Walt Cahill

Today I want to celebrate our mutual positive love of bicycles and all things riding by sharing the beautiful and insightful illustrations of Walt Cahill’s INKtober contributions.

INKtober

The origin of INKtober is similar version of other  monthly challenges – in this case, to produce one ink drawing each day for the whole month of October. There are many different versions of weekly, monthly (in some cases yearly) art/craft challenges – my favourite is still Noah Scalin’s Original 365 Skull-a-day, but each with the intention of producing work, igniting creativity and building skills and ideas.

INKtober began in 2009 by Jake Parker, and it has steadily grown in popularity since.

The idea is that you:
1) Make a drawing in ink
2) Post it online
3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2016
4) Repeat

Jakes’ website states: ‘you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.’

Each day has a theme. If you are on Instagram, check out some of the amazing art people are contributing this year #inktober 2016.

This years’ prompt list is:

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Walt Cahill

One artist I found participating in INKtober this year is Walt Cahill. His work caught my eye as I saw one of his ink drawings on a totally unrelated site and followed the crumbs back to his official website. So, I went on an internet wonder and this is where I discovered he is combining his love of bicycle and riding with INKtober this year.

What a gift!

Since then, I’ve been checking in to see Walt’s latest creations.  Also, his work still makes me smile and I have been thoroughly enjoying his style and unique offerings.

To date, my favourite is still his work for Day 7: LOST because of its whimsical nature, colour and juxtapositions. I’ve included a small selection of what Walt has created this month, but to see the full range, go to his website.

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

As the month comes to a close, Walt’s work is a lovely way to reflect back on a challenging month. The vignettes express the emotion, mood and situations simply and cleanly. Walt’s style is no fuss, uncomplicated and recognisable styling – life and riding should be just as unambiguous.

I appreciate Walt sharing his INKtober work so freely – it has been a source of inspiration and comfort for me. It is wonderful to see bicycles being promoted in such a positive, vibrant and affectionate way.

His attention to detail and personal aesthetics makes his work widely accessible to many, not just cyclists. It reminds me that despite some hard work which is necessary, that life is always better when bikes are involved.

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

Source: waltcahill.com

Horray!

Today is Bicycles Create Change 1 year blog anniversary! Amaze balls!

Wow.

It certainly does not feel like one year has passed (to the day) that I started sharing my love of all things on two wheels. It feels like we only just celebrated the 6-month anniversary. So much has happened since then.

What a year it has been, since its inception and the first maiden post. For the last year, this blog has been home to a wonderful collection  of stories, research and personalities detailing bicycles, riding and positive community change.

I am very pleased that I have stuck with it. I have learnt much along the way and have thoroughly enjoyed sourcing content to share. I definitely feel that there has been a change in my approach to blogging (for the better). Aside from being more strategic in how I invest time and energy into this blog, I have also derived much pleasure and satisfaction.  It has been surprising to see improvements in my technical skills, written confidence and some fantastic contacts and opportunities cropping up.

I am still humbled by the impact that a single bicycle can have on a person’s life. I know firsthand how integral riding my bike has been to my own mobility and mental health, and as a social cohesion tool that connects me to other people, locations and experiences.

I am constantly in awe of the amazing adventures, inventiveness and genuine passion that so many people have for their bicycles and getting out to contribute back to their communities. It has been such a delight to be involved in such a dynamic area. Although self-managing a blog can be difficult and challenging at times, I have been rewarded with inspiration and a sense of productivity that has been very affirming. This blog has helped my PhD research in many ways and I have been very happy with the complimentary way my research and this blog have developed concurrently.

I’ve included below a breakdown of the last 12-month analytics for this blog. It is very interesting to see and track such results. For example comparing the 23,000ish monthly visits from the 6-month mark, to the current result of 32,800 monthly average visits. I accessed this blog summary feature in the last six months and was both surprised and thrilled to see the results. Especially considering I have never officially ‘launched’ the blog, developed it to make money, or broadcasted or networked any promotions (which quietly, I have been happy with!).

Bicycles Create Change 1 year blog anniversary

The analysts and stats so far..

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I have been very fortunate to have a very supportive partner, family and immediate group of friends. It has been lovely developing a wider support crew and readership as well. All these people have been instrumental in helping me stay productive and interested. So to all those who have contributed time, ideas, feedback, material, suggestions and support – I cannot thank you enough!

