Why the bike? The bike, that most noble of steed, the deadly treadly, the whippet, the racer, the pushie, the 10 speed, the fixie, the trike, the unicycle, the tandem, BMX, the commuter, the tourer.
'If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on.' - Lance Armstrong
Everyone's favourite drug cheat, Lance Armstrong famously wrote his not-so-tell-all autobiography It's Not About the Bike where he detailed his 'inspirational battle against the odds.' One man's fight to get back on the bike, to get a saddle between his legs and a few dollars in his pocket. One man and two wheels, millions of dollars, millions of fans and a household name all from putting foot after foot down on pedals around the world for over a decade.
My copy of It's Not About the Bike was purchased for 280 baht from a secondhand book dealer in Kanchanaburi, Thailand in 2010. This was pre-Oprah Lance, but post-comeback Lance. I had photographed him at his comeback race at the Tour Down Under in 2009, 1274 proudly emblazoned across the bike, the number of days since he had last competed professionally. The 2009 edition of the Tour Down Under would go on to double attendance records and bring in an unprecedented 39 million to the state, he would participate in two more TDUs until his retirement for the second time in 2011. Crowd numbers have struggled since to reach the heights of the Lance years. This was one man's experience on a saddle, a saddle that took him around the world many times and eventually led to a meteoric crash and burn, debris strewn across televisions, courts, sponsors boardrooms and the Champs-Élysées. My photographs of Lance however, sit proudly and safely in a folder marked TDU 2009-2011.
'What is striking about the bicycle in the age of electronics is that it is an honest machine: its means of operating are transparent and its action truthfully felt. ' - Laura Fisher, Artlink Magazine
The Armstrong tragedy is just one story of a legion about who, why and how we ride. For the antithetic alternative I suggest you read the brilliant Bicycle as a Dissident Object.
'…. the bicycle is a nimble tool for individual and collective agency and a catalyst for knowledge creation, self-awareness and meaningful social encounters. It is a technology that serves our need for self-reliance and exploration, without surpassing the body’s capabilities. In an era in which we are incarcerated by our affluence – through work, debt, declining physical and mental health, and an exploitative and wasteful dependence upon the declining natural resources – the bicycle is the ultimate dissident object and symbol of freedom.' - Laura Fisher, Artlink Magazine
Where does the bike belong within LAND SEA YOU ME? Somewhere between the two. A literal and metaphoric vehicle to make art, access the inaccessible, my home, my career, my family, my clandestine entry to the South Australian soul, my freedom, my camera, my tripod. No one expects the cyclist.
One of the great revelations of touring on bike is that people open up to you in a way they never would if you had rolled into town behind windows, encased in the quotidian safety of the car.
In 2004, a few friends and I packed our bikes, loaded them onto the back of a car and made our way to Tasmania to spend a month traversing and circling her ridges and switchbacks. We saw, smelt and felt a country and a people unimaginable in a Hertz. Doors opened for us, meals, water and routes were offered without need to ask. For 30 nights we camped on plateaus, atop mountains, under stars, next to lakes. Alongside loggers and hippies, greenies and farmers, we were welcomed by all. We shared stories and beers with people we wouldn't normally meet, camped out the back of pubs, churches, sawmills and strangers sheds. It was a revelation. I've gone through my photo albums (the physical kind) to find photographs from this trip, unfortunately I was a terrible photographer at the time and they shall remain buried alongside formal and 21st birthday photographs. 12 years later, as a father and a far better photographer, I will document the beauty of my home and share these experiences with those who never will have the chance. That's why I'm on the bike.
COLUMBUS “Crmor” double butted crmo, with rack and x3 bottle mounts, replaceable rear dir.
Fork type - BT BIKES “Beyond” 4130 crmo, tapered double butted with fender, rack and bottle mounts
Rims type - DT SWISS “X1900” double wall pinned, 24mm wide, tubeless compat. 28h
Hub front - DT SWISS “x1900” sealed bearing, 15mm thru-axle
Hub rear - DT SWISS “x1900” sealed bearing, 5mm QR axle
Tyres - Schwalbe Big Apple KR 29" Reflective Street Tyre
Shifters - SRAM “Apex” integ. with lever
Front derailleur - SRAM “X5” front
Rear derailleur - SRAM “X7″ rear
Crankset - SRAM “X5” cranks
Cassette - SRAM 10 speed cassette, 11-36T
Bottom bracket - SRAM Press Fit BB 30
Seat post - BT BIKES “620” alloy seat post
Saddle - BT BIKES “Team” slim padded rail seat
Handlebars - BT BIKES “Beyond” 6061-T6 butted alloy, 22° flared travel bar
Stem - BT BIKES forged alloy stem
Headset - TANGE “Seiki” sealed a-headset, 1.1/8″-1.1/2″
Brakes TRP - “Spyre” disc brakes
Chain KMC - “X10L” chain
Brake levers -SRAM “Apex” brake levers
Brake - rotor 160mm rotors
Front Panniers - Otrlieb Front Roller Plus
Handlebar Bag - Ortlieb Ultimate6 Plus
Saddle Bag - Ortlieb Saddle Bag Large
Front Pannier Racks - Salsa Down Under Front Rack
Trailer - Proseries
My Bombtrack Beyond is proudly serviced by the good folk at Treadly Bike Shop
P.S Thank you all so much for your kind words and calls with regards to Juno, she's back on track and we're back on the road. See you out there.
My thanks goes to Nat Rogers for the photographic assistance for this post. Check out her outstanding story telling here.