This post is an interview I had with Xavier and Will, two young friends who live in a Victorian country town about 1.5 hours out of Melbourne. I have been staying with family and happened to spot these two industrious lads out in a yard with shovels ablaze and bikes strewn close by, so I went to see what they were working on. We got chatting and I was impressed with their initiative and thoughtfulness in constructing their own backyard MTB track given their limited resources. The following interview details what we discussed. Thanks to the parents of both boys for permission to publish this story.

Two young friends make their own backyard MTB track

 

How long have you been living in this town?

Seven years ago Xavier moved here from another town. He was already riding up there and had started riding a motorbike when her was two or three. Will was given a pushbike when he was three and still has the same bike and has been riding ever since. We like riding in the street and testing out our new bikes.

How long have you two been friends for?   

Since grade one – which was in 2013. So we have been friends four years.

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Why did you make the mountain bike track?

We did have a few bike tracks but they all got washed away in the floods. So we decided to make our own just for us. We also made it for guests to have fun – and because it is in the backyard and not near the river like the other few before, this one won’t get washed away.

We just used all scraps from here and there are got some shovels and just got started.

How many bike tracks have you made?

We decided to have one main one before we had this area, it went all around the garden.  We did it just to do big holes in the ground and do rallies down and jumps on. Now we’re not really like jumping, we’re doing more skills and obstacle stuff which is more advanced.

Do any adults help you make the tracks? No, only our neighbour does (kid the same age).

Do any other kids ride your tracks or help? Not without our permission, since it is on our property.

How did you decide on the design of the track?

Designing the track meant that we got the ideas from our heads and talked about it.  Then we started playing with ideas and decided what were the good ideas and put those into the track. Then we had something there with the things we wanted and we just keep going. We also used our prior knowledge from magazines and we have experience scootering (riding scooters). We also got some ideas from skate parks. Then we just made it!

How long did it take you to make it?

Well before we were both here we worked a little bit on the track, but we were just mucking around. The next time we really got started. The track has moved a few times, but now it is in Will’s backyard so we don’t have to move it again and we can work on it anytime we want to. When we started, it probably took us two hours to get the main loop in, but we still work on it and change it – like today we spent an hour fixing up the rock garden and making a log bridge. We still haven’t finished and there is still a bit more to come.

The track started happening really when there was the start of a berm and we wanted to have a rough time (make it rougher). So we started using wood pallets then we have some whoops to work the bike’s suspension and then included starting points and finishing points.

What are the skills you wanted to practice? Why did you put those obstacles in? What is that you will achieve? We want to practice our balance, remembering all our manoeuvres and just have fun. We are going to need to practice in case we need these skills for when we go riding on the volcanos nearby. There are a few tracks around the mountains here and they go over and around the volcanos in this area, so you need to be prepared to ride volcanoes with these kinds of skills.

 Why do you like riding bikes? Well to keep fit and generally keep your heart rate up and for just having fun. It can be useful from time to time – say someone needs to get to a bus station or from the train station to another train station. Or just around town. We actually use the bikes quite a bit. Then there are the days we can always go bike riding. Mt Tarrengower has got a really cool bike track. We also do trips down to the shops, so maybe mum needs some milk. So I ride down to the IGA and buy the milk and return it to her.

Here are some key parts of the track

Boys Backyard MTB Track

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Sand on LHS is being developed into a berm – lead into the rock garden

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

The rock garden

 

I love this story. I find it very heartening that young boys are self-initialising such a productive, healthy and creative venture – as adults I think we need to encourage such activities. I love that the families of both boys were super supportive and encouraging of their ventures as well – what great role models for others. This skills track is not only a great way to develop bike skills, keep fit and cement a friendship, but it is also a brilliant example of two young mates working cooperatively to build something original and solely suited to their own needs. I love that materials, know-how and fun were just applied without any limiting self-doubt – and the results more so enjoyed as a result. The origin of having their own ideas melding it with their experience at scooter/skate parks and ideas from magazines demonstrates how trusting and confident they both are – of themselves and each other.

The resilience, creativity and practical application of putting this track together, which may seem basic to some, is a fantastic example of perseverance, following through with an idea and trusting yourself (and/or a mate) to work on a project together and see it through. I like how these boys demonstrate the willingness to put the work into a project –  and to just make it happen.

