Get-A-Grip (Pedal Pushers BC)

Are you a bike lover and in Brisbane tomorrow (Sat 16th September)?

Want to see some kool bikes?

Like Low-riders? Kustoms? Vintage? Rusty Rats? Something a  lil’ different?

If so, grab ya bike and a mate and head down to this event!

Below are a few details to get you started.

Leki and I’ll be attending.

The next post will let you know how it all went.

Find out more at Pedal Pushers BC  Facebook.

See you there – crazy kids!

Other details from the Pedal Pushers BC are:

Schedule

10am         Registrations start
10:30am  Quick speech on details ect
11:30am   Registrations close
1-1:30pm  Peoples choice closes
2pm           Trophy presentations

These are approx. times as its our first show and we’re still getting into the swing of things.

Between these times we can mingle and meet others and talk bikes for the day.

Few key points to keep in mind are:
*when you arrive just come over to the rego marquee and fill out paperwork and we’ll give you all the info you need
*if you arrive after rego closes you are still welcome to display bikes, but they wont be eligible for trophys
*all trophy winners must be present to win,  if not it will go to next in line!!
*please use your peoples choice to vote for a bike you like and not your own as if everyone votes for there own bike then no one wins.
* judges bikes will not be up for any awards as its a conflict of interest.
* any questions on the day, just come up to one of us wearing a pedal pushers shirt and we’ll help out as best we can.
*its a public park so we can’t be held responsible for any damages to property but if we all show some respect for others property and keep a look out then there won’t be any problems.
*please use bins provided
*most of all….enjoy the day and meet some like-minded people!!

See you there!

Images: Pedal Pushers BC Facebook.

Bikes in Libraries

 

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
CB Regional Library

More bikes in libraries, please!!

Public libraries are a major hub for many communities.  When I presented at the Australian National Walking and Cycling Conference in Adelaide in July, I suggested local libraries are an ideal location to integrate bicycles more into the daily community experience.

My approach was slightly subversive.

Instead of building massive expensive road transportation infrastructure to try and get more people cycling (Herculean effort!), smaller actions could be taken to ingratiate bicycles (not cycling) more into the everyday community experience. This kind of low-key familiarity and regular exposure to bikes would be ‘just part of the everyday experience’ for people. That is where I see bicycles become more socially accepted, especially by non-cycling people. This is where positive social change and greater community acceptance of bikes could be made.

So how can you start with libraries?

My suggestion was to decorate a series of bicycles in book genres. As an example I used my art bikes to help explain.

This is easily done. Decorate one bike as Romance, another with Cooking, another as Sci-Fi, Crime, Thriller….well…..you get the picture! Alternatively, you can use another theme, event or ‘International Day of the X’ ….or the library can come up with their own idea.

In any case, once decorated, each bike has a rack (bookshelf) hanging from it that offers books in the genre/theme.

There are add-on bonuses you can apply as well, like host a preceding community event to theme decorate the bikes.

As a case in point – I was delighted to see a variation of this suggestion already being enacted during the last fortnight as it was  …

Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.

The last week in August was Australian Children’s Book Week 2017.

One of the winning books this year is called The Patchwork Bike by Van T. Rudd.

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Winners 2017

That means more bikes were in libraries! Woopee!

I was delighted to see a full bike related promotion featuring this event and The Patchwork Bike at my local library. This is what you saw as soon as you entered the main front door:

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Wynnym Library, QLD.

I love the bike and books – it is such a great combo.

It was a total coincidence that the children’s book Granny, Wait for Me! was featured on this blog in a recent post.

I saw some posters used by various Queensland schools promoting Children’s Book Week 2017 that also featured  bicycles – this one is my special favourite as it also had a spunky redheaded rider (more redheaded bike riders, please!! See Ginger Rally here):

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Saint Andrews Anglican College QLD

Some super progressive libraries have gone one step further.

At some rare University libraries, you can find reading bikes (below) where you can study and cycle. To date I have not seen these in any Australian libraries – if you have, please let me know!

These bike instalments have scientifically proven to significant positive impacts in learning/academic results, health outcomes and future livelihoods. A brilliant foray into this is the first chapter of John Matey’s  book SPARK. It is an incredible read about how bicycles and exercise is having a significant impact on turning around the lives for hundreds of US students – especially those from low-socioeconomic schools. Awesome stuff!

