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

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

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

EWS 2017

Source: EWS

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

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

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

Rotorua is the place to ride

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

Round 1 is anyone’s game

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

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

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

EWS 2017 Starts today

Source: EWS

Source: EWS

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

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

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

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

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

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

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

Earth Hour 2017

Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

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

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

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

International Women’s Day Background

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

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

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

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

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

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

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

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

 

International Women's Day

Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

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

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

International Women's Day

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

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

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

Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

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

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

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

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

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

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

What did you do to commemorate this day?

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

How can bicycles impact the lives of Non-riders?

Reflections from a Colombian ‘non-rider’.

 

This guest post is by Diana Vallejo. Diana works at Griffith University as a Client Services Officer. She is originally from Colombia, but she and her husband have been in Australia for a number of years now. I met Diana through work and adore her Latino spunkiness, honesty and vibrant approach to life. I asked Diana to write a blog post about her experience with bicycles after she had described herself very resolutely as ‘NOT a bike rider at all’. I was intrigued. In what way are bicycles represented in the life of a non-rider? Are there ‘invisible’ bicycle connections that non-riders are just not as conscious of, and how far/deep do you have to go before these links are excavated and made ‘visible’. I am always keen to explore a variety of voices and experiences regarding how different people relate to bicycles –and not just bike riders. So I asked her to contribute her thoughts considering her identity ‘as a non-rider’ and challenged her to see how, if at all, bicycles had impacted her life. Following is an excerpt of what she found. – Nina.


Bicycles? I haven’t really thought about them that much…

For me, bicycles are so mundane, so common and simple.

I was not able to see what the great deal is about a mundane bicycle. Until one day I was talking to Nina about how much she loves bicycles and then I found myself very excited just talking about it from some different perspectives.  I would not necessarily have recognised my own connections to bikes (out of sight, out of mind), but during our conversation I was presented with questions like: ‘Well, even though you don’t ride a bike now, you must have some experience with bikes in the past or growing up – what is/was it and how do you feel about them now? How do you remember bikes featuring in your life? How are they being used in your home country?’ I was surprised to be excited about how much I actually had in common with bicycles, despite the fact that I am not at all a ‘cyclist’.

So, to my surprise, I was able to very quickly make three very immediate and reaffirming associations with how bicycles have been linked to me personally, or through my identity – a revelation which surprised me.

  1. My first bike.

Even though I am not crazy about bikes, I can tell you everything about my first bicycle. Funny that! Was it a present from Santa Claus…(or in my case, because of where I come from – a staunchly Catholic community) – was it a Baby Jesus present? Don’t even try to make me explain to you how new born babies bring all the Christmas presents to all those homes! But nonetheless, there was my present – and I remember it vividly.

It is unbelievable how I can still remember every detail of that first bike. I can remember it better that my first doll or my first kiss! It had a green frame and white wheels. It was so beautiful – and fast! I spent some many afternoons on it. I made many friends riding it, and that bike holds for me some of my best memories from my childhood. My first, personal and immediate connection with bicycles.

  1. One bike, one dream, more than one life changed.

But for some other people, this may only be a wish, or even a dream. The second association I can make is through my national identity. I am from Colombia and we have one of the best cyclists in the world, Nairo Quintana. He was raised in a family with economic difficulties where a bicycle was a luxury.  He lived in a small village 16 kilometres from the nearest school. His father saved $30 USD to buy him a used mountain bike. He said once “I treasured it and every time I rode it, I pictured myself racing and winning” – and he did! His best career results are winning the 2014 Giro d’Italia, 2016 Vuelta a España, and 2nd place overall in the Tour de France of 2013 and in 2015. Nairo changed his world thanks to a bicycle. His story and fame gives hope to Colombians and some any others. As an individual he is a national hero, and internationally, he is known and respected. We are proud that cyclists and non-cyclists alike know of his achievements on the humble bicycle.

