A Quirky Celebration of Bike-Riding

Saturday was the start of Bike Week, an event that is held every year in WA to celebrate bicycle riding and to promote cycling as a method for transport. The events that are run over the course of the week are always really creative, and have appeal for a wide range of people whether regular cyclists or not, so it’s really hard not to get involved in one way or another.

This weekend I spent a fair amount of time engaged with Bike Week activities, and I wanted to tell you about not one, but two events that I found really inspiring.

Pedal-Powered Movies

Movies screenings…with a difference! On Saturday night I went to a community movie screening of BMX Bandits (a 1980s film starring a very young Nicole Kidman), and the whole thing was powered by bicycles!

The setup is a collection of fifteen exercise bikes (the really old ones with a bicycle chain) and 15 Fisher and Pykel washing machine motors, which a local Physicist has engineered into a setup that can power a movie projector! The project has taken him 15 years, as every single piece has been picked up from verge collections and scrap.

Fifteen people pedal the bikes, which power the movie. The cyclists can enjoy the movie too of course, and if at any stage they get tired, bored or saddle-sore, they simply raise their hand and someone else from the audience steps up to take their place.

And they're off! Pedal Powered movie gets underway as the sun sets in Victoria Park.

And they’re off! Pedal Powered movie gets underway as the sun sets in Victoria Park.

It was so much fun! The bikes were never unmanned as the second that someone put their hand up to have a rest, multiple people sprang up to take their place. The kids in particular loved it, and would often get off the bikes having had enough to jump straight onto the next available one less than a minute later!

The Giro d Perth

The Giro d Perth is described as a “back lane bike odyssey” and is a cycling event held in Perth every year as part of Bike Week. You pay a registration free to take part, but it’s not a race, or even a ride in the traditional sense: it’s part cycling adventure part treasure hunt (with quiz questions and answers rather than treasure to find). The organisers describe it like this:

Giro d Perth Info

The Giro d Perth – What it’s About

Riders don’t even start at the same time; registration opens at 8am and you can set off any time between then and 10am. Plus yes, as it suggests above, you can stop along the way for breakfast – and many people do!

Giro d Perth

Stopping off en-route to answer a quiz question.

Back lane bike odyssey

The Giro d Perth takes riders through interesting backstreets and laneways around the city.

The great thing about the Giro d Perth is that it gets people out on bicycles onto roads. There’s a safety in numbers with so many cyclists along the route (and I’m sure some of the car drivers were very surprised to see so many wobbly, amateur cyclists taking over the roads on Sunday!), and its a really fun and sociable way to spend a morning.

If you made it to the Italian Club by 12noon (and there was no finish time, so it didn’t matter if you didn’t) there was a presentation by the founder. There were prizes, not for fastest team or most correct quiz answers, but instead for best decorated bike, best vintage bike and a couple of other categories.

He made a really good point: the “lycra brigade” are always going to cycle. This event isn’t solely for them (although they are welcome to join in – and they did). This event is about getting those people who don’t ride often, who don’t have fancy bikes, who maybe aren’t so confident, out on the roads and showing them that cycling is for everyone.

I was also impressed that there was minimal waste at the event. Your registration fee gets you a number, a map and a pen, but there’s no token throwaway medals or branded T-shirts, no fridge magnets or other unnecessary paraphernalia included. At the end, there was no giveaway of plastic cups or drinks bottles (most cyclists have them already, after all) – instead there was a big water tank so riders could refill bottles they already had. Perfect!

Water refill station

No single-use disposable plastic bottles handed out at the finish line! Instead they had a water refill station – such a great idea!

Both events were so much fun! A great way to spend time with family and friends, get out into the fresh air, get some exercise, and celebrate the enjoyment that bicycles provide. A weekend well spent : )

Now I’d like to hear from you! Have you ever taken part in any interesting or unusual cycle events? Have you ever seen any crazy bicycle events but not been game to take part? Are you a regular cyclist, and if not, what holds you back? Do you find the “lycra set” intimidating, or are you happy to cycle on the roads with your less-than-polished ride? The comments make the conversation come to life, so please let me know your thoughts by writing below!

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8 replies
  1. Plastic-Free Tuesday - Annemieke
    Plastic-Free Tuesday - Annemieke says:

    Wow, this Bike Week sounds awesome! I would have loved to join both the movie and the Giro d Perth! I am really impressed that someone takes the effort to engineer 15 old bicycles for watching movies. That is fantastic! The person should get a medal for doing that!

    I have always loved biking. Never taken part in a bicycle event though. We have great public transportation where I live, so I mostly travel by bus, train, and metro. But at least once a week I go for a long bicycle tour. Last Sunday I biked 60+ kilometers!

    For any other bike enthusiasts here, I would like to draw attention to a new documentary film titled Bikes versus Cars which was launched just this month. The trailer (http://www.bikes-vs-cars.com/) looks promising, so if you have a chance to attend a screening, please do so!

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      I thought you’d like this post Annemieke! The pedal-powered movie setup has been doing the rounds locally and this was the third one that I saw advertised, but the first one we’ve been able to go to. Yes, it’s such an awesome project and I especially love that it’s all salvaged bits and pieces : )

      I’m not really into bike events. I did a charity ride with my husband and a friend last year, but I’d rather go out just with him or a small group of friends and stop at cafes along the way! My husband did the Giro d Perth last year but I didn’t – he said it was so much fun I had to do it this year, and he was right – it was great!

      I’m going to look out for this movie : )

  2. EcoGrrl
    EcoGrrl says:

    Nice! We have a whole “Pedalpalooza” month of events as well but it unfortunately includes the World Naked Bike Ride with 20K+ buck naked hipsters riding through the city…sigh…

  3. cheliamoose
    cheliamoose says:

    Haha, I’d love to go to a pedal powered movie one day! There’s a group in Melbourne called Bike Fun (http://www.bikefun.org/) who regularly put on fun and varied events in and around the city. They’re good fun and I’ve met a lot of friends this way :)

    I feel really sad when people hate on the lycra set (not including you on this though, Lindsay) – they’re an incredible bunch of riders who have done so much to develop the infrastructure and culture I now benefit from as a city commuter. I feel safer when there’s a lycra clad rider around me as I can usually feel confident they’ll ride around me smoothly, efficiently and predictably :)

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      I had a look at the BikeFun website – looks like they’ve got loads of great events on the go! People in Perth always complain that people in Melbourne have it so much better… ; p

      I totally agree with you – it was in no way a criticism! I didn’t know people did hate them (well I know there’s always someone, but I didn’t realise it was a “thing”). The more people on bikes the better, regardless of outfit!

  4. Lois
    Lois says:

    Wow what fun! I recently saw a story, not sure where it was, but a concert was performed by having the audience power the equipment with bikes. I think this is a great way to show that we can still have fun while using zero fossil fuels.


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