Now that they have the main part of the track established, Will and Xavier will be able to develop and modify it to suit their skills and interests as they develop. I see this track as a great accomplishment. I don’t know many adults that are this industrious, proactive and collaborative in progressing their friendship and love of bikes. A valuable and quietly inspirational lesson for us all. 

Best of luck to the friendship of Will and Xavier – and for their future track building and bike riding adventures!

For 5 days, I am in the Goldfields district of country Victoria. I visiting family and friends and recharging before heading back for the start of Trimester One on Monday. While here, I have been marking the final assessments for my Summer Course, as my class just submitted their end-of-course final written assessment. It is worth 45% of their total mark. It is a pretty serious deal – for them writing it, and me marking it.

While visiting my amazing young cousin who lives outside of Castlemaine, I found one of his joke book sitting next to the toilet (where many good books are found). I was delighted to see a sports section with a few bike jokes in it.

It was perfect timing to lighten my mood after a long day’s marking – especially seeing as though it was one of those endless beautiful sunny days when I would otherwise have grabbed my bike to either put out some nice long kilometers along the Pyrenees Hwy and beyond, out to the Macedon Ranges, or to go exploring the magnificent 210kms MTB trails around the local Goldfields mountains and volcanoes (*sigh*).

Goldfields - no jokes!

But as marking currently takes precedence (for a couple of days longer only) – these bike jokes were a light reprieve, so I  thought I’d share some of the better, but daggy cycling jokes I found. Although I cannot account for the quality, as my cousin is very young!

Set the scene

A truck leaves Sydney City at 10:32 am on a Tuesday morning, carrying 8 tons of freight, and traveling an average of 117 kph heading toward Melbourne. Another truck departs Melbourne at 8:47am on the next day, Wednesday, carrying 4 tons of freight and traveling an average of 98 kph toward Sydney. Where do they meet? On the one-lane bridge where the cyclist is.

A motorway and a freeway are enjoying a drink in the pub. A piece of green tarmac walks in.  The motorway whispers: “Come on let’s drink up and go before the trouble starts. He’s a bit of a cyclepath!”

Geez dad! Not in front of my new friends!!

What is the cheapest type of bicycle you can buy? A penny-farthing!

What do you call a bicycle built by a chemist? Bike-carbonate of soda!

Why was Cinderella so uncompetitive at cycling? She had a pumpkin for a coach!

When is a bicycle not a bicycle? When it turns into a driveway.

Why can’t a bicycle stand up on its own? Because it’s too tired! (two tyre-d).

What is a ghost-proof bicycle? One with no spooks in it.

How did the barber win the bike race? He took a short cut.

I went on a long bicycle ride yesterday. It seemed farcical.

Did you hear about the vampire bicycle that went round biting people’s arms off? It was a vicious cycle.

 I bought a new wheel from the local bike shop, but it was missing something in the middle. When I complained, they sent me straight through to their spokes-person.

Bike puns

One for 100 climbs – don’t ride upgrades, ride up grades.

Descending Pardknott pass at 80kph, the cyclist tested positive for speed.

My cousin loves e-bikes because he’s really indecisive. He likes that it takes charge.

My mate is really good on a unicycle but very socially awkward around alcohol. She can’t handle-bars.

The mechanic who makes my wheels suffers from narcolepsy. He just gets wheelie, wheelie tyred.

A maniac cut someone in half while I was on my bike today. I missed it, but my chainsaw.

Drop bars not bombs.

I rode my bike 10 miles to safely dispose of some paper, cans and bottles earlier. iIwas tired on the way back, so I had to recycle.

I like cyclists, who torque the talk.

Did you know Alfred Hitchcock used to be into downhill mountain biking? He was ‘The master of suspens-ion’.

Goldfield Track- no joke

Goldfields Tracks- no joke!

Oh, will this marking never end!

All jokes aside, it is difficult to be inside working while in such a beautiful part of the cycling world – and so close to the Goldfields Track, yet be relegated to the sidelines.  Aaarggghh! But not long now!

For the last four days, I’ve been riding a bike around Melbourne.

