The next blog post was to be on the Melbourne Bike Rave 2018 I had the delight of participating in last weekend while I was down for the SLF. However, I am putting this quick post in as it is time sensative as Bicycles Network is surveying Australian riders and cyclists to gauge what people feel about the current Australian cycling conditions. The survey ends in a couple of days, so I thought I would put up this quick post with the link to the survey, so if you have not already included your voice, here is your last chance to do so! We’ll get back to the Bike Rave in the next post! See you then. NG
Bicycle Network often undertakes surveys – not just of its members, but for all cyclists and riders.
Given that Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bicycle advocacy group, and has over 50,000 members, the organisation likes to keep abreast of current cycling issues and help to push for more positive riding change for all cyclists – hence the survey!
Are Australian riding conditions better?
Do you think the cycling conditions have changed? What about over the last year? Five years?
Bike riding conditions in Australia are always changing, and it is interesting to see if bike riders notice any differences.
What changes have you noticed?
Do you think things getting better for bike riders?
What needs to be done?
Add your ideas and experience to the survey below and let’s see what kind of changes you have seen on the bike.
It’s been an exciting last couple of days! After constructing the Bio Bike in Footscray and with Pete and Tom helping me (thanks for being my random lunchtime saviours!), I put the frame on the bike Sarah had procured and all that was left was to put on the finishing touches. Then lunchtime Friday, I set off to ride the Bio Bike the 15 kms from Footscray into the city. I arrived at the Festival site on time, made some adjustments, got changed and then did the Friday night performance solo. Claire and Sarah joined me for Saturday and Sunday. Here’s what happened…
Bio Bike SLF 2018
We had a great time performing with the Bio Bike this weekend at Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) 2018.
We were mainly located around the food precinct and near the Dome, which was great as there were always people milling about, we had more room to move about and we had much more shade than if we travelled up the guts of the display tents.
We met so many lovely people.
Essentially we asked people three things: 1. why they had come to the festival, or what they had seen at the festival they had liked; 2. what they thought was Australia’s most pressing environmental issue and finally; 3. what were they personally doing to help the environment and be more sustainable.
After chatting about this for a little while, we then said we wanted to award them an Eco Excellence Award for their hard work. We told them the background that each award was upcycled out of bicycles bits, inner tubes and found objects and was totally unique – just like they are! We would give them their award, then get photos with them wearing it.
The response was great.
I loved how different each interactions was.
We made a point of talking to people of different ages (young and old), cultures (from everywhere!), perspectives (some conservative, others super feral), lifestyle choices (urban, rural and some backpackers) – but each interaction was interesting and unique. It was an absolute pleasure.
I got to chat with Bob Brown on Friday just before he went on for the Big Debate. Then on Saturday, Claire, Sarah and I had a great time with Costa from Gardening Australia. (See picture below). Costa remembered Claire and I from our 2014 SLF Leki and the Ova show, and he spent ages with us chatting away, taking videos of us, introducing us to people and taking lots of photos. He is always a delight to catch up with!
Aside from meeting all the wonderful people we met, we got to hear about some amazing projects and ideas.
It was inspiring, humbling and reaffirming.
Claire, Sarah and I worked well together and had a lot of fun.
We wanted our show to be positive because talking about environmental issues can get the best of us down pretty quickly. We also wanted to inject some colour, humour and movement as most of the rest of the festival was stationary (ie stalls and stages), so it was great to have the freedom to roam around and be free to go along the river, up pathways and behind stalls. We found great people everywhere we went!
What needs modifying?
1. After the initial ride in and riding it for Friday’s gig, it became quickly apparent that we needed to make the pod higher. So on Saturday, we raised it and reinforced it where needed. This made being in the Bio Bike much more comfortable.
2. Before I left for the ride into the city, I ended up having to put in a modified splint/brace going from the back wheel to the sides of the tank to give the structure some rigidity and help hold the shape so it didn’t swing.