And thank you to the readers!! Your time and support is invaluable to the creation of this blog. A very genuine and heartfelt  thank you for your encouragement and interest!

Although I am still waiting to hear back from a scholarship proposal as to the results as the outcome pretty much governs my next move, I will continue posting and promoting on our amazing cycling culture.  In addition to progressing my PhD, I have big plans for this blog in the 12 months. So stay tuned!

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I am hoping to collate some ideas, reflections and experiences from SSWC 2016. Hence an invite to riders involved in the SSWC 2016 to participate in an academic research project.

At this stage, I am still formulating possible research directions as I have been very disheartened at the lack of interest and exposure that singlespeeding has had as a cycling community. Coming from a community development and academic research background, I am hoping to positively contribute to this oversight – and the SSWC event is a good place to start given the concentration of passionate enthusiasts.

If you would be interested in being involved (Australian or overseas), please send me an email so that if/when this project gets off the ground, I can contact you to invite you to participate in the project. I will email you more details as the project comes to hand and this shout out is just a preliminary Expression of Interest (EOI).

 

Contact for SSWC 2016 Research Participants

So, if you participated in the Singlespeed World Championships 2016 in Woodend and would be interested in being part of a research/community project about the event and other Singlespeed culture and lifestyle explorations, then please send me an email at: <sswc2016.bicyclescreatechange@gmail.com> with ‘Count me in‘ as the subject line.

At this stage, there is no guarantee that this project will eventuate, but I will most certainly be pushing for it to happen in some shape or form and will email you with details so you can make an informed choice moving forward. You email contact will not be given, sold or used for any other purpose – only for contact my me (NG) only for this research project. If you know of other riders who maybe interested in being involved, please pass this on to them. This invite will be active until 1st December 2016.

Thanks so much of your interest. Happy riding until then!

 

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What a weekend.

Very hard to put into words an overview of what we experienced at the Singlespeed World Champs 2016. But I can give you a SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap.

I am not going to give a race review or a trip report, but limit myself to 4 main points – why 4? I tell my students that 3 is the magic number, as it avoids binary and one-sided thinking –  and five is too many at this stage (on the flight on way home so limited time, energy and concentration) – so four is the happy medium. Also, I am hoping to synthesise a collection of participant reflections from the event later on as part of a research project I have in mind – and I want the other participants to speak for themselves. So, to avoid going over material that others will most likely cover –in no particular order (and certainly not as a definitive wrap-up on the event), here are my top 4 highlights from my first ever Singlespeed World Championships.

Out of respect for our Australian hosts, I am categorising these 4 highlights into the totally innocuous acronym ‘ARSE’ (Antics, Riding, Social and Event) – which incidentally, is the same as the Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts Facebook page where pictures and updates from this weekend can be found….

 

SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap

1 Antics
There were numerous activities organised over the weekend to satisfy all types of needs – social, hosting rights, entertainment, riding bikes, keeping warm and the like. I had a great time getting involved in some of the tomfoolery (especially during the 16” SS finish line – hilarious!!) – and a few other antics over the weekend. They still have me smiling a few days on. I love the playful and mischievous nature in which people employed and accepted all manner of shenanigans – so refreshing and entertaining.

We were staying in town with friends, so I loved having coffee in the morning at the café and getting an update of what had happened the previous night at the campsite. The best thing was that everyone had a different story to tell, as each person either saw the same thing, but from a different angle, or was in a different place and saw something completely different. I relish hearing about these antics as they were told with such personal detail and enthusiasm, the experience made all the more richer in the vivid retelling.

But for you dear reader, I am sorry to say; I am not going to rehash any particulars here. Mainly out of respect for those involved, but also, these stories are for others to tell, not mine. However, you may still read about some on this blog at a later stage! I am resisting employing the adage that you ‘had to be there’. As I am sure you can appreciate – what goes on tour, stays on tour.

To see a little of what happened at the actual SSWC 2016 ‘ARSE’ Event – check out some of the photos on Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts (ARSE) Facebook site or Instagram photos from the event #sswc2016.

 

2 Riding
Sat ride to Hanging Rock: I had a great time on the Sat ride. We had breakfast in town with the Tassie boys and perfectly timed our departure from town to connect with the main bunch leaving the campsite. There was a decent whack of us, maybe 60 or 70, and we wound around the bike path out of town, then onto the quiet main road for the 12+ km ride out to Hanging Rock. It drizzled a little, but no one cared. We had all paired up and mingled and chatted the whole way. I had a great time getting to know the Tassie crew – it was a real highlight for me.

