Ring Ring why don’t you not make a call

By The Free Rider, Craig Richards, 7 September 2016

If you’re to have any cred in the school yard of life today you need to be carrying iPhone or Samsung. If you’re packing a Nokia or Motorola flip you’d better get comfortable living with cats.

Ct lady

Of course this applies to cat gentlemen as well.

Which is a really harsh judgement considering that pretty much any mobile phone today has more computing grunt than NASA used to send people to the moon.

NASA computer

I looked this up and it’s not an urban myth. Today’s mobile phones are millions times more powerful than the computer that brought back Neil, Buzz and Michael. 

Which leads me to a puzzle: if the moon is 350,000 kilometres away and my phone is millions of times more powerful than the computer they used to get there, why can’t I get phone coverage 35 kilometres out of the city?

I’m pleased to say when it comes to apologising for judging people by the type of phone they carry I have…

Nothing to declare.jpg

But it’s largely because I don’t care enough to know one phone from another.

The other day I lost my charger and had to buy a new one. Problem: I didn’t know what type of iPhone I had. When I asked the too cool for puppy school sales person in JB Hi Fi what sort of phone I had, his smart arse answer was ‘That’s an iPhone, sir.’ When I answered, ‘ Yes I know that but what number?’ He just grabbed a $29.95 pack off the shelf and thrust it in my general direction.

JB Hi Fi.png

That’s not the guy but it gives a general picture of his hipness.

Oh wait, I do have one thing to declare. I don’t like the blue tool ear pieces. This photo shows why.

Blue tool

This couple looks kind of happy but look deeply at her expression: she resents him wearing the ear thing. Of course he doesn’t know anything is wrong but a relationship crisis is only five calls when he should be listening to her away.

Hopefully you’re wondering by now, how (and when) is he going to get to the point and make this something to do with bikes? Well the answer is now. It’s about looking after bike riders…and others.

Using a phone behind the wheel increases the risk of crashing and killing or maiming someone by a ridiculous amount.  It hit home in the early 2000s when we tragically lost Anthony Marsh and we have’t learnt the lesson.

Now I’m going to say something really surprising: I’m breaking my anti-judgement stance.  If we’re going to stop people talking/typing and driving, our best shot is to make it socially unacceptable.

Now I’m going to say something really really surprising: I agree with hard line NSW Road Minister Duncan Gay on something. He said that even though his Get your hand off it program had reduced drivers caught texting from 52,000 to 32,000, ‘32,000 it is still too many.’

It’s time we developed some out there (and loving every minute of it) ways to do more to stop this dangerous behaviour than just the standard government one two punch combo of shock ads and higher fines.

But first let’s go back to Abba and the 1970’s when Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone was the only mobile in town.

Max shoe

In the classic Abba song Ring Ring Bjorn Ulvaeus (yes that’s him with the cape) interrupts the beautiful singing of Agnetha and Anni-Frid to sing the words:

And I sit all alone impatiently

Won’t you please understand the need in me


Of course Bjorn is saying that when the phone rings it makes you feel wanted and loved and needed. And with a mobile, much like Linus’ security blanket, you can take it anywhere.

Better still, with 3 or 4 Gs there’s stuff flying into the phone every second.  In other words, you never have to sit all alone impatiently waiting for someone to ring.

So we need to cut off the feeling good supply. We need people to feel unwanted, unloved and unneeded when they use their phone when driving. We need to make it as socially unacceptable as picking your nose.

Jerry pick.png

Whether he was picking or scratching, nostril penetration cost Jerry Seinfeld his model girlfriend.

So how do we make this happen? Well I’d like to hear your thoughts so we can develop a great action list. Here’s 3 to get the ball rolling:

  1. Make all phones have a car mode, like aeroplane mode. Then when you sit on the drivers seat a nasally voice reminds you to switch your phone to car mode.
  2. If you send an email in the drivers seat, it automatically says at the bottom sent from my Samsung Galaxy while I was driving and risking people’s lives.
  3. If the phone is engaged because the driver is talking the caller hears Craig is on the phone and driving right now. He’s risking people’s lives.

