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.

 

Knitted bike seat covers

 

It is now winter in Australia.

We have had a few particularly cold and frosty mornings.

If it keeps chickens warm, it can work for cyclists!

On one of the more colder mornings in the last fortnight, I was heading to work listening to ABC Radio National. There was a lovely short feature segment about a group of Gold Coast locals who meet regularly in a café to knit jackets for a flock of ex-battery hens who are residents at Storybook Farm – a refuge for rescued animals and animals with disabilities.

The jackets were knitted for the chickens to keep warm during the cold wintery season. For these rescue chickens with little feathers left, these kitted jackets can save their lives. It is a fantastic little story about a community coming together to help those less fortunate and is, and well worth the listen at the link here.

It got me thinking about the link between knitting and bikes – and I especially wanted to take inspiration from the chicken’s knitting approach for keeping warm in the winter months….so….

Knitting, croqueting and needlepointing bike accessories

Many people have seen bikes that have been yarn/stitch bombing and can appreciate how colourful happy and creative the final bike can be.

But what about knitted bike seat covers?

I’ve noticed the range of practical knitted bike accessories online has expanded with places like Crochet Concupiscence providing crafty folks with new ideas and patterns on how to apply croquet (as well as knitting and needlepointing) to bikes.

Knitted bike seat covers

If you are up for adding a little bit of ‘personality’ to your bike, then a knitted bike seat cover is a this is a great way to do it.

There are many good reasons to have a personalised knitted bike seat cover….. here are just a few….

  •  It is a great way to keep warm
  • People will start a conversation with you about your unique bike style
  • Shows you are a creative, cool and colourful person
  • Support local artisans and handcraft skills
  • It a small-scale knitting project for beginners to start practising on
  •  Supporting DIY, recycling and refashioning of materials for innovative purposes
  • Great way to share your (or friends) knitting skill
  • Indicates interest areas (pets, hobbies, depends on what you design you have, etc.)
  • Helps you find your bike quickly and easily at a filled bike rack
  • Added cushioning support for your tush
  • Imbue your community with a little more style and fun when riding around
  • Be a role model for others to be have a more creative approach to bikes
  • Great for your mental health and happiness – will keep you smiling
  • They are personalisable – so can be made more playful, cheeky, unusual or unique to suit your taste, aim and styles
  •  If bought, helps support income-generating opportunities (pattern-makers and artists)
  • Help deter bike theft

 

Pinterest is full of amazing knitted bike seat designs, colour and ideas (just use keywords as per below)– and you can find all manner and types of bikes seat covers to suit all kinds of styles. Just check out these keywords…

Knitted bike seat covers

As a sample representative of that vast array of styles available, here is a quick handful of some of the more distinctive bike seat covers to show here… all manner of shapes, patterns and motifs to suit any cycling persuasion or interest.

 

 

 

They may not be for everyone.

But at least the are a great indication that you are a person of humour, style and confidence!

And that you don’t take yourself – or your riding – too seriously (*heaven forbid!*).

So how every you choice to do it – happy warm bums on bike seats!

World Refugee Day 2017

Today is World Refugee Day.

Currently, there are 65 million people forcible displaced globally and the number is growing every day.

The UN states that the World Refugee Day commemorates “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”

To highlight this issue, international organisations such as UNESCO and many others have been actively promoting the stories, issues, data and conversations then need to be talked about as the countries individually and collectively struggle to deal with critical refugee issues.

The refugee crisis is an issue that every country has to deal with.

So below I have 3 ideas for Aussie cyclists to mull over* in honour of today’s theme.

3 Considerations for World Refugee Day 2017 

1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough? 

YES! It is!

SBS reported Australia’s current refugee involvement in a positive light by publishing the following encouraging stats:

$33.9 million has been raised in the last year (2016-2017) by Australia for UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) official partner in Australia) to support the UN’s worldwide emergency and humanitarian programs.

