Briztreadley goes big-time: a world champ and the voice of cycling on the same pod

An excited cyclist makes a new friend, someone who is “kind of a big deal”.

Episode 18 fpr 2017 is truly massive, as your regular host Andrew Demack interviews Brisbane’s own new world champion Cameron Wright, and Cathy Peel “interviews” the voice of cycling, Mr Phil Liggett. Unbelievable is the word that comes to mind.

Catching up with Jordana

Briztreadley co-host Jordana Blackman learning how to downhill!

Here is Episode 11 for 2017 of the Briztreadley podcast, hosted by Andrew Demack and Jordana Blackman.

In which we discuss:

  • The Bayview Blast (and grab a quick interview with male elite winner Michael England)
  • Bicycle Queensland’s Y2W rail trail ride
  • Australian women doing great things in the mtb World Cups in Europe
  • & Jordana’s course in beginner downhilling!

Thanks as always to Eleanor Jackson for voiceovers and Vulfpeck for the theme song ‘Speedwalker’.

Baby, it’s cold outside: Troy Szczurkowski calls in from Anchorage

Here’s Episode 5 for 2017 of the Briztreadley podcast, hosted by Andrew Demack.

Sholto Douglas (RIP) (right), with his best friend Eric Bettens. Sholto Douglas photo.

In this episode:

  • A brief tribute to friend of the show and Bicycle Queensland stalwart Sholto Douglas, who died in late January.
  • An interview with Troy Szczurkowski before he sets off on the 2017 Iditarod Trail Invitational.

 

 

It’s like Christmas in July

… for those of us who enjoy everything about bikes, that is.

Our Man in Stanthorpe Owen Ronalds made the trek to the city for Pushies Galore today, and took out the Made in BNE category with this gorgeous red Hoffy. Hey, wait a minute .... this podcast is Made in BNE as well! Maybe we can enter the podcast at Pushies Galore next year!

Our Man in Stanthorpe Owen Ronalds made the trek to the city for Pushies Galore today, and took out the Made in BNE category with this gorgeous red Hoffy. Hey, wait a minute …. this podcast is Made in BNE as well! Maybe we can enter the podcast at Pushies Galore next year!

Here’s a quick special episode of the Briztreadley podcast (no 18, but who’s counting).

Your regular host Andrew Demack chats with Nicholas O’Donnell about the first week of the Tour, and what’s coming up next in the Pyrenees and later in the Alps. It’s already a great Tour, and there’s so much more to come.

So much more to come from Briztreadley as well, if I can only make it through a very busy week ahead!!

Facing the Peaks Challenge, and giving kids the chance to ride to school

Craig Jones finishes the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek ... with 7 minutes to spare!

Craig Jones finishes the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek … with 7 minutes to spare!

So here’s Episode 10 of the Briztreadley podcast in 2015.

This week:

  • Some hyperlocal news about a sewer upgrade on the River Loop at St Lucia
  • We chat to three riders who have just come back from the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek: David Hodgson, Craig Jones and Morgana Jones. What an amazing effort!!
  • And for National Ride2School day we make a visit to Junction Park State School to meet folks who are enthusiastic about active school travel.

Thanks so much to people who have rated and reviewed the show on iTunes! If I knew who were you were I would send you flowers. If you want to be in my good books, now you know the way.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice practice practice.

Dan's mere presence makes brazing easier! #whatwouldyoubuild #bikeschoolviews

A post shared by United Bicycle Institute (@unitedbicycle) on

Nice work Bike Bestie! Keep it up!

And speaking of practicing, we’re recording the next podcast tonight, so it should be nestled in your iPhone (other smartphones are available) sometime late Thursday night.

In this episode:

  • NEWS! Follow-ups from previous episodes!
  • The Hour Record
  • The Herald Sun Tour
  • Interviews with cyclocrossers Lindsay Gorrell and Garry Milburn who paid their own way to race for Australia at the World CX Champs in Tabor, Czech Republic. Massive effort!