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the

Each day I’ve started out early and taken a different direction to scout out some of the iconic and most beloved bike routes in and around Melbourne. It was not only a great way to get around town but I also wanted to see some of the changes that had been discussed at the Bike Futures Conference last Friday – and relive some of the old glory days spent whizzing around town.

If you are keen for some similar riding – here’s a full list of Melbourne city and regional bike trail systems or conversely, use some of these helpful Map My Route resources and plans to get from A to B or go for an explore like I did.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Yarra Trail
The first day’s ride took me along the banks of the Yarra on a beautiful sunny early morning. I used the Captial City, Main Yarra Trail and Kew Boulevard trails. I headed out to Kew one way and did a big loop to head back into town over the other side. It started out quiet, but as I headed back into town, it got very busy with commuters from the Easters suburbs riding in. Some of the pathways still need some work, some areas have stairs, but overall the shadiness of the trees and the sheer delight of riding alongside the area river was a really glorious thing to do in the morning. It was great to see all the rowers, joggers, mums-and-bubs groups and all manner of people out and about on the Yarra Trail. It was a stunning day and the city looked beautiful (below). What a great way to spend a day on two wheels.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Maribyrnong
On my second day’s ride, I headed out West – from Melbourne city along South Wharf to Footscray. I’ve done this ride inbound ride once before, but I wasn’t 100% sure of where to turn off to get to the heart of the city. But this time – it was much easier going from the city and heading out west. It is super direct, quick and easy. I took advantage of the peak hour bicycle commuters riding out from the city, and just follow their tails. It ended up being about 20-25 minutes from Flinders Street station safely all the way into Footscray on wide fast and smooth paths. It was also very well signed and used. When I got to Footscray, I ended up jumping on the trails going along the Maribyrnong River Trail (below) heading towards Victoria Uni and Flemington Racecourse. I passed under and over many bridges, past the Buddhist temple and rode out as far as I dared. Then I had a coffee and rode back to Footscray. From Footscray, I followed the trail out towards Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail to see where the entry and exit points were along the way as the main track led under the Westgate Bridge. From there it is easy to do a full loop of Williamstown for a solid return trip– what a beautiful ride.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Darebin
On my third next day, I went out to explore the Darebin bike trails. I started by joining the commuters from Footscray (where I was staying the night before) into the city. From the City to Brunswick Street for a coffee and then I headed out St Georges Road bike path out to Reservoir. It was interesting to see some of the infrastructure changes and remodelling that had been undertaken to the path in the centre of St George’s bikeway. I was impressed with the signage and how easy it was to get around on this bike path.  I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails. I rode out to Reservoir and ended up at Broadway at the Olympic Park Village and the outdoor velodrome there (below).  I got chatting to a few cyclists who were passing and thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the beautiful warm sunny day. After that, I spent the afternoon exploring various Merri Creek trails exploring where they entered and exited and marvelling at the extensive network out this way.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Hampton & Beach Road
My fourth day saw me doing a long, but very satisfying bike ride from Reservoir to Hampton. This time I went from Reservoir (where I stay the night before) back into the city via St George’s bike path, then out St Kilda Road to Albert Park – making sure to take in a ride along with the FI Grand Prix track (I had to do it again after last week, I just couldn’t help myself. Woohoo!). When I got to St Kilda, I scouted out the ‘inland’ route up Inkerman Road to Hotham Road and then scooted across to Hampton. This route was great to get a feeling of what it’s like to ride on the road and to see the difference in bike infrastructure in certain areas and roads. When in Hampton, I visited some old mates Rumbo and Damo at Hampton Cycles and it was good to have a catch-up and a gasbag. For the way home, I headed out on the Bay Trail. For this ride, you can either take Beach Road or ride the parallel Boulevard bike trail from Hampton all the way back into the city. Either way, it is a stunning ride! I took a few photos on the way and enjoyed checking out the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes, Elwood and St Kilda beach.

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

Cruising around Melbourne.

Over the course of these four days, I’ve pretty much been in all the main four directions of the compass on my bike. I got a real taste for the different city council approaches to biking and how accessible and convenient biking now is in Melbourne. It was both exhilarating and very enjoyable exploring new parts of, and revisiting my favourite haunt and coffee shops in and around town. Where ever possible, I chatted with fellow bike commuters and asked them about their biking experiences.