Nairo Quintana

Source: BBC Onesport

  1. Rough tracks and new beginnings with bicycles for Colombia students

 Postobon partnership Bike Program

On a national level, bicycles are well known in Colombia as being an instrument of social transformation. Another beautiful way Colombians utilise bicycles is through a very well-known bicycle donation program that gets more rural poor children to go to school. This program is via a partnership with Postobon (#1 Soft drink company in Columbia) and World Bicycle Relief – called Mi Bici. I have heard the CEO of Postobon saying that “bicycles are an engine for social transformation, impacting in a positive way”.

This program gives kids bicycles designed especially for the rough Colombian terrain. In some parts of rural Colombia, kids can spend between 45 minutes and two hours travelling to and from school. Sometimes the students cannot afford buses, and the walk can be dangerous and exhausting. Bicycles can reduce most of these trips to about 20 to 30 minutes. But for many of these kids, it is more than just time that is improved by having these bicycles.

More about WBR’s Mi Bici Bike

Why do I believe this is a great program? This is a great program because it is a sustainable program and it allows the kids to have time to rest, exercise, study. This will increase their possibility for a better future. But most importantly for me, this program allows recipients to have more free time to be kids and play!

The Mi Bici Project was WBR’s first foray into Latin America. Just like WBR’s African Buffalo Bicycles, the Latin American bicycles also have a high resistance to environmental forces and tough terrain and a capacity to carry 100 kgs. Also, the seats are ergonomic, frames are reinforced, the wheels are protected, and the breaks are resistant to the weather. This makes the bikes very durable and they are easy to change.

The program also generated jobs for local small businesses and mechanics who are trained to service the bicycles. This has opened up a new employment stream in areas where bikes are distributed, where there is a need for maintenance services and repairs. All this has also been possible thanks to World Bicycle Relief (WBR). WBR were invited to be part of this program because of their experience with similar programs in Africa through their Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP).

So yes there is no doubt in my mind that bicycles can change the world! Or at least they are for these kids that are receiving them!

This video introduces a girls who has received a Mi Bici Project bike.

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

 

NZ’s Tree of Bikes

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

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

 

The Tree of Bikes Origin

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

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

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

 

Rotorua Bike Tree

Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas is nearly upon us.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

I wish you a minimalist and very happy time!

Baladarshan

Source: The New Internationalist – Baladarshan

Today’s post focuses on the recent UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report by the UN Transportation department. The report is officially entitled Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling: policies a & realities from around the world and was released September 2016. This 70-page report is focuses on investigating issues of active urban transportation in middle and low-income countries. It outlines current major road accident risks, and describes some effective interventions that are being employed to save lives and increase mobility for improved future livelihoods.

 

UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report

It identifies a few key concerns that are no surprises

  • active transport is safer
  • better for the environment
  • uptake is restricted due to a lack of infrastructure and investment
  • unsafe roads are a major social issue
  • increasing impact and amount of road deaths
  • transport is a key issue as it generates nearly ¼ of all carbon dioxide emission and is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases

Handy Acronyms for dinner parties
NMT– (Non-motorized transport) – such as walking, cycling animal carts, skateboarding, cycle rickshaw, hand-carts
IMT (Intermediate Modes of Transportation) is a broad term for low-cost transport that essentially fills the mobility gaps needs between walking and having a car. So push bikes are included as are low engine-capacity motorbikes and tricycles often with adaptions such as side cars, trailers and other load bearing modifications.
SDG – UN Sustainable Development Goals

Data collection
Stakeholders from government and civil society in 20 countries were surveyed three times over a 3-month period (March – May 2016). Stakeholders were invited to suggest other research participants as well to expand the research pool.

I thought it was interesting that in the data collection, only ‘stakeholders’ were invited to participate. So this means only people from ‘a range of independent or university institutes, global agencies, non-government organisations, consultants, individual activists or government officials’ participated in this study. The rationale given was that they these people were ‘more likely to have insight into and knowledge of NMT policy status and access to data in their region, country or city’ (p 10).

