Urban Cycling World Champs

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Urban Cycling World Champs

The Urban Cycling World Championship is a relatively new format that blends a selection of biking and cycling events into one ‘festival of urban biking’ showcase.  The  UCWC is in held in major cities around the world so more people can get to see, and experience, the new and unique skills and thrills of urban biking.

The 2017 Urban Cycling World Championship was held this week in Chengdu, China.

This year the event included Mountain Bike Eliminator (XCE), Trials and BMX Free Style Park – each of which is sure to inspire even the most unimpressed general public be more interested in bikes!!

What are ‘Trials’?

Trials is the event where you see bikers hopping and jumping across, between and over boulders, planks and other obstacles.  Bikes are 20″ and 26″ and riders need mad balancing, agility, strength, timing and track standing skills to be competitive. Essentially it is a time-based routine where riders are allowed a maximum of five dabs allowed in any section.

Why is Trials so interesting this year?

Trial events have been a UCI World Champs event since 2001. However 2017 is the first year that Trials is being run as part of the Urban Cycling World Champs, whereas previously Trials has been run in conjunction with other mountain-biking disciplines as part of the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.

Most importantly because J-Mean (Janine Jungfels), who is a local Brisbane rider and Australia’s Women’s Elite Trials entrant – is hoping to kick ass!

Go Janine, Go!

Janine was the 2015 UCI BIU World Champion and she is a great ambassador for the sport. If you don’t know much about J-Mean, check out her Facebook page.

No matter what the final results are for this event, I think Janine is already a champ, given her dedication to training and promoting the sport.

She is a great role model to encourage more women and girls to see and experience a wider range of biking styles outside of the ‘mainstream’ road riding and MTBing.

I was super pumped after I saw this interview (see below) with her earlier this month at the Trials Park at Underwood Park, Brisbane.

I wanted to post on Janine and Trials to acknowledge and promote the hard work and dedication of many unknown riders in less popular cycling disciplines.

There are a handful of cycling styles that when someone saying ‘cycling’ immediately spring to mind (like the Tour de France). As I have argued elsewhere, the hyperfocus on such events is parochial and highlights the inaccurate, limited and inadequate representation within society of what cycling is – and this kind of view that negates an appreciate and support for the diversity and range of other types of riders, styles, skills and bikes that make up our amazing cycling communities.

So regardless of who actually wins the event – Viva La Femme Trails!

I hope events like the Urban Champs will help more people who would otherwise not have seen events like trails have a greater appreciation of the unique skills needed – and hopefully get more people interested in bikes!

Best of luck to all the 2017 Urban Champ riders – it will be a great event!

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Here is the event list for this year’s Urban Cycling World Champs.

2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Champs - Bicycles Create Change.com

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.

 

US Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.

A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.

I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?

For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far –  so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.

What is the mystery?

On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.

 Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed

There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.

From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.

There are too few details or no details at all.  The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.

There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.

Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).

How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?

And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).

The unfolding sequence of this story.

Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.

This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.

If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context.  If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.

Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.

  1. On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

2. I went online to find out what the news said.

At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.

It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.

 

3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.

The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.

Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.

Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.

 

5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

6. Later that day, I found this news report online.

I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).

Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: ABCAction News

 

7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.

The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:

A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @flowerbikeman

 

From @peenutbu on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: IG @orton_ndau

 

From @cassnectao on IG

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
Source: @cassnectar

@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”

 

And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed

 

So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.

A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.

As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.

And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.

Ever owned or worn a hoodie?

Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?

Been out in public recently?

Ride a bike?

No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.

I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed.  Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.

US Police Shooting - young hooded cyclist killed
IG Source: @rachelreed_

 

Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.

Ginger Pride Rally 2017

Every so often, I really leaving Melbourne – especially on days like today!!

Today was the Ginger Pride Rally 2017.

As a passionate and enthusiastic lover of redheads, I sorely missed not being able to support my fellow copper-topped brothers and sisters

in person today (*sigh*).

The Melbourne event looked awesome!

It was not only a great opportunity for local redheads to shine, but the event also raised some valuable publicity about bullying issues.

I was delighted to see over 1,000 redheads march and that the event received some good news coverage.