It felt great to be back on a bike.

It was also great to be out and riding longer distances and exploring the trails – getting sweaty, seeing the sights and having the whole day to really explore and fully enjoy every moment.

It was a real pleasure having five days completely off to go riding on such beautiful Melbourne summer days – I highly recommend it!

Not sure what trail to try?

 Try Bike Paths.com maps of Melbourne trails – or check this article out for a list of a few of Melbourne’s most scenic bike rides – many of I tried in the last couple of days. I hope have as much fun as I did riding these trails!

Riding some of Melbourne's Best Bike Trails

On Friday I went to the Bike Futures Conference 2017 in Melbourne St Kilda. Here’s quick review of the highlights.

Who attended?
This was my first Bike Futures Conference and I wanted to make the most of it after travelling down from Brisbane. There were over 150 local council representatives, engineers urban planners, school staff, public servants, bike advocates, academics, local residents and many more. Essentially this one-day conference was an opportunity to share current projects and discuss some of the main challenges, success and practical tools that various divisions around Melbourne have been working on. The main aim is to increase, make safer and improve urban cycling conditions. This was a great opportunity to connect and learn from industry experts and peers.

Conference Format
As well as the guided ride to the venue, the conference format was broken into three main sections. You can see the full program of topics and a full list of presenters which shows the range of issues and areas the conference covered.

Guided ride
My conference day started at 8 AM at Federation Square for the guided ride to the venue. There were 18 delegates on the ride, and it was a stunning morning.  Our route took us from Federation Square to St Kilda Town Hall showcasing some of the best of Melbourne’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure. We had three stops at key locations along the way where we heard representatives from Vicroads, City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip speak about specific bicycle infrastructure, current projects and considered future developments.

Not only was it great as a social ride (I made a point of chatting to others when safe to do so), the presentations themselves were very informative.  I was also relishing being back on two wheels on Melbourne roads – I was flooded with memories and emotions as I relived endless glory days of pedalling in and around Melbourne on some of my favourite adventures with some of my favourite people.

An added highlight was riding along the Formula One Grand Prix track at Albert Park – something I just can’t do in Brisbane, and it added an extra festive zing to my day.

Riding the F1 Grand Prix track
1. Key guest speakers
1.    Claire Ferres Miles (General Manager, Place Strategy and Development, City of Port Phillip). This was a solid start to the conference good overview of projects and update of current and future plans for active transportation.

2.    Professor Chris Pettit  (Inaugural Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South City Futures Research Centre). Chris’s presentation was very interesting. It was research and a little nerdy. His work focuses on spatial planning and use of GIS and mapping technologies to investigate land-use change scenarios. He showed an impressive simulation based on Melbourne riders using the Logmyride app (I’ll do a follow-up post on this as it was very cool!!).

3.    Toby Kent (Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Melbourne). Far out – what a presenter. Not only an unexpected addition to the conference given the seemingly loose connection Melbourne City’s Resilience status has –  but Toby managed to connect with the audience, be squarely on topic, appropriate and clearly linked what his Office does to the audience’s experience – and a super charismatic orator.  Quite spokes, calm and very well prepared, I can see why he is in the top leadership role.

4.    Luke Donnellan (Minister for Roads and Road Safety). As would be expected, Luke coped quite a lot of flak – and deservedly so. Not only was he in full politician style of not directly answering questions, he missed the mark on a number of key issues, put his foot in his mouth by disrespecting a Western Council representative (of which she challenged him on very appropriately!) and was a terrible speaker by reading off his notes in a monotone and completely disinterested and unengaged way and made no attempt to looking at the audience at all. And then promptly ran away. Oh dear!