Of the record $33.9 million that Australia for UNHCR has raised:

  • 75% are for UNHCR’s general emergency operations
  • 19% for emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq & Ecuador
  • 6% for specific projects providing targeted support for women, girls and children
  • $550,000 was raised by the community in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, to support Australia for UNHCR’s appeal for Syrian refugees.
  • There was also a significant contribution from Australia’s Vietnamese community, which has previously benefited from UNHCR support.

NO! Its not!

SBS’s report is a stark contrast to Tim Costello’s moving article entitled Even Poor Countries Are More Generous to Refugees than Rich Australia: Australia’s efforts would suggest we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity published in the Huffington Post.

Tim draws parallels between Australia’s efforts compared to Uganda (one of the top three refugee hosting countries in the world) and poignantly reflects that:

‘I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war. How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous with a per capita income almost 25 times higher, do not?”

It is a sobering and honest point he makes that ‘we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity, which for a country built on migration is, at best, ironic’.

It is a very interesting article to read.

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Huffington Post/Tim Costello Twitter

2. Ride for Refugees Event

Aside from wider political and economic furor – cycling and biking events are a great way to promote social issues and get people involved – so today is no exception!

There were many biking events and rides this year, but my cycling event for World Refugee Day 2017 goes to Nepal’s ‘Ride for Refugees’. This is the second year this event has run and 2017 saw a turnout of over 500 people. Spotlight reports that people riding included ‘government officials, diplomats, refugees of diverse nationalities and local residents of the Kathmandu Valley showed their solidarity with refugees — both in Nepal and globally — by participating in the second annual “Ride for Refugees” cycle rally south of Patan’.

Aside from riding  in the critical mass event with all the locals, celebrities, ex-pats, supports and the like, Kathmandu is hosting an array of ‘Refugee’ events throughout the city including a photo exhibition, site visits and discussion meetings.

 

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Spotlightnepal.com. (From L to R) Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Jörg Frieden, UNHCR Representative in Nepal Kevin J Allen with Miss Nepal Asia Pacific, Sahara Basnet and Miss Nepal Earth, Rojina Shrestha at Patan Dubar Square for ‘Ride for Refugees’
World Refugee Day 2017
Source: UNHCR

3. The Nashville Food Project Celebration

To keep the fun and community in perspective I’d like to acknowledge a smaller grassroots honorable mention from last year (2015) – undertaken by The Nashville Food Project. You cannot go wrong with friends, family, food and farming!

As stated on their website, this lovely inclusive event was a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal. The Nashville Food Project joined friends from the First Center for the Visual Arts, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Oasis Center and members of their International Teen Outreach Program, Bhutanese gardeners and neighborhood gardeners at the Wedgewood Urban Garden.   

“I just loved sharing a meal with all these people who came together around growing food, volunteerism, making art and celebrating World Refugee Day,” said TNFP Garden Manager Christina Bentrup. “There were people and foods from both around the world and from different neighborhoods around Nashville, It was a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational group of folks celebrating community and diversity. It doesn’t get much better than that.” 

The group also turned recycled bicycle parts into art for the garden (see below) and then had a big community pot luck lunch together!!

At the end of the event description on their website is a great squash recipe, which to me highlights the significant interconnection between community, food and garden.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the day!

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day 2017
Source for these 3 images: Nashville Food Project

 

How did you celebrate World Refugee Day 2017?

How about next year planning some grand celebratory biking plans that will bring together locals, refugees and community?

Infuse it with welcomeness, fun, inclusivity and of course… biking!!

Best of luck for next year’s bike-themed World Refugee Day event!


*Note the two  news articles used for point ‘1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?’ should be taken as a stimulus to explore your own reflections (and reasons for your answer) to this question. The two articles included have been artbitrarily selected as two opposing points of view on this topic and are not to be taken as definitive or sole proof of (or any other variation of) this position. So please use your amazing brain. Research and make you own mind up based on the best quality and relevant information.

Cyclists Magnetic Yellow Card

Hi Bike Nuts!

Thanks for checking in with Bicycles Create Change.

