Indian Pacific Wheel Race 2017

What is the Indian Pacific Wheel Race?

The Indian Pacific Wheel Race is an epic one-stage, unassisted 5,500 km adventure race across Australia. The IPWR website has all in the background and info you need including the route coordinates, so I won’t rehash those details here. This race is well worth taking a look at just to gauge how ‘motivated’ you consider yourself to be as a rider….

The Indian Pacific Wheel Race (also known as the IndyPac or IPWR) also has some specific rules given that it is a long-distance unsupported road ride. It is very well managed and I am impressed with the level of technology used to track riders and how effective the communications and media coverage for this event is – by the race organisers, the riders themselves (see Jackie’s page below) and the race supporters and rider fans.

It starts in Fremantle, WA and ends at Sydney Opera House, taking in 4 main section:

1. The desert (incl the Nullarbor Plain);
2. Rolling hills of the famous wine districts of South Australia;
3. The iconic Great Ocean Road; and
4. The Australian Alps.

Here is an overview of the the course:

Indian Pacific Wheel Race
Source: ABC News

Jackie Bernardi

Jackie Bernardi is one of only seven female riders registered for 2017 IndyPac.

I admit to being completely biased as Jackie has been a dear friend for many years.

It has been amazing watching her transition from rock climbing to cycling and equally inspiring to hear about her rides, adventures and exploits over the years and and to see how devoted she is to riding.

Jackie has been particularly active the last couple of years in Australian long-distance bikepacking adventure races including the Cloudride 1,000km race in the mountains surrounding Canberra and the Great Dividing Trail Race in Victoria, as well as going further afield last year to race the 4,500kms Tour Divide that runs from Banff (Canada) over the Continental Divide through the U.S. and down to the Mexico boarder, where she was one of only 11 female riders out of 191 starters (only 73 completed the race)  and of which she was #1 female for the race in a time of 19 days, 21 hours and 41 mins!!! So she is certainly up for the IndyPac challenge!

Jackie is an inspirational woman and a phenomenal athlete. Her tenaciousness on the bicycle is nothing short of impressive. It has been great to see Jackie’s updates and videos as well as track her progress throughout the race via the Jackie Bernardi IndyPac 2017 Facebook page  – which gives some great insights into the conditions, issues, tips and pure will power required to undertake and push on in a long-haul event like the IndyPac.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race 2017
Source: Jackie Middleton

 

Update below shows Jackie coming in hot to Adelaide and setting a mean pace earlier this week for the half way mark.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Source: KO’s Facebook update.

Sad news cuts IndyPac 2017 race short

Today the IndyPac Race was cancelled due to the devastating news that early this morning, a car crash killed Mike Hall, one of the IndyPac cyclists.

At the time of the accident, the race was still underway. Mike was in second position and the lead riders were due to arrive at the finish line in Sydney later today (Friday 31st March).

Mike was a 35-year old British cyclist and well known for being one of the world’s best ultra-endurance racers and holds the record for the fastest completion of the Trans Am and Tour Divide bikepacking races in the US.

The sad news has been difficult for riders, organisers and many of the race’s fans and other cyclists alike. 

Today there were a number of  Mike Hall Memorial Rides in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, all of which had massive turn outs.

It is such a heartbreaking way to stop any event, especially an international endurance road race.

Our thoughts are with Mike Halls’ family, the IndyPac riders and their support community.

 

Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Source: Sean Conway

EWS 2017 Starts today

The Enduro World Series kicks off today in Rotorua NZ – Horray

This is going to be a great year for Enduro racing and it is awesome to see the first two rounds in the Antipodes – and with heaps of support, media and events going on there is something for everyone.

Here is where the series will be taking us this year –

EWS 2017
Source: EWS

I’m stoked the first round is in Rotorua. It was raining pretty hard for a while, so now the tracks are pretty muddy and slippery – a real physical challenge!

Great to see the full 7 rounds being held at Redwoods – much better than last times liaise over the other side – much better management and track link-up.

Nice to see the new (old) illegal track (now legal) as well as Dodds, and some of Whakarewarewa Forest’s best double black diamond runs being showcased for the event (see map and track overview at the end of this post).