Grab a copy of Spark from your local library – and ask them when they are installing a bike reading station while you are there!!

Bikes in Libraries - Bicycles Create Change.com
Troy Uni Library, USA.

There are so many ways that bicycles can contribute and add value to readers, students and the general public.

Whether it is Children’s Book Week or not, it has been great to see bikes having a greater presence in libraries. It would be great to see bikes become a regular fixture within libraries, not just for special events.

I hope that there will be more creative and progressive integration of bicycles in more local, university and state libraries.

Until then – I have enjoyed seeing more bicycles being happily displayed in libraries to celebrate Children’s Book Week 2017.

Congrats to The Patchwork Bike for being one of this year’s winners!

Riding ‘The Big Push’

This time last week, I headed in the afternoon with Leki into Brisbane city to participate riding ‘The Big Push for Road Safety’ event hosted by Space for Cycling (BNE).

It was an awesome event!

All the riders gathered in town where there were some speeches and time to socialise. It was great to see so many different types of bikes, and there were lots of kids, dogs in baskets, colours and smiles abound.

Then we had a lovely slow roll around town.

What happened while riding ‘The Big Push’?

There were constantly bells ringing happily, often punctuated by laughter and the constant ripple of riders chatting. I made sure to have a chat to the people I found myself riding alongside.

As we rode, I saw riders introducing themselves, passing compliments and sharing a few jokes. I saw pedestrians stop to wave and cheer encouragement. I saw riders trying to coax people out of cars with a laugh as we waited for red lights to change.

When we stopped, you could see the bike column snaking away ahead and behind – it looked amazing!

There were many active souls there that had upcoming bike related events- it was a wonderful opportunity to hear what was going on and link to the Brisbane bike scene.

I rode most of the way home next to an awesome couple on a tandem. It just so happened I was wearing my ‘I love tandem’ t-shirt! They were great company and had rigged up a massive speaker on their back wheel and were cranking out some funky riding tunes to keep us all bopping happily along! GOLD!

What a relaxed, fun and a social way to advocate for better urban cycling!

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

During our ride stopped off for a quick photo out the front of Parliment House, Brisbane.

The pubs were filled with Mayweather vs McGregor fight fans, so it was an added bonus passing open windows and hearing the cheering emanating from inside. Once the fight concluded, the pubs we passed were still packed, so we have a very jovial and supportive audience as we rode past.

I had to ring all my bells extra hard to match their happy cheering!

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

One of the highlights of the day for me was sticking around after the ride.

As others filtered away, it was an opportunity for me to chat with the custom low-rider crew (see photos below).

The range and style of their fleet is impressive and their owners happy to chat bikes. Each bike is personalised to suit the owner and it was great to see the multicultural, multi-age mix of low riders.

I accepted an invitation to ride one and was immediately smitten!

These low rider bikes are so comfortable and very cool to ride.

We chatted for a while, and they told me about an upcoming bike event they are hosting next month, which I am very keen to attend.

We exchanged contact details and am looking forward to spending some more time with these Kool Katz! Meeting them was an even better bonus on the day.

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The Big Push for Road Safety - Bicycles Create Change.com

The event made the TV news on various channels, which was great for spreading the word. An unfortunate, but timely reminder given that  five cyclists were involved in a road accident just two days prior.

The day was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Congrats to all who made an effort to go and big kudos to the organisers!

Images: Taken on the day are either my own or from Space for Cycling BNE Facebook page.

Chicks in the Sticks 2017

Yesterday was a very busy biking day! Early morning saw me visiting the Chicks in the Sticks 2017 (all-female MTB event) at Mt Cotton, followed by The Big Push for Road Safety social ride in Brisbane city in the afternoon. This post is a brief run down of the Chicks in the Sticks event – Big Push post will be next!


Chicks in the Sticks 2017.

This event is Australia’s largest “Women’s Only” 3hr Mountain Bike Endurance race. It is hosted by the Rats Cycling Club and was held at Karingal Scout Camp (Mt Cotton, QLD). Last year I rode in this event and had an awesome time, this year I went as support. This event is one of my favourite in the riding calendar, and I always make an effort to go.

Why? Because it is ALWAYS a good day!