Summary of key findings

  • 1.3 million people died in road accidents last year = one every 30 seconds.
  • Need for nations/cities to have some level of (national) NMT commitment
  • Increase in global awareness to the intersection of poverty and transportation about the UN SDGs.

 

Key NMT policy themes

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

What are the current types of NMY commitment – Transport Policy, funding policies for facilities, National Policy, Infrastructure Acts, related-by-laws, Strategic Frameworks, etc.

Type of supporting policies that will support the overall NMT commitments: vehicle parking restrictions, public transportation and all kinds of policies such as traffic calming, enforcement, education, budgets, encouragement policies, end-of-trip and others.

Local MNT planning – putting people before transport, favouring NMT over motorised transport, network establishment, safe infrastructure, increase mode shares, regulations and enforcement, more equitable allocation of road space, encouraging greater NMT, options of financial assistance for increased NMT use.

The quality of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure– across the board, current bicycle infrastructure is “almost routinely to be of poor or haphazard quality, disconnected and insufficiently part of a network” with only a few exceptions in South Africa and Brazil (p 25).

Funding for NMT – Nairobi (Kenya) is the only place to “commit to ensuring 20% of its existing and future road construction budget is allocated to NMT and public transport infrastructure and services” (p 26).

Data quality and institutional capacity – data is a major substantive gap in NMT planning and for transportation planning

 

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

Other interesting discussion points were
-public transport transformation or improvement
-Focus on vulnerable groups in African NMT policies
-Impact and stats on road deaths

Quotables from the report

  • A key government official from one of Africa’s largest economies told us that ‘the use of cars … is based on a colonial legacy of associating motorised transportation with education, affluence and elevated status in society. Therefore, the attitude towards NMT tends towards negativity. Thus the use of bicycles, walking and wheeling are associated with the poor’ (p 35).
  • Nigerian transport officials have described to us how ‘acquiring a car is a goal for most citizens who believe riding a bicycle [or walking] is less safe, less convenient, and less attractive, making the forecast decline of NMT a self-fulling prophecy….’ (p 35).
  • When speaking about India – ‘The marginalisation [of NMT] is seen in the backdrop of an emerging automobile culture linked with rising incomes, post-liberalisation and skewed notions of modernity. The continued dominance of motorised modes seeks to claim a larger share of road space mirroring the social power structure’ (Joshi & Joseph 35).

Outcomes and recommendations
The report then concludes with a country NMT summary for each of the participating nations, that identifies:
1. National NMT commitments
2. Civic society and social enterprise
3. For some countries, there is a focus box with extra details on a pertinent issue, facts, project or factors – which are insightful and very pertinent.

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

 

The UN: Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report goes to the heart of my PhD research, and I was very excited when I found it. To date, it has been frustrating for me as a researcher investigating the intersection of poverty, gender, culture and location – as there has been such recognition gap in the academic and grey literature about the impact of transportation on rural and impoverished countries. With publications like this report, access and use of bicycles are now (finally) gaining attention. Such a pity it took until this year for such a report to be published- but better now than never!

I like this report as it is clear, informative and easy to digest. It condenses critical content well and is also unique in having what I think, is quite a positive view for future transportation improvements.This report will go a long way in promoting and communicating the complexities, restrictions and issues involved in people being able/not to access transport, as this is such a critical development issue – there is no point building more health clinics and hospitals if people cannot physically get there to benefit from such services!

Well done UN Transport department on your thoughtful and informative report – it is wonderful to see bicycles (and walking) being placed firmly on the international development policy agenda.

 

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Source: UN Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling Report 2016

Guest blog post by Bear Racy.  

Bear is a cycling enthusiast, intrepid traveller, social commentator, artist and lover of life. In this post, Bear provides an alternative histo-cultural commentary on Tweed themed bike rides.


The Need For Tweed?

