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Reuse and recycle your bike

11 August, 2014

There’s more than one way to bring new life to old bikes, Damian Antonio and Bart Sbeghen look at two innovative projects bringing joy to riders old and new.

Photo by Damian Antonio

Photo by Damian Antonio

In a gritty corner of a government-housing car park in Waterloo, in Sydney’s inner west, from behind a well-tagged roller door, a bike workshop comes to life two times a week. Boxes of cranks, ball bearings and cone pieces; filing cabinets of chains, brake levers and cassettes; and racks of wheels and frames, fill every corner. A couple of wheel-truing stands, spoke keys and other tools are scattered throughout the room.

The volunteers arrive early. They tinker with the latest donated bikes, assessing whether they are fit to offload in their current condition, for which a donation may be sought, or whether they would be better put to use broken down into their raw components.

Slowly, a people begin to arrive, ready for the mechanical challenge ahead. They are all ages and ethnicities—reflecting the local area and bike-lovers in general—and bring with them a mish-mash of bicycles. Most are worn and rusted and wouldn’t look out of place on the kerb on council clean-up day. But the people here know that with a bit of work and the right parts, there is still some life in them yet.

Before long the area is covered in bicycle frames, wheels and tubes. People zig-zag through the maze while making trips from their project to the tool trolley or the workshop shed. This shed may be small in size, but using a balanced combination of chaos and order, seemingly contains enough spare parts to service every bicycle in Sydney.

At home in the clutter, like a boy poring over his Lego hoard, is Charles, 41. A software developer by trade, Charles first visited Cycle Re-Cycle about a year ago. He has since built five bikes almost exclusively from the repository of parts available at the workshop. Most of them he has given to family and friends.

Charles is now preparing to create his sixth two-wheeled “Frankenstein”. He is in no rush and will build as parts become available. He gives the impression that the process is just as important as the final product, as without the process—his own two hands intimately linking each component—the bikes would not exist at all.

“The thing I don’t like is that it’s like bicycles these days are a throw-away commodity. You find some old stuff and it’s actually quite nice,” he explains. “The bike I normally ride was made in 1978 and it would be a shame to see it thrown away. I mean, it’s old and it’s rusty and anyone else would’ve just tossed it. But me, I put it together and I love it.”

There are over a billion bicycles on the planet with 130 million more being produced every year. Have you ever wondered where they all go to die? Some are melted down and reincarnated as car panels and park benches. Some become exhibits in the museums of our lives—our garages. And a few end up at this workshop, Cycle Re-Cycle.

Photo by Damian Antonio

Photo by Damian Antonio

Originating in 2005, Cycle Re-Cycle is a community-run bike workshop that acts as a repository of tools, spare parts and knowledge. Making sense of it all are the regular volunteers, of whom the head honcho is Hugh Ellens. An adult educator by day, Hugh first attended the Cycle Re-Cycle in 2007 while in search of an elusive part for his centre-pull brakes. He has been an integral member of the community ever since.

“I appreciated what they were doing,” he says. “So I came back for another visit. I made some friends while I was there; it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Ellens says that the primary objective of Cycle Re-Cycle is to keep bicycles on the road. And with an estimated 2,000 visitors per year, servicing or building up to 700 bikes, it seems to be working. But as the workshop evenings unfold, it is clear that Cycle Re-Cycle’s achievements run far deeper than bicycle maintenance. Ellens hints at the altruism driving the work here while describing the thing he finds most satisfying about being a volunteer: “passing on knowledge to people so they can be self-sufficient. One of the inherent aspects of human nature is the desire to pass on knowledge—what you’ve learned and what your experiences have taught you. Otherwise, you might think, ‘What is the purpose of my life?’”

Ellens emphasises that Cycle Re-Cycle is not only for those who can’t afford to have their bike fixed professionally; it is for anyone who would like to strengthen their community ties, gain new knowledge and skills, or simply borrow a bike pump.

Throughout the workshop, Ellens drifts from person to person looking to impart his vast knowledge of bicycle maintenance wherever it is required. If it is a spare part that someone needs, he rummages through the shed with the efficiency of a librarian sifting through the archives.

Not everyone visits Cycle Re-Cycle for something as tangible as a second-hand sprocket or kickstand, however. For some, it is knowledge and independence that they desire. Like Miryam, 34, an electrical engineer and PhD student, who was working with regular volunteer Andrew to replace the worn cables on the dilapidated mountain bike that was given to her by friends. They are the same friends that she is sick of asking for help whenever something goes wrong. “I’m fixing the gear and brake cables. I don’t know how to do that, so I came here to learn”.

While patiently walking Miryam through the process of greasing and feeding the cables through the housing, Andrew explains what first attracted him to Cycle Re-Cycle, attributing it in part to the conditions in which he was raised.

“I am a born recycler. I suppose I got that from my parents, as after the war in Poland there was nothing…so people were big on recycling or turning one thing into another. Cycle Re-Cycle makes sense to me. Instead of throwing things in a landfill, it makes sense to use it. It is something to contrast the disposable society”.