So over to you. Let your mind run wild. What should we do to make using your phone while behind the wheel socially unacceptable?

Ride free!





Time to fire up about bike rider mandatory ID

By The Free Rider Craig Richards 31 August 2016

It’s amazing how humans can take such opposing views. What seems so obviously wrong to one person seems so obviously right to another. The NSW government’s plan to introduce mandatory ID for bike riders is the classic example. To me it seems like madness: blatantly discriminatory and oppressive.

But there’s quite a few bike riders and bike advocates who actually support it. No persuasive argument can move them. So if you’re convinced mandatory ID is a ripping idea, I‘m not going to insult you by trying. I just want to say one last thing, It’s like you’re dreamin’ about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Brie time, baby.’


 This quote is from the Hitchhiker scene in Something About Mary One of the great movie cameos of all time by Harland Williams.

So if you’ve drunk a big glass of the ‘mandatory ID will make me safer Kool Aid’, no need to read any further. Sorry to bother you. I respect your decision and won’t judge you. Please go back and spend some time with your friends.


Cult kids
Sorry this photo might be a bit judgey

But if you’re actually not completely decided on mandatory ID but are thinking, ‘What’s the big deal? I carry it anyway’, please read on. I’d like to take a shot at convincing you that you need to care about this. I’ve tried the formal, I’ve tried the logical, that’s why I’m trying this 2016 wisecracking style.

To prepare, I thought it was first important to peddle a kilometre or two in your bike riding shoes. It’s the best way to find out why you don’t care when others are burning up with outrage. So I took the advice of the great man Carl Spackler, the Assistant Greenkeeper from the movie Caddyshack, who when trying to remove pesky gophers said, ‘I’ve gotta get inside this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days.’ [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lYm0c7gYyU]

Carl Speckler

[Actually I think Atticus Finch may have expressed this slightly more eloquently than Carl in To Kill a Mockingbird. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b05CMl4hwcc]

I found 3 disturbing things when I was in that pelt. 3 things you as an ‘I don’t care that much person’ think are true that are actually myths. So I figure if I can bust those myths, you might just join the mandatory ID fight.

Myth 1: you must carry your licence when driving a car

American movies where the cop demands ‘licence and registration’ have bred the fear of god into us. We believe if you’re behind the wheel without your licence you’re sure to spend a sleepless night being spooned by a heavily tattooed psychopath in an overcrowded cell.

Dumb and Dumber

[Luckily Lloyd and Harry had their papers when our friend Harland Williams pulled them over in Dumb and Dumber. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io30s7-5VaQ]

But here’s the shock: it’s not true. Yes, you need a licence to drive. No, it’s not a crime to not have it on you: you can take it to the police station later.

So riddle me this:

if it’s not mandatory for drivers to carry a driver’s licence

but you do need a licence to drive a car.

And it becomes mandatory for bike riders to carry an ID or driver’s licence

but you don’t need a licence to ride a bike.

Why on god’s green earth aren’t you annoyed?


Myth 2: because the risk of injury is high bike riders need to be identifiable

I looked up the latest comprehensive report I could find on Australian injury hospitalisations (http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129552564). It shows that more people went to hospital from falling off a bed or chair (10,631) than after a bike crash (9,001). It also showed significant numbers of hospitalisations from playground equipment falls (6,223), ladder falls (4,657) and skates, skis and scooters crashes (5,936).

Ladder bikes
Interestingly there were no stats for people falling off ladder bikes – must be low risk?

So here’s the big point: surely it must be one in all in. What’s good for the bike riding goose must be good for the lying, sitting, playing, gliding and ladder climbing ganders.

Myth 3: if I carry my licence the medics have a better chance of saving me

Grab your driver’s licence out of its plastic, zip lock bag and have a read of it. It’s pretty light on for info about you. Name and address. That’s about it. No next of kin details. No blood type. No details of your allergy to pork fat or your spleen irregularity.

