Kurilpa Derby

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.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

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.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

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!

Below are a few pics from the day. See more photos at local Greta Pavlova’s Album.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.comKurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com


Images my own, from Kurilpa Derby FB, @imogenbunting & @brisvagueness. Montage from The West End Magazine.

Riding ‘The Big Push’

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

It was an awesome event!

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

Then we had a lovely slow roll around town.

What happened while riding ‘The Big Push’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The day was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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

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

Granny, Wait for Me!

Granny, Wait for Me! is a beautifully illustrated children’s book.

I first saw this book while at an independent publishing/meet the author book event at  Little Gnome – my awesome local bookshop. This book is written by Sarah Owen and illustrated by Anil Tortop.

It immediately caught my eye because of the bicycle on the cover – and the delightful energy that the illustration exuded.

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

I flipped through the book and instantly fell in love with it.

What makes Granny, Wait for Me! so good?

There are many children’s books about riding bikes. But this one is a little different.

The story follows a young boy and his grandma who take their bicycles on an outing. In this book, the usual stereotypes are reversed, and it is ‘Granny’ who is speeding around,  whizzing to-and-fro, racing and doing death defying tricks and the young boy who is struggling to keep up.

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

Granny, Wait for Me - Bicycles Create Change.com

The pair have a day of grand adventures. It is lovely to see Granny in the position of being the strong, confident, fit, happy and able protagonist in this story. I see incredible value in children’s books presenting different ways of looking at life and in showing diversity in people, lifestyles and choices – and this book certainly sheds some new light on perceptions of what a Granny ‘should’ be, and do.

Books like these also help progress discussions about family, relationships, assumptions, social expectations and not judging a book by its cover (oh dad!).

The added bonus of the bike means discussions about positive impacts of riding,  how cycling is wonderful for all people, regardless of age or ability – and that you can never really tell a people’s ability or history with bikes just by looking at them. With such a predominance in current society of cycling being associated with young, fit, male road-riders, this book provides a wonderful alternative perspective.

I have lamented elsewhere on this blog, that I find the lack of inclusion,  appreciation or unconscious negative associations of older people and riding,  to be serious social issue – as evidence in previous posts such as  Cycling without Age and my meeting with the formidable Hubert and his tricycle.

But it is good to know that there are awesome parents (and others) out there who are actively engaging our next generation by reading these kind of stories.

This book comes with a warning!

In a review of this storybook for Reading Time, Heather Gallagher wrote: This beautifully illustrated picture book is told in rollicking verse. The story is a simple one, a boy and his granny go for a bike ride and picnic at the park. The Granny is no tea-sipping, knitting gran – she’s one who likes to swing on the monkey bars and speed off on her bicycle. In a reversal of roles, the boy is shown as the reticent one, while Granny craves adventure. This book could be used in a classroom setting to discuss different kinds of grandparents and what they like to do. It would be a good one to read on Grandparent’s Day. Just one word of caution, while the illustrations do depict a warm relationship between Granny and the boy, in practice she speeds off on her bicycle, leaving him in her wake – hence, the title. (Emphasis my own).

I really like that this book comes with a warning – that this seemingly harmless ‘whimsical and fun-filled story’ could be ‘misconstrued’ and need to be explained.

I understand how some children might find it challenging that Granny is so active that she could roar off on a bike (being abandoned).  Of course this would need to be explained to a little kid who need  reassurances of not ‘being left behind’ – but this is not made clear in Heather’s review. Although I am sure this is what she was implying, my mischievous brain also likes to think it is the notion of Granny ripping on a bike that is also challenging!

I like that this book is presenting Granny in a light other than being a stereotypical, gentle, frail and caring …… non-bike rider. The image of her enjoying a fast, fun and furious ride is a great equaliser for talking about any other rider gearing up for an MTB race, criterion and any other cycling event where the whole point is to ride hard, be adventurous and get ahead! What… older people don’t ride bikes? Like hell….Go, Granny Go!!

What a great conversation to have with children!

That in itself makes me love this book even more!

You don’t need to ride fast and furious to have my vote – you just need to be on a bike and going at whatever is your speed. Whatever age you are, whatever speed you go – just that you are riding a bike is what makes it awesome in my book!

More happy elders riding bikes, please!

