Bicycle Network: Ride On magazine
A Daggy Dave exposes Melbourne's cycling culture
From the highly competitive to the weekend wobblies, David Hall records his observations of Melbourne's cycling culture.
I grew up in a nice valley that was great for walking, playing in creeks and climbing trees. But lousy for bikes.
Too many cow pads; too many bogs; too many stacks; too many electric fences; too many swerves away from cow pads into bogs and stacking into the electric fence.
I gave up until moving to Melbourne for uni in the early 90s. Now, as a city slicker, I’m completely reliant on my two-wheeled friend. I find the culture surrounding bikes here in Melbourne fascinating, bemusing and hilarious. Here are some of my little observations about Melbourne cycling culture.
The ultra-competitive Lycra Larry can be found in velodromes, on highways or zipping along Beach Road, with slick bike pants matching the lycra top that has as many words and symbols as possible. The more words on the gear, the better the cyclist. They love to travel in large packs.
Inspired by French films and Frankie magazine, this ultra stylish lot are big on fashion and not so big on speed. They can be found lolling gently amidt traffic on Chapel Street or Bridge Road, looking lovely with a floral-designed bag flopped purposefully in their basket. They are often solo.
This critical-mass loyalist thinks black makes them highly visible as they go zig zagging down Smith or Brunswick Street, black army-style helmet on but unbuckled. No lights, no fear. They like to travel in small packs of two or three.
This is your die-hard environmentalist, with “One less car” planted firmly on their sensible upright trusted hybrid bike as it asserts itself down High Street, Northcote, or Lygon Street, Brunswick. Defiant in the face of busy traffic in their bright and practical gear, with organic veges jutting out from a pannier or back basket.
This is the family that decided to go riding for the day and dusted off some bikes from the back shed. You’ll see mum, dad and two kids worming their way down the esplanade bike paths at Williamstown or Elwood. Howling sea breeze drowning out dad’s voice as he screams out for the forty-fifth time “Keep to the left, Daniel”, while mum accompanies sulky Suzie as they look for the drink bottle she dropped “back there” . It’ll be months before they venture out again.
In baggy shorts, a bright top and an odd-fitting helmet that makes them look like a bullant, the Daggy Daves are a quirky bunch. Safety underpins their look and fashion comes a comfortable second place. You’ll see their flouro-clad bodies riding to work along Gardiners Creek, or down Canning Street, Carlton.
Myself, I’m a Daggy Dave. For riders like me, even when you try to don the lycra and look like a real professional there will be something that gives you away. Runners on your feet perhaps, trousers tucked into socks, or the real passion killer . . . a cap under the helmet.
Moral of the story:no matter what sort of rider you are, embrace it fully, celebrate it and treat it as your own form of art.