Rotorua is the place to ride

Just 2 months ago I was in Rotorua riding exactly the same trails – it was our second year riding in Rotorua and I have posted previously about how impressed I am with the government, local business and community support that Rotorua has for mountain biking. The local community has some great authentic family-based initiatives, like the Dad’s n Lads project to get more Rotorua locals on bikes as well – so the push for more biking is not just for out-of towners.The infrastructure, encouragement and forward-thinking that Rotorua has for bike-based tourism is brilliant – they are most certainly leading the way.  And rightly so. Securing some big ticket international MTB  festivals such as Crankworx, this EWS round and the  Rotorua Bike Festival sends a very clear message that NZ is a principal mountain biking destination.

Round 1 is anyone’s game

It will be interesting to see what happens for this round – and for the season. Personally, I’m hoping Sam Hill is in superman form and give Riche Rude, Damien Oton and Jerome Clementz a serious run for their money. I’m also hoping that NZ local boys Wyn & Eddie Masters and Matt Walker strut their stuff and show ’em how to ride NZ style on home turf – it would be awesome to see Kiwis on the podium. In the Elite Women’s, Cecil Ravanel, Isabeau Courdurier and Anita Gehrig are set to battle it out with the rest of the field. What a top line-up. If practice was anything to go by many agree it is going to be a very exciting round!

So strap yourself in for a great EWS series full of some awesome racing this season – let’s get it on!!

Source: Pinkbike. Follow Fabien Cousinié down the 7 stages.

EWS 2017 Starts today
Source: EWS

Source: EWS

Earth Hour 2017

Tonight my household is part of the international celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Earth Hour 2017. Horray!

Along with millions of other homes in 179 countries and in over 7,000 cities, from 8.30pm – 9.30pm tonight, those homes who have registered are turning off all the power for at least one hour in recognition of worldwide climate, resource and environmental issues.

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

I am very proud to see this Australian event take off internationally and to see how bicycles have been incorporated more and more into the event – here are just a few ways cycling is featuring this year around the world for Earth Hour 2017.

There are heaps of bicycle-themed events going on this year for Earth Hour. Here are some innovative examples:

Earth Hour 2017
Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

I was interested to find that in 2014 there was a spin-off version of Earth Hour called ‘Bike Hour’ – a very bicycle-inspired initiative.

Earth Hour 2017
Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

If you are interested – the short video below shows some of the highlights and impacts from Earth Hour 2016. If you are not already involved – and even if you are – perhaps you can host your own Earth Hour bicycle event! Good luck and have fun!!

Nathan Berry’s Project Bike Love Photo Series

Meet Nathan Berry, a Memphis-based photographer who has a panache for bicycles.

 Project Bike Love.

Bicycles have featured predominately in Nathan’s work for some years, but my favourite series of his is the 2011Project Bike Love.

This particular series of 28 photos reflects my interest to record and celebrate community members and their bicycles.  My #Bikes_CISTA (or Cycling Inter-Species Team of Awesomeness) features at a minimum one bike, one rider and one dog and they need to be spontaneous meetings in my local area. My series is on the grassroots and immediate end of the photo series spectrum.

What I like about Nathan’s series is that it has a similar approach in that it features locals with their bikes within the Memphis locale. However, Nathan’s shots are distinctly professional and beautifully reflect the polished and expert end of the curated bike/community photo spectrum.

Style, Simplicity & Authenticity

I like the simplicity and authenticity of this series. Simplicity in that the setting is visually additive without being distracting, and authentic as a few key props or clothing really helps frame the personal narrative of each subject without being overly manufactured.

I also appreciate the variety of people selected and the personality that comes through in each portrait. With only 28 participants, the subjects have been judiciously selected for their occupational, recreational or unique valuable perspectives, each of which is highlighted by a short description detail about rider, bike and context. The concise and precise blurbs are tantalising and engaging – just enough basic description to set the person, place and bike – but after that, the rest if up to the viewer to fill in the details for each story.

Bikespiration

The diversity portrayed reflects life choices, lifestyles and just enough identity to glimpse contrasts and associations. It is an interesting choice to provide the job or current activity for each subject as a primary determinate – the juxtaposition between setting, owner and bike – very bikespirational.

The delicious smattering of occupational divisions (community work, hospitality, medicos, commerce, adventurers, even the Mayor, and others ) are a great way to showcase the people, vibrancy, multiplicity and possibilities of living in Memphis.

