Invite to SSWC 2016 riders to be research participants

I am hoping to collate some ideas, reflections and experiences from SSWC 2016. Hence an invite to riders involved in the SSWC 2016 to participate in an academic research project.

At this stage, I am still formulating possible research directions as I have been very disheartened at the lack of interest and exposure that singlespeeding has had as a cycling community. Coming from a community development and academic research background, I am hoping to positively contribute to this oversight – and the SSWC event is a good place to start given the concentration of passionate enthusiasts.

If you would be interested in being involved (Australian or overseas), please send me an email so that if/when this project gets off the ground, I can contact you to invite you to participate in the project. I will email you more details as the project comes to hand and this shout out is just a preliminary Expression of Interest (EOI).

 

Contact for SSWC 2016 Research Participants

So, if you participated in the Singlespeed World Championships 2016 in Woodend and would be interested in being part of a research/community project about the event and other Singlespeed culture and lifestyle explorations, then please send me an email at: <sswc2016.bicyclescreatechange@gmail.com> with ‘Count me in‘ as the subject line.

At this stage, there is no guarantee that this project will eventuate, but I will most certainly be pushing for it to happen in some shape or form and will email you with details so you can make an informed choice moving forward. You email contact will not be given, sold or used for any other purpose – only for contact my me (NG) only for this research project. If you know of other riders who maybe interested in being involved, please pass this on to them. This invite will be active until 1st December 2016.

Thanks so much of your interest. Happy riding until then!

 

bicycles-create-change-com-1

SSWC 2016 ‘ARSE’ Event Wrap

What a weekend.

Very hard to put into words an overview of what we experienced at the Singlespeed World Champs 2016. But I can give you a SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap.

I am not going to give a race review or a trip report, but limit myself to 4 main points – why 4? I tell my students that 3 is the magic number, as it avoids binary and one-sided thinking –  and five is too many at this stage (on the flight on way home so limited time, energy and concentration) – so four is the happy medium. Also, I am hoping to synthesise a collection of participant reflections from the event later on as part of a research project I have in mind – and I want the other participants to speak for themselves. So, to avoid going over material that others will most likely cover –in no particular order (and certainly not as a definitive wrap-up on the event), here are my top 4 highlights from my first ever Singlespeed World Championships.

Out of respect for our Australian hosts, I am categorising these 4 highlights into the totally innocuous acronym ‘ARSE’ (Antics, Riding, Social and Event) – which incidentally, is the same as the Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts Facebook page where pictures and updates from this weekend can be found….

SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap

1 Antics
There were numerous activities organised over the weekend to satisfy all types of needs – social, hosting rights, entertainment, riding bikes, keeping warm and the like. I had a great time getting involved in some of the tomfoolery (especially during the 16” SS finish line – hilarious!!) – and a few other antics over the weekend. They still have me smiling a few days on. I love the playful and mischievous nature in which people employed and accepted all manner of shenanigans – so refreshing and entertaining.

We were staying in town with friends, so I loved having coffee in the morning at the café and getting an update of what had happened the previous night at the campsite. The best thing was that everyone had a different story to tell, as each person either saw the same thing, but from a different angle, or was in a different place and saw something completely different. I relish hearing about these antics as they were told with such personal detail and enthusiasm, the experience made all the more richer in the vivid retelling.

But for you dear reader, I am sorry to say; I am not going to rehash any particulars here. Mainly out of respect for those involved, but also, these stories are for others to tell, not mine. However, you may still read about some on this blog at a later stage! I am resisting employing the adage that you ‘had to be there’. As I am sure you can appreciate – what goes on tour, stays on tour.

To see a little of what happened at the actual SSWC 2016 ‘ARSE’ Event – check out some of the photos on Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts (ARSE) Facebook site or Instagram photos from the event #sswc2016.

 

2 Riding
Sat ride to Hanging Rock: I had a great time on the Sat ride. We had breakfast in town with the Tassie boys and perfectly timed our departure from town to connect with the main bunch leaving the campsite. There was a decent whack of us, maybe 60 or 70, and we wound around the bike path out of town, then onto the quiet main road for the 12+ km ride out to Hanging Rock. It drizzled a little, but no one cared. We had all paired up and mingled and chatted the whole way. I had a great time getting to know the Tassie crew – it was a real highlight for me.

