James Novak – World’s first 3D printed bicycle

 

Two days ago, I went to the Griffith University AEL (Arts Education and Law) school final heat for the 3MT Competition.

There were 10 PhD candidates presenting – but one stood out for me.

James Novak is a Griffith University design graduate and is currently undertaking his PhD.

He was presenting his 3MT on his 4D pro-cycling helmet. It was very interesting to hear how this helmet functions differently in relation to how  technology, engineering and design features use sensors to automatically respond to rider needs for air flow, temperature control and areodynamicism.

After James had presented, I saw signage for the AEL School to the side of the stage.

One of the pictures on it was a bicycle frame (see below). I was already chuffed that there was a presentation on bikes/cycling being the focus of PhD research and though it was schewing my view of reality.  I turned to my friend and said “I see bicycles everywhere!” With James’ presentation still fresh in my mind, I quickly jumped online to see why the bike was featured on the poster.

Well, imagine my surprise when I find out that the bike is also one of James’ designs – and more so, that it was the world’s first 3D printed bike!

 

Bicycles Create Change - James Novak - 3D Printed bike

Background: James’ Previous work

Previously, James has worked on the Gold Coasts’ Q1’s Skywalk and the new MagnaLatch Safety Pool – which was a finalist in the Good Design Awards and is now a product we are all familiar with.

He also has a range of other concepts, products, designs and prototypes that he has been working on- which you can see on on his blog Edditive Blog.

To name just to name a few!

His blog also has tutorials and free downloads and when I spoke to him after his presentation, he was really keen on sharing, and exchanging information – which is something that he genuinely supports as evidenced through on his blog. You can also see more of his work on Instagram @edditive.

Click here to download a PDF with more info: The 3D Printed Bike – James Novak

James Novak – World’s first 3D printed bicycle

Prior to his 4D cycling helmet, James had already been extending engineering and design applications by utilising 3D printing to produce the world’s first  3D printed bicycle.

James Novak - 3D Printed bike
James Novak. Image courtesy of Griffith University.

James created this bike in 2014 and it has exhibited in Australia and overseas and in 2015. He was also awarded the prestigious Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award at the RAPID conference (Los Angeles) which is the world’s leading 3D printing industry event.

How did he do it?

 The process of making the 2014 bike: “What does it takes to 3D print a large and complex object like this? Although he spent about 150 hours modeling the item in 3D on SolidWorks over a couple of weeks, he says modeling wasn’t the most difficult part of his 4-month project. According to James, what has taken the most time and energy was actually discovering what’s possible with 3D printing, understanding the limitations of this new manufacturing tool, and re-imagining the concept of the bike frame. For making things easier, James decided to print his design via our (i.materialise) professional online 3D printing service. After the bike frame was 3D printed in mammoth resin through i.materialise, the item was exhibited at a seminar in Brisbane, Australia this past July (2014)”.

James Novak - 3D Printed bike
Image: i.materialize
James Novak - 3D Printed bike
I love how he has incorporated his name into the frame – super personalised!! Image: i.materialize

The bike is custom designed specifically to James’  body dimensions and preferences.

HIs bike is a prototype and not yet ridable, but by designing and producing the bike, it invites future explorations and developments to work towards producing a fully functioning bike.  It’s what I like to call a ‘gateway innovation’!

To this end, James’ view is that “3D printing has changed a whole range of manufacturing areas, but cycling is really interesting. The shape of the bike hasn’t changed a lot over the last 100 years, but everything else can be rethought and re-designed to take advantage of 3D printing technology.  As 3D printing allows you to create one-off products, a design can be made specifically for a particular athlete. In the next few years, I imagine we’ll be printing this bike in titanium, or carbon fibre, and I’ll be the first one riding it down the street!”

It seems that James’ prediction for subsequent innovations have come true. Since Jame’s original 2014 innovation, there have been a number other ‘world first 3D printed bicycles’ – but each has a different aspect, such the 2015 world’s first titanium alloy 3D printed mountain bike. Or more recent road bikes developments such as the 3D printed road bike using 3D printing welding process or using different materials such as the 3d printed stainless steel bicycle – both of which came out last year (2016).

In discussing his bike and the video (1′ 56”) below, he also posted that “A lot of people look at me with a mixture of excitement and confusion when I tell them what I do for work, probably because it sounds a bit futuristic and weird. And it is! But hopefully this profile video prepared by Griffith University and the Gold Coast City Council will explain things a little better than I can, featuring my FIX3D Bike 3D printed by Materialise. I always get a kick from sharing my knowledge of 3D printing with kids still in school since it is really going to affect their lives in the most exciting ways; hopefully videos like this can inspire them to take up the careers of the future.”