It gives a unique insight into the Memphis community that I would not otherwise have had. As an outsider, it also makes me curious about Memphis if this is the calibre and characters that live there.

I also love seeing the full range of bike genres represented and seeing what kind of person rides what kind of bike. Stylistically, I like that some of these shots are taken inside and that many of the shots are site-specific and purposefully mirror the individual and bike featured.

See more of Nathan’s work on bikes

So if your mood needs a little lift and you are up for some quality Memphis-based bicycle-inspired art, check out Nathan’s zenfolio, which includes other bicycle photo series such as The Memphis Bike Co.

Here is a small sample of what Project Bike Love entails – see the whole 28 photos here.

Nathan Berry's Project Bike Love
Source: Nathan W Berry. Thomas Elliot and his All City Big Block. TJ is a veteran combat medic in the United States Army, on active reserve after serving in Afghanistan.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. John Payne and his racing cycle. John Payne is a senior financial analyst for Autozone in Memphis. As a member of the Memphis Runner’s Track Club, John competes in all distances including marathon.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Gabe and his Trek 520 touring bike during his stop in Memphis. Having started in Dallas, TX, Gabe is riding cross-country.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Bikesploitation at Sears Crosstown, Memphis, Tn.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Kerry and her Schwinn Collegiate. Kerry is the author of the I Love Memphis blog.

Let your kids Ride2School 2017 – then go to jail!

Ride2School 2017

 

Today is Australia’s National day for Ride2School 2017.

This is a national active school transportation initiative (celebrated elsewhere overseas as well), whereby schools register that their parents, student and teachers will use active school transportation on the day. Active transportation can be by bike, walk, scooter, skateboard or other unmotorised means. The aim is to get more new people involved in active school transport, while equally recognizing the few who do it regularly.

In the 1970s, 8 out of 10 kids rode or walked to school, but today the average is 2 out 10.

Seeing as though it is St Patricks’ Day as well, there were many ‘Green Themed’ school bikes getting around.

Ride2School 2017
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

A Ride2School success

Bourke Street Public School is a wonderful exemplar case study for this annual event. This Sydney school already has one of the highest rates of student active transportation with 80% of its students using active transportation to get to and from school. It is an excellent role model for other schools for how to promoting and maintain safe and healthy walking, cycling, skateboarding and scootering school travel. Today they had a massive festival and parade to show off their decorated bikes – awesome! Great to see school administration really getting behind the event.

Ride2School 2017
Source: Sydney Cycleways

QLD – Parents fined for allowing their kids ride/walk to school

As those of you who are old friends of the blog will know, it was a massive (cycling) culture shock for me going from progressive bicycle-loving Melbourne to archaic police-state Queensland. Queensland authority’s aversion to implementing, supporting and engaging with a range of enterprising cycling initiatives, such a being the National Super Sunday bike track users count or the International Naked Bike Ride to name just two is indicative of the pervasive negative mindset towards cycling and biking.

A case in point.

Today is national Bike2School and many schools in Queensland joined in. I am sure the Queensland parents, teacher and students involved had a lovely day, as did thousands of other schools nationwide.

However, I can’t help but think that Queensland is hypocritical considering it previously fined a single mum for encouraging her kids to use active transportation to school – as well as publicly threatening other parents through a school newsletter no less with similar or more severe punitive measures – including jail.

How quickly we forget!

The story of how this mum was fined made serious headlines just over six months ago – and is quite interesting in light of today’s national celebration.

Essentially, this mum (from Miles, QLD) was charged under section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years’ imprisonment.”

This was done under the guise of keeping ‘kids safe’.

So what is an ‘unreasonable time’ to travel to school? Sounds very subjective and arbitrary to me, something that a police officer would be able to ‘interpret’ depending on the given situation.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE NEWS REPORT OF THIS INCIDENT (sorry, cannot embed it).

Bike2School 2017
Source: The Courier Mail – August 5, 2016 9:14 am.

Queensland……penalising parents for allowing their kids to travel independently to school.

Based on past evidence of Queensland’s stringent autocratic surveillance and control of community (and specifically biking) practices and behaviours and my own experiences of how Queensland authorities’ moderate community regulations and behaviour, I am not surprised that such a contradiction occurred.