Andrew is certainly not alone. The strengthening of community ties; knowledge and skills transference; and waste minimisation are all common themes at Cycle Re-Cycle. In fact, while getting more bicycles on the road may be the workshop’s primary objective, one gets the impression that it is simply a wonderful side effect.

For details of how to donate bikes, volunteer or build up your own bike, visit the Cycle Re-cycle website.

Flemington-Bike-Re-cycle

Bart Sbeghen reports on a school-based bike donation program in Melbourne.

Flemington Primary School in Melbourne’s inner north has been an active participant in the Ride2School program (which I am involved in) but something was not quite right. Over a half of students regularly rode, walked or scooted to school. But about one in six students never had the chance. These children were from families who had recently made Melbourne home (new migrants) and they didn’t have access to a bike or scooter.

This meant these students were missing out on their daily dose of physical activity and maintaining or improving their health by riding to school.

What was the solution? A new program giving these students donated and refurbished bikes called Bicycle Recycle. So, with the support of the school Principal, and two “bike guru” parents, trialled the program in the lead up to this year’s Ride2School Day (in March) with a week-by-week focus of repairing and gifting of bikes from those who weren’t using them to those that needed them. Families with unused kid’s bikes sitting in their garage or shed brought them to school where a group of parents and students repaired and checked them ready for ‘re-cycling’. These bikes were then given to students who needed them. From a slow first week with only four bikes exchanged, the program quickly built momentum so that by the end of term (over five weeks) more than 50 bikes and eight scooters, had been donated, fixed and gifted.

The school program also benefitted from the Red Cross Wheel-Power for Refugees program.

“Bike-guru” and school program mastermind Peter Hormann, volunteers at the Australian Red Cross bike program.

“We set out from the start to try and integrate with the Red Cross program as our needs were complementary,” explains Hormann. “The Red Cross program needs good quality adult bikes but had too many kid’s bikes. The school needed lots of kid’s bikes and also had some adult bikes donated. We gratefully received 18 kid’s bikes from the Red Cross that suited our kids in need, plus some spare parts and use of some of their tools. In return we were able to donate six adult bikes for use by refugees. We hope to continue with the cooperation, as both groups benefit.”

School Principal Lesley McCarthy is also enthusiastic: “The engagement across the whole school community was wonderful particularly the involvement of the dads and the new connections across cultural/social groups. The smiles on the kids who received bikes were just delightful and almost matched by those who donated. To have 50 extra students on bikes through the self-support of the school community is fantastic.”

The pilot program threw up some challenges too. Hormann said the school ran out of spare parts, especially tubes, brake cables, bells and reflectors, and many students receiving bikes did not have a helmet or lock.

“Thankfully the local bike shop helped out with a box of bells and reflectors. We also asked for a small donation from those whose bikes we repaired, which allowed us to purchase some spares and helmets,” he said.

“We also did not have enough larger kid’s bikes, perhaps because those kids are now at high school and no longer in contact with school. We’d be looking for some grant support if we were to continue the program and there is some need for bike skills training too.”

This year’s trial program has been such as success, it’s been adopted permanently throughout the school year.  There are also hopes other schools in the area will adopt it.

How it works

Donated bikes are repaired by the school community and given to those who need them.

  • Families donate unused bikes at the “bike shed” area and their status is assessed (size, repairs needed etc.).
  • Students without bikes record their details on a cardboard swing tag with size of bike noted.
  • When a bike is fixed assessed as road worthy, it is assigned to needy student based on size and gender. Monetary contribution encouraged.
  • Adult bikes repaired and donated to Red Cross who in return donate appropriate sized child bikes.
  • Bikes in need of repair but not being donated are also accommodated in lead up to Ride2School Day. A monetary contribution was encouraged.
  • Monetary and in-kind contributions allow sourcing of some spare parts, helmets, locks and light (but not all—needs some additional support for ongoing operation).
  • Bike skills training and ongoing school support including a bike shed, training skills like Good2Go training are encouraged.

Other community bike workshops

Newcastle

Bike Love Corral

Takes donated bikes and parts, and restores them for future use. Trade in, sell or borrow secondhand bikes. Get help fixing your own bike or fix a donated bike for you to keep. Also offers workshops on bicycle repair and cycling skills.

When: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm.

Where: Hunter Building, Newcastle University.

How to get involved: Become a Bike Love Corral member or just turn up.

More info: http://bikelovecorral.blogspot.com.au/


Melbourne

Broadmeadows Bicycle Hub

Volunteer-run program to refurbish and distribute donated bikes throughout the community. Get help fixing your bike and buy refurbished bikes cheaply.

When: Saturdays, 11am–3pm.

Where: Banksia Gardens Community Centre, Pearcedale Parade, Broadmeadows.

How to get involved: Just turn up, or contact Leanne, Keith or Jamie on (03) 9309 8531 to volunteer.

More info: http://banksiagardens.org.au/broadmeadows-bicycle-hub/

 

The Bikeshed at CERES

Bikeshed members can use the workshop tools and get assistance from volunteer mechanics. Cheap recycled parts and some new parts for sale.

