Bike tribe v bike tribe

All the bike racing clubs along the coast North of Sydney converged yesterday upon a mountain pass near Bulahdelah, for combined races. The famous “Bulahdelah Bends”, where the trees grow tall from kids’ vomit, sees almost no traffic these days, since a fissure was blast through another part of the mountain, for a new 4 lane highway; in a country where budgets for bicycle infrastructure barely meet the cost of green paint, it is worth noting how mountains can be moved to win drivers’ votes.

I hitched a car ride to the race with my club president (a life-long friend) and one of our commissaires. Our president, who I shall call David (because that is his name), had a story of a meeting a young man with no helmet, black clothes, no lights, and how he had told Mr Time Bomb that a helmet would only cost him 10 or 12 bucks from any discount store. But the guy would rather pay fines. Perhaps he was inspired by the conscientious objector pictured below, who (to my eye) is clearly doing a good job of warning off cars with his fragility.

I heard then how our club president and commissaire rile against cyclists not wearing helmets, as vehemently as emulators of Dutch cycling rile against lycra. No two bike tribes could be further apart, or more ready for blood. Having one foot in each camp can at times make me feel like they’ll see it from my stretched apart butt cheeks.

Koreatown 1992



“David,” I said, “I appreciate you have met an extremist [no lights, black clothes, see his hair, yeah], but for people using bikes for daily trips, there is a good case for conscientious objection. And for upright style riding, wearing no helmet may even be safer.” Being friends, we all saw each others positions, and I left reminded that cyclists only argue with cyclists because we are all on the bottom together. During the LA riots, African American rioters looted Korean owned stores, and Koreans shot Blacks, while the whites stayed at home saying tisk-tisk and masturbating in front of their tellies.

So 3 hours of our cycling-Saturday was spent driving to a road we could ride on, because driving has outgrown that road, and left it to cycling. How much easier would it be, simply to build for bike riding (recreational and transport) right from the outset?



  1. Lukas Junker says:

    Dr. Beehoving,
    I hope you are doing your stretches and are naturaly flexible…I somewhat identify with the attitude of the punk that David encountered somewhere. I have this issue that I believe the helmet law is BS, and hence refuse to wear one on my slow rides for transportation. My struggle is my doubts about how this is different to motorists taking the same liberties with speed limits, mobile phone and seatbelts laws, etc? Does David believe in life saving capacity of the $10 supermarket helmet, or is he just a law obeiding citizen? Hence my decision to accept a fine, should I ever get one. On the upside, I have some shiny new lights now that winter has struck and I am very impressed with its strobe effect.

    • Steven says:

      All things in moderation my son. I suggest fitting some of these ( to your bike and never worrying about lights or helmets again (unless for some reason, you need a helmet for sports cycling some day). My friend David has the duty of checking that competitors are wearing ASA approved helmets before every race, rather like checking kids’ soccer boot studs before every game. So he is in the mindset of enforcing rules. When I explained helmet law objection to him, and the contexts where it makes sense (which don’t include descending that Mountain on Saturday!) he saw my point straight away.

  2. Luke says:

    My take for what it is worth is that if cycling is sufficiently dangerous to warrant wearing helmet, I’d rather not do it. (I am too chicken, as well as too slow, to race bikes – likewise too crap and too chicken to face decent fast bowling). Maybe I’ll summon up the courage and energy for a club run, in which case I’d wear one.

    You say “Having one foot in each camp can… make me feel like they’ll see it from my stretched apart butt cheeks.” May I introduce you to my favourite (OK, only) word of Afrikaans? “Soutpiel”, applied to those “English” South Africans who the Afrikaaners don’t feel are really committed to SA. The idea is that they have one foot in Africa, one in England, with their d***s hanging in the (salty) ocean.

    • Steven says:

      If you don’t mind, I’ll be using that cricket helmet analogy in the future. Depending on pitch conditions I can play it with a straight bat or crooked. If it’s okay, I probably won’t enter Soutpiel into my lexicon 🙂

  3. Luke says:

    Steven, take my analogy and do with it as you will – I don’t need it any more.

    Can I take this opportunity to say that I am not a complete chicken – it’s just that if I am to take a risk, I want something in return, like money, excitement or the chance for glory (or to impress the opposite sex of that’s not the same thing). There’s limited scope for these on my ride to work so I’d prefer a nice quiet ride with no need to wear helmet. Now, if there were podium girls at the other end….

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