What about future 3D Printing of bike frames?

As it is still in its infancy, the materials being used are very traditional like resin, plastics and metals. I’m very keen to see how the new generation of 3D printing materials could incorporate (more) sustainable materials into this space to explore how 3D printing bike frames can minimise wastage and demands on resources.

I’d be excited to see a 3D printed bike made of PLA, which is a sugar-derived polymer (for which other ‘green products’ have already been made and are in current world-wide usage and are “compostable” and “made from corn”). Could PLA be stable, durable and strong enough for a bike frame? If not PLA, then what other green material could be utilised?

If this could be accomplished, it would put a new spin on of my fav rainy day road riding  quips – whereby if a friend says they won’t ride in the rain, my retort is “Your bike is not made of sugar, it is not going to dissolve in the rain! Lets ride!” – I hope I may have to change this adage accomodate future 3D printing inclusion of sustainable material innovations!

Ah, the future of 3D printed bike frames looms!

Riding for Rescues

Regular Bicycles Create Change readers know I am a ‘dog-person’ – as many of us are.

I have a trail dog, Zoe (who is the best MTB partner EVER!)  and my Instagram #Bikes_CISTA initiative involves celebrating local riders with their pooches and bikes.

A while ago, I posted the adventures of little Xiaosa, the tiny stray dog that joined a team of riders on a 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet  and became an internet sensation – it is such a sweet little story!

…so, I am delighted to see the US-based Riding for Rescues, inviting other riders to put their cycling kms towards supporting animals in need.

It is also great to see an alternative cycling fundraiser that is not the large-scale, long-distance  charity,  road-riding fundraiser – that model has been totally (over)done!

What is Riding for Rescues?

Riding for Rescues in affiliated with Running for Rescues – both of which raise money to help, rescue and sponsor animals to get them out of a high-kill shelter and be re-homed instead of being put down.

To date, they have rescued over 40 animals.

See some of the lucky ones below or click for more here.

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

What is the money for?

Riding for Rescues donates all funds received to small, grassroots frontline NGOs that are dealing firsthand with pulling animals out of shelters before they are put to sleep.

The cost associated with these interventions can be very high – and not many people stop to think about this aspect of animal welfare – things such as getting shots, healthcare costs, getting an animal neutered, transportation, boarding and/or food while the animal is being fostered.

How to use my cycling to help?

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

The Riding for Rescue approach is super easy as you can pick whatever cycling event , where ever you want and fundraise independently – so you can do it when and where it suits you.

It is a terrific model of practice and very easy to use.

Step 1.  Go to www.firstgiving.com and set up your page.

Step 2. Tell all your friends and family know that YOU are going to put yourself out there and make a difference – all to benefit an animal who would otherwise be euthanized.

The  you raise more than US$500, RfR will give you one of their cycling jerseys (see below)

Bicycles Create Change - Ride for Rescues

I applaud those who give this a try.

I think there is great merit in utilising  riding to support animals in need – and where the animals are rehoused into households where they will make a super positive difference – personally, emotionally, health, fitness and happiness wise. Why not lend your legs for this oft-forgotten good cause?

Congratulations to the Riding for Rescue team for having  the enthusiasm, dedication and passion to keep this humble, yet highly important service going. I salute you!

Here is their offical website.

They are also on FB, Twitter, G+ and IG.

For more info contact: jodi@runningforrescues.com

Conference Presentation: creating memorable community bike projects

Hi bike nuts!

Earlier this week I returned from Adelaide (SA) after presenting a roundtable session at the national Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (AWCC).

I put together a kick-ass abstract to present a workshop earlier this year and in May I was accepted to present.

It was awesome!

I had a great time and made the most of my time there networking and getting the low down on current issues, debates, research and trends in urban and rural cycling.

There were so many great sessions it would be difficult to cover them all, so  I’ll give some event highlights in the next post. I was super  impressed by the range and scope of the cycling (and some walking) presentations.

My session was entitled:  Bicycles Create Change: An innovative guide to creating memorable and meaningful engagement in community bike projects.

Basically, my roundtable session used some of my community bike projects as case studies to explore a number of key aspects I think are important to consider when planning, managing and running community bike events.

I undertook each of these ‘case study’ events as a private, individual community member, which means that I did not get paid for them, but I also didn’t get any money from the events either – it was purely for the love.