When: Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, 11am–5pm.

Where: CERES Community Environment Park. Enter via the gate closest to the Blyth St/Atherton Road Bridge in Brunswick East.

How to get involved: Just turn up. Memberships are $10/year for individuals, $5 for concession card holders and $13 for families.

More info: http://www.thebikeshed.org.au/

 

Adelaide

Adelaide Bike Kitchen

Provides tools, parts and knowledge at their weekly workshops for you to learn bikes, fix bikes, build bikes and talk bikes. Finish each workshop with a shared community dinner.

When: Wednesdays, 5pm–8pm.

Where: 22 Gibson St, Bowden.

How to get involved: Workshops are run on a donation basis; just turn up.

More info: http://www.adelaidebikekitchen.com/workshops

 

Adelaide Bicycle Workshop

Repairs and recycles donated bicycles. Upgrade, service or repair your bicycle using workshop tools and friendly volunteers. Donations requested for spare parts and second hand bikes.

When: Saturdays, 9am–12pm.

Where: 34 Long St, Plympton.

How to get involved: Just turn up or contact Mike Brisco (email: bris0014@flinders.edu.au or call: 0435 02 16 81).

More info: http://www.adelaidecyclists.com/group/adelaide-bicycle-workshop

 

Hobart

Hobart Bike Kitchen

Recycles donated bikes and provides the tools, recycled parts and knowledge to help you fix yours. Also holds annual bike auctions where you can grab a bargain on a refurbished bike.

When: Most Sundays, 1pm–4pm.

Where: 130 Davey St, Hobart.

How to get involved: Get in touch to find out: hobartbikekitchen@gmail.com.

More info: http://hobartbikekitchen.org/

 

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

 

Ride On digest

6 August, 2014

The week’s top bike news from around the world, brought to you every Wednesday.

Local news

sydnorthbikeNorth Sydney on the right path

North Sydney Council has unanimously voted in favour of a $10.3 million Harbour Bridge Cycle Link that would provide five new bike routes, including a protected bi-directional path from the Sydney harbour Bridge along the Pacific Highway to Cammeray. The next step is to have funding approved by the State Government.

Get the full scoop >>

The Climbing Cyclist Wiki goes live

Great news for those who like their riding on the tilt, The Climbing Cyclist has launched its Wiki page where users can share info, pics and maps for their favourite climbs.

Get the full scoop >>

A bridge to the Bend

Melbourne’s City of Port Phillip has proposed a new bridge, dedicated to bikes and trams, that will link the massive Fishermans Bend redevelopment precinct to the city.

Get the full scoop >>

 

International news

KateMNoble steed to the highest bidder

After competing in the gruelling Race Across America (and her team completing the race in an impressive six days, 10 hours), Pippa Middleton is auctioning her bike to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. The SRAM-equipped Dassi is valued at £2,500, but Pippa is hoping it will fetch a much higher price for a good cause: “I wanted to complete this challenge to help raise awareness of the importance of heart health after learning that coronary heart disease kills nearly three times more women than breast cancer… I’m keen to raise as much money as possible to help the BHF fund life-saving heart research.”

Get the full scoop >>

A city for cycling

Copenhagen just keeps outdoing itself. From  LEDs that let you know if you’re rolling fast enough to make the green light, to flat cobblestones, bike bridges and tilted rubbish bins, over the last few years the city has implemented a number of nifty new ways to make it easier to get around by bike.

Get the full scoop >>

New York: a love story

Some couples take photographs to capture special moments, and others make maps. One pair of New York love birds have quite literally charted their relationship, using GPS on their bikes to map their adventures in the Big Apple and reimagine the city as their own.

Get the full scoop >>

 

Health

chocolateChocolate makes you a better bike rider—it’s science

It seems that chocolate, or more specifically the cocoa flavonols in chocolate, may help lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to muscles and make it easier for the heart to cope during exercise. While the findings are based on a small study and further research is needed, we’re happy to take it as fact until proven otherwise.

Get the full scoop >>

 

Video

Sheep vs cyclist

This rider thought he was pretty swift  on the old pushie, until he raced a sheep. And lost.

 

Upcoming events

dotdotdot 9 August Bupa Around the Bay Team Bicycle Network training ride Melbourne, VIC
dotdotdot 10 August Moreton Bay 100 Lawton, QLD
dotdotdot 16-17 August RioTinto Ride to Conquer Cancer QLD

 

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

Cycle touring the South Island of New Zealand

4 August, 2014

Georgie Fyfe-Jamieson had long dreamed of touring the south island of New Zealand, and it didn’t disappoint.

Georgie-Fyfe-Jamieson-South

We woke up to beautiful birdsong and a rainbow, and when the clouds high up in the mountains started to clear, we could see fresh snow sprinkled on the peaks. It was the boost to the spirits that I needed. Riding into Makarora the previous day had been long and quite hard and we knew we were in for a few days of rain. That morning we planned to ride up and over Haast Pass to Haast, a distance of about 90 kilometres, along the only sealed road in Mount Aspiring National Park. I was very excited but also a little nervous because apart from pristine forest there is nothing in between Makarora and Haast. We were fully self-sufficient with our tent, stove, food and camping gear but we were also remote.