3. The seat had to be set at a certain height so that the rear of the shell didn’t rub on the back wheel. However, this meant that is was precarious for Sarah and Claire to ride the bike and difficult for them to put their feet on the ground to stop/start riding (we had one serious mishap from this). So an alteration is needed so that we are able to lower the seat as needed.
What we learnt
1. Make sure any lighting, cable ties or decorations do not infringe on the handlebars turning or gear leavers. On Saturday night, we strung up lighting all over the pod. It looked amazing! I had to do a quick gaffer job as loose cables started catching when I turned the handlebars and it made navigating tricky and potentially unsafe – but it was easily rectified.
3. We had an interesting discussion with one festival-goer who asked us if we recycled the cable ties. We explained that the pod screen was recycled from a previous project and that we did reuse the longer cable-ties. She suggested that we could use wire to link the bottle top pod together instead of cable-ties, which I thought was a great idea. I’m looking forward experimenting with this suggestion.
4. I am so glad we carried extra gaffer tape, cable ties and scissors – lifesavers!
5. People really appreciated the Eco Excellence Awards. It made me so happy to see how stoked they were to find out that each one is custom-made out of recycled bike parts. I was also super happy to hear people talking about the Awards and the Bio Bike while I was not performing. I overheard people waiting for food and in the beer tent chatting about cool stuff they have seen at the festival, showing their mate the Award they had received from us and saying that they had fun interacting with our performance. Best compliment ever!
Would we do it again?
Thanks to all the awesome peeps who made our time amazing!
A massive big thank you to those involved in making the SLF happen, Simon and Andrea in particular. But also all the other volunteers, exhibitors and crew we met.
The SLF crew was so supportive, helpful and encouraging. Thanks so much for having us as part of your team!
To the punters who came up and chatted – thanks, for your energy, stories and time – it was truly a blessing to meet you all, spend some quality time to connect and hear what you have been up to.
And a big salute to City of Melbourne for putting on such an important event. It was great to see the community coming together to discuss such critical issues that affect us all.
There are three performers – a brunette (me), a blonde (Claire) and a redhead (Sarah) – so the first idea was that there was one person for each ‘armed’ corps – Army, Navy and Air Force.
Each performer would research and give out enviro and sustainability awards and recognition medals that correlated with their ‘Eco Force’. For example:
‘Army’ for land, soil and rubbish management, flora and fauna, housing, urban and contested spaces, biochar, erosion, gardens, composting, recycling, etc.
‘Air Force’ for air quality, air emissions, atmosphere pollution, acid rain, storms and extreme weather events, climate change/ozone issues, birdlife, etc.
‘Navy’ for water quality, water use and conservation, desalination, plastic ocean pollution, fish and sealife issues, Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching, oil spills and waste water control, etc.
The Eco Protection Corps (EPC) is a bike-powered, environmentally themed performance taking place at the Sustainable Living Festival in Federation Square. Roving members of the Eco Corps will ride an Eco T(h)ank bike around the festival, handing out medals awarding excellence in environmentalism and sustainability.
The Eco T(h)ank bike and the medals of excellence are made from predominantly up-cycled and recycled materials.
The aim of the project is to generate positive reinforcement around individual environmental action and to remind the public that ‘an army’ of sustainable frontliners is made up of many individuals creating positive change towards global sustainability.
This project aims to promote, encourage and recognise the thoughtful environmental action taken by local community members.
The Eco Corps Bio bike , or Eco T(h)ank, and performance is a reaffirming, fun and direct way to celebrate with the wider community and array of positive, creative and personal eco action.
It is our aim that this artwork will create interest, discussion and education around the need for sustainable action and will explore creative and innovative ways this can be achieved.
The Eco T(h)ank
The idea of the Eco T(h)ank is to use the well-known tank as a motif of the strength and force needed to address these environmental issues – and jell that with the community-based involvement for sustainability theme of the Festival.
The bike is instantly recognisable as a ‘Tank’- but most importantly, we are keen to promote the positivity and ‘green-ness’ of this project.
So we will have modifying the tank shell to be an Eco T(h)ank – so it is clearly distinguishable as a representation of the Environment (Eco) thanking (Thank) people who have progressed and ‘fought’ to protect the environment and progress sustainable practices.