I had  4 classifications to present 6 case studies, some of which you can see more of on the PROJECT page.

The classifications (and case studies) were:

  • Individual (Leki, and Art Bikes)
  •  Pair collaboration (Leki & the Ova)
  • Group (Bicycles Create Change Summer Internship)
  • Wider community (Recycled Dreams Community Storybook and #Bikes_CISTA)

Here is my full PPT and notes of my presentation: Nina (Bicycles Create Change) Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017 presentation

Essentially, I was arguing for these key points:

  1. Create the community you want to live in
  2. Create opportunities to ‘talk to a stranger’
  3. Create community bike events where the focus is NOT on the actual ‘riding’ of bikes. This is because I think there will be better acceptance of bikes in general if the general public have more every day, positive and fun interactions with BIKES (in general) and not just see them in relation to RIDING – so create events that doesn’t rely on fitness’ access, confidence, age, or even having a bike, etc. This will mean that bikes are normalised into daily community life and are more readily accepted.
  4. Not to see cycling/biking only as a ‘sport’.
  5. Create ‘Bike events’ that cater to non-riders – create positive bike exposure
  6. If they don’t come to you – you need to go to them! Bike events need to go into the community- no more  events where the riders are (physically or otherwise) separated from the general public
  7. Debunk the ‘road-riding-is-the-only-type-of-cycling-I-see-in-my-community-and-that’s-not-me’ myth – create events where the focus is not on the type of riding, but that it is fun and anyone can use a bike for all kinds of things
  8. Seeing bikes as an object other than just for riding – better integration of bikes into our communities in ways that are not solely about riding
  9. creating events that invite participation, celebrate ‘local heroes’ and local surrounds
  10. Creating events that have a zero-waste policy. No more cycling events with plastic cups, copious amounts of advertising flyers in musettes or crappy McCrap-crap that goes along with far too many cycling events – better still, how about bike events that have a reverse-rubbish feature and turn any waste brought into the event into something more positive?
  11. ….and I’m sure you can’t think of your own ideas as well. I’d love to hear them!

I presented 3 x 10 minutes, each followed by 15-minute discussions.

To add a little interest, spark and creativity, I presented in a custom-made outfit made out of recycled bicycle tires and parts. I had the idea for this outfit as a prototype for a series, and as I was busy getting the presentation prepared, so my collaborating partner Claire Tracey made the outfit and hat based on my requirements and infused a little of her own magic. (Thx CT!) I made the accessories. This ensemble was the prefect compliment – and reflection – of precisely the points my presentation was making – Hazah!

 

 

I was very interested to hear what people thought of the ideas and projects I presented – and the questions and discussions that ensued gave me a lot to think about.

One of the best outcomes? Following the presentation I was approached by a group of young marketers who are working on a behaviour change project to get more local people aware of – and riding – bikes. They want me to bring the Bicycles Create Change perspective to their project and consult! A wonderful presentation result. Whoopee!

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.

 

Student engineer experiments with bicycles

As a teacher, I have many different experiences in the classroom, some challenging, some unusual, but most are very rewarding.

I am currently working on my favourite program at Griffith University, 5903LHS Language and Communication for Sciences. This course is only for international students but combines all the Science disciplines into one class to improve language, knowledge and communication skills required for science-based study and practice in their discipline.

That means my class has students from IT, Engineers, Biomedical, Environment, Planning and Architecture and Natural Sciences, Aviation and all the hard sciences as well (Marine, Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, Mathematics etc) which I relish!

Even though I know there are engineers in my class, I was still happily surprised when during a class discussion, one female engineering student, Win, casually mentioned that she had previously worked on a project looking how the weight of wheels affected the performance of a bicycle. I was stoked!

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles for Science/English report

Win told me about her report (which you can read below). Essentially, it focuses on testing the impact of wheel weight for a bicycle travelling uphill. This report was an assessment to demonstrate her understanding of scientific principles to a practical situation as well as practising her English.

I won’t reveal Win’s final results or her key findings, suffice to say she covers aspects such as:

  • gravitational potential energy
  • rotational inertia
  • analysis of wheels with weight vs wheels without weight
  • velocity vs time
  • momentum and acceleration forces
  • the influence of Newton’s first and second law
  • inter-observer variability

We got chatting about her bicycle report after class. I was intrigued. She told me she had selected this project for a college assignment, but that the real focus was to practice her English. She had a great time researching, testing and writing the experiment up – and have gotten a lot out of it in the process.