And so much more, we have big ideas and we’re not afraid to put them out there! Practice practice practice, and we’ll make a better podcast with more listeners. Practice practice practice for our good friend Emma, and as Brad Norman says “BIKES FOR EVERYONE!”

UPDATE: OK, it’s all gone a bit wrong tonight, so we won’t be posting a Briztreadley podcast by Thursday evening. Looks like we will record a weekend special!

 

95% of the function and quality at 5% of the cost

If you are reading Briztreadley, you cannot have missed the fact that launching a podcast is my big thing for 2015.

And I haven’t gone into any detail of the back story behind the decision. The podcast just appeared last week, after a month or so of discussion between myself and the other participants over the Christmas period.

But maybe some people are interested in how we got here.

At the start of 2012, I had an email from Phil Smith, weekend presenter for the ABC about his idea for a regular half-hour segment on cycling. Phil and I have been friends for about 30 years, so of course I talked to my boss about the benefits for Bicycle Queensland of getting our name out in the public arena, and went back to Phil with a resounding “yes”.

And over the next three years, most every week I rocked up to the ABC studios at South Bank just before 2pm on Friday, locked my bike to the public bike rack, and wandered inside. Most times Phil Smith was the ABC host, but other times I worked with Peter Scott, Chris Welsh and Craig Zonca.

Locked up outside the ABC at South Bank today. Kinda wonderful.

A post shared by Andrew Demack (@briztreadley) on

And each week we got hold of interesting people to talk to, and report on, and analyse, in the wide world of bike riding. We talked to people making bikes and selling bikes, touring around the world on their bikes, racing their bikes of many different types, getting from A to B on their bikes, and those just enjoying riding their bikes for reasons that can be special and particular to one person, or universal and general across most of the population.

There is just an amazing amount to talk about to do with bikes.

In the middle of 2014 Phil took a long-ish break from ABC, and Chris Welsh moved into the chair. And the program segment, which originally was called The Sunday Spin, but by now was known as The Squeaky Wheel, just rolled on regardless. I knew Chris less well than Phil, but knew him as a keen commuter cyclist and occasional tourer, so I knew he would be pleased to carry on chatting about bikes.

But at the end of 2014, the ABC decided to make a change in its weekend programming. Chris Welsh was removed from the weekend timeslots, and that was the end of The Squeaky Wheel (and quite a few other program segments that we all thought were popular).

So Chris and I got together over a cup of coffee, and worked out a plan to carry on talking about bikes. And regular contributors Jordana Blackman and Nicholas O’Donnell were likewise keen to continue the conversation in another forum.

So really all that was left was the mechanics of making it happen.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how “do-able” it is to record a podcast of listenable quality with low-cost equipment. We’ve got 95% of the functionality and quality of the ABC studios in a spare bedroom at my home in Salisbury, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

The iPad and Skype provide the elements of the studio that once were tricky to replicate outside of a proper studio.

The first is live playback of other pieces of audio. On the Squeaky Wheel, and now on the Briztreadley podcast, we often play pieces of audio that are sourced from elsewhere, or are pre-recorded especially for us.

The device that does that in the studio is called a cart machine. Back in the old days, it was actually a machine that could play from any one of a whole rack of tape cartridges, which would be pre-loaded with the station ID, ads, jingles, interviews etc etc.

Of course at the ABC studio this is now a computer that plays the station IDs etc, and other pre-recorded audio at the touch of a button.

And now, there’s an iPad app that does exactly the same thing. Well, there’s a whole lot of iPad apps which do it, but the best one I have found so far is Bossjock Studio. It’s designed for podcasters!

So the theme music, and the “you’re listening to the Briztreadley podcast” bits, and the audio of a bike racer who has just won the stage … they are all pre-loaded into Bossjock Studio, and I plug the iPad into a stereo input on the mixer, and press a button in the program to play them. Simple as that.

You can record a podcast without this facility, and add the extra audio as an edit in post-production, but I like to be able to play the audio and have my studio panel listen along to it and react to it. It’s hard to react naturally to something you can’t hear.

