Shifting – July Ride 3 – Bein’ Green

18 July 2020
72 kms (45 miles)

Kermit the Frog has a couple famous songs. His song, ‘It’s not easy being green’ was featured on the first season of Sesame Street. That show has always been at the forefront of addressing tough social issues in a way that children can understand. “It’s not easy being green” sees Kermit feeling undervalued because of his colour, an analogy to race which, 50 years after being written, is just as relevant as ever. Read more

Shifting – July Ride 1 – Independence

6 July 2020

48 kms (30 miles)

It was a cool night in southern Sydney, but the pub was warm. The cover band played at one end of the main bar. A sprinkling of people, who had already had enough to drink to loosen inhibitions, danced to the ‘70s and ‘80s rock. The pub was probably ¾ full, and there was a line at the bar for drinks. The atmosphere was comfortably middle-class bogan hanging out with friends.

Then, the band launched into its next song, and it was as if the Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey had called. Everyone in the pub seemed to pause for a moment and turn toward the band. The dance floor filled quickly, the line at the bar evaporated, and people got up from their seats. And then nearly every person in that pub started to do a line dance with specific moves that EVERYONE seemed to know.

For as strange as this was to see, all those people could have been up there sacrificing a goat or partaking in any cultural ritual from around the world that you never knew existed until you stumbled upon it.

I watched in awe. It was my first Australian cultural experience related to this phenomenon. Read more

Shifting – May Ride 3 – Gone gravel

24 May 2020
70 kms (44 miles)

Things are coming to an end. The exotic dancers  trees are starting to disrobe, concluding their brilliant and flashy show this year. The COVID-19 restrictions are unwinding. I trust Nature’s signals more than I trust the government’s, but I do forecast that winter 2020 will be an interesting one to see how it all unfolds. What will the weather do? What will the mixing of people in the traditional flu season do? We’re all an experiment in one big petri dish right now. Read more

Shifting – May Ride 1 – On fire

Earlier this year, everything was on fire. Or so it seemed. It was estimated that 80 percent of the Australian population suffered through the effects of long-duration smoke. The area burned was so extensive across the country, and the fires lasted for so long, that it is now called Black Summer. We’ve had an Ash Wednesday (1983), a Black Friday (1939) and a Black Saturday (2009), among others. But yep, this time we got a whole summer.

And so that seems a long time ago. We’ve moved on to another crisis – extensive in its impacts and effects on human health, the economy and ‘life as we knew it’. It makes summer feel so far removed. So when the leaves began to fire up this autumn, it has been hard to believe that we are just ending a summer that feels at least three seasons ago. Read more

Shifting – March Ride 2 – Throw the chain

22/23 March 2020

98 kms (61 miles)

There are times when you’re riding and the shifting is smooth. The terrain is gentle and there is not much thought or effort required to maintain cadence. And then there are times when the hill is deceptively steep when you are in unknown terrain and you get caught in a gear that isn’t appropriate for the grade. Sometimes you manage to shift into an appropriate gear at the last moment, or with a bit of a grinding clunk. And then there are times when you attempt to shift too much under too much strain, and you end up throwing the chain right off the cogs and finding yourself completely stalled in the middle of a steep uphill. If you’re lucky, you don’t fall off the bike, too, as you throw the chain.

Well, the world threw the chain this week. Read more

Shifting – February Ride 1 – Corrugated

99 kms (62 miles)

21/22 February

There are those moments when your heart catches in your throat. It’s a moment of panic, a moment of ‘oh shit’ realization that something’s gone wrong. The level of panic and the immediacy of reaction reflect the seriousness of the situation.

Luckily, I’ve not had too many of those moments in my life. But we had one on this ride where my heart was suddenly in my throat before it dropped to the depths of my stomach. There’s nothing like that feeling to spur you into action. Read more