13 C
Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Cycling Byron Shire: perils and triumphs

Latest News

Poetic plea from Gaza

Gareth W R Smith, Palestine Liberation Centre – Byron Bay This heart cry from Gaza, written by Gazan poet and...

Other News

Shearwater almost perfect with 99kW solar

Shearwater, the Mullumbimby Steiner School, has made the switch to solar, installing a 99 kW system to power the school into the future.

Mullum farmer’s market closed this Friday

This Friday's Mullum Farmer's Market has been cancelled due to the decimation of the site by rain.

Council crews working hard to repair potholes

Tweed Shire Council road maintenance crews are out across the Tweed's road network repairing potholes and other damage caused by the recent prolonged rainfall and previous flood events.

Women’s rights focus at Renew Fest

Two further headlining guests have been announced for Renew Fest, which describes itself as a ‘festival of full system...

Vehicle sanitisation stations roll out

Enhanced safety measures for point to point transport such as taxis, hire and rideshare vehicles are being rolled out in Byron Bay, Ballina and Lismore with the opening of three free temporary vehicle sanitisation stations.

Lilac house bound by red tape

Mullumbimby resident Nicole Haberecht is facing a $3,000 fine and the prospect of repainting her house after Council made a demand that she change the colour after it was painted a shade of lilac.

Participating in the ‘victory’ lap ride were (from left to right) Roy Atkins, Monte Goldenberg, Josh Scott-Jouir, Phil Preston, Marco Goldenberg, and Louise Moore-Jouir.  Photo Annique Goldenberg
Participating in the ‘victory’ lap ride were (from left to right) Roy Atkins, Monte Goldenberg, Josh Scott-Jouir, Phil Preston, Marco Goldenberg, and Louise Moore-Jouir.
Photo Annique Goldenberg

Josh Scott-Jouir

My name is Josh, and you may have seen me pedalling through town over the last ten years on my ‘Bent’ bike (RecumBent that is).

During this time I have been a regular weekday cycle commuter between my home in Bruns and my work at Shearwater school at the back of Mullumbimby.

This week, with some cycling friends, I am celebrating a ‘milestone’ because all of my small rides in the Shire have added up to the distance around the world! Getting to that distance has not seemed all that hard to me, because as Paul Kelly so eloquently puts it: ‘from little things, big things grow’. Small regular rides do add up over time. The scary thing is how many times we drive our cars also adds up to many times ‘around’ the world without anyone realising it.

Beginning

When I was in high school I biked to school, locking my bike in the ‘cage’ with all of the hundreds of other kids’ bikes each morning. Of course once I got my P plates my poor bike was left in the garage to rust. Fast forward 25 years and my doctor is telling me that if I didn’t lose weight fast my knees would start to give out. I bought a bike, and my partner and I culled the family car fleet from two down to one, and we never looked back.

At first I was a bit scared of traffic and worried about how long riding would take. Interestingly I have since found that a trip that appears difficult, dangerous and long when viewed from inside a car is often quite the opposite on a bike. There is a profound perspective change, and some Einsteinian time dilation going on, I’m sure. The rational part of me has pondered the odds of injury and premature death from riding, and worked out that while I may have a slightly higher risk of a crash, there is a much larger counterbalancing reduction of my risk of heart disease and cancer, so overall the odds are well in the cyclist’s favour. To help keep the balance in my favour I choose to never drink and ride, I wear a helmet, I have bright front and rear lights for night riding, and also I never wear earphones so I can always hear the traffic.

Good drivers

For ten years people have said to me, ‘What about all the dangerous drivers on the road?’ My experience is that nearly all the drivers I have shared the road with have been careful and courteous, and I appreciate that sometimes people do have to wait a little when there is no room to pass.

Only once in ten years did one car cut me off, and even that was at low speed.

Three cheers for the bus companies and their excellent bus drivers!

What a truly great service they provide! These unsung heroes are professional drivers, and always give me the right amount of space on the road when they pass. For me each busload of school students represents 50 fewer cars on the road that day.

The best bit of road on my ride is Mullumbimby Road (pictured), from the top of the hill and going into town. This bit of road was upgraded by the council in the last five years when some tubing was laid between Uncle Tom’s and Mullumbimby. It has a generous cycling lane with a clearly marked white line on the edge, and minimal pothole action. I heard a rumour that a previous councillor, Peter Westheimer, was responsible for the inclusion of this excellent bit of bikeway. Hopefully our current and future leaders will also seek glory and a measure of immortality through this means! It is my personal dream that all of the main connecting roads between towns and schools in the Shire could be upgraded to this standard, and I hope that the political will can be found to do this.

Be prepared

Regular cycling in the Shire is very doable. Getting rained on, for instance: I reckon that I only get seriously wet about four times a year. Often we have a pattern where rain will blow in quickly, but by waiting for 10 minutes or so a fine patch often appears and then I can get home without getting wet.

As well as this, some pre-planning is required so as to have changes of clothes and shoes available at work for when you arrive. A shower, or even a small fan on the desk works to quickly cut down on sweat. Heavy things like laptops are a pain to carry on a bike, so I carry the data only on a large SSD drive – it is light and has no moving parts or screens to break. This also keeps me in the discipline of having computer files backed up as a bonus.

The disk drive travels in a waterproof lunch box for those rare soaking moments.

Yes, to do a regular cycle requires buying some extra stuff: pump, puncture kit, tyre levers, rain coat, chain lube, waterproof bag and new tyres now and then.

This can add up to a few hundred dollars a year, which seems a lot but is actually an absolute bargain compared to the cost of owning a second car.

Not only that, but instead of putting $ into petrochemicals you can give them to the very cycle-friendly Jay or Dave at True Wheel Cycles instead and feel a warm inner glow about that! (If you count each week’s rides as a substitute for a gym membership fee then it looks even better!)

Slower pace

After I started commuting, I grew confident enough to ride socially. I don’t go fast enough to keep up with the serious lycra heads (MAMILS) but there are plenty of other riders who love a slower pace and enjoy sharing the many wonderful back roads and countryside that we are blessed with.

Trust me, it is fabulous out there, and you will see and experience the journey at least ten times better in the open air on a bike, than you possibly could from the confines of a motor vehicle.

All good roads eventually come to an end, and so I am off to Melbourne with my bike for a sabbatical year. I hear they have some seriously long bike paths and some very well patronised rail trails there. I’ll start my next ‘circumnavigation’ while I check them out to see if they stack up to the Shire.

Happy riding!


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Methane: the breakfast of champion trees

A research study lead by Southern Cross University scientists has discovered an unlikely microscopic ally in the battle to reduce the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere.

Mullum’s lilac house the subject Change.org petition

The plight of a Mullum resident has touched the hearts and injustice buttons of people far and wide who feel that a requirement that she repaint her house a heritage colour and possibly pay a fine, not only ridiculous but also petty.

Overcharging and misrepresentation

Josh Scrivener, Palmwoods Three weeks ago I looked online to buy a Bluesfest 2021 ticket. The Google ad directed me to a website I believed...

What’s the real cost of ‘affordable housing’? 

With ‘affordable housing’ being the new catchcry in parts of the Northern Rivers, The Echo did a ring-around to find the cheapest rental living space in Byron Bay’s caravan parks and camping grounds.