There are so many wonderful cycling events, news and projects going on right now – what a great time to be a bike rider and cycling enthusiast!!

Among it all, a small and quirky initiative caught my eye.

Many of us who road ride have no doubt had some experience with cars that has been ‘challenging’ and possibly unsafe. But how to handle such a situation?

How about a sporting metaphor? Maybe a reference to the Yellow penalty card used in many sports (like football/soccer) as a means of cautioning, reprimanding or penalising a person for ‘bad conduct’?

Cyclists Magnetic Yellow Card

In 2004 Film maker Peter Miller created the cyclists magnetic yellow card. At the time, it was described as being an open-source ‘subversive intervention via business card-sized magnets, personal edition of 200′. In 2010, it had a resurgence in popularity among cyclists and the media. More recently, a group of LA bikers have been distributing this little magnetic yellow card as a way to help ‘get the message across’ in such situations.

I wonder how effective it is? What reaction would it illicit if you were a cyclist – or a car driver?

Certainly a novel approach to trying to ‘(re)educate’ the automotive general public!

Source: Gizmodo.com

Full Moon Rides

Hooray Full Moon tonight – Let’s ride!!

 

Full Moon Rides
Source: artALT

 The Strawberry Moon

Tonight is a particularly special full moon (especially if you are in the Northern hemisphere) because over there it is The Strawberry Moon.

There are heaps more astronomy details and cool stuff to know about why this month’s moon is so special.

But essentially it is because it is a micro-moon or mini-moon, which means it is the smallest full moon for the whole of  2017.

Tonight the moon will be about 30,000 miles (50,000 km) farther away from Earth than the new moon supermoon of May 25, 2017.

I went down to the waterfront at sunset to watch the moon rise – and it was stunning!

Tonight will certainly make for a spectacular night ride!

If you are not a regular night rider, or have not been for a full moon bike ride – I highly recommed it.

Not only is it lovely to ride at night by yourself or with others, but riding under full moonshine is very special and not something you get to regularly do – so if you have the chance try it!

Many bike groups and/or places and urban riders host regular or special event Full Moon Bike Rides (FMBR).

If you have not been on a FMBR before, I’ve listed a few below to share how much fun they can be.

So tonight get on your bike and get out riding under the full moon!

Brisbane’s Full Moon Bike Ride – Full Moon River Ride at Orleigh Park

Full Moon River Ride (Brisbane, QLD). Experience a unique perspective of our beautiful river city riding around Brisbane under the lights of the full moon. Starting at Orleigh Park in West End, this route is exclusively on bike paths around the Brisbane river through South Bank, the botanical gardens before returning via the Go-Between Bridge.

Date/Time & Venue: Friday, 9 June 2017, 6 – 8pm. Orleigh Park, 68 Hill End Terrace, West End, Brisbane, QLD.

Meeting point: Car park, corner Riverside Drive and Hill End Terrace. Cost: Free. Just be at the meeting point 15 minutes before the ride starts.

Requirements: Bike, helmet, water bottle, money for a coffee.

For more information contact Ross at Brisbane By Bicycle on 0413 253 366. Bookings: Not required.

Bikes and equipment can be hired for $15 per person per activity but this must be arranged in advance.

Elsewhere is Australia

LUNACY RIDE – Sacred Rides in Jindabyne, Kosciuszko (Nov – March) Guided Summer Full Moon MTB Ride. This FMBR is an organised (paid) ride and only happens in the Summer months and thier website boasts that it is .. something a bit different, why not try the BEST POSSIBLE mountain biking experience in the Snowys – (or anywhere else in Australia): Our extemely fun ‘Lunarcy Ride’ up the higest Mountain in Australia – in real Style.

During this ride you ascend Australia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko, which for most riders is “a once-in-a-lifetime experience”. This group organises the bike ride and has a tour guided tour and  support team. You leave at 5.30pm and ride up to have a drink at the top and see the sun set and the moon rise over Australia’s iconic mountain range. You then ride back down in full moon light. Awesome!