Bicycle Experiment Report

Here is a copy of Win’s Engineering report on the bicycle experiment she investigated: Win’s Report -Lighter wheels vs heavier wheels experiment

Bicycles being used in tertiary education

I told her I was really impressed, as not many people would think of bicycles as the basis for their assignments. I have previously posted on how zero-gyroscopic bicycles were used to teach Systems Dynamics in the late 1980s and that there are still a few tertiary programs integrating bicycles into the curriculum to more practically explain all manner of complex concepts. We agreed that bicycles are a brilliant way to learn and they should be utilized more in classrooms.

Will bicycles be more prevalent as an educational tool?

I was impressed that Win chose to focus on bicycles for her research paper, for many reasons. Not many engineering students would choose bicycles as their object of study, even less of those I presume would be female and from overseas. From my experience, purely based having to use English, most international students will select a topic that is easier to work with and write about.

I was even more impressed when she brought the paper to class the next week. Although she was a little embarrassed about her English level at the time, she gave me a copy of her paper and permission to upload it here.

The reason I wanted to share Win’s story is that I found her, her paper and the organic way that her bicycle research had come up very encouraging. It made me feel happy that bicycles were the focus of productive education (engineering and English) in ways and places that I didn’t expect. I am sure this goes on all the time (at least I hope it does!), but it was very reaffirming for it to confirmed to me in a totally unexpected way – and in a totally unrelated situation and with a student that I usually would not have been my first pick as being a bike-centered education candidate. It hoped that there were many more of these situation occurring in classrooms around the world.

The irony that she is now in my academic English class and that were bonded over her bicycle-inspired assignment was not lost on me. I love that as a young, female, international Engineering student with no cycling background (she doesn’t even ride a bike) did this topic. I also admire her bravery in giving me a copy and allowing me to share in on this blog.

If you are studying, or have a child or friend who is – perhaps plant the seed by chatting to them about the opportunities and merits of incorporating bicycles into educational settings for greater student engagement and educational/social outcomes.

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles

The Lightning Furies

I love it when readers suggest and recommend people and projects for this blog.  RG sent me an email suggesting I check out The Lightning Furies – which I did. I checked them out online and then contacted them. Anna replied and we ended up meeting for a coffee. Here is what transpired. Enjoy! Nina.


 

The Lightning Furies

The Lightning Furies is one of a number of projects created under the SNAPCAT umbrella by Perth duo – artists Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill. As Snapcat themselves describe, their work is “ambitious, cheeky and political and involves painting, sculpture, video and participatory performance.”

Snapcat has produced a number of interesting, topical and provocative works – and none more so than The Lightning Furies. This project came out of their researching into women and sport and then was further developed in response to other input (like community consultations) into the feminist bike gang The Lightning Furies.

In their own words, The Lightning Furies are “a bike gang of tough women and non-binary people, dedicated to a feminist mission of utopic bad-assery. Wearing denim vests, bikes adorned with pennants, the Furies ride en masse through urban streets, wind through laneways and hold up traffic. Aesthetically, the Lightning Furies fall somewhere in between an outlaw bikie gang, Girl Guides, and the Vuvelini (Mad Max: Fury Road). We have a Manifesto and an Oath. We have gang colours and patches. We are fierce and inventive and ready to smash the patriarchy with boots and glitter.”

Meeting The Lightning Furies

Following a reader recommendation, I contacted the The Lightning Furies and this weekend met up with one of the co-creators, Anna.

Over a coffee, it was very inspiring to hear the background, development, reasoning and evolution of how The Lightning Furies came to be – and what they do.

I was intrigued by this project for a variety of reasons. It has significant impacts as an arts project and for personal and community development, as well as creating a space for much needed further discussions about important concepts such as gender, access to public spaces, the Australian cycling culture/s, normative behaviours, social governance and civic participation.

Their website gives a broad overview of the monthly rides and few cool snapshots of what happens on the rides, but correspondingly, these rides as a rich platform to cast a light onto the underlying ideologies, practices and outcomes that this project is addressing.

During our conversation we spoke about many ideas. We covered bikie groups, girl gangs, females feeling safe to ride bikes on the road, public perception of women riders, feminism, being part of inclusive group, how to get more women riding bikes, The Lightning Furies being invited to perform at events, the role of patches and branding, sport and female participation, and how women do (or do not) ‘take up or use’ public space. It was a great conversation!

