Eithne Johnston rides her bike – but questions whether or not South Australia’s Tour Down Under gets more everyday folk riding.
The Tour Down Under has become a staple of Adelaide’s summer social calendar, and there is nothing better than seeing the village set-up, the tourists arriving, and the locals, cyclists and non-cyclists, coming together to celebrate a great event.
There is no doubt about it: the TDU is great for South Australia. It highlights the state on TV screens across the world, it brings money, tourists and an atmosphere to rival Mad-March.
But does the TDU encourage people to ride bikes?
As a casual bike rider and tennis player, I compare the TDU to the Australian Open. Does watching the Australian Open make me want to get out there and play tennis? Sure! Does watching the TDU do the same for my bike? Not really.
I just can’t relate to the TDU’s professional riders. I don’t wear lycra – mainly because I don’t own any and I don’t see the need, but it is disappointing there is an anti-lycra sentiment in South Australia that stretches into the cycling community itself. Realistically, a lot of cyclists wear both, and in Adelaide especially, all cyclists, regardless of attire, share a common goal… better bicycle infrastructure.
Personally, I really want to like the TDU for the competitive as well as the social benefits, and I do… but it takes effort. Aside from the attire, I can’t relate to those super fit guys doing the seemingly impossible. They’re so confident, they don’t care how busy the road they ride on is, or whether there is a wide, well-defined bike lane. They often ride in big groups, experiencing the safety and confidence that that brings and they are, of course, far more confident on a bicycle than I will ever be.
Do they really care about better bicycle infrastructure? Do they care about the sustainability and money saving benefits a cycling commute brings? Do they care about getting more bums on bikes?
So, why am I motivated by elite tennis players and not by professional cyclists?
People play tennis for similar reasons, but people cycle for so many different reasons I probably can’t even begin to list them.
Cycling can be a profession or a lifestyle, and yes, for some it is both. But it’s these varying motivations that I believe create the distinction between the lycra brigade and other cyclists; between riding competitively and casually commuting; between being inspired by the riders in the TDU and being indifferent.
Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.
Eithne Johnston is a Marketing and Communications Volunteer at Bicycle. She’s a university student works part time in the media industry, which means early starts! She loves the sustainability and well-being benefits that her long, early morning commute along the Outer Harbour Greenway brings. She’s been lucky enough to ride a bike in numerous countries around the world but still loves coming back to Adelaide to watch its progression as a city of the future.