 

Full Moon Rides
Source: Bike Rumour. Photo by Russell Jobs. Taking a break during a Full Moon Beach Ride along the shore of Lake Michigan.

 

A few USA examples

Tosa Full Moon Bicycle Rides in Wauwatosa (Wisconsin USA). This ride is a social, slow paced ride which promotes a NO SWEAT pace. All are invited to ride (bring freinds and family) through urban Wauwatosa where ther are stops for drinks and nibbles.

Philly Full Moon Bike Rides – These guys are super organised and have a strong Facebook community and get a regular turn out (see photo above).

ATex Full Moon Group (Austin, Texas) have regular Full Moon Bike Rides – as does their ‘brothers’ in Houston Texas.

These guys are extra special as they start their ride at 11.59 pm and ride til 2am so that they can ‘be closest to the full moon’ – Wow!

Atlanata Moon Ride is not just as social ride, but a supercolourful fundraiser and live music event with best decorate bike and costume awards – they get up to 5,000 riders to their event. Imporessive!

Full Moon Bike Rides
Source: Bike Rumour. By Gary. Preston Theler, one of our shop mechanics and master wheel builder, took this picture on a full moon ride up Mt. St. Helena, Napa, California.

New Zealand, Palmerston North

The Swamp Rads Bike Gang rove the trails and streets of Palmerston North – where they “rove the sweet Manawatu bicycle trails stopping at taverns, cafes, beaches and picnic benches. The rules: pedal power only, no lycra, no hierarchy”.

Global  and/or start your own

International Awarewolf Full Moon Bike Rides. International Awarewolf Full Moon Bike Rides are now happened in San Diego CA, Dallas TX, Tempe AZ, Las Vegas NV, Bristol England, Johannesburg South Africa, Oslo Norway and a few other places. Awarewolf wants to have more cities around the world hosting similar AWLF inspired FMBRs to raise awareness for Safe Cycling Advocacy. Plus they have some cool statements, like: We are a pack, not a mass and Don’t be a negative example of a positive movement.

Get out riding tonight!!

Where ever you are, and however you can – be sure tonight to get on a bike tonight and check out the beautiful Strawberry full moon.

Enjoy your full moon ride!

Howl, Howl!!

Full Moon Rides
Source: Bike Rumour. Photo: Russell Jobs. Taking a break during a Full Moon Beach Ride along the shore of Lake Michigan.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Indigenous Olympic track cyclists

National Reconciliation Week 2017.

This week, Australia is celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2017.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates, reflects and builds on respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other non-Indigenous Australians.

This year is particularly important as 2017 marks 50 years since the 1967 Referendum (May 27th), and 25 years (3rd June) since the historic Mabo decision.

The theme for #NRW2017 is ‘Let’s Take the Next Steps’, and there are many events and activities on offer throughout the week.

Griffith University has a strong commitment to Indigenous issues and positive Reconciliation.

One of my favourite annual events is the Walk and Talk event, which was held this Tuesday. It is a great event to connect, reflect and acknowledge.  I love doing the bushwalk between the Mt Gravatt and Nathan Campus, a trail I regularly walk or ride by myself, with a host of other students, staff and locals – and I always meet someone interesting and learn something new.

Aboriginal participation in cycling

It also gave me pause for thought about how Indigenous riders had opportunities to participate in mainstream Australian cycling culture. This is an area that needs serious concentrated effort and commitment. There are a few rare programs that focus on encouraging and increase access to biking for indigenous riders.

For example, this blog has previously featured the NSW Indigenous Mountain Bike Project as well as for NAIDOC Week 2016, the Aboriginal Bicycle Safety Program in NSW. So to celebrate NRW 2017, I searched for some other cycling program that was creating some positive cycling change for Aboriginal Australians – and this is what I found..

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

 The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID)

Last year, The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) was initiated at the Midvale Speed Dome (Perth) for young aboriginal riders aged 10-14 by Amanda O’Connor (Coach) to help identify and develop Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist.