But as is the way in New Zealand, you are often treated with four seasons in one day, and that morning was utterly stunning. I knew I had to remember what I saw and how I felt for those minutes as no photograph or video could capture the beauty I saw and the utter joy and good-fortune that I felt.

My partner and I share a passion for cycle touring and we had long dreamed about touring the South Island of New Zealand, for its mountains, glaciers, fiord lands, lakes, rivers and beaches. And it did not disappoint. We rode for 16 enjoyable days, averaging 84km/day, for a total of 1,346km—plus seven days for other activities.

Incredible scenery and amazing variety in terrain and weather is what the cycle tourist can expect from New Zealand’s south island. Day two presented us with a challenging headwind and our first sighting of a blue-grey river coloured by limestone particles from the glaciers. We enjoyed a lovely descent into the Rakia Gorge, and when the clouds started to clear somewhere between Methven and Geraldine, we could sneak views of the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps. As much as possible we avoided the main roads and found the back roads were quiet, gently undulating and the landscape very beautiful. These quiet roads also allowed us to ride side-by-side, which is of course one of the many enjoyable things about cycle touring.

Cartography by Wayne Murphy

Cartography by Wayne Murphy

When we encountered our first fellow cycle tourer of the trip, we compared guide books: we had Cycling New Zealand by Lonely Planet and he had Pedallers’ Paradise. All the other tourers we met thereafter were carrying Pedallers’ Paradise which looked like a great little book as it had where to pick up supplies, which is important to know in this part of New Zealand where you can ride for a day or more without passing any sizeable stores.

We were fortunate that the day was dry and clear when we rode into Lake Tekapo and we were able to appreciate the scenery: the frosted-blue lake, New Zealand’s tallest peak Mount Cook / Aoraki and swathes of lupin flowers in every shade you could imagine. It was then on to Omarama via Twizel along a hydro-canal trail. We joined for a while the Alps to Ocean (A2O) cycle trail but it was not ideal for our loaded touring bikes, better suited for leisurely mountain bike trail riding. The next day was a long one—118km to Wanaka—but it included another very beautiful mountain pass, Lindis. Although it was wet and very cold at the 971m pass, it felt wonderfully remote and serene.

The ride into Queenstown over the Crown Ranges, and alongside the Cardrona River was an unforgettable day’s riding as the weather and terrain were perfect! The road tucks in tight between the ranges and you are surrounded by them. The three kilometres or so before the pass (965m) is tough but with good gears, determination and a few fuel stops it is very achievable.  The views into Lake Wakitipu from the pass were extraordinary, and the downhill exhilarating: around 500m descent in 8 kilometres!  There were a number of tight switchbacks so it was crucial that our brakes were tip-top!  We rode on via the pretty old gold-mining town of Arrowtown over a few more hills thrown in for good measure. Queenstown’s setting is utterly beautiful, with the lake and The Remarkable mountains as impressive backdrops.

From here we did a non-cycling side-trip to beautiful Milford Sound in Fiordland. We heard that there is an excellent unsealed trail ideal for cyclists to Te Anau via the Mavora Lakes—next time, perhaps.

En route to the West Coast we stopped in the spectacular Makarora, a settlement in a river valley forested by Southern Beech trees and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We pitched our tent and walked into the forest dripping in moss and lichen and populated by ferns. We walked close to a heavily gushing river, powered by snow melt and the rains of the day.

Georgie-Fyfe-Jamieson-NZ-2Our ride from Haast to Fox Glacier was 126km and nearly 8 hours (excluding breaks) of riding in the rain; I cannot deny it was a challenge! Stopping even for a couple of minutes allowed you to get very cold, very quickly. However, there was little traffic and the vegetation was in its element: gorgeous punga ferns and New Zealand flax, its flowers fed upon by the quirky Tui bird. We caught glimpses of the crashing Tasman Sea and its beautiful coastline. Unfortunately due to the poor weather, all ‘visits’ to the glacier were closed and due to be for the following days.

So we caught a bus (with our bikes) up to Nelson to explore in and around Abel Tasman National Park. The highlight was riding from the town of Takaka, 33km around the coast to Totaranui Beach in the north of the National Park.  It had been a very wet and windy day and the Takaka-Collingwood Highway wasn’t offering much to the eye or heart that morning. Plus there had been little point in riding up to Farewell Spit from Collingwood to see the wetlands and the birds, because of the weather, so we were feeling a little disappointed. At Takaka the rain dried out. We took a quiet road off the Highway and followed it around the coast to Abel Tasman NP. It was perfect riding—gently undulating, quiet and beautiful—and the sun was now shining, hot even. We crossed the Wainu river and the challenge began. We had 10km ahead of unsealed road, steep and winding, with the road flanked by forest and little else. It was tough, we were tired, but fuelled by anticipation of what lay ahead plus bananas, chocolate and water. We stopped at the top where the road forked, and looked down towards the coastline. It was a fun downhill and a little challenging but we were rewarded with a very refreshing dip in the sea before pitching our tent at the stunningly situated campsite.