Even when done tongue-in-cheek, the popularity of hipsters wearing tweed and riding bikes together smacks of some kind of post-colonial irony. Why do we feel the need, the need for tweed?

876680-403040-34

On the 5th of November, the Wellington Bay area (NZ) was the latest participant in the growing trend of ‘tweed’ themed bicycle rides. Pitched by Bicycle Junction (NZ) as an event that celebrates the “inherent style and grace of one of the most enduring of humankind’s inventions in the fashion it was intended to be celebrated”, the ‘Need for Tweed’ bicycle ride saw a return to the itchy clothing made from herringbone woven wool known as Tweed.

 

All about Tweed.

Tweed was popularized by the Edwardian middle class because of its association with the outdoor activities of the leisurely elite. Apart from its grandiose connotations, tweed is a vintage outdoor textile that is moisture resistant and durable – great for cycling, hunting and riding in the cold British weather.

Once considered expensive and highly sought after, tweed signified that you had the time and the money to afford the most cutting edge of textiles, so you could spend your days hunting and riding in the upmost comfort. From this ideal of leisure came the idealization of leisure as a look, which became fashion. Fashion then drove those less well-off to emulate the image, if not the lifestyle, of their tweed slathered betters.

In the 40’s silk jerseys started to replace tweed in cycling and was invented just in time for the blossoming post-war marketing industry to realise that in the world of television advertising, cyclists could make a prominent moving billboard.  The silk jersey was brightly coloured to attract attention to the marketing and to identify the rider within the group. This became particularly useful in televised bicycle races where the spectator was able to easily pinpoint a rider by their jersey. Move forward to the invention of lycra and the colours and marketing have remained. Like tweed, you again have a cutting edge textile used in cycling to promote the comfort of the rider.

Loving Lycra.

At its advent, Lycra symbolised that you were a competitive rider at the pinnacle of your sport -it’s form hugging capabilities leaving no room to hide the sagging beer gut of an amateur, or disguise the gender of the wearer in a sport that at the time was dominated by males.

Wearing lycra meant you were a serious rider. Festooned with the logos of the top cycling brands, lycra began to move out of competitive sport and into fashion.  Like tweed, it became popularised because of it’s association as a textile worn by the elite. And like the tweed wearing Edwardians, this elite was characterised by a group of white males that had the time and the money to indulge seriously in a sport clad in the best textile technology of the time.

As lycra became more commonly available, it started to lose popularity. Perhaps in part because in our modern society, wearing lycra is as naked as you are allowed to be in public, and when worn by a group of middle-aged men, slogging it up a hill, is can be a scary sight to behold.  It could also be due to the common misconception that groups of lycra clad riders will be unaware of, or deliberately flout road rules, thus hindering the traffic rights of the predominant car.

The main reason I believe that lycra is becoming less popular in the community bike ride is because of its association with elitism in cycling. That is to say; it’s not unpopular because it is being worn by elite riders, but that it is being worn by riders that want to be considered elite.

Ride on.

In cycling, there is a distasteful underbelly fuelled by a competitive seriousness that promotes an attitude of exclusivity, where only the fastest riders with the best equipment are encouraged.

Unfortunately, participants are usually upper to middle-class men, and despite the best intentions of the sport, this stereotype seems set to continue with events like the Tour de France, Giro Italy and Tour Down Under, where there is limited focus on the access, inclusion and promotion of women and cyclists from multicultural (non-Western/European) backgrounds.

The costumed ride is the antithesis to this trend, proving you don’t need fancy gear and a jersey full of logos to get on a bike and have fun.

By having a dress-up theme for a ride, organisers can create a sense of fun and silliness, while also providing an atmosphere of cohesion.  Having the option to wear a themed costume creates a more open inclusive dynamic in a group, suggesting that any and all are welcome.

The need for tweed?

So why choose tweed? I can understand that it’s meant to celebrate and idealise the invention of the bicycle and that on the surface it looks pretty darn classy when worn en-mass, but the deeper connotations of tweed and the inherent sexism and exclusivity that come with it, could arguably be also perpetuating some of the worse traits that have dominated cycling culture for the last century.