Sunday Race: It was awesome to be back on the bike and riding through the Wombat State Forest. I’d taken the winter off, with no early morning rides in the cold, which was a new experiment. I did catch myself thinking during the race that I was not ‘fully’ race ready/fit, but I doubt I was the only one – and it didn’t matter either way. I was there to participate. I had a brilliant Le Mans start, which was what I wanted, then settled down to relax and enjoy the ride.

The full track was a 6km prologue loop that took riders through a very muddy bog before returning to the start line (beers only after the first loop), then off on 2 x 15 km loop out from Camarray Waters through the forest to include the G-out dip and the Tardis sections. As so as the winner passed the finish line, no one else could start a new loop.

It had been raining previously, so it was pretty muddy and slippery. I really loved the track. The forest was beautiful. It had stopped raining, and the sun peaked through. Everyone was still rugged up except for a few brave souls who were bearing a lot of skin. The format was great, as it meant that there were always people behind you and always people in front. I ticked away at my own speed, sometimes passing a few, sometimes being passed, sometimes jumping on the back of a rider who was playing some cool tunes.

 

3 Social
I knew I was going to get my social on and was looking forward to meeting some new people, but I was not fully prepared for the outstanding calibre of those I met. I was blown away by the quality of character and quality conversations I had with everyone; it was so engaging. I loved the amount of facial hair, how many red-heads were there (just a personal preference!) and how many kids and dogs were involved – all of which was a bonus for me.

Apparently, 30% of the entrants were from overseas, and from the conversations I had; I would say that was pretty accurate. I chatted to Alaskans, Kiwis, Americans, Japanese, Canadians, Colombians and Aussies from all over. I met some stalwart old school icons and some new up-and-comers – each with their own fabulous story to tell. I was impressed with the number of women there for Sunday’s race, but as always would have liked to have seen more.

It was quite entertaining to see how the local townspeople and businesses handled the unruly out-of-town mob descend upon their town. Bikes pretty much continuously lined up outside of the pub, the café and the hotel and there was always someone eating or drinking to catch up with.

 

4 Event
For me, the Carni-velo theme worked a treat. It was interesting to hear others feedback about the 4-day multi-site festival scheduling. Satellite events (My mechanic rules) during the lead-up week in Melbourne, Friday registration and social get-together that night at Holgate Brewery in Woodend, then a night street party. Saturday ride out to Hanging Rock for day of events and races then ride back into town for evening events at the Hotel. Sunday out at Cammeray Waters for race day and follow up activities, then pretty much everyone ended up at the campsite for the Closing Ceremony (where the fire brigade only got called out once).

Some thought it spread people out too much, others saying it was a good way to showcase the surrounds and include sponsors. Either way, I would have like to have seen a designated Info Desk that had all the event info in one place, with a person who could answer all event questions that could act as a central hub. I thought the organisers did a great job considering the scale and requirements necessary to pull off such an event. I tip my hat the crew who put the time, effort and love into making it happen for the rest of us; it is no mean feat to pull off. I had a brilliant time and will most certainly be back.

 

Next Year

NZ won hosting rights for 2017 SS World Champs next year and Melrose (SA) in conjunction with Burning Bike Festival will be hosting the Australian SS National Champs in May 5-7th 2017.

 

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Today was Griffith University’s Education and Professional Studies (EPS) HDR Student Conference. This Graduate HDR* Conference is organised by the EPS PhD Candidates for other Candidates. Although I am on the organising committee, I did not attend the proceedings today because I am Melbourne for another event (SSWC 2016 – see upcoming post). * In AU we call  PhD Programs HDR = Higher Degree by Research i.e. PhD or Doctoral programs. In the US, PhDs are part of the Graduate Program (Grad School)  – hence ‘Graduate HDR’*

The reason I am posting about the Graduate 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.

 

Griffith Graduate HDR Student Conference 2016

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!

 

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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!

 

SWWC 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

 

SSWC 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 SSWC 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 SSWC. 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 SSWC 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!

bicycles-create-change-com

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!
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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.

 

The Xiaosa 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.

Source: ibtimes.com

Source: ibtimes.com