In a world (sorry just can’t resist that opening) where it’s easy to feel like we’re sliding into an abyss of fear and loathing (and not the good kind) perhaps comfort can be found in applying Newton’s Third Law of Motion; the one that goes, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Where for every racist rant,every community-dividing dog whistle, every appeal to our most selfish instincts we will find equal and opposite acts of acceptance, community and generosity balancing them out. And this week, I have no idea why, but this week it seems that bicycles are playing a central role balancing out the socio-political equation.
First I have to declare an interest – there came a moment a few years ago when I could no longer hide what I felt was a shameful secret. I stood before my significant other in a pair of lycra pants and outed myself as a MAMIL. I’ve also alluded previously to an ongoing battle with an Ebay/Gumtree bicycle browsing addiction. Okay there it is, let’s move on.
While walking around CERES this week I noticed that work had started on the expansion of The Bike Shed. The Bike Shed, an entirely volunteer run group who do not fix bikes for people but teach people how to fix their own bikes, was until recent years a quiet corner where obscure yet passionate conversations about the merits of alloy spoke nipples could be overheard. This all changed when, to invoke Newtons Law of Universal Gravitation, like a young growing proto-planet The Bike Shed began attracting more and more people and their broken bikes, precipitating the arrival of yet more new bike fixees coming to learn how to fix their bikes in the company of other bike fixing people.
Later in the week while riding down to the Social Enterprise Awards (we didn’t get the gong but big congratulations to Soft Landing) I saw Good Cycles’ new shipping container workshop standing there like a beacon of humanity right on the Docklands harbour-side. And what do you know at the awards I somehow find myself speaking to Jaison, Good Cycles CEO, about how The Container Shop is going gang busters and how they’re using this booming social enterprise to train unemployed people from vulnerable communities to fix bikes.
Then this morning like rivulets turning into streams and streams turning into creeks and then rivers (surely there’s some of Newton’s 1st law going on here), hundred’s of bike riders, many in Hawaiian shirts, rode past my front door to gather down at the Brunswick Velodrome for a Summer Roobaix ride through the city’s back streets in 34C heat. Meeting up at the end for beer and ice cream the riders aren’t racing each other, they’re just riding for the chance to dress up, to laugh and do something positive, something beautiful together.
Finally on our very own Facebook feed I see a post inviting riders to join The Avant Gardeners on a local food cycle tour from CERES to Joe’s Market Garden. The tour is all about learning to source local food while visiting CERES’ farms and gardens. It all finishes up at Joe’s Market Garden and Farmgate stall for morning refreshments and a weed cooking demonstration (which is about the hippest food you could be eating right now, well that and gelatin).