Friday, December 28, 2007

Sydney to Seal Rocks (or bike + one train and three ferries)

Every year I go camping with friends for the Christmas to New Years period. This year was no different, but this time I didn't have a car and so my challenge was to get to our campsite at Seal Rocks by whatever means possible. To get there, I used the Cycling Australia book put out by Lonely Planet. Its a great read for the cycle touring novice and it has excellent advice in choosing the safest and most scenic routes. For my mini tour of the east coast, I covered a distance of 180km that is usually done over three days but it was nice just to get a taste for touring.I started the morning at 6:30am and rode straight to Berowa train station. I would have caught the train from Straithfield, however there was trackwork on the Newcastle line and a bike unfriendly bus service running between Straithfield and Berowa.

I arrived at Newcastle at around 11:30am and in no time I was on the ferry to Stockton. It only cost $1 to catch the ferry...
... and they great bike racks. From Stockton, I rode 50km along Nelson Bay Road to Nelson Bay. I was a bit anxious as to what the road would be like but it had an excellent shoulder. There was a lot of holiday traffic but no dramas.
I arrived at Nelson Bay at around 1:30pm. I had an hour break with enough time to grab some fish and chips before catching the 2:30pm ferry to Tea Gardens. On the ferry, my bike was just tied onto the roof of the old boat. It was a bit more expensive costing $15, but was much more scenic. It took just on an hour to get across Post Stephens. There area is renown for Dolphin watching but I was unlucky to see any on the day.

From Tea Gardens its a short ride to Myall Lakes National Park. On the map, there was a more direct walking track heading straight along the coast to Seal Rocks, but as I was on my road bike I took the more scenic route around the lakes.
Another 30km along, I arrived at Bombah Point where I had to catch my third ferry of the day.
From there, it was another 15km along a dirt road to the small highway town of Bulahdelah.
At Bulahdelah, I was back on the Pacific Highway for a couple of kilometers then I took the Lakes Way Rd turn off to Seal Rocks. I misjudged how long this part of the ride would take me. It was another 40km to Seal Rocks with a few steep hills to keep me awake.
I eventually got to Seal Rocks at 7pm. The town is amazingly quiet with only one cafe and a post office . I found the campsite around 7:30pm and was pleased to arrive as dinner was being made.
I think I've got the touring bug.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hello Apollo

The Apollo IV has finally launched off the ground. Here are some photos from my maiden voyage around Sydney Olympic Park this morning. The fixie is a lot of fun to ride but you have to think a lot more about what your doing. I've found it particularly fun on the uphills where despite a lack of gears, I seem to be able to generate a lot more speed as the momentum is kept spinning through the fixed wheel.
I started this project with one thing in mind. To build a fixie for as little money as possible. I didn't quite get under my budget of $200, but I came very close. I've been grateful to have many people help out by giving me all the bits and pieces I needed and in Lindsay's amazing generosity in building it up for me. Here is the breakdown of the costs.

Frame: given (Chris)
Crankset: given (Chris)
Fork: given (Mike via Huw)
Headset: given (Lindsay)
Stem: given (Lindsay)
Drop bars: given (Lindsay)
Sprocket: given (Lindsay)
Front wheel: given (Lindsay)
Break hoods and callipers: given (Lindsay)
Seat post: given (Lindsay)
Saddle: owned
Pedals: owned
Track hub: $15 (an amazing bargain from Al Summers)
Velocity rear track rim: $90 (from Al Summers)
Tires: $80
Bottom bracket: $40
Chain: $25
Bar tape: $15
Lindsay’s work putting it all together: priceless
Total cost: $265

Update see :

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cycle Park

One of my favorite films from the recent Bicycle Film Festival was put out by a group called Rebar. The group went around San Francisco taking over carparking spaces with temporary urban parks (all while paying the parking meters). You can see the full film here.

Bicycle Samba

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Nov 30-Dec 2 - A Cycling Odyssey

This weekend has been amazing. There were cycling events happening everywhere showing the amazing diversity of cycling culture. Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend.

Friday night - Critical Mass Bridge Ride

(Photo by Moz)
It was a pretty good turn out but not quiet as big as last year. I got to have fun towing the sound system trailer which had been lent to me for the evening. As we rolled into the middle of the bridge for a bike lift I was pleased to hear Jill Scott Heron's The revolution will not be televised pumped out of the sound system. After, that we headed out for dinner then onto the Bicycle Film Festival for more cycling madness. It was fun cruzin home at midnight with stero still pumping out tunes much to the amusement of many onlookers.

Saturday Avro: Bike Film Festival
I went back to the BFF on Saturday avro. I caught a few more films and had some fun helping out at the bicycle valet parking. There certainly were some interesting bikes on show. The rows of amazing bikes had become something of an event in itself and there were people crowding round the barriers just to look at them.

Sunday Morning
I somehow managed to get out of bed on Sunday for my regular ride out to Waterfall with DHBC. I hadn't done it for a while, but it was great to get a solid 80kms in before breakfast.

Sunday Avro - World Track Championships
After the Waterfall ride, I rode straight out to Dunc Gray Velodrome to watch the World Track Championships with Huw and Simon. It was the most impressive cycling I'd ever seen. I watched the finals of the women's Keiran, Mens sprints, the womens team pursuits and the amazing Madison final. Just amazing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I've spent the last two weeks trying to source bit and pieces for my fixie build. I've also given the frame a touch up with enamel spray paint. So far I've spent $55 all up and my aim it to build it for under $200 (what most fixianadros will pay for their brooks saddle). The biggest cost of all is going to be in the wheels.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Road to Nowhere

I've finally spun out a paper around my interest in psychoanalysis and cars. Be very afraid!!! This is a draft. Any comments welcome.