So next time you see an elder out on their bike – be sure to give ’em hearty wave and a word of support.  Heavens knows we need more like them reminding us all that biking is a wonderful activity for everyone in our communities.

Granny, Wait for Me! – cover illustration / time-lapse from Anil Tortop on Vimeo.  Images in post courtesy of Anil’s Behance

The Big Push for Road Safety

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

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

What is The Big Push for Road Safety ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queensland Police marketing the Queensland Road Safety Week

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

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

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

Why will this event be great to go to?

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Push for Riding - Bicycles cCreate Change

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.

CoastEd Bike Ride Treasure Hunt

Prescript – I am teaching a Summer Semester course at Griffith Univerity called ‘Community Internship’. There are 33 students in my workshops. This course provides an opportunity for students to develop a range of professional and personal skills while making a difference in their community through combining volunteering with academic learning through a community internship in which they undertake a 50-hour minimum volunteering. This week the students are doing their Peer Discussion assessments, where they discuss and analyse key aspects, events and learnings from their placements.

Imagine my surprise when during one of these sessions, Sienna Harris, who is working with the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, mentioned that her organisation was hosting a bicycle treasure hunt! After the assessment, I got the details – and here they are. I’m very grateful to Sienna for sharing this event here. Best of luck to the CoastEd crew for this event and to Sienna for completing her internship!

 

Free for the next two days?

Got your bike and not sure where to ride while visiting the Gold Coast tomorrow (19th Jan) and Friday (20th Jan)?

Well!!

What better way to enjoy the stunning Summer sunshine at the Gold Coast, than to grab your bike and some mates and participate in an explorative treasure hunt to learn more about the gorgeous local coast environment there?  Let’s go!

 

The CoastEd Bike Challenge – Gold Coast, Australia.

This activity is a fantastic community engagement initiative as it: raises community awareness about current coastal management projects, helps increase local knowledge, encourages direct social/educational engagement with the surrounding coastal environment, is a fun family friendly event, and best of all …. all done on bicycles!!

The focus of this event is a 1.5-hour treasure hunt bike ride around the local Gold Coast Spit region. On this bike ride you explore the north region on Thursday (19th Jan) and the south beaches on Friday (20th Jan) – so you can go for one session or both. The main idea is to enjoy a beautiful morning out riding on bikes while learning a little more about the diverse and unique coastal wildlife, plants and natural features of the Gold Coast beach area and how they are being managed.

I think this initiative is an innovative and memorable way to encourage more people to get out on two wheels as well as exploring the beautiful spit coastal area while getting updated on current coastal management challenges, responses and successes.

Not only a great day out on the bike – but a great way to wow your friends at dinner parties with your new found knowledge of Gold Coast coastal protection practices!

You can bring you own bike for free or hire a bike on the day.

 

North Spit Area (Thursday 19th, January 2017 ) and South Spit Area (Friday 20th, January 2017).

City of Gold Coast
Source: City of Gold Coast

 

It looks like the CoastEd team has been working very hard to put together a thoughtful, fun, informative and appealing series of community events. I hope we see more community events like this that are focused on getting locals (and visitors) out on bikes in an active, social and educational way. It is also great to see a summer program that is not pushy, exclusive, condescending or over-priced in content, audience or marketing.

So, if you are in the Gold Coast area over the next couple of days – book in, grab your bike and head down for some awesome bike-riding treasure-hunting coast-protecting fun in the sun!

 

CoastEd
Source: CoastEd

 

CoastEd Organisation Background

Prepared and written by Sienna Harris.

The CoastEd program is an educational component of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) that began in 2001 to create a bridge between policy makers and the community. For the past 15 years, the program has worked in partnership with the City of Gold Coast City Council, who have assisted with funding the delivery of this outreach program to the local community and school-based groups. The program was implemented and developed in response to enquiries directly from the Gold Coast community about information, complaints and questions on coastal management. It started small at ten sessions per year and now caters for over 5500 participants at sixty sessions a year, providing an opportunity for Gold Coast community members and youth to learn about our local coastline. The CoastEd program seeks to increase the capacity of the local community to participate in coastal decision making through raising awareness of South-East Queensland’s current coastal and environmental issues. These include management issues, engineering structures, wildlife and its habitats.

Primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and community groups centred on the Gold Coast are offered free and subsidised education sessions based on a wide variety of topics that relate back to the region’s coastal zones. The interactive, hands-on sessions that run for either 30 or 60 minutes have been tailored around the Australian Schools Curriculum and the three main learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Schools are also offered optional curriculum-based worksheets tailored to the level of the participants. Although it was initiated on the Gold Coast, the sessions have also been run in schools from Brisbane to Northern NSW and can be delivered at the school, community hall, on campus at Griffith or on field trips that are undertaken on local beaches. The sessions are run by researchers in the fields of coastal management, marine science and environmental education, and involve surveys, flora and fauna identification techniques and primary data collection.

The information provided during sessions is based on the latest and most up-to-date coastal research because of the ongoing research conducted at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management and via current data that is provided through their partnership with the City of Gold Coast. Maggie Muurmans coordinates the CoastEd program, but the team also includes Peta Leahy, Daniel Ware, Sally Obst, Chantal Hujbers, Tom Murray, Tegan Croft, and James Gullison. The team’s knowledge and expertise in a wide range of fields have allowed them to produce Coastal Plant Pocket Guides for both the Gold Coast region and Western Australia, and a Rocky Shore Pocket Guide for the Gold Coast. As well, Teacher Packs ranging from Prep to Year 12, which cover the topics of Coastal Management and Engineering, Coastal Ecology, and Coastal Tourism and Recreation.

The CoastEd program also works closely in conjunction with other coastal management programs and initiatives that run through the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management; these include BeachCare, Dune Watch and Ocean Connect. On top of these other sessions and activities, Maggie Muurmans also runs School Holiday programs, (twice weekly) which are aimed at children, young people and families. These sessions and activities are interactive and hands-on, with a focus on connecting the community with their ocean environment for educative purposes, but also in the hope of building community stewardship and responsibility.

Bicycle Cakes

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been noticing a lot more ‘special’ cakes appearing at festivities lately. I am talking about a very particular kind of cake and I’m wondering if it is just me who is seeing them popping up more regularly.

I should preface this by saying that I am most certainly NOT a cake person. In fact my palate is definitely squarely in the sour/umami camp. Which is why I think I am that one step removed enough to observe the gentle but firm increase in the number of bicycle themed cakes that have magically appeared en masse.

cyclewebhouse.
Source: Cycle Web House

The rise of the bike cake

They are certainly not your run-of-the-mill normal cakes. They are hard not to miss given they are often covered in garish-coloured icing and they are clearly decorated with a plethora of bicycle inspired settings and motifs.

I’m pretty sure that cakes and baked goods have always been pretty popular and prevalent.  If there is an actual increase in cakes in general, I think it could have more to do with the upcoming holidays, Christmas and festivities about to take place – and less to do with a sudden unexplainable boom in cyclists needing to express their love of life and two-wheels through the only medium viable in the house at the time their expressive urge takes hold – namely sugar, flour and water. But I could be wrong. Either way, bicycle theme cakes are here to stay.

Whether the bike cake influx is an actual and real phenomenon, or just because I am now more hyperaware of them given that I am seeing them everywhere (similar to the ‘buying a blue car scenario’ – where you are looking to buy a car, and the one you like is say for arguments sake – blue and now as you look around you start seeing blue cars EVERYWHERE – well I think the same thing could be happening here). Either way, it is definitely a ‘thing’.

Bicycle cakes for every occasion

A birthday for a 45-year old man, a wedding cake centrepiece, a kid’s 8th birthday party and a retirement party – all with bicycle cakes. How can this be? It certainly makes for interesting party conversations and throws down the gauntlet to any would-be home-made cake making challenge. I have been impressed with the variety, ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness of some of the bicycle cakes I’ve seen. Whether it is a snapshot of a peloton on a road ride, or a solo MTB ride – many of these cakes transform the humble vanilla sponge or chocolate cake base into towering multi-mountain stage races before your very eyes.

I find many bicycle cakes to be equal parts gaudy, interesting, personal and a little unusual. In my experience, no matter what the cake looks like, it will always be delicious. Bicycle cakes are now branching out from traditionally being the sole realm of kid’s birthdays – as seen recently in the case of retirement, cycling event celebrations and of course wedding cakes……which of course I am no stranger to as my father made my own wedding cake – which was a tower of cupcakes decorated with various aspects drawn from my husband’s and my life – of which bicycles featured prominently of course! Suffice to say the cake was a smash hit and a truly memorable part of the day.  I will always appreciate the effort and thought that has gone into creating an edible vignette of someone’s life and most enduring passion.

