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

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

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

EWS 2017

Source: EWS

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

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

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

Rotorua is the place to ride

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

Round 1 is anyone’s game

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

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

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

EWS 2017 Starts today

Source: EWS

Source: EWS

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

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

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

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

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

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

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

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

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

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

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

International Women’s Day Background

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

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

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

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

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

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

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

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

 

International Women's Day

Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

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

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

International Women's Day

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

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

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

Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

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

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

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

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

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

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

What did you do to commemorate this day?

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

I’m very excited as 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the bicycle.

Happy Year of the Bike!

Bring on 2017!

According to Chinese Astrology, we are leaving the Year of the Monkey (2016) and entering the Year of the (Fire) Rooster (starting Feb 2017 for Chinese New Year). If you are not sure what ‘Year of the ..’ you were born – check here.

The New Year transition ALWAYS means big changes – but this transition ESPECIALLY is going to uncover some sudden upheavals, dramatic ends and new beginnings. Don’t be surprised if you see relationship break ups, new lovers coming together, people leaving their jobs or being promoted, other will be moving house, going away (interstate or overseas). Passionate pleas will be made, sudden conflicts aroused, cathartic outbursts unleashed, secrets revealed and many desires fulfilled (*sigh*). No doubt a few unexpected changes to content with during this particular New Year transition – perhaps you have already noticed or experienced it’s effects??

But once this has passed, 2017 is shaping up to be AMAZING!!!

Most importantly  – I think it is awesome that the wee little future riders lucky enough to be born this year can claim to be a ‘bicycle’! All those born in  2017 will be ‘Year of the Bike’ – how cool is that!!

I wonder if this means we will see a significant increase in births by cycling parents trying to have their kids born this year so they can claim their child to be ‘Year of the Bike’. It would be an interesting sociological/public health study to investigate!

I also hope this means that a few of us get a massive kick start to the New Year. Also, all year there should be HEAPS of events, exhibitions, art, gatherings, conferences and shows paying homage to the humble bicycle. So keep your eyes open for upcoming events – or even better host your own!

If you see or know of a Year of the Bike event that you think Bicycles Create Change should feature, please let me know via the comments.

2017 – Happy New Year of the Bike!!

 

Back in the day

It is hard to believe that it all started 200 years ago in 1817, when in his German Mannheim laboratory,  Baron Karl von Drais produced the first recognised velocipede – the original of what we today call the bicycle. When it was first launched, it was called the Laufmaschine  (“running machine”) and was the brunt of much ridicule.

Over the years the basic (frame and wheel) design saw many evolutions of change and development until by the 1860’s the product was such that it was officially dubbed a ‘bicycle’ from then on. As you well know, improvements in bicycle designs continue today.

The bicycle has a long and rich history, of which I am not going to recount here as it easy to find details of the bicycle’s history, uses, popularity and transformations over the years.

 

Pat Brennan

Source: Pat Brennan

How well do you know bike history?

If you love bikes and are keen to test your knowledge of bicycle history – try this HISTORY OF THE BICYCLE EXCERCISE – which also has a downloadable worksheet (and answers). See how well you do and get some extra awesome histo-cultural background to wow your mates on group rides and at dinner parties when the topic of Year of the Bike comes up.

To see a quick rehash of the major stages and changes that bicycles have undertaken over the years – this 1-minute animation is spot on.

Imagine my surprise when arriving in New Zealand, I saw another bicycle-inspired ‘Christmas’ Tree! After having just left Brisbane a week ago and seeing Brisbane’s bicycle-powered Christmas Tree at South Bank, I found that New Zealand have their own spin on the bicycle-themed (Christmas) Tree.

 

NZ’s Tree of Bikes

Just like my PhD topic, NZ’s Tree of Bikes was specifically designed to raise awareness of the vital role that bicycles play in getting children who live in extreme poverty to school – awesome!

The NZ Tree of Bikes is the brain child of ChildFund and was created in collaboration with Enterprize Steel and Beca Engineers. It was originally erected in Queens Street Wharf, Auckland for Christmas last year (2014/5). Aside from raising awareness about bicycle-for-education needs in developing nations, the tree was also a focus point to promote ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow program during Christmas. Although the Gifts that Grow program doesn’t have a specific bicycle-for-education option, it does provide aside range of immediate, sustainable, community-orientated and positive present-giving replacement options in a similar theme to Bicycle Create Change’s previous post of bicycle-inspried alternative ethical gift alternatives to help support other less fortunate and those living in extreme poverty.

 

The Tree of Bikes Origin

There are two versions of the NZ Tree of Bikes. Bother trees have the same structure, features and function.