The Road to Nowhere
Draft paper presented to Sydney Lacan Seminar, 17.11.07

The relations between this Homo psychologicus and the machines he uses are very striking, and this is especially so in the case of the motor-car. We get the impression that his relationship to this machine is so very intimate that it is almost as if the two were actually conjoined – its mechanical defects and breakdowns often parallel his neurotic symptoms. Its emotional significance for him comes from the fact that it exteriorizes the protective shell of his ego, as well as the failure of his virility.
(Lacan 1953: 17)


The idea for this paper developed rather mysteriously one night. I was riding my bike to my monthly Lacan seminar. As I speed down the hill an old silver Mercedes came up behind me and the driver started honking his horn. I was cycling at around 40km and hour, ten kilometres and hour less that the speed limit. As I rode, I pointed down to the painted image of the bicycle that was in the middle of the road. Despite this, the motorist continued to honk at me and drive right behind me in an aggressive manner. Eventually he speed past me. When I arrived at the seminar that night, I told my colleagues about this experience of road rage. I then joked with them about how I wanted to write a paper on the psychopathologies of motoring. As a former urban planner and something of a cycling advocate, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about cars and roads, and I’ve my fair share of run-ins with angry motorists. However, when proposing the idea for this paper, I was surprised that my Lacanian colleagues would take me up on it. What could Lacan have to say about motoring? Yet, when I started looking through Lacan’s seminars I was also pleased to find that Lacan spent some time talking about roads and highways. However, as a novice reader of Lacan, I have not attempted to give a theoretically sophisticated account of these seminars. Rather, I have attempted to develop a few loose observations about how we may think about automobiles and roads via the detours of psychoanalysis and popular culture.

The Age of the Automobile

From the etymology, an ‘automobile’ is a machine that provides self-directed mobility. The development of the automobile proved revolutionary in the late nineteenth century, as it provided a means of independent transportation that was neither limited by the use of horses nor the construction of railway lines. However, what is most remarkable about the automobile is that despite being so commonplace in our society, its history is relatively short (indeed, no older than psychoanalysis). While the earliest experiments involving steam powered vehicles can be traced back as early as the 1860s, it was only in the 1890s that people began making the first petrol powered automobiles. At the turn of the century, automobiles were a craze for the well to do. Taken as a hobby for wealthy businessmen, the first automobile clubs developed in Europe and America primarily for the purposes pleasure such as recreational touring and car racing. However, during the course of the twentieth century, the automobile would quickly change from being a privileged commodity to an object of mass appeal and mass consumption.

In the last hundred years, it is estimated that over one billion cars have been manufactured (Urry 2005). The effects of automobiles would alter life in the most profound ways. The automobile would change our conceptions of time, space and subjectivity. In affluent societies, the automobile has become essential for both work and leisure. The automobile has made it increasingly possible for us ‘take our own roads’ in life. In this sense, the automobile encompasses many of the liberal values of freedom and individuality. The automobile has changed the surface of the earth through the development of highways and roads. This interconnecting of places has deeply affected many traditional forms of social, cultural and economic interaction. The automobile has made it possible for many people to adopt new forms of suburban life and to participate car based consumption. Not only have automobiles generated new freedoms to move to different places, they have also changed our understanding of ‘place’ though the production of autoscapes (Auge 1995). For instance, it is estimated that within the city of Los Angeles, approximately one half of all space is dedicated to car-based activities. We live in what the sociologist John Urry (2005) has called ‘societies of automobility’. For most of us, our patterns of everyday life are totally dependent on us being car drivers. For instance, in an automotive society such as Australia, it is estimated that 78% of persons over the age of 18 use a private motor vehicle as their primary mode of transport (ABS 2003). Typically, those who are without automobility are often the most marginalised member of our society, including the young, the old and the poor.

The development of the automobile has radically changed contemporary societies, however these effects would have eluded the founded of psychoanalysis. As we know from many of his writings, Freud was a man who caught trains; indeed he held a phobia of catching trains (Berger 2000: 156). However, during the last decades of Freud’s life, modern societies would increasingly become automotive societies. However, when Lacan began his psychoanalytic seminars, the ‘Golden Age’ of the automobile had truly begun. Lacan often refers to the road, the highway, and detours within his psychoanalytic theory (Lacan 1988:80-81, 232; 1993: 290-294). Furthermore, unlike many other ‘post-Freudian’ thinkers, Lacan was also concerned with another kind of ‘drive’ – the Freudian drive – that he regarded as a fundamental concept [Grudbegriff] of psychoanalysis (Lacan 1981: 162). These distinct vantage points suggest that Lacan could engender an more considered analysis of automobility. More generally, Todd McGowen (2004:2) has argued that Lacan’s interest in desire and pleasure makes him an exemplary theorist of modern consumer cultures in which one’s ‘only duty seems to consist in enjoying oneself as much as possible’.

