICIPATION ———Learning (being)


…..all very interesting – but really, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll get back to you if I work it out.

I did find out that one of the head academics is a MTBer! He saw the biking t-shirt and came up for a chat about bikes on the second day – hooray for the community-creating bike t-shirts – I was not alone there and SOME senior academics are normal!!

Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016

Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016
Source: AARE Theory Workshop 2016


Queensland Bike Week 2016

For the last two or three weeks, I have been totally immersed in conducting workshops, teaching and marking my tutes (now in their last two weeks thank goodness), working on my Lit Review and trying to put in some distance into my legs for my first upcoming marathon. It feels like every time I get on the bike recently because I have been inside and working so much, that I have this unusually heightened sense of freedom and release.

I put my strange reaction down to just being too busy during this phase of the semester, then realised yesterday that I have not recently participated in many (any!) social, pubic or community bicycle related events which are when I usually get my fill of social interactivity with other cyclists. I reasoned that this is probably why I was feeling so insular and separated and what I have been missing for the last few weeks, hence the magnified sense of emancipation when riding.

To remedy this, I went online to check out any upcoming bike events – having an inkling that it was about time for some big event (surely!) and yes … there it was … Queensland Bike Week!

What’s on Queensland Bike Week 2016

I felt both relieved (yes, something to do!) and sheepish (how did it creep up without me realising?). Either way, I went online to see what events were on and what the program had to offer this year. I usually know about these kinds of big events in advance – even plan or/and contribute to them – but this year was different, so it was a case of perusing and seeing what took my fancy. There seems to be enough on offer with events mainly in and around Brisbane. There has been some thought given to catering for an array of skills, interests and styles.

A few things that look interesting are:

Friday Night Style Over Speed

But for me and my limited time, this year I’m going for the Friday Night Style Over Speed event. I make a point of not going into Brisbane city on Friday nights, but, as this is my one social gathering for this event and that it starts and finishes early, I’m going to make the effort to dust off Leki, get dolled up and cruise for a slow ride around town. Perfect medicine for a crazy end to the uni semester.


The more I think about it, the more I am looking forward to it – who knows, I might even see you there!


Source: Brisbane Bike Week
Source: Brisbane Bike Week

The Cultural Significance of Bicycles in Cameroon

By Gabriel Besong Etchu


Bicycles are western innovations that were designed for sightseeing, leisure, sports and short-distanced movement. However, in Cameroon, bicycles play a fundamental role regarding of our cultural exigencies. Before the arrival of cars and motorcycles, bicycles were regarded as ostentatious goods and a basic necessity when it comes to cultural issues such as marriages. For example, before a man marries a woman, he has to do “knock-door” which simply implies that he can only seek the consent of the woman’s parents by knocking their door with a bicycle.


This bicycle will be used by the future spouse to go to farms that are far away, and to local market places. This is why in Cameroon, bicycles are often regarded as part and parcel of the bride price. Below is a picture of a young farmer who has accumulated some capital in order to afford a used bicycle, which he could offer as part of the price for his bride. In addition, it is generally believed in Cameroon that when a married woman stresses for long by trekking every day, she will wither like a flower. Therefore, in Cameroon, bicycles have a dual cultural significance in relation to marriage.


Source: World Culture Pictorial
Source: World Culture Pictorial


Gabriel Beson Etchu is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Cameroon’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 2nd May to 15th May.

Sad news of Stevie Smith’s death

I’m interrupting Gabriel’s guest post fortnight to express my disbelief and sorrow at hearing that Canadian Downhiller Stevie Smith has died.

It still has not quite sunk in and I can’t really believe it yet.  We just saw him in Cairns and it is such tragic news to hear – and so soon after saying goodbye to two other biking greats, Kelly McGarry and Dave Mirra in February. I got the call early from a mate in the industry, and according to reports, Stevie died yesterday riding his Enduro motorbike.  It was amazing reading the comments and posts in response to his passing, such touching stories.