Skype is the replacement for the ABC studio’s complicated phone system and also it’s TARDIS system of connecting with studio guests in remote ABC studios.The quality from Skype is usually slightly better than that of a phonecall, which is a win as well. So far every guest we’ve wanted to talk to has a Skype account, and I expect that to continue to be the case. For the super tech-heads, I provide a mix-minus feed back to the person on the other end of the Skype connection.

I use my iPhone as the Skype device, because we record on my Mac mini, and my iPad is used for Bossjock Studio, and the iPhone is the only thing left! The downside of the iPhone is that I’m then at the mercy of my wifi setup at home, rather than the Mac mini which is connected via Ethernet. But so far, so good. No dropped calls.

We record our four panellists, each on their own microphone, into the same small 10-channel mixer that the iPad and the iPhone are plugged into. The outputs from the mixer go to my Mac mini via a USB audio interface. I record the program on Hindenburg Journalist, which is a great program for editing audio interviews, and nearly perfect for this purpose as well.

So that’s how the magic happens. And the best bit is that we’re having lots of fun doing it! I hope that you (if you’re listening) are enjoying it too. Let me know what we can do better, or what sort of cycling content you want to hear. Email [email protected], or just ramble into the comment box below.

UPDATE: I’ve also started using an iPhone app called ‘Ringr’, so far the results have not been stellar, but the idea is a good one. Ringr records a double-ender via VOIP app, uploads the results to its server, and then forwards the merged file to the originator of the call. So each end of the call is recorded using the iPhone built-in mic, which should mean better quality than Skype.

 

Italians dominating the Santos Womens Tour, Troy re-enacting ‘Frozen’, and oh yes, that State Election thingo

Troy Szczurkowski enjoys the cold weather in Alaska on a previous trip. This time it's for real.

Troy Szczurkowski enjoys the cold weather in Alaska on a previous trip. This time it’s for real.

Coming up on the Briztreadley podcast this week …

  • Jordana Blackman is having a whale of a time at the Santos Womens Tour in Adelaide, and she will be joining us LIVE via Skype (IF THE STRING BETWEEN THE TIN CANS DOESN’T BREAK).
  • Troy Szczurkowski. You’ve seen his blog. He does crazy amazing bike rides. And soon he will take on his most crazy amazing ride so far. The Iditarod. Hear all about it on Briztreadley this week. You don’t want to miss this.
  • And we’re going to have some democracy at the end of the month. The RACQ and Bicycle Queensland had a joint media event this week, calling for commitments from all parties to continue to invest in bicycle facilities. Yes, that’s right, even the RACQ, the organisation which exists to promote car driving, sees the need for more and better facilities for bikes! So why don’t the major political parties see this as a vote-winner (yet)?? Our panel will have a stab at that one too.

So that’s going to be another bumper edition!

 

Planners just have to outsmart the market. And voters.

Pic from Flickr by Simon West (https://www.flickr.com/photos/krypto/)

Pic from Flickr by Andrew West.

After 10 years (approx) in bicycle advocacy, I am convinced of just a few things …

1. People who say “it can’t happen here because [insert short-sighted reason]” are often well-meaning, but wrong. Brisbane can become a great place to ride a bike, if we (by which I mean citizens influencing the State Government and City Council) make decisions over the next few years which prioritise walking and cycling over other modes of transport.

2. That reliance on “the market” and private developers and infrastructure built by PPPs (public-private partnerships) leads to a business-as-usual outcome, which repeats the car-biased transport and land-use planning mistakes of the past 50 years.

3. That “density done right” is a massive factor towards building a better city to ride and walk around. Land use planning and transport planning are so intertwined that we must never again do one without the other.

My friend Greg Vann makes the point (which I absolutely agree with) that everyone is seeking amenity, and that the concept of what urban amenity is, is changing. And that’s a good thing.

Greg says that good planning leads to a better city to live in, and I think nobody disputes that. But it requires long-term thinking by political leaders, and making decisions which lead to changes in our urban landscape. And change can be tricky.