If you look at the advertising for many of the tweed-themed rides, the repeated depiction is a white guy on a bicycle, while many of the flyers and media for other themed rides are (one would hope) inadvertently exclusive.

 

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Most of the promotional material and media for tweed rides is independently generated and created in a diverse range of locations globally, demonstrating the insidious nature of exclusivity that is still so predominant in cycling culture. It gives evidence to the inherent sexism that is part of the hipster renaissance around cycling; that promotes a certain stereotype of the ideal rider. It is this stereotype alone that defeats the purpose of the community ride.

Why are groups of community riders trying to separate themselves from a culture of elitist white males on bikes, by celebrating a historical group of elite white males on bikes?

Comfort is key.

Most important when dressing for cycling, is ease of movement and protection from the elements. While wearing a great costume would warrant a certain amount of ill ease, the idea of wearing woollen cycling clothing that when wet, would turn into a personal sauna, (also known as an itchy moist skin sack) is my idea of hell on wheels. So why go back to tweed? Who would actually feel the need for tweed?

I suppose there is a certain amount of irony involved in hosting a bike ride as an inclusive event that celebrates an era of cycling epitomised by a time in human history when a bunch of English dudes owned everything and lived off the backs of the less fortunate.  It could even be that this irony makes the ‘moustache competitions and gender specific costume awards’ a subversive form of protest, but that message is lost on me.

As we experience a culture increasingly being ruled by hipster trends and shifting memes, the irony of the ironic is so muddled, that all anyone can do is ride – and wait for good weather and the next naked bike ride.

 

First full single speed around the world.

In the last couple of days, a German long-distance cyclist, completed a full circumnavigation of the world. This makes Markus Stitz,  the first to (unofficially) single speed around the world! He averaged 96.5kms per day, to complete the 33796 kms journey in 12 months. Many riders undertake cycling trips of varying durations, levels of difficulty, riskiness and fitness, but in the bike touring fraternity it is not often that all this is done with one gear. Although Markus has had a number of cycling adventures before, it was this unassisted, enduring trip across the globe that has recently gained attention.

Markus Stitz -Singlespeed around the world

Markus Stitz -Singlespeed around the world

Source: Road CC

More detail about his actual trip and experiences can be found elsewhere in cyberspace. His exploits have been making headlines lately especially considering that the local UK media were quite taken with his adventuring and have been active in following his final closing kilometres given his trip terminates in Scotland. Having lived in Scotland for 2.5 years myself, it makes me incredibly nostalgic to think of travelling through the landscape contemplating life, the universe and everything.

There is so much about Markus’ story that I find appealing; taking a year off to cycle through and across the world, doing it unassisted and completely under his own steam, finishing his 33796 km trip in Scotland, reading about some of the amazing experiences he has had and seeing some of the stunning photos he took along the way. It is a reminder that bicycles are a vehicle for freedom, and often the only limiting factor to that freedom is our inability to recognise and embrace it wholeheartedly.

Being an avid singlespeeder myself, I find the idea of riding one anywhere and everywhere is tantalising, and I certainly understand the attraction. However, practically it is something that I was interested to see how it worked on a daily basis. That is why I appreciated Markus keeping a blog (as best he could) during his time on the road. I like the fact also that he explained the most inspiring aspects, but equally the more challenging and difficult times as well. Not only does it have a slew of juicy travel tit-bits detailing the locations he visited and recollections of interactions with locals and the like, but interspersed throughout are some technical difficulties (so few) – he did the full 33,796 kms trip with ‘just one broken spoke and no punctures since Singapore’.

He has a Youtube Channel with some videos you can check out here.

Click here to see more of Markus’s blog.