There could well have been other mitigating circumstances, but the dismissive lack of regard for justifying and explaining the situation is as equally disturbing as the original fine.

I think it is disgraceful to fearmonger and penalise parents who chose to raise active, healthy, socially-adjusted, independent, responsible kids.

So what is the issue here?

What a pity Queensland police cannot see the bigger picture that parent like the poor Miles mum and Ride@School Day contribute, considering increasing community concerns about the health of today’s youths, or the fact that they are overly “cosseted and chauffeured”, or that the ABC reports alarming children obesity rates, or that there are valid and serious questions being debated about the individual and community impacts of having fewer children riding to school.

I don’t have kids myself, but I am not the only person who found this situation very odd.

An interesting case for Bike2School Day 2017

Today certainly provides some useful material for reflection and discussions friends, locals and school community members.

It is a wonderful opportunity to uncover the wider implications and more nuanced quandaries of the jovial national celebrations underway regarding active school transportation, kids and community participation and mobility – especially within the Queensland context.

Ride2School 2017

Pause to celebrate a series of small successes

A wheelie good week for Bicycles Create Change Blog

As part of my new year goal setting strategy, I made a commitment to celebrate small success. This mechanism is not about attaining milestones and chalking up points, it is primarily a way to practice regular acts of gratitude and to be sure to take the time to enjoy positive results before rushing to move onto the next task.

With this in mind, I very happily acknowledge that this last week has been particularly favourable –  what you might call ‘a good blog week’. Having just dragged myself out of a new year funk, I feel very blessed and excited about the awesome things that happened this week.

An extra good blog week

Here are the top 5 amazing synergies from this week:

  1. This blog’s readership broke over 1,000 readers per day
  2. Through the blog network, a Casey City Council Representative asked permission to repost onto the council Facebook page my blog post about the Boys Backyard MTB Track from 26th Feb (CCC has been awarded $2.9m for a new BMX Complex and Cycling Precinct and like the idea that local riders of various skills and ages knew what they wanted from their cycling infrastructure – grassroots example of community consultation!).
  3. I was contacted through via blog comments, by an international academic regarding some of their research that has been featured on the blog (some of the most popular posts too!) and we have been emailing since.
  4. A local business asked if I could display my blog’s business cards at their counter. They loved the idea of the blog and wanted to support me and promote more locals to participate in active transportation.
  5. I was featured in Griffith University’s EPS weekly internal newsletter ‘Hot off the Press’. Each week a different personality is approached to be ‘introduced’. It required answering 7 standards questions – the result of which is displayed below. Since it has been distributed, I have had people come up and say how much they liked it and that they would check out the blog and other super supportive comments.

A wheelie good blog week

A super happy week!

Individually, each of these events is a lovely thing to happen, but collectively, it has been fantastic.

It feels good to be recognised for the work I do on the blog, it is not always easy. It is also great that people are now reaching out to contact and connect with me. It has also been great to get some feedback, share ideas and have some two-way interaction with other like minded people – seems like everyone is a bike advocate now!

This week has been very memorable as it is the culmination of lots of (enjoyable) hard work. It is wonderful to have people responding so positively to the blog. This week has been a massive confidence boost and injected me with a healthy shot of motivation. It has been a very unexpected, humbling and exciting week.

Thank you to the regular readers and welcome to the newbies!

A massive and sincere thank you to all those who have contacted, supported and encouraged me thus far.

And to those new friends who are more recent visitors to the blog – welcome to the community and enjoy!

Wyn Masters and Muffin take on Tassie Tracks

Ryan de La Rue – The Coming of a Champion

I was delighted to see that yesterday Pinkbike featured the below video of Ryan De La Rue (aka Muffin) and Wyn Masters on their main page video feed.

I know Ryan from back in the day racing Gravity Enduro in Victoria and have seen him around since at events like the Cairns World Cup. He was often away working for World Trails, but whenever we catch up, I’m always struck by his calm and relaxed personality and have thoroughly enjoyed his company.