Sharing stories and riding bicycles for personal confidence

Particularly interesting for me to hear, were the other critical ’empowerment’ aspects that were built into the project – such as the ‘crafternoon’ sessions that happen before the rides. In these session, participants make their own customised patches, bike pennants and other decorations to adorn their outfits and bikes which encourage individualism, expression of self and celebrating vibrancy through colour and art.

Not only is it valuable to be physically creative and to have a space to express yourself, but also a safe place to share stories.

It was inspiring to hear how important the ‘making’ sessions are for participants to come together and have time to not just work on this projects – but also to connect as a group of women. Anna told a few stories that while making decorations, participants would open up and discuss their riding experience, their fears, new insights and later on, how much stronger and more confident they now felt after being on a Lightning Furies ride – and how they had been able to hold on the excitement and strength they had felt during the ride, and translate it into other areas of their lives to great effect. So great to hear.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Anna and came away feeling inspired and excited about the innovative and creative ways that people come up with to get more people on bikes and The Lightning Furies is just one example of this.

 

The Lightning Furies
Source: The Lightning Furies Website

The Lightning Furies

Source: The Lightning Furies Website

 

Future Furies Action

I will be staying in touch with Anna and have invited the The Lightning Furies to guest blog post – I am very keen to see what the future holds for this group.

Whether The Lightning Furies is your style or not, they are a wonderful example of a local grassroots collaboration driven by genuine passion, creativity and a strong commitment to positive social change.

The Lightning Furies is just one example of how two women have come together to address an issue that important to them  – it presents the rest of us with a delicious challenge – what issue is important enough for us to get up off our butt and get some action and how would we go about doing it?

Nathan Berry’s Project Bike Love Photo Series

Meet Nathan Berry, a Memphis-based photographer who has a panache for bicycles.

 Project Bike Love.

Bicycles have featured predominately in Nathan’s work for some years, but my favourite series of his is the 2011Project Bike Love.

This particular series of 28 photos reflects my interest to record and celebrate community members and their bicycles.  My #Bikes_CISTA (or Cycling Inter-Species Team of Awesomeness) features at a minimum one bike, one rider and one dog and they need to be spontaneous meetings in my local area. My series is on the grassroots and immediate end of the photo series spectrum.

What I like about Nathan’s series is that it has a similar approach in that it features locals with their bikes within the Memphis locale. However, Nathan’s shots are distinctly professional and beautifully reflect the polished and expert end of the curated bike/community photo spectrum.

Style, Simplicity & Authenticity

I like the simplicity and authenticity of this series. Simplicity in that the setting is visually additive without being distracting, and authentic as a few key props or clothing really helps frame the personal narrative of each subject without being overly manufactured.

I also appreciate the variety of people selected and the personality that comes through in each portrait. With only 28 participants, the subjects have been judiciously selected for their occupational, recreational or unique valuable perspectives, each of which is highlighted by a short description detail about rider, bike and context. The concise and precise blurbs are tantalising and engaging – just enough basic description to set the person, place and bike – but after that, the rest if up to the viewer to fill in the details for each story.

Bikespiration

The diversity portrayed reflects life choices, lifestyles and just enough identity to glimpse contrasts and associations. It is an interesting choice to provide the job or current activity for each subject as a primary determinate – the juxtaposition between setting, owner and bike – very bikespirational.

The delicious smattering of occupational divisions (community work, hospitality, medicos, commerce, adventurers, even the Mayor, and others ) are a great way to showcase the people, vibrancy, multiplicity and possibilities of living in Memphis.

It gives a unique insight into the Memphis community that I would not otherwise have had. As an outsider, it also makes me curious about Memphis if this is the calibre and characters that live there.

I also love seeing the full range of bike genres represented and seeing what kind of person rides what kind of bike. Stylistically, I like that some of these shots are taken inside and that many of the shots are site-specific and purposefully mirror the individual and bike featured.

See more of Nathan’s work on bikes

So if your mood needs a little lift and you are up for some quality Memphis-based bicycle-inspired art, check out Nathan’s zenfolio, which includes other bicycle photo series such as The Memphis Bike Co.

Here is a small sample of what Project Bike Love entails – see the whole 28 photos here.

Nathan Berry's Project Bike Love
Source: Nathan W Berry. Thomas Elliot and his All City Big Block. TJ is a veteran combat medic in the United States Army, on active reserve after serving in Afghanistan.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. John Payne and his racing cycle. John Payne is a senior financial analyst for Autozone in Memphis. As a member of the Memphis Runner’s Track Club, John competes in all distances including marathon.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Gabe and his Trek 520 touring bike during his stop in Memphis. Having started in Dallas, TX, Gabe is riding cross-country.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Bikesploitation at Sears Crosstown, Memphis, Tn.