Sunday Race: It was awesome to be back on the bike and riding through the Wombat State Forest. I’d taken the winter off, with no early morning rides in the cold, which was a new experiment. I did catch myself thinking during the race that I was not ‘fully’ race ready/fit, but I doubt I was the only one – and it didn’t matter either way. I was there to participate. I had a brilliant Le Mans start, which was what I wanted, then settled down to relax and enjoy the ride.

The full track was a 6km prologue loop that took riders through a very muddy bog before returning to the start line (beers only after the first loop), then off on 2 x 15 km loop out from Camarray Waters through the forest to include the G-out dip and the Tardis sections. As so as the winner passed the finish line, no one else could start a new loop.

It had been raining previously, so it was pretty muddy and slippery. I really loved the track. The forest was beautiful. It had stopped raining, and the sun peaked through. Everyone was still rugged up except for a few brave souls who were bearing a lot of skin. The format was great, as it meant that there were always people behind you and always people in front. I ticked away at my own speed, sometimes passing a few, sometimes being passed, sometimes jumping on the back of a rider who was playing some cool tunes.

 

3 Social
I knew I was going to get my social on and was looking forward to meeting some new people, but I was not fully prepared for the outstanding calibre of those I met. I was blown away by the quality of character and quality conversations I had with everyone; it was so engaging. I loved the amount of facial hair, how many red-heads were there (just a personal preference!) and how many kids and dogs were involved – all of which was a bonus for me.

Apparently, 30% of the entrants were from overseas, and from the conversations I had; I would say that was pretty accurate. I chatted to Alaskans, Kiwis, Americans, Japanese, Canadians, Colombians and Aussies from all over. I met some stalwart old school icons and some new up-and-comers – each with their own fabulous story to tell. I was impressed with the number of women there for Sunday’s race, but as always would have liked to have seen more.

It was quite entertaining to see how the local townspeople and businesses handled the unruly out-of-town mob descend upon their town. Bikes pretty much continuously lined up outside of the pub, the café and the hotel and there was always someone eating or drinking to catch up with.

 

4 Event
For me, the Carni-velo theme worked a treat. It was interesting to hear others feedback about the 4-day multi-site festival scheduling. Satellite events (My mechanic rules) during the lead-up week in Melbourne, Friday registration and social get-together that night at Holgate Brewery in Woodend, then a night street party. Saturday ride out to Hanging Rock for day of events and races then ride back into town for evening events at the Hotel. Sunday out at Cammeray Waters for race day and follow up activities, then pretty much everyone ended up at the campsite for the Closing Ceremony (where the fire brigade only got called out once).

Some thought it spread people out too much, others saying it was a good way to showcase the surrounds and include sponsors. Either way, I would have like to have seen a designated Info Desk that had all the event info in one place, with a person who could answer all event questions that could act as a central hub. I thought the organisers did a great job considering the scale and requirements necessary to pull off such an event. I tip my hat the crew who put the time, effort and love into making it happen for the rest of us; it is no mean feat to pull off. I had a brilliant time and will most certainly be back.

 

Next Year

NZ won hosting rights for 2017 SS World Champs next year and Melrose (SA) in conjunction with Burning Bike Festival will be hosting the Australian SS National Champs in May 5-7th 2017.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-9-15-52-am

 

img_2640

 

img_2641

 

img_2586

 

img_2705

 

img_2642

 

img_2643

Singlespeed World Championships 2016

I’m gearing up (pun intended) for this weekend’s Singlespeed World Championship (SSWC) 2016 – the Carni-velo festival of the bike in Woodend, VIC. I’ve been so looking forward to this weekend – and have been getting more and more excited about it since I entered back in July (with a post of my favourite Singlespeed videos).  Last year I didn’t go to the Nationals, (but I did post about it), so it is extra special that the World Champs are in Australia this year.