The Car as signifier

Automobiles are fascinating objects because of their intimacy with subjectivity. In a most banal way, it is worth noting that in most industrialised societies, it is the driver’s license that functions as our primary source of identification. The drivers licence is not only a marker of automobility it also functions as a more general signifier of a freedom and adulthood. According to the philosopher, Jean Baudrillard (1996:67) ‘the car… [is] endowed with a formal freedom of great intensity’. To this extent, the car materialises newfound freedoms. By allowing for greater mobility and control over the environment, the car can signify a movement away from the home-space, and thus it breaks the spatial/maternal relationship between the home and parental control. The car allows one to choose one’s own roads in life, to become a subject, to experience different places, and to be with different people. For such reasons, the car has developed an almost mythical quality within popular culture. In cinema, cars have a privileged position within the cinematic imagination. Indeed, the ‘road movie’ has become an established genre in itself. In literature, novels such as Kerouac’s On the Road present the act of driving across America as the quintessential freedom of the counter-cultural generation. Furthermore, songs about roads, cars and highways have become celebrated themes within popular music. Some of the most well known songs include Willie Nelson’s ‘On the Road Again’, John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, and the Beatles ‘Drive my car’.

Cars not only signify a certain desire to be mobile, they're also an important as a particular space of personal privacy. The car can be like a first ‘home’, in that it gives one a taste for a more exclusive privacy in their life. It is perhaps, unsurprising that automobility is also connected with nascent sexuality. The car has become a valorised site of privacy and the sexual encounter. Consider, for instance they lyrics of The Beatles’ ‘Back seat of my car’:
Speed along the highway, honey I want it my way…But listen to her daddy's song, makin' love is wrong Were just busy ridin', sitting [in]the back seat of my car

Cars are places for romantic interludes and sexual adventures. The legally age to drive usual occurs at roughly the same time as one is legally allowed to have sex. Hence, sex and driving have become two of the way to identify as fully realised subjects. This, of course is the central theme of the popular musical and film Grease (Paramount Pictures, 1978). Set in the idyllic America of the 1950s, the film focuses on the lives to two groups of late adolescents. A gang of guys called the T-Birds and their friends the Pink Ladies. The film focuses on the relationship between Danny Zuko and Sandra Dee as they negotiate the complex landscape of love, dating and sexual relations. Interestingly, within the film, the places of social interaction that are outside of Rydell Highschool, are almost exclusively within the autoscapes of the Frosty Palace Burger shop, the Drive-in Theatre and the illicit car racing street known as the Thunder Road. For the young men in the film, driving a car is a means to identify as powerful and sexual subjects. Hence, in the famous musical scene – ‘Grease lightning’ – we find that the car is rather amusingly positioned as a fantasy object of sexual enjoyment.

Why this car is automatic
It's systematic
It's hydromatic
Why it's grease lightning (Grease lightning)

We'll get some overhead lifters
and some four barrel quads, oh yeah
(Keep talking whoa keep talking)
A fuel injection cut-off and chrome plated rods, oh yeah
(I'll get the money I'll kill to get the money)
With a four speed on the floor they'll be waiting
at the door You know that ain't no shit we'll be getting lots of tit
In Grease Lightning
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Go grease lightning you're burning up the quarter mile
(Grease lightning go grease lightning)
Go grease lightning you're coasting through the heat lap
trial You are supreme the chicks'll cream for grease lightning
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Purple French tail lights and thirty inch fins, oh yeah
A Palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins, oh
yeah With new pistons, plugs, and shocks I can get off my rocks
You know that I ain't bragging she's a real pussy wagon
Grease lightning

For these young men, the ‘Grease lighting’ functions as an ‘object cause’ of desire. Irrespective of how the car may appear in its fragmented actuality, the car stands in as the as the most desirable of all objects. It is perhaps with some irony however, that the T-birds obsession with cars appears to have a negative effect on women. As the character of Rizz says to Sandra: ‘Unless you’ve got wheels and a motor, they won’t even know that you exist’. From films such as Grease, we can see how automobiles have become essential agents in enacting a certain form autonomy and masculinity. According to Sheller (2003:5);

Cars enter into a libidinal economy as objects of desire to be collected… washed and worshipped. Whether phallic or feminised, the car materialises personality in the ego-formations of the drive as a competent, powerful, able, and sexually desirable.

Indeed the concept of the car being a phallic ‘hotrod’ illustrates the most literal conception of the car as source of auto-erotic pleasure. The feminised construction of the car as a ‘she’ suggests that the car is personified as an ideal partner – a fantasy women [La Femme] – who gives man semblances of phallic completion.

Immobility as symbolic castration

For many people (especially young men), a lack of ‘automobility’ can be equated with a kind of ‘symbolic castration’. A loss of automobility can be deeply traumatic in as much as it excludes one from participating in the dominant modalities of car-based ways of life. Immobility can be likened to being a fragmented subject. For instance, when Lacan describes the emergence of subjectivity in the mirror-stage, the subject is caught between having an initial sense of mastery while also being ‘sunk in motor incapacity and nursling dependence’ (Lacan 1977:2). From this well known phrase, we can see that there something about a sense of motor capacity, voluntary movement and independence that is associated with the scripting of subjectivity. Hence, at the cultural level, we could argue that the car is a cherished object precisely because it appeals to our desire for motor capacity, voluntary movement and mastery. Like the excited child who walks for the first time, the adolescent driver also finds joy in the initial act of driving, which allows him/herself to experience the world anew. Therefore, it is perhaps this deeply affective dimension of driving that appeals to our conception of subjectivity. Furthermore, despite more knowledge of the vicissitudes of auto-based societies (oil wars, climate change, pollution), we remain deeply attached to cars.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, we may argue that the motorcar has become our primary symbol of subjectivity because it provides us with a sense of mastery as well as being symbolically coded as an object that represents maturity and sexual desirability. For instance, it is not a coincidence that a lack of automobility was constructed as a subplot within the film 40 year old virgin. In this film, we meet Andy Stitzer who is an eccentric. From the opening scene of the film, we come to learn that Andy’s main interest include collecting toy action figures, video games and riding his bicycle.