The performance and distribution of ‘Environmental Excellence Medals’ represent the awarding of present achievements and services rendered, as well as involving the general public in the show and helping to build a sense of unity, pride and camaraderie for our precious community and environment.
Our performance is based on interacting with the general public and discussing sustainability issues with them (participation, education and promotion). During this, we will ask people what they have done to support sustainable living and use that as they basis to present an award to that person.
This way the awards are impromptu, individual and fun. Participants also get to keep a unique trinket from the Festival as a memento.
We hope that doing so will encourage even more positive sustainable practice – as well as discussion and recognition for small acts of environmental kindness that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
There are a few project considerations, but some of the key ones are:
collaborating with 3 interstate performers (QLD, NSW & VIC)
emphasising the Eco not the militaristic intent/aesthetic
being respectful of armed forces personnel and possible issues
being sure the bike shell (Tank) can flat-pack down and be transported in a bike bag easily for flights
overall size and usability – getting on and off the bike
manoeuvring the T(h)ank around a crowd and limited space
avoiding damage and wear-and-tear to the T(h)ank during performance
storage for the Sat night
deciding who/when rides the bike and how the bike stands with/out people
Initial Conceptual plans for the EcoT(h)ank
Here are the three first concepts for the tank. The first idea was to have side wheels (too much space and too much work).
This morphed into having a side brace (part of this idea made it into the final design as the tank side panels).
The third idea was to have a turret and barrel where flowers can burst out of (so Banksy!). One idea for this was to mount only the barrel on the handle-bars so the barrel would swivel to point where ever the bike is pointed. But for safety and stability, this idea ended up being simplified so that the whole section was one piece mounted on the handlebars – the effect was the same, but was much less fiddling around.
Once this general plan was decided, attention turned to how to construct it so it could be flat-packed for quick and easy re/dissembled and so that the whole thing could fit into a bike bag for interstate transportation.
After much deliberation and checking of materials and finance, here is an overall plan for the T(h)ank aesthetic, size and design.
The last week has all been about making this structure and see what works and can be do during the construction of this plan.
The last week has been super crazy getting ready, because…
A while back, my regular creative collaborator and friend Claire Tracey and I put together a roving performance idea and application for the upcoming 2018 Sustainable and Living Festival (SLF)- and we got the news it was successful!
Sustainable Living Festival – Bio Bike ACCEPTED
The Festival’s Program Coordinator Big Weekend emailed:
Thank you for your Festival application. We are pleased to inform you that your event application has been accepted! The team at the Sustainable Living Festival are delighted to have your event as part of our program.
So, we are heading to Melbourne to perform the Bio Bike at the 2018 SLF!
This project used Leki as the basis for a pedal-powered no-money/barter/trade/swap, mobile op shop. It was sooooo much fun!
Leki and the Ova will be very familiar to regular BCC readers, given it is immortalised as the central feature image for the Bicycles Create Change homepage.
We roved the Festival and went out twice a day. We had a brilliant time and were a roaring success – the punters loved being part of it … and so did we!
It was a wicked project to make and present – and Claire and I knew we worked well together and have since joined forces on a number of ventures.
So we threw our hat into the ring for this year with our concept of the Bio Bike … and hey presto! We’re in!
So, no time to waste – we have to get organised!
But first a bit of background.
What is the SLF Big Weekend?
In it’s own words, the Festival’s signature Big Weekend event will be staged between the 9th and 11th of February. Held in the cultural hub of Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, the Festival’s Big Weekend showcases the main attractions of the Festival’s calendar.
Featuring interactive workshops, talks, technology demonstrations, art, film and live performance pieces (of which our roving Bio Bike performance will feature! NG).
One of the main attractions of the Big Weekend is the Exhibitors Market featuring over 100 exhibitors, including vendors showcasing the very best of organic food, beer and wine. Ethically-sourced clothing, sustainable building designs and gardening options will also be on show.