Next day we caught a boat to Kaiteriteri, to the south of the Park, and had a lovely ride around the coast to Marahau and back into Nelson via a bike-friendly ferry from Mapua to Rabbit Island, thus avoiding the busy Coastal Highway.

We returned to the West Coast by bus, through the Buller Gorge which we felt would be a wonderful ride another time: winding, steep, quiet and beautiful with Kahurangi National Park lying to the north-west. We alighted at the small but perfectly formed settlement of Punakaiki. The raging Tasman sea is impressive and beautiful, and the coastline is rocky with grey-black sand. Towering high inland are huge limestone cliffs covered in ferns and forest. The blowholes and ‘Pancake Rocks’ are also impressive to see. Camping that night surrounded by wild coast, rainforest and limestone karst cliffs was another unforgettable experience.

It was an incredibly beautiful 45km ride back down the West Coast, to our turn-off just before the industrial town of Greymouth. Here we headed inland to Moana en route to Arthurs Pass and eventually Christchurch. From Moana we followed the ‘Lake Brunner Tourist Drive’, which, especially up until the town of Jackson, was a cyclists’ paradise! It was quiet, gently undulating and lovely scenery. At Otira, we entered Arthur’s Pass National Park and the riding started to get tough. We had our steepest ascent yet with Otira Gorge: a 550m climb in just 9km. We stopped on a few occasions (having to push our bikes on one short section) and at one point were visited by cheeky, curious kea birds (endangered mountain parrots). We stayed in Arthur’s Pass village and went hiking (“tramping”). The village sits in a valley flanked by the massive mountains of the Southern Alps. We hiked up the mountains through southern beech forest and up beyond the tree line, to appreciate views of waterfalls and mountain peaks.

We ended much as we began, riding on the quiet back roads of the Canterbury Plains back to Christchurch. Side-by-side on the 40 kilometres of dead straight South Eyre Road was the perfect opportunity to reflect on a very satisfying trip.

nz-south-island-cycle-tour-

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

Great Victorian Talent

1 August, 2014

Professional cyclist, Le Tour de France rider and RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride ambassador Simon Clarke tells Melissa Heagney about his lifelong passion for the two wheels. Photographs: courtesy of Orica GreenEDGE

Orica GreenEDGE Men's Team PortraitsName: Simon Clarke

Age: 28

Occupation: Professional cyclist

Bike: Scott Addict

 

 

 

 

 

 

For serious road cyclists, the tracks, trails and roads of the Dandenong Ranges have become the stuff of legend. Many great Aussie riders have taken them on; honing their skills, building their stamina. Simon Clarke, who grew up in the Dandenongs, is one of those riders. He used the ranges to practice his craft, though, when he first started riding, Clarke’s training ground was the dirt road near his home in Selby.

“I spent hours on end riding up and down that road, it was great fun, I did it for days on end,” Clarke reminisces.

Now 28, little has changed. Clarke still rides for hours on end but instead of the Dandenongs, he rides the mountains of Europe, training to compete in some of the most prestigious road races in the world. This includes Le Tour de France which he tackled for the first time last year as part of his professional cycling team Orica GreenEDGE.

Clarke’s professional journey started when he was still a student at Selby Primary School. He joined his father (who was part of the school’s parents and friends group) in an event that had nothing to do with speed or racing – the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride. It was during his second Great Vic, in 1998, that he met the man who would change his life.

“Back in the late ‘90s the Great Vic had this fantastic development program for students like me,” Clarke explains.

“A group of riders, including Dean Woods (Olympic track racing gold medallist) took every school for at least one day of the ride, and taught them the correct skills and techniques to ride a bike.”

“I met Dean on my second Great Vic ride in ‘98 because I was invited to join another school group for their ride.

“The school group consisted of students from high school in Year 9 and 10 – and then there was me who was still in primary school,” Clarke says.

“By the time we were about half way into the day’s ride the rest of the school students had fallen behind and it was only Dean and I left.

“He noticed that I was going well and that I was a lot younger than the other students so he recommended I join a club and start racing.”

The next year, as a talented 13-year-old, Clarke started to race with the Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club, showing the skills which would earn him a spot as a national representative.

“My first really big win was the queen stage of the Tour of Cardinia which is a selection race for the Junior World Championships (when I was 16),” he says.

Clarke was selected for the Australian Junior Road Team the same year and experienced his first taste of competing internationally.

“This was my first experience of racing at the World stage,” Clarke says.

It opened his eyes to the professional racing scene.

“There was a huge difference in the level between the Australian domestic racing and the European racing,” Clarke says.

“I often make a reference to motor racing, Australian cycling is like racing in the V8 super cars and then going to race in Europe is like racing in F1, but with the same car.

“It takes a lot of getting used to and many more years of development.”