Reports from this time last year indicate there were 8 Indigenous boys and girls riding in the squad.

Just after its conception, the ITID introduced some of the young talents, such as LeMarna Valentine and Rory Charles – as these up-and-coming ITID cyclists were due to participate with their teammates in a junior Pacific tournament in September 2016.

I also found a 3’ 26” ABC segment which gives a little more about the ITID development squad – New ABC Radio: Program in WA to identify the next generation of Aboriginal athletes.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

More support, access and recognition for Indigenous riders please!!!

It was great to see a forward-thinking program that provides instruction and coaching for track cycling for young aboriginal cyclists. Considering the immense investment in time and effort required to success at track cycling, it is a step in the right direction to provide a safe and encouraging environment for new and younger cyclists to try their hand at track.

Considering the success Australia has had so far in 2017 in track cycling, there certainly looks like there room for fresh new faces to get amongst it – and it would be great to see some aboriginal athletes representing Australia in track cycling in the future.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists
Source: Hills Gazette. Young cyclists in training: LeMarna Valentine, Rory Charles and Jacqualene Williams. Picture: Steve Lloyd

Tirana Gay (P)ride March

Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia!!!

 

Officially today is the actual day of celebration (17th May), however there have been a wide range of events happening worldwide for the whole week.

Of particular interest to lovers of life on two-wheels is the Tirana Gay (P)ride March in Albania.

 

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Watermark Online

Tirana Gay (P)ride March

The Tirana Gay (P)ride March was first initiated in 2006 has been gaining significant participation and coverage over the last couple of years and is fast becoming one of the most colourful, cultural community-driven events in the Albanian calendar.

This story is great for a number of reasons. Aside from being an awesome international event addition for this weeks general celebrations, it is also great as Albania doesn’t usually make headlines (at least not enough for positive reasons). Also, most people do not usually associate progressive, fun, international bicycle-inspired community demonstrations for gay rights to come out of small Southeastern former Eastern Bloc European nation. But there you go!

So kudos to the Albanians for being such a wonderful and supportive international example.

(Queensland take note!!)

A dual protest for 2017

This year was an extra special event. To mark the international festival, participants in Tirana’s Gay (P)ride Parade rode bikes for one cause, whilst elsewhere in the city two hours earlier (yet overlapping), another protest was being held in response to the country’s political opposition.  The city was inundated with bikers strewn in multi-colored costumes with balloons, flags and pennants flapping the wind as they rode past a protest tent erected in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office to raise awareness and support to pressure the current Albanian government to extend their 2009  anti-discriminatory laws to legalise same-sex marriage and also to recognise trans-gender citizens.

People taking to the streets to protest is not new, but the inclusion of highly decorated bicycles adds an extra element of personality, intimacy, community and creativity which is hard to beat and difficult to ignore.

Best of luck Tirana …our bicycles are with you!!

We hope you have a fun and successful ride to celebrate your 2017 IDAHOT!

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Fox News

Below is a 7 minute video of the 2017 Tirana IDAHOT (P)ride March.

More details:

Official International website.

IDAHOT Facebook Page 

Twitter: @may17IDAHOT

Official hashtag #IDAHOT2017

US Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.

A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.

I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?

For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far –  so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.

What is the mystery?

On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.

 Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.

From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.

There are too few details or no details at all.  The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.

There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.

Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).

How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?

And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).

The unfolding sequence of this story.

Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.

This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.

If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context.  If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.

Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.

  1. On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

2. I went online to find out what the news said.

At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.

It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.

 

3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.

The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.

Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.

Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.

 

5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

6. Later that day, I found this news report online.

I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).

Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: ABCAction News

 

7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.

The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:

A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

From @peenutbu on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: IG @orton_ndau

 

From @cassnectao on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @cassnectar

@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”

 

And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.

A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.

As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.

And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.

Ever owned or worn a hoodie?

Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?

Been out in public recently?

Ride a bike?

No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.

I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed.  Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
IG Source: @rachelreed_

 

Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.