Treadlie and Green Magazine will be back to host the always popular Treadlie Bike Hub, with bikes, accessories and even a test track to help you make the switch from horsepower to human-power.
As an arts collective, we aim to educate, encourage and empower participants to seriously think about their ability to affect positive environmental change.
Our event is focused on raising awareness about the necessity of transitioning to a ‘below zero emissions’ society and examines creative solutions to creating this widespread societal change as soon as possible.
The Bio Bikes roving performance uses positive reinforcement and humour to create public awareness about climate change and encourages viewers to participate in the performance by interacting with the sculptural bikes when they are stationary.
So, it has been action stations to get the foundations organised and prepped for the Bio Bike. We already have a clear conceptual plan of what we want the performance to entail, but it is the props and bike itself that requires time, skills, materials and construction. With the Festival fast approaching, the making of the Bio Bike is a top priority.
So, I’ve been away for the last 5 days visiting a dear long-time friend, called Coolie, in northern NSW. (No internet there, hence the delay in uploading this post- sorry!). Coolie’s technical expertise, insight and fabrication workshop was invaluable in constructing a Bio Bike prototype which will be a major part of our roving performance.
The next couple of posts will be tracking our project development as we refine and work on the Bio Bike, props, costumes and production.
Stay tuned to see how it unfolds – and if you are in Melbourne, we’ll be seeing you at the Sustainable Living Festival in a couple of weeks!
Woodford is Australia’s largest annual outdoor cultural and folk festival.
This year, there were over 2,500 amazing musical gigs, performances, shows, talks, demos, roving performances, gardens and activities.
It is a truely amazing experience to wander around Woodfordia.
Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival
Here is a copy of the full program – EPIC!!
There is also the Speakers Program, which has over 70 talks on a massive array of topics – including many current social, political and environmental issues.
It is difficult to tell you everything you can see and do at Woodford, so I’m just going to hit the bike high points and let you explore the full shebang for yourself another time if you are interested (highly recommended!).
On arrival – bike parking
It was great to see that at the entrance, the ‘Bike Parking’ was already filling up and that cyclists had a direct and preferential access to the front entrance – rockstar parking for bike riders!
I was delighted to see Wozwaste was not wasting anything – and their market stall looked great! I am super impressed at how their product range has increased since I last saw them.
I popped in for a good chat and catch up. they are doing great work with recycling materials. While we were chatting, I asked a few technical questions about issues I was having working with bike inner tubes. They had had the same difficulties I was experiencing and so had decided to switch over to using motorbike inner tubes now as a result.
I really appreciate Wozwaste’s philosophy and commitment. It is inspiring to know people are out there whereby up/recycling is the basis of their business. It was great to see their range first hand and see what they have achieved so far.
The Rain Cloud
The heat and sun was super hot, so the organisers arranged to have the rain cloud bike roving to help cool off punters.
This is four person, pedal-powered bike which ‘rained’ a fine mist over those who stood near the clouds.
It was a great way to cool off, the drizzle was a very welcome reprieve. When the bike stopped, people were encouraged to sit on the float to rest and cool off – the kids loved it!
There were seven operators, all in various costumes who took it in turns to ride and/ore entertain as needed.
A very effective and impressive roving performance!
The Woodford Postal Service
This roving performance also served a legitimate service.
Within Woodfordia, there is the Post House, from which there is a team of Posties on bikes whose job it is to rider around, interacting with festival goers by ‘delivering letters’.
The idea is that you can stop a Postie (or they might ask you) to ‘send’ a message or letter to someone throughout the day/festival. It can be any message you like and you give a description to the postie and their job is to deliver it – which makes for some hilarious interactions as some of the descriptions are quite vague, so there are many posties going up to people asking them if they are so and so in an attempt to deliver a message.
In an age of instant text messaging, this kind of audience participation activity was inventive, creative and so much fun to be part of.
Everyone was getting into it and the posties did a great job!
Out the front of ‘The Post House’
Festival-goers on wheels
Woodfordia has a great path network and the access is well thought out, so it was great to see a higher number of many festival visitors on wheels getting around.