Markus Stitz Instagram: @reizkultur

 

What do you take on a trip like this?

markus stitz

Source: Markus Stitz

One thing I was very interested to see from his blog were details of everything he took on his trip. With his gear and bike (which he speaks more of here) weighing in at about 32kg, here’s Markus’ list of what he took on his journey:

Bike:

Surly Ogre with Halo Vapour Rims, SP Dynamo Hub in front, Surly Ultra New Hub in back, Halo Clickster 18t freewheel, Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 2.0 tyres with tubes, Thomson seat post, Brooks Cambium C15 saddle, ESI silicone grips, ESI bar tape and silicone tape, Jones 710 Loop h-bar aluminium, Avid BB7 brakes, Shimano square taper bottom bracket, Middleburn RS7 cranks, Surly 32t chain ring, KMC chain

Mounted on bars and frame

  • Exposure MaXx-D Mk4 Front Light
  • Garmin eTrex20 with 16GB MicroSD and Energiser rechargeable batteries
  • GoPro Hero3 in casing with bar mount
  • CatEye Strada wireless cycle computer
  • Specialized Cage with Optimus 0.6l Fuel Bottle
  • MuckyNutz fender
  • Spot Gen3 Satellite Tracker

Salsa Anything Cage HD with Salsa Anything Bag 1:

  • Alpkit titanium pot and lid 800 ml
  • Primus Omni Fuel stove and fuel pump
  • Foldable cup
  • Matches & lighter
  • Tea and coffee in plastic bag
  • Windshield and ground shield for stove
  • Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Day pack
  • Olive oil in Nalgene container

Salsa Anything Cage HD with Salsa Anything Bag 2:

  • Cable and combination lock
  • 2 spare Schwalbe tubes
  • Brooks MT 21 multi tool
  • workshop gloves
  • Optimus tool for stove
  • Ice Tools chain checker
  • 1 tube of Schwalbe Latex for tubeless tyres
  • Freewheel tool
  • Purple Extreme Lube and 2 cloths
  • Diverse nuts and bolts, spare cleats, chain link, brake cable
  • Patches & tyre boot
  • ESI silicone tape
  • Electrical tape
  • 2 sets of Avid brake pads, sintered
  • Cable ties
  • 1 small tube of grease
  • Leatherman Wingman tool
  • Torx T25 key
  • Strapped outside on bag
    • Schwalbe Rocket Ron foldable tyre
    • Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Pump with pressure gauge
    • Oakley Racing Jacket glasses with black, yellow and clear lenses in Swiss Eye protective case

Apidura Handlebar Pack Compact (lined with Exped Dry Bag)

  • Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW tent (aluminium instead of carbon poles)
  • Yeti Purity Down Jacket
  • Exped Synmat Hyperlite M sleeping mat
  • Montane Extreme Mitts
  • Tineli Thermal Gloves
  • Tineli Thermal Booties

Apidura Accesory Pocket

  • Sea to Summit X-Pot expandable 2.8l pot
  • Sea to Summit X Bowl (fits into pot)
  • 1 tube alcohol gel
  • 2 tubes sunscreen
  • Opinel knife and Snowpeak titanium spork
  • Logitech Keys To Go portable keyboard (in Sea to Summit dry sack)

Spokwerks Jones Loop Bar Bag

  • Xtorn Powerbank Air 6000 (in Sea to Summit dry sack)
  • PDW Aether Demon USB backlight
  • USB cable for charging light
  • USB cable for charging Exposure light
  • Pepper spray
  • Citrus Squeezy (against dogs)
  • Sinewave Cycles Revolution (USB charger)

Spokwerks Cookie Jar 1 (lined with Sea to Summit Dry Sack)

  • 2 Duracell batteries for Canon S120 camera
  • 4 Energiser AAA batteries
  • 2 Energiser AA batteries
  • Charging cable for portable keyboard
  • Charging cable for GoPro & GPS
  • Shoulderpod mount for iPhone
  • Additional mount for GoPro
  • Tripod mount for GoPro
  • Apple USB charger
  • Apple iPhone cable
  • Petzl Tikka Plus head torch