Our childhood cakes

I remember as a kid, each year we were allowed to pick a theme or a topic for our birthday cake. Pirate ships, dump trucks, swimming pools, even our family cat – there was nothing my mum could not turn into a creative and visual spectacular that would make Nigella Lawson jealous. Every cake was just as equally delicious to eat as it was amazing to look at. I still marvel at how things like jelly, toasted coconut and licorice straps could be transformed into a giant wave with a surfer on top, a tabby cat’s fur or a swashbuckling marauder’s sword!

Seeing these bike cakes reminds me of happy times with family and friends, of mum’s home cooking and the love and effort that went into making our happiest dreams manifest before our eyes for all to enjoy and devour with delight. Hard to beat and certainly not the same as a store bought cake.

Have you seen, made or had a bike cake?

If you are keen to try your hand, or know someone who can make a bike cake for you and unless you have a favourite (family) cake or ye-olde-faithful cake recipe that has never let you down, or even if you want to mix it up and experiment or try a new flavour or style – then I highly recommend checking out Gretchen’s  Bakery where there are videos how to make your cake. She is a professional baker and on her blog she provides an amazing selection of layer cakes and vegan cakes and also has heaps of inspiring baking ideas and recipes to stimulate your cooking and eating pleasure – no matter what taste, age or event, there will be something on her list you can transform into any cyclists dream dessert.

I’d be very interested to hear if anyone else has been in contact with a bicycle themed cake. Would you/have you had a bicycle themed cake to celebrate a special occasion before? If so what scene would you want depicted on your cake?

Have a look at some of these beauties I’ve seen elsewhere online – a selection of which nearly covers the full cycling code spectrum! Get inspired,  get baking and share the love of bicycle cakes!

Enjoy and happy cake making, sharing and eating!

My cake corner
Source: My cake corner
My Cupcake Addiction by Elise Strachan
Source: My Cupcake Addiction by Elise Strachan
GJs Cakes
Source: GJs Cakes
Dexters
Source: Dexters
lissascakes
Source: lissascakes
Mountain Bike 21st Birthday Cake - Helen Miller
Source: Mountain Bike 21st Birthday Cake – Helen Miller

Increasing returned veterans’ social connection with bicycles

This is Bob.

I met Bob when he was out for his regular afternoon Bayside ride. I was returning from my afternoon ride, and when I first saw him, Bob and his friends were coming towards me in the opposite direction. He caught my eye, mostly because his riding group was a little unusual – they had a tandem out front followed by a couple of homemade recumbents,  of which Bob was on one. As a group they made quite and unusual sight!

Bob is a ex-serviceman who rides his homemade bike everyday with mates. In many ways his ride is just like any other group routine rides, but in others his story is special. For me it raises the critical issue of healthy social transition of returned veterans back into society – and the role that bicycles can play as means of facilitating increased social connections and rehabilitation for returned war veterans..

Returned Veterans making headway on two wheels

Bob and his recumbent

As is my style, I hailed him down and asked him about his bike. He was very happy to have a chat, and we ended up talking for a while.

Bob is a local to the bayside area and rides the foreshore every afternoon. He’s a war veteran and after an operation six years ago he was not able to ride upright, so he started riding recumbents.

To keep busy, Bob made his own recumbent which he usually rides, but today he was on his mates’ homemade recumbent as his was being repaired. He was lamenting not having his own bike today, as his mates’ recumbent seat did not fit him as well as his own does – being handmade, the seat he was in was not adequately adjustable to fit his size difference. But, that wasn’t going to stop him.

Most afternoons Bob and his mates go for a ride. Bob said they often ride together and raise a few eyebrows, not only because of the recumbent, but also because they were homemade. We continued chatting for a while about bike-related experiences and the said good bye.

Again, after hearing his story, I was blown away by the unexpected and amazing stories that people have about their bicycles. It also highlighted the unique bond the riders share in their common interest and recognition for the importance of bicycles in so any people’s lives.