It was a beautiful morning and there was a great turn out. When I arrived at the race village, it was full of colour and bustling with the movement of families, kids and riders milling about, people catching up, preparations being made and checking bikes over.

The race village has a few extra additions this year, like a designated kids pop-up nature play area that was filled with games and activities for the families and kids that had come along for the day.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with mates, take some photos and wish the riders well.

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

It was great to see so many riders. I was particularly excited to see the range of ages. When I used to ride Enduro, one aspect that was most lacking for me what the low female participation rates in general, but particularly for women over 35. So I was thrilled to be in an environment where, for one MTB event at least, that this category was well above the norm! Hooray!

There were also lots of random giveaways and some great podium prizes. I  appreciate that this event encourages participants to dress up if they want to  – which adds an extra flair, colour and enjoyment to the ride.

Here were a couple of my favourites:

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

Chicks in the Sticks 2017 - Bicycles Create Change

The first event of the day was the Little Chicks in the Sticks ages 5-11 and 12-16 who had their own race before the main field took off at 9 am. As I was not riding this year, it was an opportunity to take some photos and videos, which was a new experience as I am usually in the ride, not watching from the sidelines! See my race start video at the end of this post.

Although I didn’t stay til the end, I had an awesome morning soaking up the colourful, happy vibe. I cheered on the riders, chatted to families who had ‘come to support mum’, checked out some of the new stock at the team tents and had a thoroughly lovely time.

A good day was had by all!

I was really inspired by the riders who participated ‘up the back’ of the pack – those who were being brave and gave MTB a go – some of them for the very first time. It was great to hear how many people had come after being ‘invited by a mate’ to come and try – people who would normally not have tried riding off-road being encouraged my a female rider-friend to give it a go. They were my favourite stories to hear. It takes a lot of guts!

This event is a wonderful example that it is possible to run a competitive MTB that caters for serious racers, as well as for those who are just starting out, want more off-road experience or who are there just to have fun. 

If you are keen to give it a go for next year, or know of someone you think might be interested, there are many different categories to participate in..

Chicks in the Sticks 2017

I tip my hat to the organisers who worked incredibly hard to make this day such a success.

A big congrats to all the riders who participated – you all did so well!

All the families and supporters who came as well made the day even better!

It was a brilliant event and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

See you there!

The Big Push for Road Safety

Next Sunday (27th August), Space for Cycling Brisbane is hosting The Big Push for Road Safety ride. This is a well-timed event as it coincides with Queensland’s Road Safety Week.

From the information provided online, this event is a proactive, peaceful and family-friendly reminder from all manner of Brisbane cyclists to policy-makers for cycling to be featured  prominently in Brisbane policy and infrastructure development.

What is The Big Push for Road Safety ?

The Big Push for Road Safety Facebook page describes the event as: “Speaking up for road safety’ and riding for Queensland Road Safety Week. Join us as we once again take a ride through the CBD asking for safe streets for people on bikes. Meet at Kurilpa Point Park under the Kurilpa Bridge at 2.00pm for a 2.30pm roll, we will ride over Victoria Bridge and complete a loop around the city before returning to our start point.   Bring your family, bring your friends, bring your neighbours who haven’t taken their bike out of the garage for years….the more people who ride the stronger the message.”

Space for Cycling is an international organization with chapters in many major cities and is a non-for profit cycling advocacy group. This means that the organisation is where ‘Brisbane’s bicycle user groups and community cycling organisations have come together to create and work toward a vision for Brisbane where it is easy, convenient, and safe for people of all ages and abilities to ride a bicycle to their destination’.  Activities undertaken by the Brisbane chapter include campaigns such as writing to your local councillor, attending local council meetings, keeping the general public informed of developments and organising community bike events.

They have also been tracking key cycling measures and progress on locations such as the Sylvan Road trial, Ipswich motorway connection and the Boggo Road Station – all of which are high-volume, high-interest developments for Brisbane cyclists.

Space for Cycling Brisbane held a similar event (of the same name) earlier this year in April. This ride was held on a glorious sunny day and drew a good turn out as seen in the pictures below and more here.

The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).
The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).
The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change
Source: Space for Cycling (BNE). The Big Push for Riding (April, 2017).

