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

Giro D’Italia 100th – Forte! Rapido!

This year is a very special year, in addition to being the 200th ‘birthday’ of the modern bicycle, it is also the Giro D’Italia 100th edition Race – Horray!

The Giro D’Italia starts today and this year features a 3,572km course from Sardinia to Milan and includes six mountain top finishes as well as two testing time trials – I can’t wait!!!

 

What is the Giro anyway?
The first Giro D’Italia was held in 1909 to sell more copies of the local newspaper La Gazzetta dello sport.

In the initial first ten years, there were some major changes regarding classifications and format until its current race design was finally settled on. An Italian won every Giro for the first 40 years until the Swiss rider Hugo Koblet took out the event in 1950. It was pretty much an Italian only affair from 1909 – 1953.

After that, Italian champions often prevailed, but by then there were many other international riders winning such as Eddie Merckx (5 x winner) Bernard Hinault (3 x winner) and Miguel Indurain (2 x consecutive).

It took until 1988 for the first non-European, Andrew Hampsten (US) to win a Giro.

Giro D'Italia 100th
Source: Wikipedia

Who else is celebrating the Giro D’Italia 100th Race?

Er, anyone who loves the pro tours of course! ….and heaps of others people….. like you and me!

As you would expect, the media was in full celebratory flight, with the Independent, and the history of the race (and a focus on British rider successes of course) being promoted by The Telegraph. On a different note, Eurosport contributed 10 things to look for in this year’s race, whilst Sky Sports celebrated with a preview the 2017 race and a prediction that Nairo Quintana (who has featured on this blog before) will take out the gong this year.

I like Google’s humble and playful homage to the Giro, complete with a quirky little animation of riders going over the hills in the background, with today’s banner being:

Giro D'Italia 100th
Source: Google

What’s the fuss – it is just another Grand Tour race, right?

Well-known for its brutal weather and hill climbs, the Giro has a very special place in many cyclists’ heart. Famous for testing rider’s endurance, stamina and mental fortitude, the prominence of snow, rain and regularly produces a gruelling slog-fest race that is remarkable by anyone’s standards. On a number of occasions, the weather has gotten so bad, that races stages are flat out cancelled.

Hardest stages, whatever – I could totally to that!!!

I like this short 4.20mins video as it gives a super quick overview of just how brutal the Giro can be. It has some of my favorite historical stages like; ‘the day the big man cried’; when 81 riders started, but only 8 managed to finish; and (as a fellow Aussie who lived in the same areas where he grew up), I am extremely delighted to see the stage where Cadel Evan is wearing the leader’s jersey (Maglia Rosafor one day during the 2002 Giro (which Cadel ended up coming 14th in overall).

So this month, be sure to yell ‘Forte!! Forte!! Rapido!! Rapido!!’ full volume at your TV on all of those unrelenting snowy mountain stages!! Woohoo!!

Cycling from India to Sweden for love

Thanks CT for recommending this story as a post. This story is the perfect mix of all the good things that this blog celebrates- community, adventurousness and positive people making remarkable changes – but most importantly, how bicycles help people not only come together – but flourish as a result.  Reading about PK and Lottie really lifted my spirits and reminded me to be grateful for all the good things in life – and especially those that come on two wheels!

This post features a heartwarming tale of a serendipitous meeting, creativity, travel, hope, love and the bicycle ride that brought two lovers from opposite sides of the world together (*sigh*)!

For me, it brought up lots of happy memories of riding with family, friends and loved ones, the unique exhilaration, and opportunities that travel provides and how you should never give up on your dreams.

Cycling from India to Sweden for love

You may have heard of this tale; it is about PK (then a young Indian artist) and Lottie (a Swedish backpacker) who met in India while Lottie was travelling here in the mid-1970s. They met by chance and instantly fell in love. This is a picture of them now, over 35 years later.

 

Cycling from India to Sweden for love
Source: The Guardian – PK and Lotta in Sweden, where they live. Photograph: Scanpix Norway/Press Association Images

After a whirl-wind romance, Lottie had to return home. Missing each other terribly, PK decided to take fate into his own hands and embark on an 8,000 kms overland bike ride from India to Sweden to be with her again.

The full story of their initial meeting, PK’s bike journey and what has transpired since, is an epic story in itself- the details of which you can read more about here.

Ultimately, over 35 years later they are still happily married – and still riding bikes!

Love life, love bikes, love lovers

In a world that broadcasts so much doom and gloom, this story was a lovely reprieve. There are so many elements of PK and Lottie’s story that many of us can identify with. For those of us who have travelled overseas, or who cycle, or who have fallen madly in love their life (or all three!) wonderfully reaffirming love story.

I was also really touched by PK’s unwavering positivity and commitment to making their dreams come true. Unfortunately, it is quite rare these days to see a couple exude such genuine joyfulness and love for each other – and for life in general.