So just throwing it out there; if you’re heading toward the light, the paramedic knowing your name and address is not going to bring you back. The medics aren’t going to stop, tap into a top secret database, look up your next of kin, call them on their mobile, get your medical history, then start treatment. By the time they’ve done that they’d be changing your Facebook status to crossed over.


So that’s it. My last shot at persuading you to abandon the don’t care camp and come and join us in the this is outrageous camp. If you’re on board, welcome to the resistance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7bSYG0qL3Y

John connor

If not, well maybe you’ll join us when the next wave of anti-cycling laws hits. It might be when the NSW government heads over to Missouri and finds out that Republican Jay Houghton introduced a bill into the Missouri House of Reps to require bikes to fly a 15 feet orange flag.

Bike flag

Ride free!


Winners and losers


By The Free Rider, Craig Richards, 24 August 2016

So the Olympics have been run, swum, jumped, tumbled, pedaled and won. The superstars like Bolt, Phelps, Biles and Farah were amazing and our Aussie Team today brought home 8 gold medals.Greg Fokker

Surely they all learnt from Greg Fokker and had the medals in their carry on luggage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pofUsd9hEi8

But the critics are screaming that 8 golds is a disaster. There are lots of comments about underachieving (even from Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller – who’s name I love so much I’m going to use it when I write a detective novel). There’s questions being asked about whether the taxpayer investment in the Australian Sports Commission’s Winning Edge strategy was money well spent.

But before you join the knife sticking, boot sinking party, stop and think for a moment. Is the judgement too harsh, hasty and based on overly simple criteria?

Let’s run some numbers. Australian athletes won 2.6% of the gold on offer in Rio. 0.3% of the world’s people live in Australia. I think that qualifies as punching above your weight.

Punch above

As this guy clearly did when the unexpected happened in this bout. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XysbIizNOg

Since the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics Australia has won 128 gold medals. That’s an average of, yes you guessed it, 8 gold medals per Summer Olympics. Include all modern Olympics since 1896 and the average is down to 5.4. So 8 in Rio can’t be a disaster.


Earthquake is the first disaster movie I ever saw way back in the 1970s when stick on moustaches were the bomb – although no-one said the bomb. From memory it was pretty similar to the classic starring Steve from 90210, Sharknado.

Maybe the athletes learned something pretty special? Something more valuable than gold. When you look up the meaning of Olympism one of the things it says is:

Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

Maybe they learned something from swimmer Bronte Campbell. Along with her sister Cate, Australia had banked Bronte’s gold before she checked into Club Rio. When the river of gold didn’t flow her way (she was 0.34 seconds from gold in the 100 metres freestyle) and the judgements started Bronte said:

It’s not about winning at the Olympic Games, it’s about trying to win. The motto’s ‘faster, higher, stronger’, not ‘fastest, highest, strongest’. Sometimes it’s trying that matters.

Maybe they learned something from Kiwi Nikki Hamblin and Amercian Abbey D’Agostino who helped each other following a fall in the 5000 metres.

de coubertin medal

Neither left with a gold medal. But for their sportsmanship they were both awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal. Only 19 others have this medal; thousands have a gold one.

I know that one of the super attractive things about sport is it doesn’t take long to find a winner and a loser.

sue sylvester

Before long (unless its test cricket) someone will have invaded the other team’s half more, got to the finish line faster, hit a ball better or have executed a skill closer to perfect.

Which makes it very easy for us armchair critics to deliver a withering judgemental spray. Which is why I’d like to apologise to Bruce Reid who played 33 games for the Carlton Football Club in the early 1980s.

Bruce Reid

Bruce’s highlight reel is actually really good and deserves way more than the 94 views it’s had so far. Nor does he deserve the commentator calling him John Reid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0bdm-1eLVU

Even though Bruce played for the team I supported, I was happy to tell anyone who’d listen how he shouldn’t be wearing the famous old dark blue. All while I stood on the terrace working my way through half a dozen hot jam donuts. I’m very sorry Bruce I was an idiot.