The best thing a city can do is elect a planner as Mayor. Which happened in Adelaide (Stephen Yarwood), and they were starting to get some great changes that will lead to Adelaide being a better place to walk and ride, and therefore a better place to live. Awesome!

So the voters, who don’t like change, have voted Mr Yarwood out. How depressing.

The solution? Well as far as I can see, it is to have as many people as possible who are interested in building walkable and rideable cities keep on being engaged in public debate and discussion. And maybe planners encouraging other planners to stand for office.

It can totally happen here. Let’s make it happen here.

You went ‘full hobo’! Never go ‘full hobo’ …

Smiley McWhiskers ... would you talk to this man?

Smiley McWhiskers … would you talk to this man?

Bike touring is an immersion into a different worldview. One in which you have everything you need with you at all times.

This is a world in which you are essentially homeless. My friend Flyboy Dave was the one who noticed the similarity between the bikepacker and the hobo, and I think it’s really apt.

Actual hobos don’t have mountain bikes valued in the thousands of dollars. Nor do they spend hundreds of dollars on the lightest, most efficient camping kit they can find, after months of research and debate. Also they might not wear merino mtb riding gear and SPD shoes.

But for most normal folks out and about, whether in a big city like Brisbane or Perth, or in small towns like Toogoolawah, Dwellingup, Blackbutt and Donnybrook … well to them you look like a hobo, you probably smell a bit like a hobo after a few days on the trail, and if you’ve started talking to yourself after three or four days on your own, well it’s an easy assumption to make from there.

One of the ways I can tell that the Munda Biddi Trail in WA is not yet a roaring success is by the looks I got in the small towns on the trail. I stopped and spent money on food and drink and supplies in Jarrahdale, Dwellingup, Lake Brockman, Collie, Boyanup and Donnybrook.

And everywhere I went, I parked my heavily-laden bike within view. Some folks chatted to me (where did you ride from today? Wow! where are you going? OK, wow again!), but lots of people just had a good stare at the bike, with a mixture of trepidation, distaste and mostly total lack of understanding. Who IS this person and what the hell are they doing?

I’ve refined my bikepacking setup over successive trips. I think for this occasion, being on the road for eight days, I went as far as I could towards ‘full hobo’ (bearing in mind the cautionary words of Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder).

As a measure of how much I looked like a hobo, I counted all the things directly attached to my handlebar, and I think I came up with ten! Let’s see if I can remember:

1. Sleeping kit in big drybag (sleeping bag, thermal liner, hiker fly and pegs)

2. Which is held to the bars by a Revelate Designs Sling.

3. Jetboil stove and accessories (in a clip-on bag originally designed as a dump pouch for ammunition, according to its description on eBay)

4. Front headlight.

5. Clip for hydration hose (coming up from the frame bag, where the water bladder was stored)

6. Camera bag (with Panasonic DMC-LF1 inside)

7. Water bottle & snack pouch (in the same style as the stove pouch, just a little smaller, also bought from a military supplies store on eBay)

8. First Aid kit.

9. Garmin eTrex20 GPS.

Well, maybe it was nine, or maybe I was including the Spot Messenger GPS Tracker, which was in a top-tube bag attached to the stem, not the handlebar. The overall effect, though, is of someone who is carrying everything he owns.

IMG_0019-0.JPG

When you go full hobo, you meet some lovely people who think you’re doing something slightly mad.

“I could never do that!” they say after a few minutes of conversation, with a hint of regret or envy in their voice.

“I could never do what you’re doing …”

But I think it’s a trick that we bikepacker hobos are playing on the rest of society. Cos going ‘full hobo’ for a week or so isn’t all that hard, and it is a hell of a lot of fun, and a really great way to see parts of our scenic and beautiful world.

I’m hoping to get out in my hobo kit again real soon, just in SEQ. Before the end of the year for sure. And I will make every effort to add one more thing that tips me over the edge to ‘full hobo’.

If you see me out there, I’m really not that scary.

NB. Homelessness is a real problem still in our society, and I’m not downplaying that problem, or making fun of people who find themselves facing hard times.