--- Written by Andrew Keith.



It doesn’t really seem all that long ago, though it is a matter of several decades, that I was boy growing up in country Queensland. Of course there are many memories of growing up; of school; and Christmas and birthdays and so on, but some of my clearest recollections centre around riding my bike.



We lived out of town, which being only population 1,000 was not exactly metropolis status anyway, on a few acres so I had plenty of room to roam free. But I never felt so free as when I was out riding.

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Sometimes you stumble upon an opportunity to help educate people unexpectedly.

I recently had a conversation with a very irate woman who was complaining about all the hundreds of cyclists using the road around where I live last weekend taking part in a charity cycling event.


What I thought was going to turn into a real war of opinions actually ended up with a concession on their part. All I did was explain the things. Here's a snapshot of what was said. I have edited for reporting purposes but not to add any dramatic effect. It is more or less verbatim.


(The section of road in question is a single lane 100km/h limit with double white centre lines)


Her: "You don't go flying around a corner at 100km/h and expect to see a bunch of cyclists in the road in front of you!"

Me: "Why not??"

Her: "They should pull over and ride single file. It's the law isn't it!?"

Me: "Actually, it's not. You have to drive to the conditions and take care. If you can't see around the corner you should slow down. They have as much right to be using the road as you do."

Her: "Well that's an arrogant attitude to have!"

Me: "Cyclists are allowed to ride in a bunch 2 abreast and sometimes with a 3rd overtaking. They ride in the middle of the lane like that for safety, to make sure traffic slows down for them because when they speed past when they ride in single file on those roads vehicles get too close to them....I say this because I was one of those riders."

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--- Written by Andrew Keith.

As this is the first episode in these adventures we should first introduce our hero, Comandaneur Fatboy. The title may confuse, but as he spent many a year in Indonesia he learned the art of concatenating words to make new works. “Comandonneur” is merely the joining of “commuter” with “randonneur” (a long distance cyclist) .. A racer he ain’t – they don’t call him Fatboy for nothing you know.


The first chapter of our adventures cover the event which Ride to Work day.

Fatboy had been out of the saddle for almost a month and having returned from a business trip had found all sorts of excuses not to ride to work each day. You know how it gets, too dark, too hot, too late, too early – whatever. So thank BQ (and that’s not something I say often) for Ride to Work Day to encourage back into the rat-running-race that is commuter cycling. There are few better feelings (well there ARE several – but none that I can mention here) than experiencing the dawn of a new day from the saddle of your trusty steed. How had I forgotten?

Being a community minded fellow, Fatboy reverted to his Boy Scout days to, figuratively speaking, help an old lady across the street. OK so this “old lady” was actually a cycling buddy, who we shall call “Paddy”, and the street was actually the 25km to the CBD from our neighbourhood, but apart from that it was true Boy Scout good deed stuff.

You see Paddy, as accomplished a rider as he is, rides pretty much exclusively in the local area during the week only venturing further afield on weekends. He had not commuted to the city before and wanted assistance with the best route. Sensing a chance to play “leader”, as well as get back on the bike, Fatboy offered to show the way.

Paddy was nervous about the ride, what with the traffic, and rain predicted (which didn’t eventuate thankfully) and recent reports of cyclists being run down by post office trucks and so on. You can always tell when Paddy is a bit nervous because he asks about the starting point and time about half a dozen times the night before.


As it turned out the ride was mostly uneventful. There was a car honked his horn at a rider trailing us for the dastardly sin of not indicating to go straight ahead when we preceding him, and the car following him, were turning left. The gall of the man! There was also the door that was opened into our trajectory but at least it was 2 cars in front and we had plenty of time to react. We arrived safely in good time to enjoy coffee, banana’s and buns and listen to BQ drone on and on about how great it was to have a couple of hundred commuting riders in the square. We know that there were many commuting cyclists who didn’t turn up to the event, but I must say I was expecting a bigger crowd, and by the temporary bike racks and catering BQ were as well.


As we were chatting paddy asked, “How did you find that route to the CBD?” This got me to recalling the perhaps a dozen different routes or variations I had tried over a 1 year period before I settled the one we had used as the safest and what the implications of that were for encouraging the next person to exchange their car for the treadly and ride to work.

The fact that a relatively experienced rider like Paddy would be nervous about a commute; the fact that it had taken me a year of trial and error to find the safest route; just emphasised to me how much of a hurdle there is to encouraging new commuters.

Data released this week from the last census showed that Brisbane has the lowest proportion of female commuting cyclists of any Australian capital city. Taking another cycling friend of mine, we shall call her “Molly”, there was much of this “safest” route that we had ridden that she would not consider safe enough. Molly is a newer cyclist and not as confident on her bike or in traffic. She commutes but almost exclusively along bike paths that happen to exist from her part of the city to the CBD. Even then she needs motorised transport to the start of the bike path because she doesn’t feel safe on the lead in roads.