Opening scene: [Andy walks out of his apartment with his bicycle on his way to work. He begins a conversation with his elderly neighbours, 1:50mins] Joe: Hey Andy, what’s up dude
Andy: Hey Joe, hey Sarah, how ya doing
Joe: When you gonna get a car?
Andy: Hey, why don’t you get a car?
Joe: I can’t afford it
Andy: Ha…, So are we still on for Survivor tomorrow night?
Joe: Sure are.
Andy: Ok. I’ll see you at 7.
[Andy leaves on his bike, Joe turns to Sarah]
Joe: Man, that boy needs to get laid.
Sarah: Tell me something I didn’t already know.

Despite appearing just a little odd, what we come to learn in the film is that Andy is a 40 year old virgin. Andy’s pleasures in life (toys, computer games, and bicycles) could be regarded as a form of infantile sexuality. It is almost as though Andy has never been castrated or had to struggle to identify as a sexed being. That is of course, until his workmates find out his secrete, much to his humiliation. The drama of the film progresses as Andy struggles to change and finally meet women. This involves a process of re-education whereby his friends have to teach him about what women expects to see in a man. This includes getting rid of his infantile habits such as playing with toys and riding his bicycle. For instance, in the scene in which Andy invites Trish on a date, we can see how a lack of automobility is embarrassingly tied to his sense of inadequacy as a masculine subject.

[Andy calls Trish on the phone: 105:54mins]
Andy: Hi, is that Trish?
Trish: Hello…
Andy: [bumbling] Hey, hi, hello, is that Trish?
Trish: [concerned] Whose calling please?
Andy: This is Andy.
Trish: Oh, hi Andy, how you doing?
Andy: I’m doing great… I also was just calling to call and see what night you want to go out?
Trish: I’m actually free tonight.
Andy: [bumbling] Arhh, I was thinking may be this weekend, but that good. Ok.
Trish: Oh great. Ok what time do you wanna pick me up?
Andy: [bumbling] Arhhh, arhh… lets see,
um…that’s actually kind of a problem because I ride a bike
Trish: That cool,are you kidding me, I love getting on the back of a motorcycle, my boyfriend in collage drove a motorcycle, so..
Andy: Yeah, I bet that was cool, I ride a bike… [stutter] bike… bicycle.
Trish: [Surprised] Ohh…

Later in the film, Andy enters into a relationship with Trish and he also learns to drive a car. In doing so, he appears to be identifying as a more mature, ‘masculine’ and desirable subject.

While the relationship between cars and of phallic signification may seem a little too obvious and overstated, we can also see that cars dwell within different social imaginaries and complex economies of desire. The immense diversity of automotive manufacturing means that cars can provide different subjects with a multitude of symbolic identifications. For instance, recently I came across this advertisement for the Land Rover Discovery 3 Four Wheel Drive.

In this advertisement, we are introduced to Veronica White, who identifies as a corporate advisor from Monday to Friday and a ‘horse mum’ on weekends. Veronica drives between Sydney and her 100 acre farm in the Southern Highlands. With her, she takes her children Felicity and Elliot and their pony ‘Nugget”. Whether, ironically intended or not, Veronica and her 4WD are framed by a number of floating signifiers that articulate the nature of her life and lifestyle. She’s a ‘no nonsense’, ‘southern highlands’ women who ‘speaks her mind’. She drives ‘3000km a month’ and admires her 4WD for its ‘safe towing’ capacity. According to Veronica “the [Land Rover] Discovery is not a dinky toy 4WD… it’s a real working vehicle… [and] we always feel safe in it…’. Like Veronica’s own complex set of symbolic identifications, the 4WD acts as a master signifier that magically conjoins her diverse identifications. Both she and the car are represented as having phallic power and as well as being maternal and caring. According to the final line of the advisement: [the Land Rover Discovery is] ‘All the cars you need for all the lives you live’. In this sense, Veronica’s subjectivity has been ‘sutured’ into the steel body of the car.

Drive and Jouissance

So far in this paper, I have spoken about how cars may stand-in as powerful signifiers of subjectivity. However, in doing so, I have neglected to mention the ways in which cars may effect the body with particulars type of enjoyment (jouissance). It is important to note that the car is not just an object-thing, but an object that operates or works within a broader circuit of automobility. The car and road system are two different sides of the same coin. At the most basic level, the velocity of driving involves certain forms of pleasure. For instance, it is often through the body of the car, that we come to feel the world in particular ways. The car affects the body through sound, smell and vibration. Moreso, the car engenders a scopic encounter with a landscape and speed that can be a source of visual pleasure (for instance, driving at high speeds can involve a heightened sense of pleasure mixed with fear). As a model of relating to the world, driving can embody a sense of mastery and autonomy over the landscape. Hence, driving, or ‘being driven’ can generate a sense of force and purpose in ones life. Driving, as such, is about more than getting to ones destination. Driving is a pleasure in itself. The connection between movement and pleasure is one that has not been developed that much within psychoanalysis. However, Freud has mentioned in his Three Essays on Sexuality (1905/1977, p121), that movement can produce bodily excitement in both active (romping) as well as passive forms (such as being rocked or railway travel). In relation to the car, the active pleasure of speeding along the open road is one that has been much romanticised with contemporary culture. Conversely, having ones mobility impeded by traffic can generate all sorts of aggression and rage (as I found with my friend in the silver Mercedes).