It makes good sense for this event to happen now also to capitalize on the current media interest and publicity surrounding recent road planning, shared road infrastructure and access and the urban cycling agenda.

Queensland Police marketing the Queensland Road Safety Week

It is interesting to see the Queensland Police marketing for the Queensland Road Safety Week.  This week is posited on the offical Police website as begin a  ‘chance for all Queenslanders to get involved in making our roads safer’ and that the initiative is ‘encouraging active participation’ for the weeks central theme of “Speaking up for road safety”. To this end, the police state that they are ‘encouraging the whole community to have their say on road safety. Communities, schools and workplaces are encouraged to support the week by hosting local events or sharing road safety information among staff, students, colleagues, family and friends’.

There are lots of official police and government sanctioned modes to ‘have your say and get involved’ on the offical website, so it makes me wonder just how ‘encouraging of the WHOLE community’ outside of participating int he competitions this week really is-and  to what degree ‘alternative views’ of transportation and those of critics are ‘encouraged to participate’.

I say this as I am still embarrassed about how Queensland authorities/police have previously handled other progressive community cycling events – such as the WNBR, or the Super Sunday Count or even the Ride-to-school Day. In each of these three cases, the police ended up clamping down and responding with such putative measures (Ride-to School) or just flat out refused to even let the event  happen in the first place (WNBR – only city in the world that was scheduled to, but did not participate – shame!!.. or in the case of the Super Sunday Count no mainland Brisbane council has even bothered to be register (only Whitsundays of goodness sake!) that the message for other thriving community driven bike events is loud and clear ….you can have your bikes, but don’t get too vocal, creative, organised or public about it. I am sure nothing of the sort will happen for next weekend’s The Big Push for Road Safety. I mention this here merely to justify my suspicion when faced with the hyperbolic use of marketing catch-phrase expressions such as  the Police saying ‘we want EVERYONE to have their SAY’ and that they are ‘encouraging of the WHOLE community to GET INVOLVED’ …..I think……..mmmmm, REALLY??

Why will this event be great to go to?

I also like that this is a repeat event. It is a great way to piggy-back on the last event and get some of the same people returning- as well as inviting some new people to get involved as well.

With this in mind, I think next week’s event is a wonderful forum to get the pro-cycling agenda out and into the wider public experience..  It is so obviously non-threatening given the normalcy, fun, family, and overall localised and relaxed vibe for the ride. It will also be a great snapshot of Brisbane’s range of riders and a great showcase for the diversity in bikes, ages, skills, confidence, abilities,  purposes and approaches to riding in and around Brisbane.

I’ve always been a big proponent for community ‘protests’ that include colour, fun, kids, dogs, bikes and music. It is hard to get angry, argumentative and putative with little kids in rainbow jumpers sitting happily in bike trolleys, listening to ‘Dancing in the Street’ while holding fluffy white puppies! (Aww bless. Viva la revolution!!)

For these reasons and more, I am very much looking forward to attending this ride with Leki.

If you happen to be in Brisbane – see you there!!

The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change

Ben’s Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

This guest post comes courtesy of the unfailingly intrepid and seemingly inexhaustable Cass from While out Riding. Cass has been riding for many years and started While out Riding to document his massive exploratory backcountry bike tour which began in Alaska, June 2009. His blog chronicles this trip (which concluded in 2014) and many subsequent riding adventures. His blog is filled with all manner of biking interests, insights and inspirations and is an endless source of biking delight.

This post comes from a stop he made while riding South America in 2012. I found Cass’s blog while searching for community bike projects in South America. I contacted Cass to ask if I could reprint this post as I was impressed by the detail, respect and support his writing exuded for Ben’s local grassroots bike operation and the positive impact Ben was creating in his local rural community. Cass was very happy for me to repost this story and I am thrilled to share it here. Find out more about Cass and his adventures at his blog While out Riding.

Thanks Cass! We can’t wait to see more of your work – happy riding!


I recently had the good fortune to meet Ben, a Peace Corps volunteer living in the Cordillera Blanca. I’d heard about the grassroots ‘bike co-op’ he’d set up in his caserio – a pinprick of a village by the name of Shirapucro – from another PC volunteer on the road to Cajamarca, a few weeks back.