There were a few wheel chairs, but far more hand-driven chairs and recumbents and a few scooters.
Most notably, there was a very popular trolley stall which hired out wagons for families to wheel their tired kids around. This a great idea for storage, sleeping kids, having some shade, reserving some space and being able to find your people at a distance – GOLD!
Throughout the day, I kept seeing Jeremy and his gorgeous pedal-powered refreshments stall rinding around. I had to go up and chat to him. He is a genuinely beautiful man and was so happy to be out and about. His happiness was infectious. Great shoes and what a smile!
Unknown Pink Bikers
These guys had a compound that was open at certain times and they were entertaining people with tricks, magic and activities.
Later on, I saw them riding around interacting with punters and generally adding to the overall cheer and colour.
Great to see more bikes getting around, but some of the older guys in glitter glam hot pink Barbarella-style costuming might have scared a few of the kids.
I’m sure you will be able to get a hold of some footage of the official opening ceremony for the festival. There were massive puppets, fire work, a latern parade, an aboriginal welcoming ceremony and dancing, various singers to name a few.
Of most interest for this post was the use of bicycles during the later parade to help move the larger lantern around as needed – it was only when you looked closely could you see that bikes were instrumental in the latern below in particular.
Overall – a wonderful time!
Whether you are going for bikes or the music or the culture – Woodford has it all.
It was great to see so much wonderful music, vibrancy, creativity, colour, energy, care and community.
In September 2016, the supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa (which is a legal ruling issued by an Islamic religious leader) that prohibits women from riding a bike in a public place.
Mr Khamenei explained via the state media, that the fatwa was issued because “riding a bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned.”
My Stealthy Freedom is a onlinemovement that was started in 2014 by the activist/journalist Masih Alinejad. It is an online movement that began by sharing images of women wihtout their scarves, and has since evolved to draw international attention to a range of Iranian women’s rights and issues.
Such as not being allowed to ride a bike.
My Stealthy Freedom has been availtly promoting and sharing images of female bike riders on various social media outlets – many of which are shared using #Iranianwomenlovecycling.
This social media hashtag is used on Instagram and Twitter as a forum to publicly defy the fatwa, raise awareness and as an unregulated avenue for local female riders to show their love of riding.
Talk about locally-driven social and gender activism!
It is very inspiring to see this kind of movement – and being supported so many cyclists (and others) overseas who understand and value the importance of bike riding for all.
It is also great to see that bicycles really are universally loved.
It also makes me very humble to be living and riding in Australia.
It begs the question: How is your bike riding contributing to making society a better place for all?
Here’s a few pictures from Instagram’s #Iranianwomenlovecycling.
On Nov 21st, I posted the results of the Bicycle Network’s Helmet Law Survey. I was delighted this week to see some topical debate about the results taking place amongst the wider Australian cycling community. I was most impressed by the active, critical engagement and points raised by the Freestyle Cyclist Editor, who yesterday posted a very interesting commentary about the Bicycle Network itself and it’s handling of the Helmet Law Survey. If you haven’t see it yet, here it is. Always good to hear differing points of view and advocates pushing for more thoughtful approaches of key issuesfor further positive action!You can add your voice to the Helmet Law Reform here.Enjoy, NG.
Will Australia’s largest bike riding organisation be influenced by the majority of submitted participation/injury evidence and surveyed public opinion when it decides over the next few months whether to continue supporting Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws?
The Bicycle Network has published the results of its open survey during August and September on public and membership opinion of the helmet laws.
The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity.
2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%
As expressed by the Bicycle Network’s media release: A survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.
Which sounds similar to what Freestyle Cyclists has been saying for the past decade.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richard says the network will use the membership and public responses when evaluating its position on helmets, along with literature and expert opinions, with a decision expected in April 2018. “It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards. “The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”
The Bicycle Network has about 50,000 members. Its influence could force media and political consideration of the helmet law issue if its policy review objectively considers the mountain of evidence proving Australia’s helmet law failure and if it does the right thing in April by recommending repeal.
