Adelaide, in search of…..

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to travel to Adelaide for my work. For those of you who have never been to Adelaide, it is a very quiet small town with hardly any buildings in the CBD. In fact I had to check with my taxi driver that we were in fact in the CBD. I am used to buildings, people, traffic and all the usual trappings of urban life, but Adelaide had little of this. What it did have though, was bike lanes on every street in the city. It is also the flattest place I have ever been in my life. There are hills surrounding the outskirts of the city, but the place itself is super flat. This combined with the abundance of bike lanes would make it an ideal commuter town. You could even cycle to the airport if you were travelling lightly, as it is only about 5km from the city centre.

I had some downtime upon arrival, so after checking my stuff into the palace in which I was staying I took a walking bicycle tour of downtown Adelaide. Initially I was surprised by the lack of bikes everywhere. Being such a flat town with copious bicycle friendly infrastructure I thought the place would be swarming with fixies, hybrids and crappy old mountain bikes. It wasn’t though. The bike lanes did pick up steam after an hour or so, with more commuters taking advantage of the flat spread, but I still was yet to see a fixed-gear bike. This became my mission, to find the fixies in Adelaide. So I beginning my quest, I came across this folding bike with what looks like a Brooks saddle on it.
I must admit the saddle does play off nicely with the cyclists’ helmet, and the interplay between those earthy shades and the yellow canvas shoes is very nice. But, despite the niceness, it was still no fixie, so I continued my search. One of the other things I noticed was that in Adelaide there must be a higher crime rate than in Melbourne, as many bike were double-locked. In Melbourne it is a rare sight to see a bike with two locks on it, but in Adelaide any old Avanti was more secure than Fort Knox, which I found interesting, just not interesting enough to photograph. So after an hour or so, I was still yet to see a fixie in Adelaide. I turned down a laneway and nearly stopped dead. Had I found it, Adelaide’s fixie? It had spoke cards and a strangely mounted brake-lever so it fit the general profile of a fixed-gear bike. I approached the bicycle with caution. This is what I had found.
At first glance it seemed to be what I was searching for. Weird bar grips, oddly placed brake-lever, spoke cards, but on closer inspection it turned out I had gotten it wrong, so very wrong.
It seems that this beast was actually a converted crappy old ten speed with the derailleurs removed. This is a simple and effective method of single-speed conversion, if you don’t mind the extra weight of carrying around a few extra cogs, it’s fine. The thing that really made this bike for me though was the fine selection of Magic The Gathering spoke cards! I don’t know much about this game, except that it’s practitioners are usually even nerdier than myself (which is pretty damned nerdy!) so I don’t really understand what “power” these cards may hold, and their relevance to being used as spoke cards. For all I know the cards may ward off the dreaded Metal Beast, thus repelling both cars and Metallica fans, which are both of abundance in Adelaide.
So I still hadn’t found the elusive Adelaide fixie yet, but it was time for me to go to work. Thankfully my work occasionally involves standing around with a camera, so I was delighted when I spotted Adelaide’s fixed-gear bike. The photo is a bit crappy because I didn’t want to scare him off with a flash, but with a bit of “photo” “shopping” I was able to bring out at least the read mud-guard, or “filth-prophylactic.” One of the guys I was working with did inform me that there actually was plenty of fixies in Adelaide, but they were mostly vegan, which makes some sort of sense, at least in a global-cultural way. I’m not sure if being a vegan in Adelaide somehow makes you not want to cycle to the city, but I am pretty sure the guy I saw on a fixie was about to head to the steakhouse across the street.
A little later in the evening I found a paradoxical example of Adelaide’s bike locking protocols. I mentioned earlier that I had witnessed double-locked Avanti’s, but it seems that Huffy’s are undesirable to Adelaide’s cycling thieves. I guess crappy mountain bikes don’t need to be locked, at least not to a pole. It appears that it is sufficient to lock them to themselves, or at least have a lock on the top tube. This bike stayed unstolen all night, and even as I walked back to the hotel at 3am, it was still unstolen. The solution to double-locking your Avanti seemed clear, ride a Huffy instead.
‘Til next time Adelaide, fix up look sharp, and don’t forget to lock.


1 Response to “Adelaide, in search of…..”

  1. 1 Damien August 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Adelaide is more than just a town of Metallica tragics. It’s also populated by Dungeons & Dragons fanatics, Star Wars nerds, voluntary mental patients, and of course serial killers. It’s a great place to visit and an even better place to leave.

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