Ginger Rally 2017
Source: News.com

Ginger Rally 2017

The Ginger Net organised the event – and spruiked the event on their website thus:

Redheads and copper-tops of Australia, the time is nearing for the hottest event in the 2017 social calendar! The Ginger Pride Rally hosted by Buderim Ginger and our friends at RANGA s back in Melbourne for a second year and set to be bigger, better and more fiery than the last!

Assemble your ginger and redhead #squad to celebrate our super powers, unique fiery manes, enviable moontan complexions and unbreakable spirit with a ginger rally starting in Federation Square, marching to celebrate uniqueness and diversity in the community. The march will be followed by a finishing festival back at Fed Square with free ginger beer, vigorous games of ‘Ginger Beer Pong’, photo booth fun, a kid’s activity zone and for the first time ever ginger speed dating hosted by Singles Events Melbourne! Oh and plenty of shade and sunscreen of course.

You’ll also be bopping along to bangers from redhead bands including The VannsLuize Scott and X Factor standouts Brentwood. We’ve also partnered up with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation to help raise awareness and funds to stop bullying against children, including mini gingers to help deliver community education programs to make a valuable change in the life of so many kids.

Advance Ginger Cyclists!

For those of us who could/did not attend, it is a great opportunity to reflect, encourage and pay homage to the beautiful, robust, vitally important and wonderful flame-haired cyclists among us – whatever their age, bike choice or ability.

So in support of the Ginger Rally 2017, here are a few pictures of inspiring biker redheads through the ages and across all biking disciplines – Enjoy!

Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Ana Rosa – Girls and Bikes Ginger
Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Pintrest Redhead men
Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Pittsburg murals and pubic art
Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Cyclingpigs
Ginger Rally 2017
British cyclist Jason Kenny by Bryn Lennon
Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Colin Meagher (Pinkbike), Rider ??
Ginger Rally 2017
Source: Bause.at Rider: Angie Hohenwarter

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.

Wyn Masters and Muffin take on Tassie Tracks

Ryan de La Rue – The Coming of a Champion

I was delighted to see that yesterday Pinkbike featured the below video of Ryan De La Rue (aka Muffin) and Wyn Masters on their main page video feed.

I know Ryan from back in the day racing Gravity Enduro in Victoria and have seen him around since at events like the Cairns World Cup. He was often away working for World Trails, but whenever we catch up, I’m always struck by his calm and relaxed personality and have thoroughly enjoyed his company.

I am spoilt by having exceptionally top quality men to socialise and race with – and Ryan is firmly in that group. He is honest, smart and genuine. I really appreciate that he doesn’t get sucked into the trash talk or ego/bike driven comparisons that many riders can get swept up into at race meets. This is all aside from the fact that he is wicked nimble on a bike and regularly has the Elite Men’s field crapping their pants.

So I could not be more pleased that he is getting more exposure and acknowledgement that he so rightly deserves. To me, Ryan has always been a champion rider. I’ve always appreciated that Ryan is accepting of all types of people and his ability to hold a meaningful and interesting conversation that is not about bikes for longer than 10 minutes – a rare skill at a mountain biking event indeed! I like how he is always himself and is just well…normal!

As an older female rider, I am very grateful for the presence of such strong and reliable men – not just at bikes races, but also within the wider community. In such a male-dominated sport, these men are wonderful advocates for the sport. Thier participation is invaluable as positive role models for other/younger riders and as ambassadors for inclusionary, quality, fun and skilled riding for all.

You know those guys…

Many of us who have been around the Downhill and MTB racing scene for a while have seen the various ways that all manner of men navigate their way into and around the racing circuit.  You are probably familiar with the full range of shit-hot rider characteristics being displayed at various times; bravardo, cocky, arrogant, composed, competitive, conviction, serene, smug and over confident.

I understand race-day jitters and the need to stay focused, but after the event is over – that is when the authentic champions really shine. I’m talking about the riders who go the extra mile like make an effort to chat to new people, stick around to cheer other riders on, takes the time to thank organisers and volunteers. These are the few classy riders who can think outside of themselves and who positively contribute to events and the biking community instead of just taking. In my eyes, these are the real champions.

What makes a true ‘champion rider’?