A majority of Bicycle Network members are lycra cyclists who always wear helmets and it is interesting that 38.9% wanted some form of repeal in their survey responses. Among the network members, 70.4% would continue to wear a helmet every time they ride.
Among all respondents to the Bicycle Network survey, 17.6% believed that bicycle helmets should never be mandatory, in line with the Freestyle Cyclists opinion that they should be voluntary among all ages. Only 1.9% of survey respondents said they never ride a bike and 30.4% of all respondents said they would cycle more if helmets weren’t mandatory.
Of course, the survey wasn’t measuring the hundreds of thousands of people who would actually ride a bike in the first place if not threatened with police punishment for cycling without a helmet.
The public health and traffic safety benefits would be enormous with both more cyclists and a 30% increase in current cycling duration. All the newly participating riders would otherwise probably be driving a car and the hospital data suggests fewer cyclists will be crashing and injuring some part of their body.
The Bicycle Network is under pressure from many within its own membership, from Australia’s pro-law academia and from the media to make no change to its long-standing position of support for mandatory bike helmet laws. Most mainstream media such as in Western Australia continue to ignore any reference to the Bicycle Network’s helmet policy review, let alone the survey results.
The few media outlets that have published stories online or in press about the survey results have highlighted the medical community’s opposition and/or quoted one of the many helmeted cyclists who so frequently crash and are convinced it has saved their life.
It’s likely that well over 99% of Australians are unaware of the review or survey, adding weight to the 19,327 who did know and let their majority helmet law opposition be known in the Bicycle Network survey.
Freestyle Cyclists urges the Bicycle Network to objectively evaluate the real world evidence of Australia’s mandatory helmet law failure and accept that its own pro-repeal survey results support the mountain of submitted evidence that the laws discourage a huge number of people from riding a bike, and with highly questionable injury results.
Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Kurilpa Derby in Brisbane.
It is a fantastic annual community celebration of life on wheels.
The Kurilpa Derby is a major social and community event where the main street of the West End (Brisbane) is blocked off for the afternoon and taken over by all things colourful, fun, family and related to bikes…and other environmentally-friendly people-powered mobility, such as skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, trolleys, prams and everything in between!
The Derby is hosted by West End Community Association and is open to the general public and showcases the best that the West End has to offer in terms of business, community and lifestyle.
I have not previously been to the Derby before and this year it came highly recommended. Boy and I glad I went.
I had a brilliant time.
What happened at Kurilpa Derby?
The event is a much loved, anticipated and popular event.
It was a stunning, sunny day – and there was a great turn out.
Leki was at her floral best and I went as a jokey to pay homage to the ‘derby’ theme and also for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.
The day started with the Kurilpa Derby Street Parade.
Leki and I joined in the street parade along with all the other participants floats, families and locals.
The Parade was colourful and noisy and a lot of fun. We were surrounded by colour and energy and lots of locals, families and community groups participated.
The effort and thought that people had put into decorating whatever parade mode they had and their costuming was impressive.
There was so much to see in the parade, like the Brazilian dancing girls, a ‘public pool’ (float), beautifully decorated rickshaws, couches on wheels, unicycles, a tall bike, lots of environmentally-themed mobile displays and a number of killer drumming troupes who keep the parade bopping along.
An amazing oversized water rat ended up winning the float first prized prize.
My personal parade favourite was the beekeeping team-theme float. This was an understand, but well executed exhibit that had a spunky lady dressed as a bee inside a box decorated as the ‘hive’ as their float. This hive float was pulled by two fully equipped bee keepers (in full bee keeping suits including smoke cans). This crew handed out ices-poles anyone who wanted them the whole time – brilliant!
After the Parade, the road remained closed and there were a range of activities, demos, novelty races and entertainment, such as a Pet Parade, a cocktail race, skateboard demonstration and heaps of other novelty races.
It was brilliant to see so many visitors and families out and about. Kids were roaring up and down the street in between races enjoying the freedom, safety and fun of having an allocated street to roam free and go wild.