I am spoilt by having exceptionally top quality men to socialise and race with – and Ryan is firmly in that group. He is honest, smart and genuine. I really appreciate that he doesn’t get sucked into the trash talk or ego/bike driven comparisons that many riders can get swept up into at race meets. This is all aside from the fact that he is wicked nimble on a bike and regularly has the Elite Men’s field crapping their pants.

So I could not be more pleased that he is getting more exposure and acknowledgement that he so rightly deserves. To me, Ryan has always been a champion rider. I’ve always appreciated that Ryan is accepting of all types of people and his ability to hold a meaningful and interesting conversation that is not about bikes for longer than 10 minutes – a rare skill at a mountain biking event indeed! I like how he is always himself and is just well…normal!

As an older female rider, I am very grateful for the presence of such strong and reliable men – not just at bikes races, but also within the wider community. In such a male-dominated sport, these men are wonderful advocates for the sport. Thier participation is invaluable as positive role models for other/younger riders and as ambassadors for inclusionary, quality, fun and skilled riding for all.

You know those guys…

Many of us who have been around the Downhill and MTB racing scene for a while have seen the various ways that all manner of men navigate their way into and around the racing circuit.  You are probably familiar with the full range of shit-hot rider characteristics being displayed at various times; bravardo, cocky, arrogant, composed, competitive, conviction, serene, smug and over confident.

I understand race-day jitters and the need to stay focused, but after the event is over – that is when the authentic champions really shine. I’m talking about the riders who go the extra mile like make an effort to chat to new people, stick around to cheer other riders on, takes the time to thank organisers and volunteers. These are the few classy riders who can think outside of themselves and who positively contribute to events and the biking community instead of just taking. In my eyes, these are the real champions.

What makes a true ‘champion rider’?

I agree that riders need a certain element of self-belief in order to ride hard and at their limit – so there is certainly a place for thinking positive and being assertive about your riding. However, there is a definite line between being confident on the bike, and being a wanker about being confident on the bike or just being a wanker who can ride a bike. As I have written about elsewhere, I maintain that the substance of a rider off the bike is just as important (if not more) as his ability to ride fast.

Thankfully, there are riders like Muffin and a handful of others like Jared Graves, Dan McMunn, Troy Brosnan, Kaine Cannon and Chris Pannozo who are truly ‘champion riders’ as they consistently prove through their words and deeds, that they are men of substance – as well as being bloody quick and stylish on a bike.

Best of luck Ryan!

So, for these reasons and more, I am thrilled to see Ryan gaining more national and international exposure for all the time, hard work and passion that he puts into his trial building work and his riding.

If you have the good fortune of meeting or riding with Ryan – have a chat with him and see if I’m at all mistaken …. that’s if you can catch him! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

I expect we will be hearing a lot more about Ryan’s successful exploits in the near future.

Best of luck Ryan! Rip their legs off mate!

Follow Muffin on his adventures

Instagram: @rdlr

Facebook: Ryan De La Rue

See more of Muffin’s video adventures on and off the bike here.

International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day  – A quiet ride to celebrate.

I have just returned back from celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD). It is late now, just past midnight in fact, so technically it is the day after IWD. I’m late as I had spent the afternoon and evening going for a wonderful IWD ride. So before my IWD night officially ends, I thought I would put up a quick considerations to mark the occasion.

International Women’s Day Background

For those who don’t know, International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

International Women’s Day has a long history in the West dating back to 1909. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly made the holiday globally recognized by inviting member states to declare March 8 a day for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Since then, the UN creates an annual theme for International Women’s Day. Today also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and the theme for this year is Be Bold For Change.

This day is important for many reasons, but  with the World Economic Forum prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, the struggles of many women in disadvantaged situations is more acute than ever.

Therefore, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to raise positively contribute to

  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you’ll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

I got a real kick out of reading Peter Zheutlin’s article about his amazing great great-aunt Annie Cohen Kopchovsky’s ride way back in 1895 and the legacy that this event has had since in helping women to break boundaries – inspirational!

Another historical piece by fellow bike Blogger Nicola from Women Who Cycle offered some insightful comments when considering the impact and connections between bicycles and specifically American women (based on a Wisconsin stimulus).

 

International Women's Day
Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

IWD is not all about women – it is equally important that our brothers and the gorgeous men in our lives are also recognised! In fact some of the most staunch feminists I know are men.