For example, the first Auckland Tree of Bikes was a 7-meter high Bicycle ‘Christmas’ Tree that had a central steel structure that was adored by 120 up-cycled bicycles and an array of bike parts. The 120 bicycles that make up this tree were all donated by local Aucklanders and after the tree was exhibited over Christmas, the tree was dismantled and the all the bicycles were donated to local community groups like the Refugee Centre.

The Auckland Tree of Bikes was so popular and successful, that a similar, second tree was organised and installed in March 2016 by the Rotorua Lakes Council to coincide with Crankworx Rotorua. It was great to see local council getting behind the intiative and fully supporting the project by providing with a donation drop-off point, publicity and clearing the red tape to ensure that such a great project is endorsed, encouraged and prioritised. As with the Auckland Tree of Bikes, the local residents of Rotorua donated 150 bicycles and parts to create the 2016 Bike Tree public art instillation that featured prominently at the Crankworx Village Green.

 

Rotorua Bike Tree

Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

Why can’t all local councils be as forward thinking as Rotorua?

Although a seemingly small project, the Rotorua Tree of Bikes is yet again another example of how NZ finds innovative, community-based initiatives that are interesting, promote cycling and increase positive community participation.

Last year when we came to Rotorua for a similar mountain bike trip, I posted on the impressive infrastructure plans and that the local, regional and national NZ Municipalities had in relation to the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Previously and currently, the local Rotorua Council continue to invest and support development that ensures and cements Rotorua as the premier mountain biking Mecca for the Southern Hemisphere. With such committed political and community investment, the benefits are paying off as word spreads in the mountain bike and enduro scene that Rotorua is the one of the best places to ride.

Why is it so hard for the rest of the world (and Brisbane in particular) not to see that investing in road and trail cycling is profitable, positive and socially beneficial? Rotorua is a fantastic example of this can be mutually advantageous for  tourism and local businesses, as well as for bikers of all ages and stages.

So when you get here, I’ll either see you on the trails or under the Tree of Bikes!

Christmas is nearly upon us.

In our house we have a strict no present policy. This is primarily for environmental and ethical considerations, but also because we are consciously and actively reducing our impact on the environment and our reliance of material possessions to more towards a more sustainable, thoughtful and minimal existence.

Within the confines of our house, this is easy to enforce and has been the rule for many years. My immediate family and friends know, appreciate and support our no gift position and reasoning. However, in cases when outside our immediate circle (like work) or when have to interact with other families (or other people’s kids), it can still be a little tricky. As much as I detest the mainstream practice of over packaged, wasteful, plastic commodification of expected entitlement that goes along with normative practices of Christmas gift giving, this idea can be quite hard for a four-year old to grasp.

I am fortunate to have years of practice in explaining my gifting approach in a way that can be heard – but not always understood or accepted. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that some people just won’t understand – or will think I’m crazy (..or lazy, forgot, a miser or whatever else). So be it.

I’m at the stage where I don’t care what other people think. But for others who are moving in a similar direction, it can still be difficult if your placed in situations where it might still be necessary/expected to give a present  (work Chris Cringles). So  for those who are in this kind of situation – and for any other bike crazy people who also want to support a more ethical and sustainable Christmas – here are my suggestions for alternative bikivism gift giving techniques.

 