 

Nathan Berry's BikeLove Project Photo Series
Photo by Nathan W Berry. Kerry and her Schwinn Collegiate. Kerry is the author of the I Love Memphis blog.

Boys Backyard MTB Track

This post is an interview I had with Xavier and Will, two young friends who live in a Victorian country town about 1.5 hours out of Melbourne. I have been staying with family and happened to spot these two industrious lads out in a yard with shovels ablaze and bikes strewn close by, so I went to see what they were working on. We got chatting and I was impressed with their initiative and thoughtfulness in constructing their own backyard MTB track given their limited resources. The following interview details what we discussed. Thanks to the parents of both boys for permission to publish this story.

Two young friends make their own backyard MTB track

 

How long have you been living in this town?

Seven years ago Xavier moved here from another town. He was already riding up there and had started riding a motorbike when her was two or three. Will was given a pushbike when he was three and still has the same bike and has been riding ever since. We like riding in the street and testing out our new bikes.

How long have you two been friends for?   

Since grade one – which was in 2013. So we have been friends four years.

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Why did you make the mountain bike track?

We did have a few bike tracks but they all got washed away in the floods. So we decided to make our own just for us. We also made it for guests to have fun – and because it is in the backyard and not near the river like the other few before, this one won’t get washed away.

We just used all scraps from here and there are got some shovels and just got started.

How many bike tracks have you made?

We decided to have one main one before we had this area, it went all around the garden.  We did it just to do big holes in the ground and do rallies down and jumps on. Now we’re not really like jumping, we’re doing more skills and obstacle stuff which is more advanced.

Do any adults help you make the tracks? No, only our neighbour does (kid the same age).

Do any other kids ride your tracks or help? Not without our permission, since it is on our property.

How did you decide on the design of the track?

Designing the track meant that we got the ideas from our heads and talked about it.  Then we started playing with ideas and decided what were the good ideas and put those into the track. Then we had something there with the things we wanted and we just keep going. We also used our prior knowledge from magazines and we have experience scootering (riding scooters). We also got some ideas from skate parks. Then we just made it!

How long did it take you to make it?

Well before we were both here we worked a little bit on the track, but we were just mucking around. The next time we really got started. The track has moved a few times, but now it is in Will’s backyard so we don’t have to move it again and we can work on it anytime we want to. When we started, it probably took us two hours to get the main loop in, but we still work on it and change it – like today we spent an hour fixing up the rock garden and making a log bridge. We still haven’t finished and there is still a bit more to come.

The track started happening really when there was the start of a berm and we wanted to have a rough time (make it rougher). So we started using wood pallets then we have some whoops to work the bike’s suspension and then included starting points and finishing points.

What are the skills you wanted to practice? Why did you put those obstacles in? What is that you will achieve? We want to practice our balance, remembering all our manoeuvres and just have fun. We are going to need to practice in case we need these skills for when we go riding on the volcanos nearby. There are a few tracks around the mountains here and they go over and around the volcanos in this area, so you need to be prepared to ride volcanoes with these kinds of skills.

 Why do you like riding bikes? Well to keep fit and generally keep your heart rate up and for just having fun. It can be useful from time to time – say someone needs to get to a bus station or from the train station to another train station. Or just around town. We actually use the bikes quite a bit. Then there are the days we can always go bike riding. Mt Tarrengower has got a really cool bike track. We also do trips down to the shops, so maybe mum needs some milk. So I ride down to the IGA and buy the milk and return it to her.

Here are some key parts of the track

Boys Backyard MTB Track

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

Sand on LHS is being developed into a berm – lead into the rock garden

 

Boys Backyard MTB Track

The rock garden

 

I love this story. I find it very heartening that young boys are self-initialising such a productive, healthy and creative venture – as adults I think we need to encourage such activities. I love that the families of both boys were super supportive and encouraging of their ventures as well – what great role models for others. This skills track is not only a great way to develop bike skills, keep fit and cement a friendship, but it is also a brilliant example of two young mates working cooperatively to build something original and solely suited to their own needs. I love that materials, know-how and fun were just applied without any limiting self-doubt – and the results more so enjoyed as a result. The origin of having their own ideas melding it with their experience at scooter/skate parks and ideas from magazines demonstrates how trusting and confident they both are – of themselves and each other.