Part of his development came from a place at the Australian Institute of Sport – riding with the SouthAustralia.com-AIS team.

“Because cycling is a European sport their base is in Italy,” Clarke says.

“So at aged 17 I basically moved to Italy to start racing the European calendar and begin my development to professional cycling.

Clarke says there were many challenges to face, and most of them weren’t on the bike.

“The biggest challenge was that I just lived in a house with the other riders so we had to very quickly learn how to cook, wash, clean and completely look after ourselves in a different country where they don’t speak English,” he says.

“Although this was very challenging it is a key aspect to learn – when you turn ‘pro’ you are really out on your own living somewhere in Europe trying to be a professional cyclist.”

It wasn’t just the culture shock Clarke had to deal with he also had to finish his high school studies.

“I finished high school (Year 11 and 12) … while living in Italy. Then I got into Commerce at Deakin University because I’m really interested in business.”

Clarke completed two years of his Bachelor of Commerce by correspondence while living in Italy (he now lives in Varese) but said he has deferred his studies to focus on cycling.

While his studies are on hold, Clarke’s has seen some great success in his career. In 2012 he won stage four (and King of the Mountains jersey) at the Tour of Spain (Vuelta a Espana).

“My results at the Vuelta proved my capabilities at the top of World Cycling,” Clarke says.

He is also credited with helping Orica GreenEDGE teammate Simon Gerrans win stage four of Le Tour de France last year.

This year, Clarke was the Herald Sun Tour winner. Commentators and teammates call Clarke a tenacious competitor, one of Australia’s strongest all-rounders and a selfless rider. But look to his twitter account and he calls himself “a professional bum who rides a pushie for fun.”

It’s not just because Clarke likes to bum around and surf when he’s not on the bike, it’s also because he mostly lives out of a suitcase.

“The one positive (of being away from home so much) is I basically chase summer around the world. I haven’t seen a full winter since I was 16.”

Clarke recently celebrated his 28th birthday during Le Tour de France this year – but there was no time to stop for celebrations as he was heading to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow being chosen for the Australian Cycling Team.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in Glasgow, and then my goal is to be selected for the Olympics in Rio,” he says.

Later this year, he’ll be heading back to Australia – to the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride where he’ll be an ambassador. Clarke will be riding with students for a day in between his professional commitments giving some valuable advice to young riders. He may even have time to head back to the dirt road in Selby, where it all started.

Simon Clarke has ridden the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride four times:

Orica GreenEDGE Men's Team Portraits“I rode in ‘97 on a mountain bike, then in ‘98 on a road bike, and then in ‘99 with my cycling club. So each year was a progression of my development. Then I decided that when I turned     pro I would go back and do it again, so in 2008 I signed my first contract and went back and did the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride for a fourth time.”

 

 

 

Professional teams have included:

  • Orica GreenEDGE (AUS) Pro Tour
  • Pro Team Astana (KAZ) Pro Tour
  • ISD-Neri (ITA) Pro-Continental
  • Amica Chips- Knauf (ITA) Pro Continental
  • com-AIS (AUS) Continental
  • U23 National AIS- Mapei Road Team

 

His best advice:

“The main thing is that it is very important to look after yourself. Generally everything possible is already done on the bike. But focusing on eating well and getting massages and looking after your body is also a key to ensure high performance.”

 

Did you know?

Clarke has a dog named Selby in honour of his home suburb.

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

Ride On digest

30 July, 2014

The week’s top bike news from around the world, brought to you every Wednesday.

Local news

trackteamAussie track team goes for gold

The Australian track cycling team has done the nation proud at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, riding away with twenty medals, including 7 gold. Go team!

Get the full scoop >>

Willoughby goes for double win

While Anna Meares and her teammates were cleaning up on the track in Glasgow, Aussie BMX rider and Happiness Cycle ambassador, Sam Willoughby, won double gold at the BMX World Championships in Rotterdam. He took out the title in the men’s elite and time trial events.

Get the full scoop >>

SA skimps on bikes

South Australia may appear to be big on bikes—it’s home to the Santos Tour Down Under and hosted the Velo-city Global Conference earlier this year—but the Sate Government has the lowest spending on cycling infrastructure per capita of any mainland state. The state is keen to get more people riding, but allocated just $2.89 per person for infrastructure projects. According to Bike SA Chief Executive Officer, Christian Haag, it’s nowhere near enough: “Unless you provide people with other transport options, like cycling, you will be in serious budget strife regarding healthcare costs.”

Get the full scoop >>

Mountain bikers have your say!

Professional consultants and trail builders, Dirt Art, have been charged to devise a master plan with a view of building up to 100km of new mountain bike trails around Bright, Victoria, and they need your input.

Share your thoughts >>

Sydneysiders consult on new lanes

Concept designs for Sydney’s city centre cycleways along Castlereagh, Liverpool and Park Street are on display for public consultation. Take a look and put in your two cents.