So as I was sipping my post shower coffee and considering the work tasks for the day I was pondering what we would need to do to make the Paddys not nervous, the Mollys feel safe, and the hurdles much lower for a newbie to get up one morning and say, ”today I will ride to work”.

There is constantly much discussion in bicycle fora about this, all of which requires funding for something; be it better cycling infrastructure, more education, new laws or whatever. Having just contributed to the State Government’s “Strong Choices” interactive “People’s Budget Tool” online, which gives one a glimpse of the Treasurer’s balancing act with respect to the State’s finances and different priorities for calls on the public purse, I was mindful of how these things might be best achieved.


While this Fatboy doesn’t claim to have the answers (smarter, and thinner, people then me haven’t found them yet) it seems to me that it isn’t better infrastructure, or education, or laws, or less cars in the CBD. The problem needs to looked at in a far more holistic manner as to how to, most effectively efficiently and sustainably, get hundreds of thousands of people in Brisbane to work each day. The solution must be a combination of:

  • Locating workplaces an housing closer together
  • Maximising the benefits of the internet age for work from home
  • Increasing public transport and active travel trips (Fatboy’s view is that public transport should be free and that the savings in not having to expand road infrastructure so much, so early and so frequently would more than pay for the cost)
  • Minimising car trips through incentives from the above, and added costs if necessary.

If there were then less cars on the road expanding active travel and public transport infrastructure (busways, bike ways etc) would be far easier and cheaper within the given right of way space that all journeys would be quicker, the environment would be cleaner from less emissions and productivity would soar.


Not a simple matter I know, not least because it needs to change the culture that travelling by car means “freedom” such that every other form of transport must subvert to this “human right” regardless of whether that is the most effiecient, effective and sustainable approach for the community as a whole. Fatboy and Paddy passed lots of “free” citizens sitting in their traffic jam as early as 6:30 as we cruised past.


On that note, and as I think I hear the motorists yelling “Communist” and reaching for their torches and pitch forks I might leave this rant there. Time to pedal home – and hope to miss the lynch mob.

As a Sports Coach, Accredited Fitness Australia Level 3 Personal Trainer teaching RPM and indoor cycling sessions for many years now, and as a keen cyclist I thought I would share some fitness tips with you all from time to time. Here is an insight into how HIIT can work for cycling. I teach this and practice it out on the road when riding. When short on time and opportunities to get out there I have used this as an effective method of training for longer rides. It works.


There are many variations on the HIIT theme lasting from 4- 30 mins of work, most vary around the number and the length of the intervals of generally a 2:1 work:rest ratio, together with the intensity. TABATA is one type of HIIT.


A TABATA session (1 TABATA) consist of 20secs work/10secs rest repeated 8 times, each one as hard as you can i.e. 100% effort. And that's it. You can't hold that much effort for much longer than 20 secs as you're muscles will fail you, so you should really be close to failure on each rep. This is anaerobic work. But 10 secs is not enough time to recover from the effort. So repeating this effort will take you into the aerobic zone. Don't forget warm up and cool down of course.


Whichever form of HIIT you do the benefits match those of longer sessions of work at lower sustained effort. But it's worth it. Yes, it's true. Doing as little as 4 minutes (or one "Tabata") can increase your aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, VO2 max, resting metabolic rate, and can help you burn more fat (and make you look leaner) than a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout. That's right—4 minutes of Tabata can get you better fitness gains than an entire hour of riding your bike.


First, while you can do a Tabata interval with just about any exercise, start with one in which you're very comfortable. Most people choose sprinting on a treadmill but as we're talking cycling, I suggest using a long stretch of road where you can pump out these sprints or even a short quiet hill location.


Second, get a good timer no matter how good you think you are at counting, you cannot estimate when 20 seconds and 10 seconds have passed when your brain is that crucial stage on holding the intensity.


Third, get a good mantra that you can repeat in time with your cadence for each 20-second burst. It sounds silly, but it really helps focus you on what you're doing and not on your excruciating pain.


I don't advocate riding on busy roads with headphones on and music blasting whilst riding but in this instance it does help though not not advisable. It's best when using a stationary trainer or on a spin bike though. If you don't have a timer of any sorts and counting is your only option/method here is a tip:

Assuming you have the right gear and intensity, when you think you are working hard enough on that last 8 seconds of interval, you're not. Pump harder and faster. If you think you are holding that pace, you're not. You're slowing down. Tell yourself to speed up and make the effort. Even if you beat the beat of the cadence/rhythm. It's better than slowing down.