Ben lives up in the shadow of mighty Huascaran, some thirty kilometres from Huaraz – half of which are dirt, and steep ones at that. As a member of the Peace Corps, he’s posted to Peru for two years, earning local wages during that time. In Ben’s case, his work involves promoting environmental issues. He lives in a small, adobe house with his wife, Katie, also a Peace Corps volunteer, working in healthcare.

A dedicated believer in bicycle co-ops – a space that provides communities with access to the relevant tools, and knowhow, to keep their bicycles in cheap working order (the antithesis to the exclusive, high end bike shop) – he soon went about setting up his own. The impetus came after noticing the state of disrepair typical to most bikes in the area, and the way kids hurtled down the lumpy dirt roads outside his house, often returning with scrapes and bruises on their way back up.

His idea was a simple one: to encourage the children in his village to look after their bicycles, by learning to spot subtle issues before they became glaring problems, arming them with the knowledge to make the necessary repairs, and eventually the confidence to help others too.

Yet despite its simplicity, it’s a startling project. Humble in its execution but magnificent in its vision, in the last few months he’s set up a tiered bicycle maintenance program (from novice to maestro) that now draws a steady flow of local kids, three times a week in the afternoons, to his makeshift workshop. Under a corrugated roof (protection from the high altitude sun in the dry season and powershower rains in the wet season), he teaches anyone who’s interested to learn: everything from positioning a saddle or repairing, to the finer arts of adjusting derailleurs, truing wheels and maintaining hub bearings. Bicycle safety also plays a part in his courses, with a a small test track nearby to teach bike handling skills. In doing all this, the knock on effect is that he’s encouraging people to bicycle, giving it due importance and respect within the community.

Ben hopes news of this barebones co-op will spread to neighbouring villages – already it seems to be doing just that – so that by the time his two years in Peru are up, he leaves behind a community of children and young adults who know both how to ride their bicycles safely, and maintain them for years to come. Hopefully someone will take over the mantle when he leaves.

His budget is small and resources are limited, so if anyone has anything they’d be happy to put in the post – chainbreaks and other specialist bicycle tools are sought after items (the local versions leave much to be desired) – see below for details. And please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested in helping out.

1 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

2 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

3 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

4 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

5 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

6 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

7 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru

8 Bicycles Create Change Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

9 Bicycles Create Change Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

10 Bicycles Create Change Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

11 Bicycles Create Change: Ben's Bici Cooperativa (Peru)

The Need to Know Bit:

Got some spare parts/tools you’re happy to pop in the post? If you can forward this link to anyone who might be interested, that would be great too.

Update: Ben can be reached at:  bdmasters at gmail dot com

Postal address is: Ben Masters, PCV. Casilla Postal 277. Serpost. Huaraz, Ancash. Peru.

Ben visits Huaraz every couple of weeks or so to check email; it’s probably best to contact him first before posting anything. I passed the message on and he was stoked there had been interest.

 

Riding for Rescues

Regular Bicycles Create Change readers know I am a ‘dog-person’ – as many of us are.

I have a trail dog, Zoe (who is the best MTB partner EVER!)  and my Instagram #Bikes_CISTA initiative involves celebrating local riders with their pooches and bikes.

A while ago, I posted the adventures of little Xiaosa, the tiny stray dog that joined a team of riders on a 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet  and became an internet sensation – it is such a sweet little story!

…so, I am delighted to see the US-based Riding for Rescues, inviting other riders to put their cycling kms towards supporting animals in need.

It is also great to see an alternative cycling fundraiser that is not the large-scale, long-distance  charity,  road-riding fundraiser – that model has been totally (over)done!

What is Riding for Rescues?

Riding for Rescues in affiliated with Running for Rescues – both of which raise money to help, rescue and sponsor animals to get them out of a high-kill shelter and be re-homed instead of being put down.

To date, they have rescued over 40 animals.

See some of the lucky ones below or click for more here.

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

What is the money for?

Riding for Rescues donates all funds received to small, grassroots frontline NGOs that are dealing firsthand with pulling animals out of shelters before they are put to sleep.

The cost associated with these interventions can be very high – and not many people stop to think about this aspect of animal welfare – things such as getting shots, healthcare costs, getting an animal neutered, transportation, boarding and/or food while the animal is being fostered.

How to use my cycling to help?