The relationship between movement and enjoyment is also an important theme within Ridley Scott’s film Thelma and Louise (MGM, 1991). In this film, the main characters, Thelma and Louise, experience their lives as ones involving the domination and control from their unloving husbands. In an attempt to escape this domination, the two decide to have some fun and take a road trip without telling their husbands. Seated within Louise’s most desirable 1966 T-Bird convertible, their movement along the highway signifies a powerful attempt to find freedom and enjoyment by enacting the active position of the driver. However, after Louise shoots a man for attempting to rape Thelma, the film suddenly changes into the genre ‘outlaw’ road movie. Thelma and Louise are not only on the run from their husbands, but the Law in general. The perilous speeds at which they drive across the desert reveal a pleasure that can be found in going beyond the ‘speed limits’ and in attempting to evade the law. When Thelma and Louise are finally trapped by the police at the ‘dead end’ of the road, the two decide not to ‘give up’ but to ‘keep going’ and drive on to their death.

Thelma’s acceleration over the cliff is a strange and climatic moment within the film. Indeed, the drive into the abyss presents us with a pleasure that goes beyond any care for life itself. Perhaps this scene clearly expresses what is at stake in the excessive nature of the Freudian death drive? For Lacan, the death drive is not an innate biological death wish, but a willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for some particular idea or ‘Thing’ that constitutes enjoyment (McGowan 2004:5). The paradoxical nature of the death drive in Thelma and Louise is that the drive to ‘freedom’ finds its conclusion in death.

Whether Thelma and Louise should be regarded as a story of feminist liberation or a pseudo-feminist valorisation of masochism is difficult to answer. However, what interests me about the film is the way it articulates how life is represented in the act of driving and through a passage of detours. According to Lacan, the libidinal drive also undertakes its own adventures along what he calls ‘the roads of life’. However, while the roads of life may lead eventually to death, according to Lacan (1988:2) ‘we cannot find death along any old road’. The drive, as such, is an endless detour that passes along the road to nowhere.

Main References:

Auge, M (1995) Non-places: An introduction to the Anthropology of Super-Modernity, Verso: London.
Berger, L. (2000) Freud: darkness in the midst of vision, Wiley: New York.
Baudrillard, J. (1991) The System of Objects, Verso: London.
Freud, S. (1905) ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’ in On Sexuality, 1977, Volume 7, Harmondworth: Penguin Freud Library.
Lacan, J. (1953) '
Some reflections on the Ego', International Journal of psychoanalysis, 1953, volume 34, pp. 11-17.
Lacan, J. (1977) Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, Tavistock: London.
Lacan, J. (1981) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. Alan Sheridan, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Norton: New York.
Lacan, J. (1988) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1945-1955, trans. Sylvana Tomaselli, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Lacan, J. (1993) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book III: The Psychoses, trans. Russell Grigg, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Norton: New York.
McGowan, T (2004) The End of Dissatisfaction? Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment, SUNY: Albany.
Sheller, M. (2003) ‘Automotive Emotions: Felling the Car’, Dept of Sociology, Lancaster University.
Urry, J (2005) ‘The ‘System’ of Automobility’ in Automobilites, eds. M Featherstone, N. Thrift, J. Urry, Sage: London, pp 25-39.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bike Park

My friend Jake has just passed this photo on to me from his recent trip to Japan. The subject title of his email was 'wet dream' and I'm not sure if I should take that as a compliment. Anyway, its from the city of Nagano. I'm always impressed by such facilities as they demonstrate the utility of mainstreaming cycling at transport nodes.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fix this...

I never thought I’d join in on the fixie craze (having BikeSnobNYC as one of my favourite cycling blogs), but missing out on the Dulwich Hill Fixie Century (i.e. 160km) was enough to send me over the edge. What I like don’t like about fixies is there high fashionista morphing into ‘art concepts’, the cycling wankery of ‘no derailer’ purity, nor the ‘no break’ rebel antics of look at me skid …‘mum’!. In my mind, breaks are a wonderful things and they should be used wisely. Nevertheless, what I do like about fixies is that they teach you to ride in a much more efficient way. Like track bikes in general, your power comes from spinning and not wobbling your weight all over the bike. There is a good reason that so many cycling champions of yesterday would use a fixie as an essential part of their training program. So what to do? Luckily, a generous soul has passed on this old steel frame to me. Its an Apollo IV. I think its from the 70s. It has funny decals that make it look like it was made during the space race. The fame is made out of Tange Champion 2 steel which suggests that’s it’s fairly good quality. It certainly doesn’t weight that much. Now, I just need to find all the other bits and pieces. It looks like its going to another project for summer.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend happy snaps

On Friday night I headed over to the DoG Hotel in Randwick for drinks with some old friends. It was bloody wet and I came across this beauty parked out the front. A sparkling new Terry Dolan track frame converted into an urban fixie. Gosh, I wondered to myself... it is this what they call a pub bike out here?

Sunday morning on the Gong ride. It was crazy, crazy, crazy... 8000 cyclists of varying abilities all heading off down some steep, wet and windy descents. It was chaotic and I saw a few serious crashes around Waterfall. The weather was terrible until we hit Sutherland and then it cleared up and was perfect for the rest of the day.

Sunday arvo... post DHBC fixie century drinks at the Concordia Club Tempe. In the photo, Ron shows of his beautiful J.C. Higgins bike cirica ???, we'll its old. My favorite part of the bike is the oil cap on the lugs around the bottom bracket.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New book: Cycling and Society

I've just been tipped off by a friend that there is a new book that has just come out which takes a sociological approach to cycling. I'm very excited about its publication as I generally think that cycling is a very under-researched topic. Most reasearch is either historical or technical, however I think that alot of the problems faced in trying to get cycling into the mainstream are really issues that need to be solved by conceptually reframing what we mean by 'cycling', 'transport' and 'mobility'. Hopefully this book will provide some timely insights. Unfortunately, this book is a little pricy but the publishes have been kind enough to put the first chapter on the web. Hopefully, my library will be able to get a copy. I'm particulary interested in the bolded chapter titles.