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I drove to work today. Just couldn't bring myself to get on the bike. Let me explain ...

Yesterday morning I had a supervised physio session in the gym at 7:45am followed by a doctors appointment at 10am. I decided to ride to my gym session wearing my gym clothes and joggers instead of the usual lycra and bike shoes. In the back of my mind I was thinking that motorists would give me more room if I wore normal clothes instead of lycra. I decided to leave all my technology at home (i.e., camera, lights, garmin). I must admit that the looseness of the gym shorts made the ride a pleasant experience with a nice cool breezy feeling down there.   So, for the first time in a very long while, I'm not checking my speed on the garmin and I don't have my cameras running. I'm actually enjoying myself and I'm taking things slow and easy... 


That is, until some MM decides to buzz me. This car came flying past me so close that I was buffeted by the breeze. I'm almost certain that I felt the wing mirror touch the hairs on my right arm (but that could've just been the rush of wind from the bow wave). I was utterly terrified and I started to panic and hug the gutter. There were other cars behind me and I found myself doing constant head checks with a strong sense of fear and panic rising in me. I swear I had goose bumps all over me and I felt like all the blood had drained from my face.


After that lot of cars had passed me, I rolled along slowly and kept a constant eye out behind me. When the next lot of cars approached, I pulled right over to the gutter, stopped and waited for them all to pass me. When I got moving again, I was still panicking. I got to the hill at Dutton Park and I heard a truck behind me at a point where there were parked cars on the side of the road. I turned to look and I may have yelped out an expletive as I came to a sudden stop behind the parked cars. I waited again for the cars to move off and I continued up the hill. The cars were all waiting at the top of the hill, so I slowly moved between them to get into the right hand lane as I needed to turn right onto Boggo Rd further ahead.


The lights went green and I moved off in the right hand lane. One woman came too close when passing me and I screamed (purely out of fear). She just stared at me incredulously in her rearview mirror. My god, I was a mess at this point. The rest of my ride was in bike lanes and I felt much safer. It was a real struggle to work up the courage for the return trip.

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Written by Rudy Botha

Do we hate cars? Are we threatening the Australian right and culture to drive a car, by supporting campaigns prioritising cycleways, pedestrians and public transport over roads?


Let’s rephrase the question: How do you fit a 100 000 cars into a 400 000 m2 space? Well, you don't. With the average size of a mid-size car around 8 m2, you'll need double that space.  Ok, so stack them. 

Ten stories high. Then they take up less than ¼ of the space, ignoring key factors like the concrete walls and spacing between them. An expensive engineering challenge, but theoretically you have ¾ of the space available left for roads, walkways and buildings. Let's not think about how you get them flowing in and out in a short space of time, because the point has already been made that the task is impossible.

Let’s rephrase the question again: How do you move a 100 000 people into a 400 000 m2 space? That sounds like a much more achievable challenge, but it means we need to get rid of some of the cars and find different ways to move people around. It is at this point when some will get a bit grumpy, but it is either that or we have one enormous car park and endless congestion. Pair people per car. CanaryWharf2That’s half. Now it gets easier and possibly even practical, but still a crazy mess of steel and still a big portion of space dedicated to parking. Put another few thousand in busses. Good. Trains. Bikes. Getting there now, but ‘motorists’ are furious at this stage due to the change in priority.

This was probably the challenge put to the city planners of Canary Wharf in London.

A business district that hosts around 100 000 people and the European head offices of major, well-known organisations in a fairly small space, surrounded by water.


And cycling is certainly not the primary solution to the problem. With a good public transport already in place in London, a big part of the answer for Canary Wharf was always going to be to extend the railway network. So, it was fitted with 2 light railway and 1 big tube stations as well as a ferry service. Pedestrian access and flow is also a key ingredient.

Cycling is still and important part of the solution with the CSR3 (Cycle Superhighway 3) linking Canary Wharf to Central London and 8 Bike Share stations operating in the area.

CanaryWharf4The end result is something that feels like you are walking in a sci-fi movie with, majestic buildings, grand open spaces where people can move around without the fear or noise of cars, with pubs and restaurants overlooking the waterways, low congestion and easy access.

We don't hate cars. They are very useful indeed and even critical in some cases, but there are some serious practical matters to consider in our overcrowded planet and Canary Wharf is an example of success.  Turning an existing area around is a lot harder compared to the somewhat fresh start Canary Wharf had, which is why we need everyone’s support. It is that or frustration on congested roads.

People go about their business, but do this in an open, refreshing environment and even have time to stop at the inviting watering holes with those who share the space with them. 

There are no cyclepaths inside Canary Wharf itself, but if you look at the photo below, taken at 8:30AM it is clearly not necessary.



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