Sean Yates - Vicroads

2. Pecha Kucha Sessions
This format is quick and interesting, with each presentation having 20 slides (for 20 sec each) being about 6.5 min in total.
1. Evaluation of Bike Ed in School – Che Sutherland (Team Leader – Darebin Council)
2. St Kilda Road Safety Improvement – Sean Yates (Project Development Engineer -Vicroads)
3. Low-stress cycling in Whitehorse – Amy Child, Arup & Lean McGuiness (City of Whitehorse)
4. Greening the Pipeline Project – Emma Pryse (Project Coordinator – City of Wyndham).
5. Bike Safety and trucks Jamie Ross (Safety Officer – Metro Tunnel Project)

Bike Futures 2017

3. Afternoon Break-out Workshop sessions
After lunch, we split up across different rooms to attend our registered session themes.

Session 1: Jump starting Active School Travel
Investigating a very successful case study of Park Orchards Primary School. This workshop explained the process and strategies used to link parents, teachers and community member together to provide a ‘perfect storm’ for a community active transportation initiative spanning a school term in 2012. With a review three years later, the positive behaviour changes in kids and families using more active transportation to go to school was impressive. This workshop was generous in providing details, suggestions and insights of how the project was designed and what elements conspired to make it such as success. It is now considered the Gold Standard of what other schools could achieve. A great session that stimulated lots of conversation and was very through-provoking and inspiring.

Session 2: Getting Girls and Women Riding
This session was run by Bicycle Network and was reporting back on two initiatives – getting more teenage girls (high school) on bikes via a specific program designed just for teenage girls, and getting more women on road bikes via the Ascent event. This session was particularly interesting for me given the unique (and negative) experiences that the Ascent team had in organising and putting on the original 700+ women’s only road cycling event – and the subsequent difficulties they encountered trying to do it again the year after.

Bike Futures 2017
Wrap up
The notion of sharing new ideas about a range of new ways in which bicycles create positive community change was a fitting way to conclude the 2017 Bike Futures Conference. The conference closed with Bicycle Network’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig Richards call to action to “dream bigger make it happen”. After the official close, we then mingled and finalised any contact, got our bikes and those who were up for it headed to the pub across the road for social drinks and to continue informed and passionate discussions.

Final thoughts
For me, the best part of the conference was able to meet such a range of diverse people. From teachers, academics, health professionals, industry experts (lots of E-bikers) BUGers, engineers, transport technicians and lots of local council representatives.

The enjoyed being able to sit and listen to the presentations and take what I needed. I met a wide range of very interesting people and practised talking about my research and this blog. In fact, at one stage I went up to some Bicycle Network delegates to thank them for putting on the conference and I mentioned my work, the instantly connected me with another Bicycle Networker called Alex who is working in India with a Bike Aid program and we ended up finding a quite nook to have a good chat – awesome!

I had a great time at the conference, got some great new ideas and felt re-inspired. It made me miss not being in Melbourne amidst this charge of new bicycle development, but also provided some valuable food for thought and some wonderful new contacts. I was very happy I made an effort to go down to Melbourne to attend this conference.

Bike Futures 2017

George’s penny farthing

In the lead-up to my next trip down to Melbourne, I found myself cruising the bayside foreshore doing my best to soak up the afternoon dying rays and the tail-end of day’s two-wheeled community.

On this particular afternoon, there were are groups of teenagers whizzing by,  parents yelling at wayward and over-enthusiastic toddlers to looks up as they blindly pedalled away, and road cyclists trying to squeeze in just one more Strava PBs before sunset.

 

On days such as this, I love Brisbane bayside bike riding more than ever.
As I neared my exit, a curious object caught the corner of my eye. In that quick moment as I passed, I tried to reconcile if I had actually seen a giant oversized bicycle wheel sticking out from the back of a tiny car. For a moment it didn’t register, then I logic set in, and I realised it must have been a penny farthing. Well, you don’t see that every day.

George's penny farthing

George’s Rapide

With my curiosity piqued, I turned back to double-check. Sure enough there she was – a shiny, big, black beautiful, penny farthing – glorious.  As I approached, I saw the owner sitting nearby. So we struck up a conversation.

This is how I met George. He is not only the owner, but he hand-built this particular model. It took him six months to make all the parts – many of which he showed me. All the parts are measured specifically for him, the rims, spokes, wheels – the lot. He made it as in a penny farthing course that is offered only in Brisbane. There are official monthly penny farthing get-togethers around Brisbane, where all the owners, makers and enthusiasts catch up and go for a ride.