It was such a delight to see the community – all locals and visitors alike – come together in such a celebratory and inclusive way.
As the sun went down the festivities continued. The bars, shops, cafes and restaurants did a roaring business and were keep buys all day and night.
Many people stayed on after to attend the Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet, which is a brilliant community potluck dinner extravaganza.
If you have never been to the Kurilpa Derby before, be sure to put it on the calendar for next year. It is well worth it!
For this blog post, we are heading to the U.S. -not for Halloween, but the night before – Witch’s Eve! I’ve been keeping my eyes open for one event in particular. I’ve been waiting in earnest to see what happened this year for Mala Bruja NYC Alleycat Race. This is an all-female charity Alleycat Bike Race. But alas, it seems like it didn’t go ahead this year. I’m still posting about this awesome race as I think it is important more people recognise, appreciate and celebrate the wonderful diversity of urban riding culture – and nothing does that more than Alleycats. I’m sad it didn’t go ahead this year, but these events can be challenging to organise, so maybe next year. Either way, kudos to those who did make an effort to make it happen for the last couple of years. We salute you! We definitely need more events like this one- and most critically in Aust!! Enjoy! NG.
This weekend most Americans are celebrating Holloween.
The night before Halloween is Witch’s Eve.
For the last two years, an ultra-cool crew headed up by Caro and Kenya have put on an all-female charity Alleycat bike race in NYC on Witch’s Eve.
I have been following this event. I think it is a great initiative and I wish there were more like it! Reminds me of the good olde days when I helped out at Melbourne Alleycat races – what a blast!
Alleycat bike races are something to behold. They are informal race bike held in cities where riders need to navigate local streets and traffic to make check points and get back the fastest. It is also a massive social get together, have some fun and ride bikes with your mates.
Alleycats are well known for having a strong participation and fun focus. Some ride to compete, others just to be part of the fun.
Race formats for Alleycats can vary – but usually, there is not official race course that riders must take, but there are check points that need to be met. Riders get a map of the check points just before heading off and are free to make their own way there and back.
The fastest rider to meet all check points and get over the finish line is the winner.
Alleycats races are unsanctioned and can be run during the day or night. Riders race through city streets and have to navigate normal traffic and vehicles while the race is going on. This is why Alleycat races are often perceived by many to be quite dangerous.
Meeting check points must be authenticated in some way. This varies depending on the race, but is often something like a stamp, badge, signature, or some other object that must be gathered at each check point as evidence.
Often there are activities and/or obstacles at each checkpoint. These can fun, entertaining, challenging and range from easy to hard. Activities could be beer-drinking, eating dry Weed-Bix, doing exercise (like 20 star jumps) or some bike skill – like track stands, monos or jumps. They are designed to add a little more variety and fun to the race – as you can see in Dave Gustafa’s video below, which was posted on the Alleycat Facebook page.
The map of race checkpoints is usually provided right before the race starts, so riders who know the city well have a hometown advantage – hence the attraction for bike couriers. Participants can pretty much ride anywhere they need to to make the checkpoints – on or off-road, through buildings, parks, uni campuses, between houses – where ever and however is needed.
It is an all-female dress-up charity bike race around New York City. The event has been running the last two years and has had a great turn out. It is well supported by entrants as well as spectators and support crews and family, friends and fans.
It costs $10 to enter the race, with the money going to charity.
All bikes are accepted (not just fixes) and costumes are highly encouraged.
Two years ago was the inaugural Mala Bruja ‘Hellcat’ race. With short notice and planning, the event still managed to pull over 70 female riders on the night. If you want to find out more details of this event, of which there were over 70+ women- lots of ace photos too!
Australia does not have a massive bike courier culture like NYC or San Franciso. However we do have a dedicated and cool crew in all major capital cities. Personally, I’d love to see some more events like this happening in Australia.
Races like this show the awesome diversity and variety in bikes, riders and lifestyles – and is a great way to bring people together.
Even if you are not up for riding in an Alleycat, helping out at one of the races (or checkpoints), or going to spectate is a brilliant way to support the event.