Cycling and Society
Dave Horton, Paul Rosen and Peter Cox
Series:Transport and Society
$99.95/£55.00 Add to Basket
How can the socialsciences help us to understand the past, present and potential futures of cycling? This timely international and interdisciplinary collection addresses this question, discussing shifts in cycling practices and attitudes, and opening up important critical spaces for thinking about the prospects for cycling.
The book brings together, for the first time, analyses of cycling from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including history, sociology, geography, planning, engineering and technology. The book redresses the past neglect of cycling as a topic for sustained analysis by treating it as a varied and complex practice which mattersgreatly to contemporary social, cultural and political theory and action. Cycling and Society demonstrates the incredible diversity of contemporary cycling, both within and across cultures. With cycling increasingly promoted as a solution to numerous social problems across a wide range of policy areas in car-dominated societies, this book helps to open up a new field of cycling studies.

cycling and society, Dave Horton, Peter Cox and Paul Rosen; Cycling the city:non-place and the sensory construction of meaning in a mobile practice, JustinSpinney; Capitalising on curiosity: women's professional cycle racing in thelate 19th century, Clare Simpson; Barriers to cycling: an exploration ofquantitative analyses, John Parkin, Tim Ryley and Tim Jones; Hell is othercyclists: rethinking transport and identity, David Skinner and Paul Rosen; TheFlaneur on wheels?, Nicholas Oddy; Bicycles don't evolve: velomobiles and themodelling of transport technologies, Peter Cox with Frederick Van De Walle; Fear of cycling, Dave Horton; Men, women and the bicycle: gender and social geographyof cycling in the late 19th century, PhilipGordon Mackintosh and GlennNorcliffe; Bicycle messengers: image, identity andcommunity, Ben Fincham;

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ride to Work Day @ Macquarie University

Here are some photos from National Ride to Work Day @ Macquaire Uni. We ended up with around 70 cyclists attending the breakfast coming from all over Sydney. The vibe was generally up beat and many new riders were amazed at how easy and fun it is to ride to work.

And here are some stories on me being a media tart... (Macquarie Globe + Northern District Times)

Monday, October 15, 2007

NYC Bike Sharing

Thanks to Jono for fowarding this to me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Motoring Masochism

According to one article in today's SMH:

IT IS no longer just a question of unreliability or poor public transport links - Sydney commuters are driving to work simply because they can.
The annual crash figures from the insurer AAMI reveal that 63 per cent of Sydneysiders would prefer to sit in a traffic jam than catch a bus or train to work or to university and TAFE. And only 5 per cent walked or rode a bicycle, even if they lived close to their workplace.

Commuters happier chained to the wheel

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Getting back on the bike

Yesterday I organised a beginners bike training course for my local BUG group. The experience gave me some real insights into what its like to be starting out on the bike as a new cyclist. I met one middle aged lady who had bought a new cruiser bike with the Shimano 3 speed nexus hub gear. The bike had a low step through frame and was clearly designed for most leisurely cyclist and it meet her desires to improve her fitness. I was pleased to see that both the bike and rider managed the 15km ride with no problems. The only real issue was that the step through frame had encouraged a ridiculously low saddle height that needed to be corrected.
The next lady in her early 30s had bought a cheep BigW 21 speed mountain bike. The components on the bike were junk and the gear shifters were hopelessly inaccurately indexed in the “grip shift” style. The rear deraileur had been wrongly installed so that she could not shift to the two largest cogs on the cassette. Despite probably being a lot fitter that the first lady, she had a lot problems with her bike and needed a lot of motivation to finish. What annoyed me was that her bike was even for sale. These junk bikes put people off cycling and end up as rusted waste at Council clean ups. However, for the novice, they looks just like any other bike.
Finally there was one older lady who was fit and had a Giant hybrid with deore level components and all the extra bells and whistles. No doubt, she was part of the wealthy retiree bike riding market. The bike was great but the 17 inch frame was too large making her fall to the side when she stopped. The bike had been sold to her by a respected local bike dealer, so how could they make such an obvious mistake? She’d probably spent $1000 but she’d got the wrong bike. Where are the ethics in such transactions?

Running the course made me realise just how easy it is to get in wrong when buying a bike. Not only is it easy to fall in the trap of getting the crappy Department store bike, but its easy to get a quality bike that is inappropriately sized or one reduces ones abilities to grow as a cyclist. Clearly, there is a fine balance between meeting the bike buyer’s desires and producing the types of everyday bikes that we need to develop a cycling society. However, my sense is that the cycling industry often aims too low at the ‘entry level’ providing consumers with the semblances of “style” and “comfort” over simple quality and practicality. More so, the industry doesn’t seem to provide people with the skills or knowledge that can help them develop as a confident cyclist. Perhaps they don’t see it as their responsibility? I think there is a big case for the promoting of cycling training as key activity of cycling advocacy and the cycling industry promotion. While we often focus on things such as the built infrastructure (bike lanes etc), we seem to forget the human infrastructure that comes from developing one’s skills and knowledge as a cyclist. For cycling advocates, there should be nothing more exciting than seeing other people develop their skills and confidence on the road.