George's penny farthing

George's penny farthing

As a result of this course, apparently, there are 30 penny farthing course graduates getting around Brisbane.

George and I ended up chatting for quite a while, about bikes, riding, penny farthings and everything in between. George told me of a few daring exploits he’d had while riding his Rapide. He confirmed how difficult it is to navigate, balance and ride, but equally how much enjoyment he derived from taking her out for a spin. I t was inspiring to hear about the attention, effort and detail involved in hand turning all the parts to create this specific two-wheeled contraption – custom build by him, perfect fitted for him. Amazing.

 

George's penny farthing

 

Bespoke and custom-made – every part.

George showed me each of the individual pieces that he had made.

I marvelled at the commitment, time, dedication involved in making George’s Rapide. It certainly was a thing of simple style and beauty. I have always admired people who make their own bicycles – and even better, it was fantastic to see him out and about with it.

We were chatting at one end of a long stretch of bayside pathway, 6 km in total to the other end. George told me he was going to ride halfway up to meet a friend for lunch and then ride back. He said he liked to do it as often as he could. What a grand adventure! Although perilous when steering, he said as well as enjoying getting around on it, he liked showcasing her to the community.

It was lovely to meet George. It was just the creative and practical catalyst I was hoping for as I pack up to leave Brisbane for Melbourne for the Bicycle Futures Conference on Friday.

 

And on such a beautiful sunny day as well.
Bloody marvellous!

 

George's penny farthing

An unexpected (New Year) slump

In December my principal supervisor retired one week before Christmas. I had no idea this was going to happen. One of the main reasons I had asked this A/Prof. to be my supervisor was because of her sound knowledge, experience in PhD supervision, experience with all the workings of the University, expertise, and that she was going to stay at the university for quite a while and see me through my research journey. Doh!

It was a very unusual time for this to happen. One week before Christmas. I remember wondering what this mean in relation to my imminent first PhD milestone, my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) due in February. The day after she told me we flew out to New Zealand for an 11-day mountain biking trip. I was happy for the break from researching, I felt a little lost and unsure of what direction I was going in, so I was looking forward to having a good hard physical break to reset and come back with fresh eyes.

On my return in the new year, I had two weeks of intense marking to do for a course I was teaching. It was difficult and energy sucking. It rattled my routine and sent me into a stressful mode of working – not the start to the year I had planned. On top of this, there was all manner of other crap happening concurrently, most pressing that husband having an operation and was home flat out incapacitated – recovering for three weeks – meaning our home routine had also changed significantly.

 

Good grief!

By the start of this week, I realised pretty quickly that I had to proactively scrape back some semblance of routine and control over my work process, resources and PhD status. I could feel the cool grip of discouragement and confusion setting in. This was compounded by the fact that my uni was pretty much closed down over the holidays (so no-one was around), academics and staff were away (no-one to consult with), and I could feel the pressure of my ECMR submission date. I had made sure I was still on my bike and riding, but certainly not enough to stave off the beginnings of demoralisation. I felt like I was getting sucked into the Rooster’s new year transition vortex.

 

Time to take back control.

I needed some reinvigoration and to establish back some structure and clear direction. Reminding myself of my original aims and purpose for doing this PhD I find is a powerful way to connect my daily smaller actions with my bigger picture goals and justifications.

With this in mind, I decided to set aside half a day to sit down and map out my yearly goals. I set myself a series of activities and analysis strategies to process what I had achieved so far, what I was doing now, where I wanted to be and how I was going to get there.

 

Already feeling better – calmer, clearer and more collected.

I got a lot done that afternoon and things started to shift. My mood lifted and I was back in action and at the desk working. I talked to some staff, students and other candidates and decided now was the time to get the ball rolling on my PhD Supervision. I harnessed this momentum and sent out some emails to academics.

So this week I’ve been speed dating academics.

It has been a very overwhelming, interesting, surprising, and very thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that I’ve with academics I’ve meet. It’s been great to be exposed in a truncated, introductory fashion each one’s unique interest area, ideas, approach to PhD Supervision and hear about what their area of expertise is. As well as sounding out these academics as potential supervisors, each one was also very generous with their time, ideas, sharing reading materials and contacts.