His passing is very sad news indeed. He was only 26 and had proved himself to be a brilliant downhiller – who had much more to give – being a formidable competitor and all-round nice guy. His results spoke to his dedication and love of the sport.  Stevies 2013 season really put him on the radar when he won the DH World Cups in Leogang, Austria, Hafjell, Norway, and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada – and ultimately he went on to win that series. Smith had been getting over a string of injuries, which he seemed to have gotten over as he recorded an impressive second place result for the first 2016 World Cup round in Lourdes, France.

I still can’t quite get my head around the idea that I only saw him two weeks ago in Cairns for the UCI World Cup and was chatting with the DavVinci Team about how confident and exciting this season was looking for them. My heart goes out to his family, girlfriend, the Da Vinci team, close friends and fans.

Stevie Smith Legacy Fund has been established to collect donations to go towards a Tiann Smith initiative, that supports talented up-and-coming young athletes. For those in Nanaimo, B.C. you can attend a farewell event for Stevie Smith’s which will be held May 21 at 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre.

I will certainly not be the only one who will miss seeing Stevie on the UCI DH circuit.

 Farewell Canadian Chainsaw.

Ride, Ride, ride while you can.

Source: Pink Bike - Stevie @ UCI MTB World Cup, MT St Anne, Quebec Canada
Source: Pink Bike – Stevie @ UCI MTB World Cup, MT St Anne, Quebec Canada

Cameroon’s President Biya ‘loves’ bicycles too.

By Gabriel Besong Etchu


Bicycles are utilised by many African Presidents and more precisely, by the Cameroon President Paul Biya, as an instrument to demonstrate their physical fitness and ability to lead their nation.


Not ‘fit’ to lead?

In the early 1990s, there was a public outcry of criticisms regarding President Biya’s physical and intellectual ability to pilot the state affairs of Cameroon. These criticisms were largely because he had been in power since 1982 until the present date of 2016, well over 32 years in power. Many people thought he had withered like a flower and was no longer ‘fit’ to lead the nation.


A show of strength

To end these public critiques, President Biya made a well-publicised display of riding a bicycle in public, covering a distance of 2 km as a means of sensitising and informing his compatriots that he is still up to the task of leading Cameroon, despite his advanced age. It was clearly a bold move, but one that was strategically designed to stopping naysayers and to exemplify the necessary vigour , strength and fitness required for both tasks. What a confident image he portrays. Bicycles are integral to social status and power. So in this instance, it is clear to see the political significance of bicycles in Cameroon.

Bicycles are integral to social status and credibility in Cameroon. This instance clearly demonstrates their role and importance – in this case, for the political significance of bicycles in Cameroon.


Source: Cam-pedia.com
Source: Cam-pedia.com


Gabriel Beson Etchu is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Cameroon’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 2nd May to 15th May.

Rural Sub-Saharan Africa – Bicycles and economic empowerment

By Gabriel Beson Etchu


In Sub-Saharan Africa, bicycles are considered to be the primary source of mobility. Most people in these countries use bicycles to travel to faraway places to fend for their livelihood. Others use bicycles to reach areas where land is fertile for agriculture, to transport their farm products to local markets and to seek for health facilities located far away.


Economic Uses

In this region, there are glaring examples of men carrying more than 2oo liters of water using a simple bicycle. No wonder, NGOs like Plan International have recognise the economic importance of bicycles and have equally embarked on a massive distribution of bicycles to countries like Cameroon and Burkina Faso not only to fight hunger and starvation but also to promote education as well.


Political Uses

Even dictatorial governments and corrupt politicians in Sub-Saharan Africa countries provide bicycles to soldiers, so as to penetrate the hinterlands and to make sure that they remain in power. Many people have seen pictures in the media and online of Cameroonian soldiers who are often sent by bicycle to the hinterlands or non-accessible areas to counteract the infiltration of the Islamic Sect, Boko Haram. Hence, one could also talk of the political importance of bicycles in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Source: Kristian Platten
Source: Kristian Platten


Gabriel Beson Etchu is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Cameroon’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 2nd May to 15th May.