 

Cancel everything…

I’ve turned down an acceptance for me to do a poster presentation at the Australian International Education Conference (in Melbourne on Sun) and I’m not going to the HDR Student Conference that I am on the organizing committee (on Friday) – as this opportunity is too good to miss! I could well go to another WSSC, but certainly not on home turf as well as being physically willing and able and having the means!

So, packing up the singlespeed tonight. I took her for a ride out in the rain this afternoon. She’s riding like a dream and I can’t wait. I’m decorating her in a similar vein to Leki (my flower bike) and you can see a prototype of when I rode my single speed at an MTB event last month. I’m going with colour and flowers so that she will be easy to see at the starting line – just in case there are any shenanigans.  I’ve also bought a beard to wear, which I am very happy with and am very excited about catching up with some old and new crew. See some of last years photos here.

There are apparently 1,000 registered of the event form all over Australia and the world. Checking the latest weather updates this morning, showed that it is going to be  raining and between 1-12C! After being in Brisbane’s balmy and sunny 26C – this could be a real challenge and reduce the actual riding cohort on the day – but certainly not the festivities!! Just more people to cheer on those who are game enough to ride!

 

SWWC Weekend Events

The events run all weekend and on offer are activities for riders (and competitors), non-riders and kids. There are heaps of entertainment and satellite events in the week leading up to the main event in Melbourne. If I was there, I would be getting down tomorrow for My Mechanic Rules.

General Run Sheet for the weekend.

Tuesday 18 Oct: My Mechanic Rules heat 1 (Melbourne)

Wednesday 19 Oct: Melbourne pub ride (Melbourne)

Thursday 20 Oct: rides, early bird drinks at Holgate Brewhouse (Woodend)

Friday 21 Oct: social 12 kms ride and Opening Extravaganza at Holgate Brewhouse (Woodend)

Saturday 22 Oct: Group ride, Carni-velo at Hanging Rock Reserve (Woodend)

Sunday 23 October: SSWC 2016 race day, hosting rights competition and after-party

 

SSWC Social observations – new directions

I find the singlespeed community so welcoming and interesting. I love how it seems to naturally evolve and is so accepting of all types of people, with minimal pretension, yet in its own way, maximum membership identification. This aspect in particular is very curious to me.  I’ve often thought that its a pity there is not much accessible, authentic, respectful and insightful work undertaken about the singelspeed lifestyle – sure popular media and advertising has gone to town – but not so much from academia.

As I ride along on my single speed, I’ve often thought about this. I’ve got a few research ideas that I am hoping I might be able to put into motion about some sociological work and/or possible collaborations using the SSWC as a basis for participant recruitment. There are a few areas within the ethnographic literature that are void of original voices and narratives – and none more so than within cycling subculture communities.

After reading work discussing alcohol in sports such as Ultimate Frisbee and Roller Derby (as opposed to Football and other sports which use it as a way of team-bonding or representations of hypermasculinities), I’m curious to see how this might factor in at SSWC. I’m not a big drinker myself, so I’m interested to see if/how that will factor into my experience of the event.

In considering such deliberations, I’ve come up with a general list of sociological perspectives I’m keen to keep massaging and working on. SSWC is a great opportunity to see it all in action, add some new ideas and reevaluate others. I’m interested in seeing what the social functions and mechanisms of the SSWC as a singular event is, as well as singlespeed culture as a whole, such as:

  • The role of alcohol as a social integrater: drinkers, abstainers, defer-drinkers and under-aged
  • How SSers self identify individually and collectively – aspects of social distinction – what are the differences between hipsters, fixies and singlespeeders??
  • Role of gender (women/girls and hypermasculinities?) within the SS community
  • Values, indicators and central themes to the singelspeed lifestyle
  • Networks, groups membership and representations of self and image (as opposed to media diffusion?)
  • Subcultural/Subsocial artefacts, behaviours, norms and signifiers

However, this weekend I am going to enjoy, relax and get amongst it all – who knows what might come up!

bicycles-create-change-com

Chicks in the Sticks 2016

Ten days ago I participated for my first time in the 3 hour MTB Chicks in the Sticks Event. This is an all-female registration event, although partners, family and friends were in attendance en mass on the day. It was held on Sunday 28th August, and it had the largest turn out to date of just over 240 female riders on the day. Although official it is a race, and a few keen elite women race it, the overall premise is to ride and have fun and provide an opportunity for women of all skills and levels to get involved.