There are many places to find out what is on this IWD. Some people offer ideas such as hosting your own events, for others who might want time alone or to be with friends, there are numerous suggestions on ways you can celebrate and share the day.

International Women's Day

How are riders around the world celebrating International Women’s Day 2017?

For the cycling community, regardless of what gender you are  – IWD guarantees a plethora of events, celebrations, awards and all kinds of reasons to get together for a ride – for example:

  • There were celebrations and rides all over the world, although coverage of these reports varied in detail and depth for example Malaysia, India and  the UK.  There was also a massive march in New York City, which some friends of mine attended and said they saw a large cycling cohort represented – hooray!
  • More locally, the Bushrangers MTB Club celebrated more women registering in the club than ever before.
International Women's Day 2017
Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

Personally, I celebrated International Women’s Day 2017 in low-key style. This year I wanted to mark the day with simplicity, gratitude and in a way that acknowledged the ordinary and everyday.

Instead of going to a big event, I opted instead to take a solo ride along the coastline and have time to reflect. For me, this was a more honest and personal way to ruminate and commemorate on the processes of womens’ struggles.

As I rode, I thought about my life and the lives of others.

I thought about the current situation of fellow sisters throughout the world, the amazing progress the world has made and areas that still need improving. I thought about how I impact the world, and how I felt I was making a difference and where I though we needed more change.

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

I watched the bay and listened to the lapping of the waves. It was a stunning afternoon. The ocean breeze was cool and reassuring, the sunset spectacular and full of promise for the next day and I was very grateful to be alive and riding my bike.

What did you do to commemorate this day?

What ever it was – Happy International Women’s Day!

Reflections on bicycles from a ‘non-rider’

How can bicycles impact the lives of Non-riders?

Reflections from a Colombian ‘non-rider’.

 

This guest post is by Diana Vallejo. Diana works at Griffith University as a Client Services Officer. She is originally from Colombia, but she and her husband have been in Australia for a number of years now. I met Diana through work and adore her Latino spunkiness, honesty and vibrant approach to life. I asked Diana to write a blog post about her experience with bicycles after she had described herself very resolutely as ‘NOT a bike rider at all’. I was intrigued. In what way are bicycles represented in the life of a non-rider? Are there ‘invisible’ bicycle connections that non-riders are just not as conscious of, and how far/deep do you have to go before these links are excavated and made ‘visible’. I am always keen to explore a variety of voices and experiences regarding how different people relate to bicycles –and not just bike riders. So I asked her to contribute her thoughts considering her identity ‘as a non-rider’ and challenged her to see how, if at all, bicycles had impacted her life. Following is an excerpt of what she found. – Nina.


Bicycles? I haven’t really thought about them that much…

For me, bicycles are so mundane, so common and simple.

I was not able to see what the great deal is about a mundane bicycle. Until one day I was talking to Nina about how much she loves bicycles and then I found myself very excited just talking about it from some different perspectives.  I would not necessarily have recognised my own connections to bikes (out of sight, out of mind), but during our conversation I was presented with questions like: ‘Well, even though you don’t ride a bike now, you must have some experience with bikes in the past or growing up – what is/was it and how do you feel about them now? How do you remember bikes featuring in your life? How are they being used in your home country?’ I was surprised to be excited about how much I actually had in common with bicycles, despite the fact that I am not at all a ‘cyclist’.

So, to my surprise, I was able to very quickly make three very immediate and reaffirming associations with how bicycles have been linked to me personally, or through my identity – a revelation which surprised me.

  1. My first bike.

Even though I am not crazy about bikes, I can tell you everything about my first bicycle. Funny that! Was it a present from Santa Claus…(or in my case, because of where I come from – a staunchly Catholic community) – was it a Baby Jesus present? Don’t even try to make me explain to you how new born babies bring all the Christmas presents to all those homes! But nonetheless, there was my present – and I remember it vividly.

It is unbelievable how I can still remember every detail of that first bike. I can remember it better that my first doll or my first kiss! It had a green frame and white wheels. It was so beautiful – and fast! I spent some many afternoons on it. I made many friends riding it, and that bike holds for me some of my best memories from my childhood. My first, personal and immediate connection with bicycles.