Happy bike week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grafton to Inverell Road Classic

Unfortunately, my Grafton to Inverell plans for this year did not go according to plan. My hopes were to stay with the C grade bunch until the Gibraltar Ranges then climb at my own pace and hope to form a group after that. My objective was to beat my previous time of 8 hours and 32mins. The reality was something completely different. The bunch was split very early on the rolling hills towards the ranges. I was in the second bunch which eventually caught up to the leaders then faded into nothing as I found myself chasing in no-mans land. When I got to the ranges I began the solo climb 5 mins behind but I was feeling really good picking up many riders along the way. Unfortunately it was then that my troubles started. Half way up the climb my left foot cramped up and every turn of the pedal was sending sharp pains through my foot. I slowed down and started to fall behind. The next 160kms were slow and painful with more cramps, more climbs and a hot north easterly wind making less than ideal conditions. I pushed on, meeting up with several Dulwich Hill riders on the way. In the end I was lucky just to finish the race before the 5pm cut off time. I'll have to try again next year.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tour de Bush

Sydney is brought into havoc this week all for one president with one Airforce Jet, 30 cars, a posse of 700 goons and one mountain bike. Sorry George, I know its a nice bike an all, but will you please take your shit elsewhere.

[On second thoughts... the bike can stay.]

(470km down 330km to go)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Racing at Menangle

(Above) The Dulwich Hill team racing in the 60km handicap out at Menangle today. This was my first open road race and I was pleased to get 4th in the Handicap. The roads were rough as guts and the racing was intense. It made Heffron crits look like a walk in the park.
(340km down, 460km to go)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sydney Critical Mass

(280km down 520km to go)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hipster Olympics

(250km down 550km to go)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Innocence and Experience: with apologies to William Blake

I started my long distance training rides today however, instead of going to West Head I decided to go up to the Blue Mountains to see Ruth. For the first 30km I was feeling a little a bit off and wasn’t sure if I was pushing myself too much after having the flu. Riding on the M4 reminded me of playing a computer game called Frogit where you have to dodge cars and crocks. However in my M4 Motorway game you dodge the bricks, truck tires and broken glass that makes up most of the cycle/break down lane. And there are the cars and trucks at the onramp/off ramp intersections. These are nasty to deal with, as cars pull off them at 100km/h through heavy traffic while your trying to guess if they’ll even bother indicating. Working hard to safely negotiate these intersections reminded me of something Charles Baudelaire said about streets, cars and the smell of death, but I can’t remember what that was. Anyway, the trucks smelt like death on wheels. What I like about the M4 is the rhythm I get into on the flat/straight ride, but for all the stress its really no good for training. I only saw one other cyclist out there. When I got to the hill (aka Blue Mouuntains) at Lapstone I felt better as if my body had woken up after what have been some sluggish weeks. Around 1pm I pulled into Valley Heights to see Ruth then at 3pm I turned around to head home. I felt comfortable on the highway but pretty soon had to negotiate the fast decent at Lapstone. About 400m from the RAFF base the side lane turns to gravel and I had go on the highway amongst heavy traffic. I put my superflash light on and thanged as hard as I could on the downhill. I caught up to one car descending at 72km/h. It was a huge adrenaline kick but it less fun because of the heavy traffic. I got down the hill and then something strange happened. I started to get stomach pains like I’d never had before. I’d clearly eaten too much or the wrong type of food because I was in total agony. I thought it was just a cramp and I’d pass through it so I pressed on. But it got worse and worse, so much that I could barely twist my torso. I painfully went on hovering at around 22km/h. for another 40km. Then I finally pulled off at Parramatta when it was getting too dark. This was the worst ride I’d ever done and I didn’t realise how much pain I could put myself in from indigestion on a big ride. I won’t describe what happened when I got home but I'm feeling a lot better. From now on I’m sticking with the bananas and muesli bars.

(150km down/ 650km to go)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Random thoughts

I have finally discovered bloglines ( yeah. I'm a bit slow with these things) and have been keeping a sharper eye on the blogsphere. Recently my favourite posts have been coming from a blog called Bike Snob NYC. This blogger ruthlessly rips into all things in fixed-geared bike culture. Check it out for a good laugh. I absolutely love this piss take on this picture (left) from fixgeargallery.

This morning was my first ride in two weeks since having the flu. I did the usual 35km circuit to Uni and back. The most interesting thing that happened was I rode through the middle of a swam of wasps. Luckly I had glasses on. I've been feeling very slow and I didn’t even push it into the big chain ring. I’m feeling a little bit anxious about my fitness. I've also have some soar knee problems but they seem to have improved since I stopped riding the single speed (up nasty hills) and started taking fish oil tablets with glucosamine. In one month from now I’m going to be doing the Grafton to Inverell race (again). So, this Sunday I'm going to start training with the first of some long training rides out of Sydney. I intend to go West Head for lunch then I'll ride back to Manly. I estimate I really need to do around 800km in the next few weeks to prepare for the race.

(35km down / 765km to go)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Get out and walk!

Just read this excellent article from the Guardian Online.

The fume-spewing, fattening car is also utterly expendable
The real enemies of the environment are the obdurate millions who refuse to accept they can function without driving
By Lynsey Hanley @ The Guardian

By the year 5555, prophesied the one-hit wonders Zager and Evans in their queasy late-60s record In the Year 2525, our arms will have gone floppy and our legs grown useless because we'll have "some machine" to do the work that once kept our limbs healthy. That machine has already been invented. It's called the car, and it does more damage to our bodies, our built environment, our climate and our communities than anyone who drives a lot seems prepared to admit, even to themselves. A case in point is last week's revelation that excessive car use is a greater contributor to obesity than excessive cake consumption, because of all the calories that drivers are failing to burn off over the course of countless walkable journeys. Research carried out by the Institute for European Environmental Policy shows that, in the last 30 years - when all but 19% of households have become car owners - the amount of time we spend walking has decreased, from 67 hours per person per year to 47, while time spent driving has increased precipitously, from 91 to 151 hours per driver per year.