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

The Riding for Rescue approach is super easy as you can pick whatever cycling event , where ever you want and fundraise independently – so you can do it when and where it suits you.

It is a terrific model of practice and very easy to use.

Step 1.  Go to www.firstgiving.com and set up your page.

Step 2. Tell all your friends and family know that YOU are going to put yourself out there and make a difference – all to benefit an animal who would otherwise be euthanized.

The  you raise more than US$500, RfR will give you one of their cycling jerseys (see below)

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

I applaud those who give this a try.

I think there is great merit in utilising  riding to support animals in need – and where the animals are rehoused into households where they will make a super positive difference – personally, emotionally, health, fitness and happiness wise. Why not lend your legs for this oft-forgotten good cause?

Congratulations to the Riding for Rescue team for having  the enthusiasm, dedication and passion to keep this humble, yet highly important service going. I salute you!

Here is their offical website.

They are also on FB, Twitter, G+ and IG.

For more info contact: jodi@runningforrescues.com

Melburn Roobaix 2017

This in-depth, insightful interview and event guest post comes coutesy of the every effervescent and thoughtful @BettyLillowaltzen. Betty is an Artist, Educator, Keynote Speaker and all round amazing soul. This is a wonderfully comprehensive and enlightening discussion of one of Melbourne’s most loved (sub)cycle-cultural ‘bumpy’ urban rides – the Melburn Roobaix. Thanks to Betty Lillowaltzen for her time and effort in painstakingly interviewing all the key stakeholders, event organisers, riders and participants that went into producing this post – the extra details make this piece an extra rich and wonderful read! Mwah BL!


A quick survey of the Melburn Roobaix crowd and there is something immediately obvious: women!

Why does this adventure around Melbourne’s laneways enjoy the most gender diversity of all bike events in Australia?

“I’m in!”: my response to Zane Alford’s invite to join him and Wookie in the 2017 Melburn Roobaix. I hadn’t needed to hesitate as I knew that my complete lack of bike fitness was in no way a barrier to fun in the famously costumed ride, nor was my 1980s chevvy heavy stainless steel Malvern Star. Roobaix skills are seemingly more centered around an ability to decorate oneself and bike, eat and drink and look really silly; I’d be a natural.

That Melburn Roobaix was not going to be (in Andy’s words) “a sausagefest” as so many other bike events are, but instead a celebration and a great day out void of competitive elitist vibes I was certain of, but what I wasn’t so sure of was why? Inspired by the rise of women’s sport and, better yet, the rise of women within sport, I wanted to know how the Roobaix has evolved to be the most gender inclusive cycling event in the country (according to a recent survey by Cycling Australia).

Two questions burned: were the organisers conscious about involving women? and if so, how did they go about getting women involved?

Melburn Roobaix

Melburn Roobaix is a creation of Fyxo, the family company run by Melodie and Andy White. I knew Andy from back in the ol’ days when I worked for messenger bag company, Crumpler. I met him 15 years ago after an Ally Cat at The Public Bar: two years after the lock on the womens’ toilet door broke and at least nine years before it would get fixed; in the days of $1 pots of Geelong Bitter on a Monday, Punk bands and bestickered fixies piled along O’Connell Street. Andy was fancy dressed but still sporting his ‘Ask me about the weather’ badge, and talking with some couriers and female riders – even back in 2003 he was recruiting women to ride. He suggested that I ride in the next Ally Cat and I felt momentarily convinced that this would be a good idea but didn’t think I was up to splitting traffic on a fixie to keep up with Melbourne’s maddest riders.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Encouraging people to get on a bike has always been a talent of Andy’s, as is having a yarn, so I felt comfortable picking up the phone, not having seen each other in 8 years, to ask him some pretty pointed questions about women in cycling, race, LGBTIQ+ inclusion, men’s clubs and elitism in sport. He answered all my questions with grace, humour, references to anti-establishment, mutual outrage and added some radical plans.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

I was not surprised at all that encouraging the participation of women in the Roobaix was intentional, or that this year’s event also took place during World Pride – though this was underplayed, Andy reflected on being really quite chuffed that there was a turnout of transgender people this year and that as the ride becomes more community oriented it increasingly represents our whole community (though the lack of racial diversity is still quite apparent at all bike events and a challenge for the future).