  1. One bike, one dream, more than one life changed.

But for some other people, this may only be a wish, or even a dream. The second association I can make is through my national identity. I am from Colombia and we have one of the best cyclists in the world, Nairo Quintana. He was raised in a family with economic difficulties where a bicycle was a luxury.  He lived in a small village 16 kilometres from the nearest school. His father saved $30 USD to buy him a used mountain bike. He said once “I treasured it and every time I rode it, I pictured myself racing and winning” – and he did! His best career results are winning the 2014 Giro d’Italia, 2016 Vuelta a España, and 2nd place overall in the Tour de France of 2013 and in 2015. Nairo changed his world thanks to a bicycle. His story and fame gives hope to Colombians and some any others. As an individual he is a national hero, and internationally, he is known and respected. We are proud that cyclists and non-cyclists alike know of his achievements on the humble bicycle.

Nairo Quintana
Source: BBC Onesport
  1. Rough tracks and new beginnings with bicycles for Colombia students

 Postobon partnership Bike Program

On a national level, bicycles are well known in Colombia as being an instrument of social transformation. Another beautiful way Colombians utilise bicycles is through a very well-known bicycle donation program that gets more rural poor children to go to school. This program is via a partnership with Postobon (#1 Soft drink company in Columbia) and World Bicycle Relief – called Mi Bici. I have heard the CEO of Postobon saying that “bicycles are an engine for social transformation, impacting in a positive way”.

This program gives kids bicycles designed especially for the rough Colombian terrain. In some parts of rural Colombia, kids can spend between 45 minutes and two hours travelling to and from school. Sometimes the students cannot afford buses, and the walk can be dangerous and exhausting. Bicycles can reduce most of these trips to about 20 to 30 minutes. But for many of these kids, it is more than just time that is improved by having these bicycles.

More about WBR’s Mi Bici Bike

Why do I believe this is a great program? This is a great program because it is a sustainable program and it allows the kids to have time to rest, exercise, study. This will increase their possibility for a better future. But most importantly for me, this program allows recipients to have more free time to be kids and play!

The Mi Bici Project was WBR’s first foray into Latin America. Just like WBR’s African Buffalo Bicycles, the Latin American bicycles also have a high resistance to environmental forces and tough terrain and a capacity to carry 100 kgs. Also, the seats are ergonomic, frames are reinforced, the wheels are protected, and the breaks are resistant to the weather. This makes the bikes very durable and they are easy to change.

The program also generated jobs for local small businesses and mechanics who are trained to service the bicycles. This has opened up a new employment stream in areas where bikes are distributed, where there is a need for maintenance services and repairs. All this has also been possible thanks to World Bicycle Relief (WBR). WBR were invited to be part of this program because of their experience with similar programs in Africa through their Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP).

So yes there is no doubt in my mind that bicycles can change the world! Or at least they are for these kids that are receiving them!

This video introduces a girls who has received a Mi Bici Project bike.

Round 1: Garapine – 2017 Shimano Enduro Series

Well, after two weeks in Melbourne, it’s back to Brisbane and back on the bike. This weekend was Round 1 of the 2017 Shimano Enduro Series. It was at Garapine and although tired and not ride fit, I wanted to make the effort to support the event, my team and get back on the big bike.

Round 1: Garapine – 2017 Shimano Enduro Series

Despite a heavy commitment to uni for teaching and researching, I’ve committed to riding this series. I like the regularity of rounds and I look forward to them, even though I find the riding tough and I am not competitive as a racer, I derive great personal satisfaction as a rider and from challenging myself. Suffice to say, I can now more fully appreciate why there are not may academics my age riding Enduro!

See some more pictures from the day @bicycles_create_change or at the Instagram icon at the end of the post.

Changing from Masters to Elite – why?

It was a great day and I love riding the Garapine trails. This season is a little different from last year as I am registered in Elite and not Masters. As I am riding as an ambassador, I pose threat to the lead female riders and prefer to ride where there is more company – hence the change over from Masters. It is such a pity there are not enough older women Enduro riding to fill out all the divisions like Masters Female – where are you all, my fellow elder sisters?  I am more than happy to participate and make up extra numbers. In my view, there can be no genuine winners unless riders like me make up the rest of field – so I am providing a very valuable race day community service by filling out this division.

 

How was the day?