Which makes this story even more important.

It is a wonderfully reaffirming love story (for them) and a reaffirming life story as well (for us).

May each of us love well.

And may we all ride courageously

to make happen,

the things that make us most happy.

‘Starry Night’ Bike Path

I am often equally baffled and concerned riding bikes around Brisbane. It is not a city designed for easy bike use. There are areas and bike path networks dotted around, but the amount and ferocity of the road traffic is of leviathan proportions. Finding and linking the Brisbane bike paths to ride to work has had a remarkable positive impact. Which is why this new Polish bike path not only useful for urban mobility and to promote bike use, but I also see it as an fantastic aspirational challenge to other cities worldwide to lift their game and invest in more infrastructure to support cycling and walking. It serves as a wonderful precedence for other urban developers, city councils and political lobbyists to use as an example of what is possible – not just for resident use, but also as a tourist draw card and showcase of national technological advancement.

 

Starry Night  Bike Path

This is the new glow-in-the-dark bike path that was unveiled this month in Poland (near Lidzbark Warminiski). This bike path is revolutionary in that it made of synthetic particles call ‘luminophores’, which charge in the sunlight during the day, and glow at night. Luminophones can emit an arrange of colour, but designers decided on blue for visibility and to blend into the surrounds. Once charged these luminophones can radiate light for up to 10 hours – making it a beautiful and safer ride home at the darkest time of night.

This next offering in the evolution of safer, more eco-friendly and cost-effective bike lanes drew on inspiration from the Dutch solar-powered TPA Instytut Badan Techniczynch Sp. Z o. o bike path from 2014, however, unlike the Dutch path by Studio Roosegaarde, this Polish contemporary requires no external batteries or power – which really steps up the innovation and utilisation factor. Find more info about the Polish Starry Night Path here.

I hope that having such beautiful, productive and eco-friendly developments such as these, that promote city bike riding will go far to set the scene for other major cities as a means to inspire and stimulate policy discussion about encouraging and supporting increased urban bike use.

 

Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat
Source: Inhabitat

Invisible Bicycle Helmet

There are a number of things I love about this innovation – the invisible bike helmet.

Yes, it is primarily about bikes and most certainly about creating positive and safe biking change.

However, it is a reinvention of the normal and breaking many (social and technical) barriers. Here are some reasons why this innovation is so special:

  • it is NOT from an English-speaking country (and not presented in English – how refreshing!)
  • it took the two inventors sooo long to get the research right (seven years!!)
  • their overall commitment, passion and teamwork is inspiring
  • and most importantly … the creators are two Swedish female Industrial Designers leading the (male dominated) field …. and kicking ass!!

How the hell…

I like the revolutionary and stylish 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  – how Swedish chic!).

I’m still in awe of the engineering behind how it is deployed and works and I think the 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 using one of these helmets in Australia.

I know you have to have a registered Australian Safety Approved helmet here. But let’s face it, in some respects Australia can be so far 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. They are up to their second model already and have won an European Patent Office Award (2016) patent. Models can come with stylish personalised covers. Sign me up!!

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

 

The right to feel the wind in your hair – Cycling Without Age

Everyone has a right to ride a bike and feel the wind in their hair – so here is a community cycling initiative that is right up my alley!!

“Cycling Without Age” is a movement started in 2012 by Ole Kassow. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a rickshaw. He started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents. Cycling Without Age website. Now four years into operation, this project has made thousands of elderly people incredibly happy; has over 400 purpose built rickshaws, ridden by 3,000 volunteer ‘pilots’ and can be found all over Denmark, as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Singapore, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands, France and Chile. I can’t wait for it to come to Australian cities.

 

 

I think this project is highly progressive for a number of reasons:

It’s an amazing way for the elderly (or others?) to be reintegrated into everyday life, despite various mobility or health issues.

It provides an amazing opportunity for those who would not necessarily get outside often (if at all), including the invigorating and curative physiological and psychological effects that fresh air, excitement and social contact have on degenerative conditions.

To remind an ever busy, self-centred and technological world of the finer things in life, like taking the time to ride in a park with friends – and for it to be so meaningful.

The organisation has even taken ‘international’ cycling trips – from Denmark over the sea to Norway, for one – what an amazing trip of a lifetime at any age.

It serves as a reminder that our Elders still have dreams, hopes and life to live – just as we all do.

Basically, this is a community service. Not only does it genuinely promote cycling for all ages, it also actively integrates elders into society. As well it creates opportunities for unusual and significant social networks and relationships to form between disparate community members – like the riders and the passengers, who otherwise would probably not have ever met.

In many eyes, this is a fantastic example of how bicycles can have a truly positive effect on people and communities. What an inspiration!

For more background and details, see Ole presenting his project at a TED Copenhagen in the video below.