As a lifelong pedestrian and user of public transport, the only trouble I tend to experience in getting from A to B is having to listen to people who usually drive describe pleasant, speedy journeys as "a bloody shambles". Methinks they protest too much, mindful that to be caught sharing transport with other people is to show the world what a loser you are. Anyway, these serial complainers have presumably never been in a traffic jam, or been subject to roadworks.

People who have always driven, and were driven around as children, have no idea what it's like to be a pedestrian. They don't care about the fumes they emit, because they can't smell or sense them inside their cars. They don't care about the noise they make, because all they can hear while locked inside their car is a low, comforting purr. They don't care about the fact that the one-way system and the inner ring road make getting into and around towns a dirty, stressful ordeal, because the first they know about it is when they emerge from the car park into the shopping centre.

.... continued here

The idea of the average UK resident doing an average of 67 hours per year seemed truly shocking. I did some quick sums and I reckon I'd do at least 400 hours a year on the bike, so I guess I won't have to buy another machine to keep my limbs healthy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Cyclists Special excursion to Rugby

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

A new bike reality!

Well, after for all my complaining, I've finally finished paying off my track bike which I put a deposit on 4 months ago. Its an Apollo Record. It used to be called a Raceline, but its really just a rebadged Monoc track frame (made in Taiwain). With all this relabbeling, it doesn't exactly scream authentic pista fashionista, but its made with good quality parts and its good enough for me. Can't wait to get out on the track next week. If only I could get over my man cold.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New bike dreaming

I have been thinking a lot about getting a new bike, or more specifically an everyday (city/commuter) bike for long commutes. I realise that a perfect bike, like many desirable things is an impossible ideal. The quest for the perfect bike is pointless, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I've got bugger all disposible income. However, if I can indulge in some fantasies, I’m hoping that there might be a new bike that will make my commutes a little more joyful.

I’m currently riding a 96’ Trek 1200 road bike and a 1970s Malvern Star single speed. I also have a mountain bike that needs major repairs. The Trek is naturally fast but its not comfortable on my 20km commutes to uni. I get some lower back pain and sore shoulders when I ride it a lot. I’d also prefer not to ride in road bike shoes which are a pain with the stop-start nature of urban commuting. I could change them, but don’t want to fiddle around between road and MTB pedals every week. Currently, I ride the Trek most of the time but I’d rather keep it in good condition for Saturday crits and long Sunday training rides. The Malvern Star is a much better commuter bike, despite its age. The tyres go up to around 90psi and they're a 32c which give you nice balance between traction and speed. Even though it looks like an old piece of junk, its perfect for short rides on the flatlands between the inner-west and the city. It’s strong and comfortable with an relaxed riding position. However, the single speed (despite being somewhat fashionable) is not that good for me when I’m riding up those steep hills on the way to Macquarie Uni or if I'm riding with Ruth in the Blue Mountains. I’ve already snapped one quality steel pedal and I’d rather spin my way up hills that leverage every bit of my body weight through the 70 inch gear. Also, the coaster break does not scream confidence when I’m riding amongst the traffic. The Malvern Star is really the perfect bike for riding into the city at night as I never worry about it getting stolen, but its not a long distance commuter bike.

So, back to my ideal bike. The problem is I’m strapped for cash and so the options are somewhat limited. What I’m looking for is some balance between price, comfort, reliability, speed, strength and durability. I guess this is a pretty big wish list for someone who doesn't want to spend over $1000. Looking around many of the big bike companies I’m actually struggling to find anything that resembles my perfect bike. While there has been an explosion in the development of new hybrid/city bikes, there are very few that I’d really want. Although I’m sure that these bikes are perfect people who do short commutes, they're no good for me. Almost all of the hybrids (like the many Giant models) have heavy low quality suspension, which will slow you down and doesn’t do much in terms of comfort when compared to a good saddle. Then there are some really nice flat bar road bikes that are really quick (such as the Trek SU300, Scott Sub10) but they tend to cost quite a lot (i.e. well over $1K). Some of them are made out of carbon fibre which seems pointless to me. Why would you bother going carbon for somethings that’s meant to be a commuter workhorse? And disc brakes, no thanks! Of course, if I had lots of money they’d be no problem. But I want something that I can afford and something thats going to last a long time into the future. Doing lots of searching on the net, I think the closest thing I found is the Jamis Coda Sport. Its fairly light (around 11kg), strong and durable (Renyolds 520 double butted steel frame and fork), quick (700x28c), fairly priced ($1000) and appears to have realiable components (Shimano Deore and SRAM). This strikes me as a fairly well matched bike as least from looking at the specs. I don't know if this is the bike of my dreams but I'm willing to give it a test ride.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Team Borat

With Vino out of the picture it seems that everyone in Astana is now going for Kloden. He even has his own Team Astana Fanclub. So, how many more mankini's can we expect to see between here and Paris?

Taken from

Friday, July 06, 2007

Human Powered Cycles

Just got back from Melbourne where there are lots of cool people and cool bikes. Amongst them, I've come across a bike shop called Human Powered Cycles. The shop seems to have a very different work ethic and is aimed at fixing up everyday bikes, recycling, training people in bicycle repairs, and ride to work presentations. They even lend you a spare bike when your's is getting fixed.