10 Ethical, community-supportive, green, fair-trade, sustainable, bike-inspired gifting alternatives (phew!)

  1. Adopt a ‘make, bake, sew or grow’ gift that is bicycle relate – for example: make a bicycle helmet bag, bake a bicycle theme cake (as featured two posts ago) sew a bike courier patch onto a bag, or plant some flowers to grow into an old upturned bike helmet
  2. World Bicycle Relief – Support bikes, education and developing nations by buying from WBR shop where there are prints, cards, t-shirts and bikes-for-education sponsorship options
  3. Literacy on two wheels – (Room to Read/Global Girlfriend): $50 can provide a bicycle for a girl. School can often be a 2 to 3 hour walk from home along remote roads, making school an impossibility for millions. A bicycle can cut that time down dramatically
  4. Sponsor a Bike – For our UK friends – this organisation has programs starting from £10 a month to support a refugee to start cycling safely. Thi minimal cost includes: a bike, brand new lights, a lock and a helmet, unlimited repairs (if necessary), a road safety session – and you as the donor will receive one free bike service a year. There are also other upgrade options.
  5. Bike Gifts is a South African organisation that aims to add to the South African economy, to support local entrepreneurs and produce new and exciting products. they source quality, local bespoke products
  6. Create your own bicycle gift voucher or gift someone a card that you made with bicycle on the cover, or ethically source it from somewhere else like recycled artists on Etsy, and write: Happy Christmas! This card can be redeemed for an afternoon picnic ride with me. Call me to arrange the date. I can’t wait to share some quality time with you and build more happy memories together!! Happy Christmas!
  7. Check out Shared Earth for a range of fair trade, recycled gifts and home wares made from recycled bike chains. This organisation aims “to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged people in developing countries, benefiting local community projects and keeping alive traditional skills that would otherwise be lost”.
  8. The Intrepid Foundation $25 Bicycle Helmet – The Green Gecko Project cares for former street children and their families by providing them with education, security, love and opportunity. This gift will provide four young people with a bicycle helmet for safe riding on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The best thing about this gift is that for every dollar you spend on this project – The Intrepid Foundation will match with all proceeds going to Green Gecko. Green Gecko also has some other fantastic projects.
  9. Gift a bicycle for 5 children to ride to school in Vietnam through Caritas’ Gift of Education Card program to help support “overcoming poverty, promoting justice, upholding dignity”.
  10. Support women artisans from the slums of Chennai, working with Baladarshan SPEED Foundation that promote local women’s employment opportunities by buying fair-trade recycled Indian Billboard Panniers  (see below)…. you can also select which deities you want to ride with!

Best of luck and I applaud your sustainable and environmentally/socially aware choices in gift giving this Christmas.

I wish you a minimalist and very happy time!

Baladarshan

Source: The New Internationalist – Baladarshan

There are a number of things I love about this 3.30min Invisible Bicycle Helmet video. It is primarily about bikes, and most certainly about creating positive (and safe) change, it is a reinvention of the normal, it is NOT in English, it took the two inventors sooo long to get the research (seven years!!), their overall commitment, passion and teamwork and most importantly, Anna and Terese are two Swedish female Industrial Designers leading their field–and kicking ass.

How the hell…

I like the revolutionary, and stylish I might add, innovation they have come up with. It directly responds to current changes in urban biking as well as being understated and no fuss (the model only comes in black). I’m still in awe of the actual engineering behind how it is deployed and works and I think the actual concept is magnificent. The speed and responsiveness of the sensors and algorithms they have used are quite remarkable.

In Australia?

It is tempting to look into the legality of wearing one in Australia. I know you have to have a registered Australian Safety Approved helmet here – but let’s face it Australia is so behind the times and considering this is a recognised international safety and protection device…. the larrikin bugger in me would love to use it and see what happens!

The company who is producing it, Hovding have them currently retailing for €299 and they are up to their second model already, have won an European Patent Office Award (2016) patent and models can come with stylish personalised covers. Sign me up!!

“Cars are so yesterday, bikes are the future.”

 

by Sachie Togashiki

 

In my research about the positive contribution of the use of bicycles to children’s education in developing countries, I found CBB Cambodia. This is a Japanese NGO (non-governmental organisation) consisting of about 20 university students who support Cambodian children by providing bicycles. In spring and summer 2015, the CBB Cambodia devised and managed microfinance to provide Cambodian children with bicycles. A member of the organisation engaged in this project recorded her experience in the organisation’s blog.

The writer, Kumi Sakahashi, realised the influences of bicycles on Cambodian children’s dream job. This is because she encountered a Cambodian boy, Kea, who was about to drop education in his elementary school to support his parents. After CBB’s intervention, Kia did not have to leave school and went to a junior high school. It was because, in spring 2015, CBB Cambodia provided 33 people including Kea with a bicycle. This helped Kea to reduce his commuting time to the school and spend more time on housework and his study. This experience enabled Kea to raise his expectations from becoming a teacher to a doctor. Ms. Sakahashi heard this from Kea in summer 2015. She concludes the blog post by stating that the use of a bicycle enabled Kea to go further places where he saw many different people, resulting in a change of his dream job.

This blog post is significant because it shows the importance of bicycles in terms of widening children’s future possibilities. Ms. Sakahashi explains that without access to advanced education opportunities, children in Cambodia can only be a teacher or a farmer. Jobs requiring far more training such as being a doctor, require much greater opportunity. However, most children in Cambodia give up to go to a junior high school. This is because, according to a crowdfunding website that CBB Cambodia devised in 2014, although there is an elementary school per a village, there is only one junior high school per 3-4 villages, which makes it difficult for children to go. Ms. Sakahashi also argues that, however, with a bicycle, they might be able to continue their education and to aim to get their dream job because bicycles save the time. The children can save money as well as time by helping their parents work. Therefore, bicycles might play a significant role to help children get an education.

