Image by Linda Drummond, Vintage Spring Ride 2014
It finally happened. Our obsession with bicycles and bicycling culture has reached a new level… this blog, dedicated to bicycling in Newcastle, Australia. Bikes, food, fashion, life. Newcastle has so much potential to become a bicycling mecca it’s almost laughable. Perhaps not another Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but certainly another Portland. Largely a floodplain, much of Newcastle is super flat. Anyone who says otherwise obviously hasn’t travelled much. Still, hills are hills, and the steady grade of rail trails help here, like the immensely popular Fernleigh Track which features 181 metres of magnificent 19th Century tunnelling, linking the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie with Adamstown and beyond. Then there’s the city’s temperate climate and sea breezes, which mean you don’t often work up a sweat when simply getting from A to B. Newcastle is also a university town, and if there’s one demographic in particular in pursuit of affordable and convenient transport, it is students.
I could go on about how great Newcastle is in terms of the ‘potential’ for bicycling, but that’s a topic that will no doubt feature in all our posts – what works, what’s needed. But that’s only partly why we decided to set up this blog. Anyone interested in bicycling knows that its not just about that humble, beautiful, affordable, down right fun piece of engineering we call the bicycle. Bicycling is a way of life. It’s about seeing the world in a different light. It’s about the human scale. It’s about mobility with affordability. It’s about looking good and feeling great: fashion, minimalist culture, and healthy living, we think, are a major part of the bicycling renaissance.
Suddenly bicycles are cool again.
You may have guessed by now that this is not a blog about sports leisure cycling. No lycra in these wardrobes. (Not that we have anything against our lycra-donning kin, more on that later). We take our inspiration from the great bicycling cities of Europe, which we were fortunate enough to visit in 2013, where riding is an incredibly normal no-questions-asked everyday thing you do. Not a leisure activity but a legitimate, convenient and affordable means of transport. And in recent years we’ve noticed a trend – the export of this bicycling culture to Australia. Suddenly bicycles are cool again. An instrument of fun and freedom to a generation disenfranchised, locked out of the housing market; a highly educated, footloose generation seeking authentic experiences.
If this is all news to you, don’t worry. There was a time when I too thought of bicycling as exercise, a weekend thing. As for Angela, she only learnt how to ride a few years ago in her early twenties. She rode to work for the first time last week, and all by herself. That might seem trivial to some, but the reality is most people don’t cycle to get around. In fact, in talking to people about bicycling, it’s amazing how many admit they lack the confidence to cycle, or that they don’t know how to ride at all. In a society where our lives are defined by how we move about, which is overwhelmingly by car, it is little wonder bicycling in Australia is viewed as a fringe activity, with cyclists branded as “lycra loonies”, “greenies” or “hipsters”. And that’s why we’ve started this blog, to show bicycling is done by everyday people, just living their lives. We’ll post about where we cycle, what we did, what we wore, what we ate, who we met, what we saw, what we collected and what we cooked. Whatever. Enjoy, ask questions, and most importantly, get on your bike!
Tom & Angela