 

Bob’s legacy

Bob’s story stayed with me for a few reasons. Aside from having the nous make his own road-worthy recumbent (which is impressive in itself), I was particularly moved when hearing about Bob’s experience of being a war veteran and his operation. It reminded me that you can never guess a person’s motivation to ride a bike, or what need it fulfils.

But more importantly, as a community member I really benefited from meeting Bob – I wanted to hear his story and ideas about his bike, his social rides and whatever he felt comfortable to tell me. I think when there is a natural, genuine and organic meeting between people, it can vastly improve how relaxed and ‘normal’ the interaction is. We also had a common love of bikes to chat about -but if we didn’t I would never have stopped to talk to Bob and I would have missed making a very valuable connection.

I can’t speak for Bob, but I really enjoyed meeting him. It was relaxed and interesting.I felt connect to my community, that I was richer for it too. I’ll give him a wave next time I see him as we whiz by – because that’s what people do in healthy communities -they recognise each other. It was not so much that Bob was an ex-serviceman, but that meeting Bob reminded me of the diversity in life and experiences that are in every community – that some groups are less recognised than others. I wondered where or who the other ‘Bobs’ were in our communities. Who else is isolated from social interaction? So many.

I hope those who need or want some social connection gets on a bike. Whether its loneliness, disability, depression or you just need some fresh air and a break – seems like going for a ride is non-threatening, easy and quick way to make a contact if you want to. What I like to call a ‘wave-buddy’. I’m not mates with Bob and I don’t know him, but next time I see I’ll wave and say.

On this blog I’ve posted on projects where bicycles are used to help Dads n Lads build better relationships, the elderly get out and mobile, and help increase bike riding and skills for people with disabilities, aboriginal school kids and other marginalised community members worldwide. After talking to Bob, the invisible impact and pervasiveness of how returned war veterans integrate back into society is a very real issue for many that I had not fully considered as being linked to benefiting from bicycles before.

Bicycles are useful, accessible and practical for a vast array of applications to pretty meet pretty much any social need, but using them as a social service and integration measure for returned veterans was not the first idea that sprang to mind. So my meeting with Bob really gave me something to think about and made me stop and to ponder other hidden demographics in our community that be overlooked, under-represented or inconspicuous to most other community member.

 

Returned veterans

It seems to me that returned war vets are all but invisible in our communities. I know they exist and some people might even know one, but their experiences are often so unique and unfathomable by most that it is no wonder that many service men find it difficult to recovery and have a  normal social life. But it seems to me that many of the bridging programs supporting returned veterans’ reintegration into society are either intensely personal consultations – like therapy and debriefing – which are understandably only privy to, or strategic social interventions focused on building and maintain relationships with immediate family members, such as spouses and kids. From my initial research into returned vet services, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot helping vets as individuals create their connections with wider community members.

The Mates 4 Mates program is an exception and an exemplar model of bringing vets together to get out and do social activities together – especially as it is focused on physical activities in public spaces. So this is where bikes could be useful. I have no doubt the they would have already had some longer organised riders (like annual charity fundraisers types), but was more curious to see if they had any smaller, regular social riders around local communities.

 

Why not more local community rides?

Bike riding is not for everyone, but neither is sailing a yacht. At least cycling is more accessible and familiar to most people, so is less threatening and more convenient. Also, once experienced riding a bike can be done individually and part of a group. As in Bob’s case, riding a bike and getting returned veterans out to do something active with their mates in the community seems like a support service area that is underutilised. I appreciate not all vets would be into riding, nor want to participate in civic interactions – but at least for those like Bob who do – recreational biking is a productive, healthy, outdoor alternative that can lead to even greater well-being, social contact and improved livelihoods. Just as men’s sheds are bringing older men together, perhaps there is an opportunity for bikes to do the same for returned veterans.

So next time you are out for ride – be sure to wave to those going past. Include and recognise your fellow riders, who ever they are –  give them a nod and look in the eye – maybe even start up a conversation – you never know who you might meet! After all we are cyclists that make up our cycling community – so what kind of community do you want it to be?

Dan MacMunn’s MTB Life

 

Postscript – Unfortunately, the video that is the basis for this post was removed from public viewing a few weeks after this was posted – it was a real gem for those who were lucky enough to view it before it was taken down!