The resilience, creativity and practical application of putting this track together, which may seem basic to some, is a fantastic example of perseverance, following through with an idea and trusting yourself (and/or a mate) to work on a project together and see it through. I like how these boys demonstrate the willingness to put the work into a project –  and to just make it happen.

Now that they have the main part of the track established, Will and Xavier will be able to develop and modify it to suit their skills and interests as they develop. I see this track as a great accomplishment. I don’t know many adults that are this industrious, proactive and collaborative in progressing their friendship and love of bikes. A valuable and quietly inspirational lesson for us all. 

Best of luck to the friendship of Will and Xavier – and for their future track building and bike riding adventures!

Instagram project: #Bikes_CISTA

Two months ago the Bicycles Create Change blog started posting on Instagram. This happened as a result of a conversation I had with a friend. I went through the usual excited and overzealous initial period or exploring, locating and investing in producing and posting images and its truth be told I enjoyed the whole precess and have learnt a lot. This particular project I am currently undertaking specifically utilises and capitalises on all the best visual and sharing aspects that Instagram has to offer.

 

 Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness (Bikes_CISTA) Project

The Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness or Bikes_CISTA Project is a collection of photos I have taken while riding Leki (my flower bike) around my neighbourhood and features the people I spontaneously stop, introduce myself to, have a chat and request to take their photo. All this is because they fit the inclusion criteria for the Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Team.

The eligibility for a photo invite requires:
– at least one person
– at least one dog
– at least one bike
– all are happy to stop and have a chat with me
– all give their verbal permission for me to take and post their photo (which I provide a link to).

 

Bicycles Create Change.com

Bicycles Create Change.com

As of today, I have posted 27 Bikes_CISTA teams on Instagram -with two ready to go.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. It gets me out and about, meeting new and different people, it requires me to brave in approaching new people and has helped me perfect my approach and explanation of the project. It is an easy way to start more conversations about bikes, community, enjoying the local area and life being better with dogs.

In addition to adding experiential value to my daily routine, it also provides a space for actively encouraging more personal social connection with my local neighbourhood and the locals.

It also has been pushing me to talk more openly about the blog and my research.

Bicycles Create Change.com

By doing this project, I not only derive incredible personal satisfaction from engaging with the personalities, stories and encounters I have with those I feature, but I also like the unpredictability and immediate nature of spontaneously interacting with people in my community.

Bicycles Create Change.com

In the very least, it is a good way to test my mettle and effectiveness in discussing my common bicycle/dog interests, promoting my blog and creating the opportunity to practice explaining in easy and clear ways what my PhD research is- this alone is an excellent skill to have!

Who have you met?

Most people I approach are great, a rare few say no, others settle in for a good chat – it has been such a range of unexpected encounters! I often walk away from my last interaction flush with new information and surprised with the generosity and friendliness of strangers-now-aquaintances. I’ve even seen a few since our initial meeting, and we have now progressed onto waving and first names basis.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Celebrate the best of you locality and positive lifestyle

Approaching people with a Bikes_CISTA invitation is my way to identify and recognise people who best represent some of what I consider to be some of the essential and most productive lifestyle choices and activities one can undertake – namely participating in a local, outdoor, social, healthy, active, dog-friendly biking community.

It been so enjoyable investing time, energy and focus into the Cycling Interspecies Team of Awesomeness – Bikes_CISTA Project. The whole precess has given me much food for thought and has proven to be a powerful technique of uncovering social and personal insights. I love getting out on Leki and keeping an eye out for potential teams to approach.

I can’t wait to see where this project goes.

On Instagram – check out more Bicycles Create Change Bikes_CISTA Teams at #bikes_CISTA or the@bicycles_create_change.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project

While travelling the Northern New South Wales coast this week, I had a chance to catch up with some indigenous mates. We got chatting about bike riding. Lots of the local kids on the missions use bikes to get around, meet up with friends, go fishing or hang out at the local skate parks. BMX is pretty popular and I also saw some mountain bikes getting around. After our chat, it got me thinking. I decided to find out if there were any programs specifically supporting local NSW indigenous cyclists. The most prominent program that popped up was the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) and it also piqued my interest for other reasons, like program viability.

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

This is a NSW specific biking program. This was one of the many LIFE (Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone) programs run by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). The actual centre is based in Redfern, Sydney, but the actual MTB program had services and trips spread out all over the state. The central NCIE focus is to provide services, training and opportunity to increase health, life skills and talent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. NCIE has an array of educational, arts and culture, a conference centre, sporting, recreation, social, health and wellness services that develop skills, enterprises, occupational and technical opportunities and the like – all aimed at improving the learning, development and positive lifestyles for its members.