 

Chicks in the Sticks 2016 Event set up

There was a variety of choices to be made regarding level of participation – solo rider or team of two – which I was (double Yorkers), then experience level – ranging from Chicken Run (elite), Free Range (Intermediate) and Have a Crack (starting out and having a go). It was also great to see a very well populated Juniors Little Chicks in the Stix, and event more so the Queens of the Roost category (over 50’s) with 21 riders. The final results are here.

It was held on the Scouts private property, Mt Cotton – which for me was a bonus as it meant that aside from a social ride two weeks before, most riders were not overly familiar with the tracks. With a 6.6km loop, it was not an particularly difficult track – but certainly the long step-downs and hill climb in loop were challenging enough for some. The location was well resourced, managed and organised on the day with easy access to facilities, shade, water, rubbish bins, parking, toilets in the village and once on bikes, the track was clearly marked and well marshalled. There was a few select male support crew dressed up riding to keep morale high for those who may have been struggling.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and many families had come out to make a day of it. Many participants had taken on board the ‘have a go and have fun’ message, so costumes, colour and accessorising featured prominently. I noticed that most participants hung around until well after Prezzies, and the village atmosphere for the whole day was upbeat, relaxed, non-competitive, friendly and very encouraging. After official awards had been given, there was (what seemed like) a never ending dispersal of gifts, goodies and freebies given to select race plate numbers and then ultimately the rest were thrown into the audience. It was an impressive stash of merchandise – kudos to the organisers!

 

How did it go?

I rode with a friend as a team – entitled Bicycles Create Change.com of course! We rode, not raced. We had a great time and were happy to cut our time short (to reign in any possible competitiveness and also so we could cheer each when the other was on course). I had a bell and a squeaky honker that I made good use of at the start line and on track, I sang (rather loudly) Queen’s I want to ride my bicycle as we were cruising along a flat section to great applause from my surrounding riders and after settling down after the second lap, managed to get the name of a few pinners I was either in front or behind for a while during sections. In fact, post-ride, both riders sought me out and passed on their details to invite me to join them for future riding adventures (which they did!), and I have also since see a few on track at various locations and had a good catch up.

I had a great time on the day. I was the only person on the day riding a Singlespeed. Aside from the terrain being perfect for it and that I love riding my Niner, I also used this event as a test run for a possible decoration idea before going down south for the World Singlespeed Champs in 4-weeks time in Victoria. I used my the olde faithful Leki flower power motif –because I have the materials, it is easy to apply (cable ties) and disassemble, I can easily change or modify the design, it transports well and has maximum visual impact.

 

A good time

Aside from being the only Singlespeeder there, I was also the only person in casual wear (i.e. not full theme costume or MTB kit, or a combination of thereof). I had floral capri pants (over my nicks) and a bicycle print singlet, no socks – lean and clean. I refused to wear any branded gear. I was also very social – telling jokes, engaging with my fellow riders and generally adding good energy to the positive vibes.

img_1941 img_1939 img_1938

An interesting post-script

During the event, I was quite conscious of a few sociological dynamics operating on the day, and since then, my academic brain has been working over time problematizing certain elements – which I have half a mind to develop into more detail for a Journal article perhaps?? Certain ethnographic quandaries were very evident to me such as:
• Racer (competitive) or rider (social)
• Level of fitness and skill – experienced riders alongside newbies
• All female event and female onlyness sports
• Insider (MTBer) and subculture (Singlespeeder)
• Local (QLD) vs. outsider (me originally from VIC)
• Stereotyping of gender in adventure sports (flowers as a representation of ‘femaleness’ – or not)
• Impact and interplay between skill/fitness level and the riders’ ability to ‘have fun’ or enjoy the event
• Track etiquette (see point one and two esp. regarding overtaking).

Some interesting ideas to ponder. I’ll let you know if anything eventuates.

Calling all singlespeeders!

Today I registered for the Single Speed World Championships 2016 (SSWC 2016) to be held in Woodend, Victoria later this year on October 21-23rd 2016. Yahhooooo!