 

Source CBB Cambodia: Ready for Japan - Bicycles beyond borders

Source CBB Cambodia: Ready for Japan – Bicycles beyond borders

 

Sakahashi, K. (2015, September 4). A bicycle that expands children’s potential [Web log post].Retrieved from http://cbb-cambodia.org/a-bicycle-expands-possibilities-of-kids.

CBB Cambodia [NGO] (2014, November 28). 100 bicycles for children in Tomato who cannot go to their school. Retrieved from https://readyfor.jp/projects/cycle_beyond_the-borders.

Sachie Togashiki is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Japan’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 11th April to 24th April.

Starting next week, Bicycles Create Change is proudly hosting a fortnight of Country Specific blog posts from each of the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program Participants who will be our guest bloggers.

This means that the home country of each writer will be featured for a fortnight, and a selection of unique bicycles stories, local to that region, and inaccessible by English Speakers, will presented. Each writer brings their own distinctive take and will provide genuine and invaluable cultural interpretations on how bicycles are utilised in their home country in 5 posts.

Tomorrow we start with Japan by Sachie Togashiki, then in succession; Cameroon by Gabriel Besong Etch; India by Beula Juliet Alfred; Columbia by Mauricio Gonzalez Betancur. Each country will have an interval of 1 week of regular blog posts.

So, the upcoming schedule will look like:

Sachie 11 April – 24 April

Normal posts: April 25 – 1st May

Gabriel 2 May – 15 May

Normal posts: 16th May – 22st May

Juliet 23 May – 5 June

Normal posts: 6th June – 12th June

Mauricio 13 June – 26 June

I am very excited by this format, as it means that the expertise, personal experience and local cultural insights that each of these young professionals will inject into each of their posts will enhance the meaningfulness, imperative and authenticity for each story.

It also means that given the linguistic expertise of these researchers, we will able to gain far greater insights and access more content than those just published in English.

I am delighted that these four professionals have agreed to share their unique research translation and analysis with us and I can’t wait to read about how they perceive bicycles to create change in their home countries.

Enjoy!!

Guest Bloggers - Country Specific Fortnights

Guest Bloggers – Country Specific Fortnights

Billionaire entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava has a philanthropist side project, Billions in Change, which could well be set to change the lives of half the world’s population. Aside from giving 90% of his money to the Giving Pledge charity, he is also very heavily involved and passionate developing approaches to address issues of poverty and energy resource equity through Free Electric.

The focus of Billions in Change is “to build a better future by creating and implementing solutions to serious problems facing the world in the areas of water, energy and health.” This project has produced a series of quite remarkable innovations that aim to address these issues and increase the quality of life for the world’s poorest people.

Free Electric Bike

Billions of Change looks at three major global problems: Health, Water and Energy. To address the issue of energy – the project’s website outlines their solution as “The Free Electric machine gives people the power to generate electricity themselves – pollution free. The machine is small, light and simple. Here’s how it works: A person pedals a hybrid bicycle. The bicycle wheel drives a flywheel, which turns a generator, which charges a battery. Pedaling for one hour yields electricity for 24 hours with no utility bill, and no exhaust, no waste.”

Manoj’s company makes some impressive claims:

  • They will be able to produce these bikes in India for under $200 per unit – making it much more affordable for local councils, communities, schools and NGOs in developing countries – especially if resources and finances are pooled and shared.
  • 25 bikes have already been installed at no charge to a sample of energy-poor households, schools, and small businesses in Indian villages close to Lucknow, Amethi and Raebareli to assess functionality.
  • Manoj has collaborated “with a local distributor and non-profit group to help with assembly and to train others on how to assemble and troubleshoot the bike. We’re also conducting pre/post surveys with recipients to learn their perspectives on the benefits of the bike, as well as to get their feedback about how we can improve it” .
  • Later this year, there is a pilot plan to implement 10,000 of these bikes in India.

It is quite exciting to think that such a contraption has the potential to literally revolutionize the lives of so many people – the fact that it is not a conception or theoretical model, but has actually been manufactured – is a massive step towards production for greater practical utility and for streamlining the design for cheaper and easier implementation.

This is yet another innovation similar to the bicycle-washing machine from a previous post, which seems to show that India and bicycle innovations have a very strong affinity for each other to create positive change.

Full Documentary

There is a post on Treehugger which gives some more details about this project – and it was there that I also saw that  there is a full Billions of Change documentary (45 min) which outlines Free Electric, and also details some other inventive approaches that his Lab called Stage 2 Innovations has also created, such as the Rain Maker seawater car, and the geothermal Limitless Energy resource among other designs.