Share your thoughts >>

 

International news

lacourse_podiumgirls-540x502La Course by Le Tour spotlights women’s cycling

On Sunday, millions of viewers around the globe tuned in to watch the world’s greatest cyclists race on the Champs-Élysées, but not all of those riders were men. A special women’s race, La Course by Le Tour, was held before the final stage of the Tour de France. Over 90,000 people petitioned for the women’s race, with the hope of raising the profile of women’s cycling and inspiring a new generation of girls to get on their bikes.

Get the full scoop >>

New algorithm calculates most scenic routes

The digital age has already given us the means to find the quickest and least congested routes from A to B, and soon you’ll be able to calculate the most beautiful route as well. An algorithm, developed at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, uses data, such as how many Flickr images there are of a location, the positivity of comments attached to these photos and crowd sourced opinions to map a city’s sites of beauty and calculate your journey accordingly. It’s not publicly available yet, but the aesthetes among you should be able to download an app with the technology for your smart phone in the not too distant future.

Get the full scoop >>

Tour gets UK riding

A survey conducted by sustainable transport charity Sustrans has found that hosting the Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire has inspired a quarter of Brits to get on their bikes—and that number could easily rise, with 30% of survey respondents saying they would ride more if there were better infrastructure available. Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive of Sustrans, said the Government needs to act on public enthusiasm now: “If the government’s ‘cycling revolution’ is to go ahead they must be quick to capitalise on this public passion to reap the benefits in health, congestion and the economy to be had with higher levels of public cycling.”

Get the full scoop >>

 

Health

active-recovery1Active recovery

If the Tour’s inspired you to get out on some big rides, you may be feeling a bit sore. Here’s our guide to active recovery.

Get the full scoop >>

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video

La Course: the highlights

If you missed it on the weekend, check out the highlights from this historic race.lacourse

 

Upcoming events

dotdotdot 3 August Sydney Tweed Picnic    Sydney, NSW
dotdotdot 3 August Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge Coffs Harbour, NSW
dotdotdot 3 August    Deswil Logan’s Run MTB Marathon Mt Joyce, QLD

 

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

Winter fit: your training guide

28 July, 2014

Cycle coach David Heatley explains how to use your winter riding to gear up for spring events. 

Winterfithero

My most successful clients are the ones with goals to achieve on their bikes. They maintain and build fitness over winter by working towards their goal.

So if you want to stay active over the colder months, I recommend setting yourself a solid riding goal by registering for spring and summer events. You can try Bupa Around the Bay, the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride, or, for those hardened riders looking to push themselves, the SCODY Peaks Challenge. Being registered for an event gives you the incentive to keep training through winter. There are key elements to a successful winter training program, which can be broken down into some basic steps.

1. Base training

Base training helps you build your aerobic capacity, which will result in a huge difference in your fitness come spring. Generally base training is done at lower intensities to increase your heart rate but keep it well below your maximum** heart rate zone (E1 on the table below). Commuting to work is great base training. If you are planning to take on the 210 or 250km distances in an event like Bupa Around the Bay or SCODY Peaks Challenge, I recommend that you ride between seven to 10 hours a week during winter. If your ride to work is a reasonable distance (or you take an extended route) and commute four of the five days a week you’ll accumulate seven hours of riding by cycling just 1.75 hours each day. Then anything you do on the weekend is a bonus to take you over and above your seven hours.

The key to base training is consistency. It’s much better to do regular, smaller rides through the week rather than just one big ride on the weekend. That’s why commuting is a great way to keep fit.

2. Interval training

Interval training builds on your base training and turns you from a slow plodder into a high-performance racing machine. But you have to be a bit careful with what intervals you do.

During winter, I recommend that you focus on a ride or an indoor training session that includes three-to-six, two-to-five minute intervals getting close to your maximum heart rate zone (the E3). I recommend that you do one or two E3 sessions a week with an easy E1 ride or a rest day the day before and after each of these interval sessions.

During winter your aim is to build fitness not taper and peak. You taper and peak when you do really hard efforts in the VO2MAX Heart Rate Zone. VO2MAX is between 92-100%. Focus on the VO2MAX training when you get closer to your event so that you taper and peak at the right time.

VO2MAX training builds on your base. So the better your base, the better the result you’ll get when you do start this higher intensity training. Some people try to short cut this by doing VO2MAX training too early in an effort to ‘crash’ their training. This does lift their fitness. However, if it’s built on a small base then it’s a short term lift, and it doesn’t last—similar to the result you get from crash dieting.

Interval training can be done either on the road or a home trainer. Indoor training is a great way to supplement your on-road riding in poor weather and is very efficient for a few reasons. The most important being that it’s a focused session. On the trainer, you don’t stop for traffic lights or freewheel down hills. The other great thing about indoor training is that you can really work on your pedalling technique.

3. Hills

If you are training for Bupa Around the Bay, then a lot of hill training is not important. However, if you are training for SCODY Peaks Challenge then it’s a whole different story. For SCODY Peaks Challenge, I recommend that you build around a minimum of 1,000 vertical metres of climbing a week into your training. This could be done in a
single ride or across several rides during the week. The gradient and length of the climb are not important—just the total amount of vertical meters. As the weather
improves, you can increase this. Do around 10-15% of this climbing in a gear or two harder that you would usually ride in while focusing on developing a really good pedalling technique. This will help build strength that you’ll call on later on in the season as you start ramping up your training for your event.