Spokwerks Cookie Jar 2 (lined with Sea to Summit Dry Sack)

  • Canon S120 camera in Hama Case
  • Montane Featherlite Jacket

Apidura Frame Bag (Prototype)

  • 6 spare spokes and nipples
  • Camelbak 3l reservoir
  • Katadyn FIlter Mini
  • Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod

Apidura Top Tube Pack Extended

  • Used for food only

Apidura Saddle Pack Regular (lined with Exped Dry Bag) & everything I wear on my body

  • iPhone 6plus with Lifeproof NÜÜD case
  • Specialized BG Gel Wiretap gloves
  • Lifeventure wallet
  • Bottle opener (!)
  • Buff mobile phone cleaner
  • Pen
  • Nike Free 5.0 Shoes
  • Travel towel
  • Lake MX175 MTB shoes and 45NRTH Japanther Boot (Iceland)
  • Gore Bike Wear Element GT Paclite Jacket
  • Surly 5’’ wool socks
  • Halo Aireator socks
  • Defeet Woolie Boolie 6’’ socks
  • 2 boxer shorts
  • Tineli Knee Warmers
  • Tineli Aero Gloves
  • Tineli MTB Trail Shorts
  • Skins A200 compression tights
  • Tineli Thermal Bibtights
  • Tineli Lime Bibs x 2
  • Montane Bionic SS base layer
  • Montane Bionic LS base Layer
  • Short sleeve base layer
  • Tineli Lime Intermediate Jacket
  • Tineli Lime SS jersey
  • Tineli Sun Protectors
  • Defeet Merino Arm warmers
  • Insect and UV proof Buff
  • 45NRTH Greazy Merino Hat
  • Tineli Winter Cap
  • Tineli Team Cap
  • Specialized S3 Helmet
  • Yeti Passion 3 Sleeping Bag
  • Teeth Kit: Tooth brush, floss, interdental brushes, tooth paste
  • Wash Kit: Shower gel, soap, shaving water, ear plugs, hand cream
  • Pixo C-USB Charger
  • Moleskine Diary
  • Medical Kit with plaster, antibiotics, Ibuprofen, scissors, bandages, gloves and sewing kit.

markus stitz

Source: Markus Stitz

A massive congratulations to Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx World Tour!! I’ve been watching all her runs and rides this year and was very impressed watching her come back after some issues and injuries that ended in a 4th place overall last year. But this year she has been on fire! Smashing the competition and ripping at events like the dual salmon, BMX, downhill and her list of her achievements goes on and on … Awesome!!

Aside from loving riding and training hard, I really appreciate that Jill is also a consummate artist and actively integrates her artwork into her routine – an inspiration for being a well balanced, kick-ass role model for us up and comers!!

Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx 2016

Jill’s story is inspirational as it really exemplifies how diverse riders and their skills can be. Not only does Jill embody this, but she is also unusual in that she is not only an exceptional gifted and hard working rider. She has been very successful in a wide range of events and disciplines in riding – not just good at one – but in her case two, three, four and more!

Her story is great as it clearly shows that riding bikes can make positive change in your life. Obviously biking is not just for health, transport and happiness, but also, for a few select people with the opportunity and dedication like Jill, can also be an avenue to forge a career. With this comes travel, sponsors and exposure. However, all of that must be earned –  which Jill certainly has. I hope she is stoked and reaping the rewards of all her hard work over the Crankworx season this year!

People ride bikes at all kinds of level of confidence, skill and intensity. I am a big fan of her dedication, skill and tenacity for making it happen. It was great to se her husband Bryn (Cairns born and bred not less!) and her mates out in full support mode – including mocking up a photo of ‘Jill for Queen’ Posters – GOLD!

So, congrats on this year’s season Jill – your an inspiration!! Now I’m off to practice my pump track skills!!

Source: Bike mag Anthony Smith

Source: Bike mag Anthony Smith