 

This engaging MTB video of Dan McMunn’s MTB Life is an entrant in the Shimano Video competition and is a stellar example and timely reminder for all – that riding a bike should be a joyous addition to life, one that is shared with those you care about, and it should be a way of enriching your quality of life, relationships and self.

Dan MacMunn is a well respected and accomplished Australian Endruo rider and all round good guy hailing from Spring Gully in Victoria. I have known Dan for a number of years now and I have followed with interest his impressive rise during the 2013- 2014 Victorian Enduro Series and his sojourns racing Enduro overseas.

I love the genuineness of this video; it is remarkable in its simplicity and celebration of the everyday life. I often hear (many male) riders complaining about all manner of family commitments, or partners who don’t ‘let’ them go riding or having to work too hard (and the list of excuses goes on).

Which is why this video is so refreshing. It embraces all those elements that others say hold them back from riding and highlights the domestic as something that is beneficial, encouraged and valuable to being a good rider. I also really appreciate that this video recognises and brings to the fore Dan’s family members as being integral to his riding experiences – the imagery that his kids are never far away from him, that biking is a shared experience and not undertaken as separate to those close to you, or in isolation from who may not be as competent on the bike as you.

For me, this insight into Dan’s life is not only interesting because it is frankly personal, but also that it is consolatory of those who support him to ride. Family members are often positioned as silent second fiddles to bike riders and are usually only publicly recognised when thanked by their rider on the podium. Which is why I like this video so much, as it openly acknowledges Dan’s appreciation for the everyday unification of the familial and the sportive aspects of his mountain biking, which I find is an often unrecognised and underrepresented factor as to what makes a rider.

Families, kids and partners are often represented as being, at best invisible (or maybe supportively cheering on the sidelines at races), at worst hindrances that ‘take time away’ from riding bikes. A case in point is an interview Dan did with Australian Mountain Bike magazine, which gives intricate details of his adventures and travels competing riding and leading up to him competing in the European World Series (EWS) Enduro Circuit, which is really inspiring to read. However,  towards the end of the article is a single line by itself reading ‘Dan’s recently become a Dad, but still plans to compete again next year’. Aside from the paltry recognition given to his family that Dan has ‘recently become a dad’, the further statement ‘but he still plans’ to keep riding insinuates that your riding life is over if you have kids – what a crock! – as this video well demonstrates!

Surely riders like Dan are better riders because of the support of his family – not in spite of it. (No mention of course that his partner is also a highly decorated rider, who is a champion Australian Elite women’s XC racer and that they both ride hard, love the sport and give back to the biking community, but I suppose this particular article is specifically about his riding experiences). Either way, my point is that family members of bikers are rarely given the prominence or framed in such a positive, fun and integrated way as in this video – so kudos to those who produced this video!

It also signifies a more salient aspect of riding – it is proof that riding a bike is so much more than being fast on trails and that a true champion rider is not just skilled on the bike, but off the bike as well.

Dan McMunn is a fantastic advocate and ambassador for the biking lifestyle; a killer pinner on the trails, a sincere and principled man, dedicated to his family, work and community and all round honourable and solid man.

I can only hope the rest of us get to experience the obvious joy and happiness that Dan derives from both his riding and his family – what a positive change that would be.

The Cultural Significance of Bicycles in Cameroon

By Gabriel Besong Etchu

 

Bicycles are western innovations that were designed for sightseeing, leisure, sports and short-distanced movement. However, in Cameroon, bicycles play a fundamental role regarding of our cultural exigencies. Before the arrival of cars and motorcycles, bicycles were regarded as ostentatious goods and a basic necessity when it comes to cultural issues such as marriages. For example, before a man marries a woman, he has to do “knock-door” which simply implies that he can only seek the consent of the woman’s parents by knocking their door with a bicycle.

 

This bicycle will be used by the future spouse to go to farms that are far away, and to local market places. This is why in Cameroon, bicycles are often regarded as part and parcel of the bride price. Below is a picture of a young farmer who has accumulated some capital in order to afford a used bicycle, which he could offer as part of the price for his bride. In addition, it is generally believed in Cameroon that when a married woman stresses for long by trekking every day, she will wither like a flower. Therefore, in Cameroon, bicycles have a dual cultural significance in relation to marriage.

 

Source: World Culture Pictorial
Source: World Culture Pictorial

 

Gabriel Beson Etchu is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Cameroon’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 2nd May to 15th May.