Registration was at 8, briefing at 9 and racing commencing at 10 am.  I presume the logic of the late race start is because Garapine is just under 2 hours from Brisbane and starting later will allow for as many riders to attend as to travel up and attend as possible. But equally, it also meant that we had 3.5 hours to complete 6 tracks within the time limit –  2 x Black Snake, 2 x King Brown, 1 x Blue and 1 x Dumb it Down.

Ordinarily, this was not a major issue, but on this particular day,  it meant riding in the heat of a very hot day. This was definitely a contributing factor for me as I’m still adjusting to Brisbane’s humidity and scorching summer heat, let alone riding bikes up and down in a full-face helmet and pads. But that is part of the beauty of race days – and the challenge – everyone else had to deal with the same conditions.

 

What was my approach?

Taking into account the heat, my physical tiredness and that this was the first time I had been back on my big bike ‘Trucka-sore-arse’, in nearly two months I decided that my approach for this round was to:

  1. Enjoy myself
  2. Ride at my own pace
  3. Use this as an opportunity to assess my hydration/food/exertion formula for effectiveness
  4. Focus on honing my psychological approach to riding this race and not pushing my physical skills to the max (ie. keep positive, monitor negative self-talk, maintain humour and sociability in the face of heat/tiredness, check to see what limiting thoughts come up and address them).

Track selection

It was a self- seeding, self-selecting round, meaning that as soon as a rider had started on their first track they then could choose in what order and when they wanted to complete the course.  I didn’t go crazy on the timed downhill stages, in fact, I was very reserved, just testing the waters. I rode two Black Snakes first. It is such a great track and I super enjoyed it, so my confidence was up. By the end of the third track I could feel my lack of fitness and the heat starting to take it toll – but I was mindful to keep any debilitating thoughts in check. I keep drinking water and eating and made an effort to keep moving. By my last trail I was thoroughly pooped. I left Dumb it Down til last, but the track was so blown out and chopped up that it was difficult to navigate and make any real headway, so I picked my way through, just happy to finish in time.

Also, I was conscious that I didn’t want to hold up the elite field who were ‘racing’ – it was an EWS qualifying round after all. I was happy to pull over on track and let others pass where, even though it slowed me down and in some cases, I stopped and got right off track for a few guys who were really careering on course. It was the right thing to do and getting my momentum back up was secondary to being safe, having fun and not over cooking myself. After all, it was a long, hot day and I still had to drive 2 hours home after the race.

How did other riders go?

The Defcon crew were amazingly supportive as usual. We had some good laughs, caught up on post-new year developments and generally had a blast. I had a few good chats with some other riders as we liaised back up the hills and I was happy that I looked after myself and was not suffering like other riders were. Taking the approach of focusing on my mental state paid dividends. I was able to genuinely remain positive and friendly throughout the day. I was in a much better frame of mind than quite a few other riders I saw suffering and complaining – and a few were really quite sick from heatstroke/dehydration. It stopped to help where I could offering water and food.

I have always been fascinated by how different people face the inherent difficulties of a physical challenge. I often wonder, given the immense and immediate benefits, why some athletes don’t train their minds and much as they do their bodies. It certainly helped me get through the day better.

Overall

I was very happy with my effort on the day. It was a great set up and I got to ride some of my favourite tracks. It had a great turn out with 300 riders. Some of the elite riders were really going for it on the day – as you can see from the results. I was able to catch up with a few mates I haven’t seen in ages – and it was great to see some other familiar faces as well. As an Australia EWS qualifier, I was half expecting to see Jared Graves and Richie Rude, but alas my plans to catch up with them were not to be. I can’t believe it has been nearly 2 years since I last chatted with them during the 2015 EWS season – boy how time flies!

Overall, I found the day to be quite physically draining, but that made it all the more satisfying. I’ll be buggered if I’m going to waste the opportunity to ride my bike with mates and have fun.

I’m looking forward to the next round!!

A massive thanks to Lachlan Ryan (and Co.) from Element for providing some great photos and this video on the day. It was awesome to see such a great variety of rider, divisions, ages, genders and skill levels being represented – kudos!

Yep- that’s yours truly yahooing in the video at 1’18”!

Defcon Team
Source: Element. The Defcon Team – me (4th from left) with my awesome teammates