I agree that riders need a certain element of self-belief in order to ride hard and at their limit – so there is certainly a place for thinking positive and being assertive about your riding. However, there is a definite line between being confident on the bike, and being a wanker about being confident on the bike or just being a wanker who can ride a bike. As I have written about elsewhere, I maintain that the substance of a rider off the bike is just as important (if not more) as his ability to ride fast.

Thankfully, there are riders like Muffin and a handful of others like Jared Graves, Dan McMunn, Troy Brosnan, Kaine Cannon and Chris Pannozo who are truly ‘champion riders’ as they consistently prove through their words and deeds, that they are men of substance – as well as being bloody quick and stylish on a bike.

Best of luck Ryan!

So, for these reasons and more, I am thrilled to see Ryan gaining more national and international exposure for all the time, hard work and passion that he puts into his trial building work and his riding.

If you have the good fortune of meeting or riding with Ryan – have a chat with him and see if I’m at all mistaken …. that’s if you can catch him! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

I expect we will be hearing a lot more about Ryan’s successful exploits in the near future.

Best of luck Ryan! Rip their legs off mate!

Follow Muffin on his adventures

Instagram: @rdlr

Facebook: Ryan De La Rue

See more of Muffin’s video adventures on and off the bike here.

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?

Xiaosa – the intrepid Chinese dog

Although this story is a blast from the past, it is still such a great story – hence it’s addition here.

There are some rare events were adventurers and dogs can travel, race and tour together, but not enough. There are a few, rare remarkable stories of stray dogs joining teams of travellers, like Arthur who joined Swedish Team Peak Performace Adventure Race Team in Equador and the story below fits into this category.

As a bike enthusiast and trail dog owner, I am a big fan of riding with dogs and have often lamented that there is such a restriction about dogs on trails. I have long argued for a mixed species MTB event that is made up of a rider, bike and dog as a team for MTB festivals (mixed species teams – and then as the attendance grows, move into new divisions such as same sex and/or mixed gender species events … to cater for the understandable and obvious growth in popularity of such events!).  Anyhow, until such events eventuate become mainstream, international newsworthy stories such as this gem are certainly welcomed for its positivity and feel-good vibes promoting the unique bond between dogs and their riders.

 

The Xiaosa Story

This is a story of a stray dog that joined a band of cyclists on their epic 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet. There are many links to this story as it was quite a hit, but many of the English-speaking print media just gave perfunctory details, whereas this news report went the extra mile to present some interesting facts and a few extra pictures – it is well worth the read.  Having lived and travelled through China for a couple of years, I also find this story particularly heart-warming as I very challenged during my Chinese travels about the way I saw most dogs treated – so this story is doubly positive for me – an encouraging cycling trip and an affirming dog story.

 

The cycling trip across China

The cycling trip was arranged as a graduation get together. Very early on, the group had stopped for lunch, and one of the cyclists took pity on first seeing the poor wretch, lying forlornly, tired and hungry-looking in the street, so he fed her. From that moment on, the dog joined the group, running alongside them and ending up as the team mascot due to her feisty nature.

The little pup, named Xiaosa or ‘Little Sa’ made a big impression keeping up with the 60 km per day, over 12 mountain ranges, (some of which were over 14,000 m high) and outlasted some the cyclists (who opted for buses) to complete the rest of the trip. She also protected the cycling group from being attacked by other dogs, as well as keep up the group for the entire trip – no mean feat off the couch and on such little legs.

One of the cyclists started a blog about her exploits, which attracted over 40,000 people and comments, including other cyclists who had travelled the region who said they had also seen Xiaosa on their travels as well. The pup turned into a national celebrity. It was also great to hear that Xiaosa has since been adopted by one of the cyclists.

Either way, it is a  great story about cycling trips and the friends you make along the way.

The best English speaking video I’ve found so far about this story is from the BBC, but the below video is a British version from youtube so it embeds into the blog easier – but it is interesting to see the change in facts from Chinese news report to British.

To see just how popular Xiaosa and ‘her’ bicycle trip became, Google her name and see the extensive list of news stories and posts about her. It is interesting to see how the story changed depending on what source you get it from – in some reports Xiaosa is male, in others the cycling trip was a bike race with 300 competitors and so on. I am certainly not the definitive source of accurate facts for this story, I am merely synthesising the most common reported facts here.

Source: ibtimes.com
Source: ibtimes.com

Markus Stitz -Singlespeed around the world

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

Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx 2016

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