The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was one of the services the NCIE offered and it was created to get more indigenous people riding bikes. It was launched January 2012 and the main driving force, legs and faces of this project was Sean Appoo and Ben Bowen.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

“The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project is run by the Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone (LIFE) team at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in New South Wales. The aim of the project is to promote bike riding as a form of physical activity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages and health levels. The IMTBP has a fleet of 19 bikes for use by staff and program participants.  The program offers:

  • regular bike trips for groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people around Sydney
  • entry into local and regional mountain bike competitions
  • workshops on bike maintenance and safe cycling skills.”

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

  • This project ran From Jan 2012 until June 2015, whereupon it looks like the project was stopped. During those three years, the project held many social and skills rides, supported and attended events, had a good social media presence on Facebook and built up a community of active and enthusiastic cyclists.
  • Of the 19 bikes used, 3 are hybrid bikes and the other 16 are mountain bikes.
  • The fleet was not just used for training and maintained programs for new beginner riders, but were also used in local and regional MTB competitions, races and events.
  • The program was operational and participated in the Inaugural Koori MTB Cup in 2014.
  • The project had a team of representative riders who raced events such as the JETBLACK 24Hr, Koori MTB Cup and the Huski 100.
  • When the bikes are not being used for programs, events, trips or for local and regional MTB competitions, the NCIE staff use them to ride to and from meetings during work hours.
  • Other local inner city rides and meet ups were an adjunct feature of this program getting more people on bikes – local businesses, commuters and weekend rider forums popped up with riders sharing trip reports, ride details, invites for meet ups and technical knowledge.
  • The program received quite a bit of publicity and was feature in an SBS featurette in June 2015 (see below).

The IMTB Project Facebook site

Although no longer actively used since May 2015, the IMTBP Facebook site is still a testament to the range of biking services, popularity and community that this project built. There are numerous videos event posters and invites, people posting their trails via mapmyrides and sharing details for upcoming rides and active discussion forum for all levels of fitness, ages and cycling types.

There are a series of videos detailing the IMTBP team and adventures on MTB trials and during the JETBLACK 24 hr race at the LIFE TV YouTube channel, which show skills sessions, training, the IMTBP team riding in various events and it also has a few IMTBP rider profiles which are good to see. It also demonstrates the time and effort that many different people put into this project.

So what happened?

On the face value, it seems like the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was a ‘success’. But what does that mean and how do you measure it? What were the outcomes of this project? It seems to have got a good following, achieved its goals of getting more indigenous people riding and created a thriving community that had a good presence – so what happened to this program? Did funding run out? Did attendance wane? Was there no one to hand over to?

The only indication given was this post on Facebook group on June 2015.

IMTB PRoject
Source: IMTBP Facebook page

But this post gives few details about the status of the IMTBP (but certainly showcases the massive effort and impact Sean and Ben had during their time there).  Even though Sean and Ben are ‘wrapping up’,  it is unclear if that means the IMTB project finished as well. If it did, then why?

I called the National Indigenous Centre for Excellence LIFE Team’s 1300 866 176 phone number as provided online. I wanted to find out what happened to this project. But the number was disconnected. I tried the NCIE landline (02) 9046 7802 and had to leave a voice mail message. So I still don’t know what happened. Seems strange…

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

It can be incredibly frustrating and unfortunate that community programs such as this one can be planned, funded and implemented, yet are not sustainable to endure and provide such a valuable service. These kinds of scenarios occur all the time in the community/international development sphere. Whether it is a community group or multilateral international aid organisation, sustainability and how/why projects finish is a massive industry issue.

In my field of International development – one organisation decided to meet this issue head on. I will never forget seeing the 2008 Engineers without Borders Failure Report and watching David Damberger talk about what happens when an NGO admits failure – and hearing of project insights that were learnt, yet rarely acknowledged or shared.

I am by no means suggesting that the IMTBP was a mistake or ‘failure’, merely making the observation sad that such a positive biking program that obviously had community popularity and traction was not able to continue operating – which begs the questions – why not?

I thought back to my chat about bikes with my indigenous mates earlier this week. I wondered if the program was still operating would there be even more Koori riders? With such a strong community following and uptake, why was this initiative not picked up by local/national councils? Are we short changing the next Indigenous Anna Meares or Cadel Evans? What a great biking and community initiative – and what a pity it has not prevailed!