As the world heads more for mainstream and conservative conformity – events like the Mala Bruja Alleycat are so important.
Although these events are often secretive when unregulated (so you need to know the organisers, riders or bike messages who are part of it to know of the race) yet they still contribute much mystique, diversity and spice to our current urban cycling milieu.
Love them or hate them, Alleycat events like the Mala Bruja ticks many boxes: they are social, healthy, recognise bike skills , promote inclusion, have strong participation females urban rides, raise money for charity, bring community together and nurture our valuable, unique and much-needed sub-cultures.
General Public – Think outside the bike!!
Personally, I think there is incredible value in recognising and celebrating the uniqueness and variety in the biking community. It disturbs me that the vast majority of the general public view ‘cycling’ as being the lycra-clad road riders and that essentially this is the pervasive stereotype of what a rider or cyclist is.
Such views negate the massive diversity in styles and types of riding – both urban and track like: MTB, fixi, singlespeed, trials, Enduro, fat bikes, Tall bikes, Unicycles, tricycles, e-bikes, Cyclocross, Crits, bike packing, BMX, DH, Cruisers, Communters, cargos….and the list goes on and on. Each of these styles has their own rich and vibrant communities.
I think all these bike ‘sub-cultures’ need to be valued and recognised as being part of the awesome variety and character that form our current biking community. I can only hope people look beyond the the lycra to see how amazing, distinctive and fertile our biking and cycling communities are. Viva la Alleycats!
On meeting, we immediately hit it off. We had a shared passion for promoting more bikes in our communities. We were both keen to attend each others’ sessions, but we had to present at the same time! Eck!
We swapped contacts and have stayed in touch since. I was delighted to see that Jac, Bike Bendigo, their local partners and what looks like their whole community – have been super busy because October is Bike Bendigo’s Bike Palozza month-long festival!
What is Bike Palooza Bendigo?
Essentially, Bike Palooza Bendigo is a month long bike festival hosted by Bike Bendigo to celebrate and promote biking, cycling and riding in and around the community of Bendigo, VIC.
Bike Bendigo is a community based organisation committed to getting more people on bikes in Bendigo. They partner with local council to promote the local area as a principal bicycle destination for all types of riders – and they are doing a damn fine job of it too!
Bike Palooza Bendigo has been in the media and it is great to see local businesses getting behind Bike Bendigo and the event and supporting it.
A well thought out event.
Kudos to the organisers as the event has been extremely well thought out, in relation to timing, types of events and locations.
Also, the consistency and originality of the event marketing theme (website, colours, animations etc) is original and distinctive – and there is a limited line of event pennants and T-shirsts and badges available.
This is a wonderful month-long event with over 120+ events to check out- it is very family friendly and definitely something for everyone!
There is the Ride2Work day, the inaugural Bendigo Cycle Classic, the Filmed by Bike International Bike Film Festival, Free Wheeling Fun open shed, Open Streets and heaps of community rides to name a few.
My hot tip event not to be missed is the Filmed by Bike screening.
This free event will be a screening of two of shows from the world renowned international bike film festival from Portland, Oregon: Bike Love and Adventure Shorts. To see these films – head down to: Hargreaves Mall this Friday (20th Oct). 6.30pm for 7pm start of films. Click here for more details. There will be a pop-up bar, plenty of comfy seating provided on the night, so BYO picnic, dinner and ride on it to see the screening.
Mind you – I’m keen to go on any of the community rides as well!!
I have been immensely impressed with the amount of work that Jac and the Bike Bendigo crew have put into the Bike Palozoo extravaganza. Amazing!
Congrats on such a brilliant showcase of your region, your town and for creating such a positive dialogue about, and promotion for, bike-friendly communities…and for extending the invitation for more cyclists to come a enjoy your very welcoming and bike-friendly town!
I can’t wait to head down and come for a ride!
Have fun to all those heading to Bendigo to support this awesome event, I hope you have a bikey-blast!
For those who have not yet gone – get on ya bike and get down there!