So how did they do it? Andy reflected on the first year of the Roobaix, explaining how “a guy showed up with all the gear, he had a Garmin and had worked out the fastest route which was mainly on roads and which was pretty unsafe.” He and Melodie wanted to make it less of a race and move away from the tricked out, almost exclusively male lycra crew, so they just eliminated a first place prize. “We are more excited about the costumes and the turnout and having someone show up dressed as a banana”, he explained.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

It’s important that everyone is safe. A sad reality of bike events around the globe is the inherent risk of traffic and obstacles, though organisers are always looking for ways to make cycling safer for everybody: as Andy says, “every event where no one dies is a good event”. The dangers of riding are all too familiar to the White family, as in 2007 Andy suffered a broken neck. Though he was lucky to be able to be back on the bike within a week of removing the halo, they had developed a new appreciation of the risks of riding. Andy was emphatic that making an event less competitive did help to attract a broader demographic, but that he in no way considered female riders to be non-competitive. While for many people the Roobaix is the first organised ride that they participate in, there are plenty of female riders who go on to compete in timed events and women who are already riding competitively.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Bike racer, writer and blogger Verita Stewart is one such rider. Verita had been a regular bike commuter, but it wasn’t until moving to Melbourne from country Victoria a few years ago that she joined other riders and started to compete. Verita was able to identify other reasons that the participation in the Roobaix was so high and diverse: “You can ride on any bike. This weekend is the Grand Fondo and you can’t just rock up on a mountain bike or a cruiser or BMX or tandem or recumbent or folding or narrow bar fixie or adult trike or city bike or hybrid. Each event requires a really specific bike and kit and for many people that’s a barrier. Wearing lycra is also enough for some people to say ‘that’s not for me’, and I know that some of my friends have not participated in other events because of that”. Melburn Roobaix was one of the first events that Verita rode in and each year she met more people in the cycling community and brought more friends along, many of whom wouldn’t identify as bike riders. “I know that tennis isn’t for me. I can’t hit a ball to save my life. Cycling as a sport isn’t for everybody either. The Roobaix is more of a community event than a race though, it’s more about being in a big community and maybe putting on a cossie and exploring places you haven’t been before, and that’s why so many people say ‘I could do that’.“

The types of costumes that people wear are usually naive and silly and we don’t see the kinds of sexualised costumes that people wear to other fancy dress events. I asked Verita how she thinks the Melbourne Roobaix has developed its particular style? “Well, it’s a really family and community event so I think that if you showed up dressed in a French maid’s costume you’d just feel like a bit of a twat”. Not many of the other bike scenes have been as progressive, and we spoke for some time on what we thought caused some of the costs, perceptions and gender inequality that are still so prevalent at other events and which form real barriers for people entering cycling as a sport in all its various forms.

Personally, now in my mid-thirties, I’m more active than ever: not the most fit that I’ve ever been necessarily, but I find myself enjoying a greater variety of sports than I ever have before and participating with less and less trepidation. I regularly surf with other women and it’s been exciting to paddle out each weekend and see sisters lined up along a break. It’s more than just exciting, it’s inspiring and exhilarating. We often joke about approaching middle age and just starting to have the childhood we wished we’d had if we hadn’t felt so discouraged from having a go. Imbued with the excitement of events like the Roobaix, WAFL, surfing and the power of staunch advocates and idols such as Serena Williams, I am excited for a new generation of women.

Melburn Roobaix 2017

We still have such a long way to go but already the surge of excitement around women in sport has had a distinct effect upon me.

Where I may once have said “I’ll get back to you”, I now say “I’m in”.

 

Melburn Roobaix 2017

Melburn Roobaix 2017

For a great collection of event pictures see FYXo’s Melburn Roobaix Flickr Album.

Or see up to 342 great images from event photographers Michael Christofas / Peter Tsipas 2017 Melburn Roobaix Flickr.

@bicycles_create_change

#Lowercasev

#bikefeminism

#bikeart

#MelburnRoobaix

#Fyxo

Thanks for the invite @ZaneAlford. See you all at #MelburnRoobaix2018 !!

 

 

*All images coutesy of photographers as per watermarks. All pictures included with Fyxo permission..

NAIDOC Week 2017

What is NAIDOC Week 2017?