Finally, work on a four week training cycle. The first three weeks are for building or maintenance and the last week is for recovery. The building phase is where you gradually increase either the volume or intensity of your riding by no more than 10% a week. During the recovery week, you reduce both volume and intensity. This is important because the training load is the stimulus for developing fitness, but it’s when your body is resting and recovering that the actual adaptation happens.

4. Maintenance

If you aren’t riding any events during the winter, you should go into a ‘maintenance phase’. This means that once you are riding 7-10 hours a week you should hold it there for three weeks then have a lighter week on the fourth. You should continue this four week cycle all the way through to spring.

Weekends are often the best time for longer rides. If you complete your interval training during the week then weekend rides should be done mainly around the E1 Heart Rate Zone with a little training up in the E3 Heart Rate Zone. In a winter maintenance program, the sweet spot for longer rides is around two to three-and-a-half hours. Rides longer than this move towards the law of diminishing returns. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ride for longer than three-and-a-half hours. It just means that, during winter, your time could be better spent doing other things, such as catching up with family and friends. If the weather is really bad, investigate alternate activities that you can do on the weekend, such as swimming, running, walking, mountain biking or going to the local gym and doing a cross fit or indoor cycle training class. Winter is a great time to cross train so take full advantage of it and plan activities that get you out of the house so you can stay active and fit.

 

I hope this provides you with a little inspiration to keep you thinking about what you’ll do over the winter to stay fit and healthy. All the best with your riding.

winterfit

David Heatley is a full time cycle coach, director of Cycling-Inform and Bicycle Network’s Cycle Training consultant. www.cycling-inform.com

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

Ride On digest

23 July, 2014

The week’s top bike news from around the world, brought to you every Wednesday.

Local news

annaAnna Meares announced as Australia’s Commonwealth Games flag bearer

Cyclist and two-time Olympic gold medalist Anna Meares will carry the Australian flag into the stadium at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony tonight. Meares reportedly fought back tears when the announcement was made, saying: “This is so outside the box from what I normally do. I know it is an incredible honour… Go team! I’m just so happy.”

Get the full scoop >>

Riders to run in Victorian state election

Come November, Victorian bike riders will be able to vote for better infrastructure, lower speed limits  and improved road user education, with the Australian Cyclists Party contesting the state election. According to party member Omar Khalifa, riders need a strong voice to represent them in parliament: “We’ve got to fix the roads and we’ve got to fix the behaviours”.  The party plans to contest 16 seats in the upper house and is currently seeking candidates.

Get the full scoop >>

Once you start, you can’t stop

Results from the most recent national Ride2Work survey show that 60% of new riders in 2013 are still commuting by bike at least once a week almost a year later, up from 47% the previous year. According to Bicycle Network’s General Manager of Behaviour Change, Tess Allaway, who oversees the program, “Riding to work is a great way to fit in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise we need to maintain our health around our busy work and family commitments.” Registrations for National Ride2Work Day 2014 open Monday, 28 July.

Get the full scoop >>

 

International news

bike pathLiving near bike paths makes people fitter

A recent British study has found that those living within 0.6 miles (0.96 km) of a bike path spent an extra 45 minutes per week walking and riding their bikes than those who lived 2.5 miles (4 km) away. Better yet, this increase in walking and cycling didn’t amount to a decrease in other forms of exercise. According to the study’s lead author and lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr Anna Goodman, “The fact that we showed an increase in overall levels of physical activity is very important, and shows that interventions of this sort can play a part in wider public health efforts to prevent diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.”

Get the full scoop >>

Free bikes for new workers

West Yorkshire is keen to make the transition from welfare support to employment as easy as possible and is providing transport solutions, including free metro cards and reconditioned bikes, to  job starters who have no way to reach their place of employment. One hundred bikes have already been gifted as part oft he scheme, and a further 150 are marked for distribution.

Get the full scoop >>

Hit the books

For those who revel in facts and figures, publishing group Taylor &Francis Online have made over 100 research papers on cycling and bike infrastructure available for free until the end of August.

Get the full scoop >>

 

Health

snoozeBeat Mondayitis

Staying up to watch the final stages of le Tour this weekend may potentially leave you zonked for the week ahead. Here’s tips to help you watch the race and still show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the office on Monday.

Get the full scoop >>

 

Video

Aussie rider, Michael Rogers, takes a bow at le Tour

Rogers rode his way to an impressive win on Stage 16 of le Tour. Check out the highlights.

Rogers

Upcoming events

dotdotdot 23 July – 4 August 2014 Commonwealth Games Glasgow, Scotland
dotdotdot 24 – 26 July Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride   Townsville, QLD
dotdotdot 25 July – 10 August   Coffs Coast Festival of Cycling Coffs Harbour, NSW
dotdotdot 28 July National Ride2Work day registrations open

 

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.