 

Now, I’m back on track.

I felt myself getting re-motivated as we discussed my project, more enthusiastic with each conversation. I was overwhelmed with interesting suggestions, resources, follow ups and observations about my project, possible future directions and collaborations. It was great to hear that each one thought my project was super interesting and valuable and wanted to stay in contact regardless of which supervisor I chose. I walked away from each ‘date’ with a head full of ideas and feeling super positive.

 

I’ve made my Supervisor choice and am excited about the next step.

I’m really glad I took the initiative to meet with those that I did, (aside from it being necessary for me to find a new Principal Supervisor) and went about it the way I did and was so highly selective of those I met with. In doing so, I was privy to some very stimulating, practical and intelligent ideas. It has helped reactivate my brain, get me out of my new year funk and spark me up for the next phase of my academic journey.
This was the kind of start to the year I had in mind!

Perfect timing too. I can utilise this renewed energy as I complete my ECMR and get prepared to head down to Melbourne next week for the Bike Futures Conference!

It’s good to be back on track!

Speed Dating Academics

I decided it was time to leave the downward spiral and exit the New Year labyrinth. Time to get inspired, confirm my new Principal Supervisor and get back on my previous productive PhD research track! Nice Save (*phew*)!!

Two months ago the Bicycles Create Change blog started posting on Instagram. This happened as a result of a conversation I had with a friend. I went through the usual excited and overzealous initial period or exploring, locating and investing in producing and posting images and its truth be told I enjoyed the whole precess and have learnt a lot. This particular project I am currently undertaking specifically utilises and capitalises on all the best visual and sharing aspects that Instagram has to offer.

 

 Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness (Bikes_CISTA) Project

The Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness or Bikes_CISTA Project is a collection of photos I have taken while riding Leki (my flower bike) around my neighbourhood and features the people I spontaneously stop, introduce myself to, have a chat and request to take their photo. All this is because they fit the inclusion criteria for the Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Team.

The eligibility for a photo invite requires:
– at least one person
– at least one dog
– at least one bike
– all are happy to stop and have a chat with me
– all give their verbal permission for me to take and post their photo (which I provide a link to).

 

Bicycles Create Change.com

Bicycles Create Change.com

As of today, I have posted 27 Bikes_CISTA teams on Instagram -with two ready to go.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. It gets me out and about, meeting new and different people, it requires me to brave in approaching new people and has helped me perfect my approach and explanation of the project. It is an easy way to start more conversations about bikes, community, enjoying the local area and life being better with dogs.

In addition to adding experiential value to my daily routine, it also provides a space for actively encouraging more personal social connection with my local neighbourhood and the locals.

It also has been pushing me to talk more openly about the blog and my research.

Bicycles Create Change.com

By doing this project, I not only derive incredible personal satisfaction from engaging with the personalities, stories and encounters I have with those I feature, but I also like the unpredictability and immediate nature of spontaneously interacting with people in my community.

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In the very least, it is a good way to test my mettle and effectiveness in discussing my common bicycle/dog interests, promoting my blog and creating the opportunity to practice explaining in easy and clear ways what my PhD research is- this alone is an excellent skill to have!

Who have you met?

Most people I approach are great, a rare few say no, others settle in for a good chat – it has been such a range of unexpected encounters! I often walk away from my last interaction flush with new information and surprised with the generosity and friendliness of strangers-now-aquaintances. I’ve even seen a few since our initial meeting, and we have now progressed onto waving and first names basis.

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Celebrate the best of you locality and positive lifestyle

Approaching people with a Bikes_CISTA invitation is my way to identify and recognise people who best represent some of what I consider to be some of the essential and most productive lifestyle choices and activities one can undertake – namely participating in a local, outdoor, social, healthy, active, dog-friendly biking community.

It been so enjoyable investing time, energy and focus into the Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness – Bikes_CISTA Project. The whole precess has given me much food for thought and has proven to be a powerful technique of uncovering social and personal insights. I love getting out on Leki and keeping an eye out for potential teams to approach.

I can’t wait to see where this project goes.

On Instagram – check out more Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Teams at #bikes_CISTA or the@bicycles_create_change.

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