This week is NAIDOC Week 2107 in Australia.

NAIDOC is the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Each year for the first week of July, Australia celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and contributions to country and society.

This years theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’.

NAIDOC Week 2017

 

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to meet with elders and community, learn about culture and heritage and help establish a better understanding of community for all.

 

Last year I posted about some Aboriginal Bike Safety Programs for NAIDOC Week 2016.

For this year’s National Reconciliation Week, I looked at WA’s The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) to develop a team of Indigenous Olympic Track Cyclists.

This year I went to the Redland Performing Arts Centre to support their Our Languages Matter: A NAIDOC Showcase.

Redlands NAIDOC Week Celebrations

It was a terrific day.

There was a  traditional smoking ceremony, cultural and dance demonstrations, weaving workshops and a sand art/play space.

IndigiScapes Tea Garden Café kept us happily fed with copious amounts of bush tucker tasting including yummy croc curry, bush kangaroo sausages with sweet BBQ sauce and homemade kangaroo pies.

I was blown away to see Che ‘Cockatoo’ Collins there, one of my childhood AFL heroes in the flesh – awesome!!!

There was a super informative demonstration by Matt Burns (from the Qunadamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Stradbroke Island) about Aboriginal culture, tools and lifestyle – by far the best presentation I have seen – full of super interesting facts (like the Guinness World Record for javelin throwing is 104.80 m, as opposed to throwing a spear with a woomera 147meters, which William, an Indigenous man in Kuranda QLD did to become the Guinness World record holder).

Best of all was the concert by Bunna Lawrie and Coloured Stone in the RPAC Concert Hall.

NAIDOC Week 2017
Redlands Performing Arts Centre gearing up for a big NAIDOC event
NAIDOC Week 2017
Awesome Presentation by Matt Burns
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bush tucker: Crocodile Curry & Kangaroo Sausage with Sweet BBQ Sauce
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bunna Lawrie & Coloured Stone Performing

Custom Made Bikes by Aboriginal Artists

For the cycling NAIDOC Week 2017 fanatics, I’d like to share this custom made bike I saw in Cairns Airport when I was last there.

In the places I’ve seen painted bikes, it has been bikes painted by local or well-known Aboriginal artists that are then auctioned off for charity.

This bike was custom made (bamboo) and beautifully painted. It was part of the Ironman display, which was on at the time.( It’s a bugger the picture resolution is not good enough to read who the artist is to follow up – what a pity! I couldn’t find anything about it online about the bike or artist either! Grrr!).

Regardless, it was a stunning bike and well worth being showcased.

The photo does not do it justice – the detail in the painting was brilliant and the colours super vibrant.

What a beautiful bike – imagine hitting the road for your Saturday pack ride with this beauty!

Stunning!

What a great way to be proud of and share the elegance and heritage of Aboriginal art.

More like it, please!

Happy riding this NAIDOC Week!!


Postscript: I like to think this blog reflects a positive approach to people, life and choices.

I had a great time during NAIDOC week, but I was sorely disappointed but how few non-indigenous Australians attend NAIDOC events and support Indigenous Australia.

I have since been thinking about this a lot since NAIDOC.

I think it is time that as a nation we stand up and be proud of our indigenous history and peoples.

I find it unsettling that for the majority of Australians, this critical issue is of little or no importance.

So here is my challenge…

Still a long way to go for recognition and understanding

I am disturbed about the vast amount of misinformation that circulates about indigenous Australians.

Which is why events like NAIDOC are important.

In 2011, Indigenous Australians made up only 3% of all Australia’s population, and the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians have never spent any meaningful time meeting or speaking with Aboriginal Australians.

I think this is part of the problem.

Where was the non-indigenous community supporting NAIDOC this week?

I saw only a handful of non-indigenous people at the Redlands NAIDOC event.

Get better information about Australian history

For non-indigenous people who are interested in finding out more about Australia’s history (as opposed to the superficial, limited, romanticised, watered-down precis you might have got in school), there is a TV show I’d recommend as a starting point:

SBS’s First Australians seven-part series presents Australian history in a way that to date has remained predominately untold.

It is poignant, well-researched and important to know part of Australia’s history that needs to be known more widely.

See you next NAIDOC Week.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.