“I’m a fair weather rider” she said.

The yoga class was over and people were collecting their shoes, shorts, keys and bags to leave. It was 7.30am and the humidity was high after some morning showers.

“Are you on your bike today?” I heard someone ask.

“No, not with the rain this morning. I’m a fair weather rider”, came the reply .

Perhaps it was my imagination but I sensed a note of something in her voice. Was it disappointment at not riding? Was it acknowledgment of a perceived failing? guilt? or relief to have a quick and easy response to the expectation that she should be on her bike?

When I heard it though, it made me wonder how loaded the campaign to take up a bike lifestyle can become. There was no need to give a reason or any justification for not riding her bike – but she did. There have been times when I’ve done the same.

Many of us want to ride our bikes, recycle our rubbish, take public transport, consume less, be contributing to a cleaner planet and then we can feel compromised, if we don’t. The choice to ride a bike is an expression of values and remaining authentic to them is not always easy.

As I prepare this post, there is an afternoon thunderstorm rumbling and darkening the skies to the west. The wind has started to swirl the trees. I check the BOM (Bureau of meteorology) website to check the forecast: SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: DAMAGING WINDS, HEAVY RAINFALL And LARGE HAILSTONES. Any plans to ride to my yoga class tonight might be kaput.


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Normally, it’s an empty concrete breezeway with life-sized replicas of humpback whales suspended from the ceiling and the sounds of recorded whale song wafting in the air. It’s a pedestrian throughway separating the Art Gallery and the Queensland Museum at Brisbane’s Southbank, one that I walk briskly through in winter when it becomes a chilly concrete funnel for cold winds and one that I stroll slowly along when summer heat hangs in the air outside. Last Saturday, I spent the whole afternoon there. It had become a corridor of cycling chic, inspiration and fun.

As I walked up the stairs from the State Library, which was still recovering from Thursday’s fierce storm, an amplified voice said, ..it’s up to the people. If you want more bike lanes and better bikeways, you have to write to your politician. Politicians don’t get much mail about it and if they don’t get mail about it, nothing will happen. A program of speakers (in “Spokers Corner”) was in full swing.

The scent of fresh paint led my eyes to a line of seven bikes all painted stark white. Each had the beginnings of a colourful design and an artist concentrating on where the next brushstroke should be placed.  I looked further along the normally empty passageway to see it filled with people, bikes and optimism. I’d arrived at Pedal Brisbane, a day-long exhibition, a collaboration with the Queensland Museum, to celebrate, highlight and promote cycling culture.

…this exhibition carried a message of what cycling can become – a means of self-expression and a two-wheel journey to transforming individual lives, cities and societies. It’s a grand vision but it’s possible.

If your most familiar image of cyclists involves some combination of racing bikes, fast riding, sweaty lycra, large groups of cyclists on the weekend roads and in the coffee shops, then Pedal Brisbane added another vision. It highlighted the fringe of cycling culture that combines style and function to create a lifestyle of riding for transport, pleasure and exercise along the way.

I saw bamboo bicycles, timber bikes, electric bikes for more speed with less sweat, foldaway bikes for people with limited space to store a bike, and a Dutch cargo bike for transporting small children and groceries and other goods in a stable two-wheel pedal powered carriage. It expressed the edge of cycling culture that involves innovation, art, design, film, photography, advocacy and initiatives to bring more people to bike riding, and bike riding to more people.

For me, the Pedal Brisbane exhibition carried a message of what cycling can become – a means of self-expression and a two-wheel journey to transforming individual lives, cities and societies. It’s a grand vision but it’s possible.


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Well I feel relieved the project has started. The lead-up to it was coloured by growing anticipation about what would or could or might happen. Now, that it’s Day Two, I feel more at ease. I’m in it.

It’s similar to when you stand on the shoreline looking at the cold water, working up the courage to dive in and anticipating the discomfort, the forfeiting of warmth. Then once you’re in the water, it always feels better and most often not as uncomfortable as your pre-dive mind was anticipating. At least that’s how it is in the sub-tropics where I live. Maybe if you’re swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, it might be different but in the Coral Sea that laps the shorelines where I live, it’s never really too cold to swim.

So now the project has begun, riding my bike is my first choice for transport. With no appointments to travel for, I’d envisaged a car-free week. Yes! This will be a great start to the project. Yet, it is only day two of this experiment and an unexpected turn arrives.

Replacing the car’s bike rack has been on the list for the last twelve months. It moved up the list last week and so I drove out to look, try and hopefully buy. Those plans didn’t go as thought. The model I was looking at wasn’t in stock and there were some doubts about whether that style of rack would fit the car and still allow enough space for the rear gate to open. The Thule ‘rep’ would call me next week.

It was a quick call. He had a display bike rack to test the fit. Could I meet him?

My mind immediately flashed with “that means driving the car” and then “what does that mean for my experiment?” and then “do I have an option? Can I make another choice?”

To which my thoughts quickly answered, “no, I don’t have an option…unless I choose to cross buying a new bike rack off my list” and then “well that is how it is…this is the nature of experimenting. There are some times that I will just have to use the car. The same will happen when the car needs servicing.”

Yes, I replied, I can meet you.


If you enjoyed this story, click ‘Yes email me new stories‘ and receive new stories straight into your email inbox 🙂 If you know other people who might enjoy it, use the icons below to share this story with them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn or via email. You can also read the About page to find out how this bike riding experiment began and why I’m doing it.

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