Yes, you heard correctly, the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP for 2016 is in Oz – not just the National SS which I posted about October last year.

From a preliminary count of entrants, there are currently 177 registered, with about 25 women and good peeps from all over the world are decending- so if your keen to ride (and you’ve got a costume in mind), get online and register ASAP as the entries are only available until September 1st – only another 8 days left…. so, calling all single speeders …….. local, regional and international…..

Entry will set you back $140, but if you want all the perks of the full event calendar, but none of the riding, there is also a Party Animal option.

I’m getting very excited and can’t wait. I’m even forgoing a full day HDR Workshop, of which I am on the organising committee of, to attend because this kind of opportunity does not come around very often!

2016SSWCPoster

If you have never heard of the Singlespeed Champs, or have never been to one  – check  it out the videos below…

The clip below is still my favourite SSWC clip – it is from NZ’s race last year – it typifies what the event is all about…

I found the below 7 minute video recently and it gives some good insights into the earlier origins of SSWC. It is hilarious to see what is the same (beards, drinking, tamping with bikes and fun activities, and what has changed (mostly the elaborate nature of the costumes!)

Australian National Singlespeed Championships 2015

This weekend was the Australian National Singlespeed Championships 2015  – Dec 5th & 6th  @ Wombat State Forest, Woodend, Vic. HOORAY!!!

I thought I would post some details about this event because I think it is very special, being one of the few cycling occasions, in my opinion, that genuinely brings all kinds of people together with the focus being on fun first and race second. It does so in such a way that the racing aspect is not the central purpose of participating – although it is for some. It is one of the rare competitions where having fun and being social (and wearing a kick-ass costume) is the norm for participation.

 

Australian National Singlespeed 2015
Australian National Singlespeed 2015

 

Event schedule

Friday evening – race briefing at the Holgate Brewery (one of the event’s main sponsors). The vibe was relaxed, friendly and very cool with people catching up and strangers chatting to each other like old friends. It was refreshing to be in an environment where the competitors had no ego. Instead, this motley crew had come from all walks of life, yet had come together out of a common link with bicycles (and beer) which meant that conversations were stimulating, convivial and unique.

Saturday Day Racing – 3 Stage race

  1. Mass start 10 km (1 beer to cut off 2 km) – then rode a short liaison to Stage 2.

Between stages 1 and 2, competitors had 2 hours to self-serve lunch, have a beer and complete the 2nd stage.

  1. 3 – 4 km time trial (with a game of darts included, where the score of your darts throw was your time bonus in seconds – given that it was a 36C day, hot with adrenalin running, so it was deceptively hard to keep concentration to get off a straight shot! If you got no score on the dartboard (which many did), you had to knock back a schnapps shot.
  2. 15-minute window to start 17kms final stage with a compulsory beer at the end.

This stage format worked very well. The timing chips used meant that riders had immediate access to ride times and results (so results could be checked in between stages).

Sunday – Social Rides

Event Highlights

There were about 95 riders – with about 15 women, some came to actually compete (race), but most were there to ride socially and to participate in supporting the singlespeed community (and to dress up), catch up with old mates and make some new ones! Being a 36C day meant that riding was much more challenging – especially for those in costumes – many of which were discarded layer by layer as the riding got hotter and hotter! The trails were fantastic -flowing and technical with at least 90% of the trails being single track. The food supplied for lunch was a real highlight – especially the vegetarian option, which was unexpectedly outstanding, wholesome and exceptionally delicious.

Overall, it was a tremendously satisfying and enjoyable event to be part of – one that truly brought a range of riders, supporters and lovers of bikes together. I would highly recommend people to come and take part in the next Australian National Singlespeed Championships in 2016 – which will be epic as it is also the 2016 WORLD SINGLESPEED CHAMPIONSHIPS!!  What a great opportunity to get amongst it. I hope to see you all there!!!

Further Singlespeed action

For more information, details and photos for this event – see the Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts Facebook page.

If you have never seen, heard or know what a Singlespeed National race is like – this clip from the 2015 NZ Singlespeed Nationals will give you an idea – ENJOY!!