Which brings me to participation events. Every day I’m thankful that the bike riding events we run at Bicycle Network don’t award a gold medal. It means I don’t have to deal with integrity issues like drugs, betting or secret motors on bikes. If a rider cheats we don’t judge them, they’re answerable to the ultimate critic: the man in the glass (or woman of course – the poem is from 1934) .

Man in the glass

 You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years

And get pats on the back as you pass

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

But more importantly it means riders of all abilities appreciate each other. Sure some cross the finish line well before others. Sure they all talk about the time they rode. But first and foremost they don’t judge each other worthy or unworthy.

The quicker riders are happy to swap stories with those much slower. It’s because they all share something in common: they can’t wait to wake up each day and get on their bike. They can’t explain why, but they know they love being with their bike.

Bike tent

Some perhaps a little too much.

It’s a shame that the Winning Edge strategy doesn’t measure the number of Australians who’ve found a sporting like activity that ticks three boxes:

  1. They love it
  2. They learn something valuable
  3. It helps keep them healthy.

Then if they happen to be good enough at it to win a gold medal, it’d be seen as a bonus rather than a way to judge a person’s worth.

Ride Free!


Hair today, gone tomorrow

 By The Free Rider, Craig Richards, 17 August 2016

I’m going to get this out of the way up front – I like wearing a helmet. Before you launch a Twitter storm my way, please listen to my reason: it gives my hair a break from judgement.

Humans just can’t stop judging each other’s hair. What was the trending style one day is a source of scornful hilarity the next.


RIP Farrah and Patrick – you’ll forever be style icons in my book.

I know my mop isn’t remarkable. Over the journey I’ve been told my hair just sits there. Doesn’t do anything. Is too straight. And the one I like the most, ‘You don’t even have a hairstyle you just have hair.’

At school I got a fair dose of helmet head because of my not on trend bowl cut. Which is a scrumptious irony considering my hair now gets a break from judgement by hiding under a helmet.

One of these photos is me at school, I’ll let you guess which one.

This is the part of the blog where I apologise for some cruel judgmental barb I’ve fired someone’s way. Well this week I’ve got a double apology. I remember calling someone the Hair Bear Bunch after the Hanna Barbera cartoon. But I can’t remember who it was. So I’m very sorry for being mean and even more sorry for forgetting who I was mean to…or if you’re judging my English, ‘to whom I was mean.’


[I was actually more of a Magilla Gorilla fan. I never understood why two of the Hair Bear bunch permanently wore hats].

Now, back to the anti-helmet crusaders (who hopefully haven’t taken to social media yet). Yep, I get it, ‘If you want to hide your hair you don’t need a foam hat!’ You could rock a fashionable fedora or don a shower cap.


Given by how much these two are enjoying wearing a shower cap there should be more of them I think.

But it is a beautiful part of bike riding that because us riders all know our hair will look bad after wearing a helmet, we don’t judge each other’s hair harshly. Well our head hair that is.

When it comes to legs that’s a whole other story. For men on two wheels, leg shaving is a key judgement criteria. Don’t shave and you’ll be judged by many serious riders as not worthy. Do shave and you’ll be judged by those who don’t ride as a weirdo.

Me, I’ve never taken the razor to my legs. Just can’t see the point. Seems like time I’d rather spend actually pedalling than sitting in a bath trying to stem bleeding.

Although I have to admit: alone with your thoughts and a yellow duck does seem like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

I did weigh up the top 3 pros of leg shaving and found none stacked up.

  1. 6 seconds faster over a 35km time trial: cutting down my time from 3 hours, 12 minutes, 14 seconds to 3 hours, 12 minutes, 8 seconds doesn’t seem worthwhile.
  2. Easier care of grazes: doesn’t cut it when I don’t plan on falling off.
  3. More pleasurable leg massage: in the words of Sweet Brown, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’

I did get close to leg waxing once. The taunts of yeti legs got the better of me. So I snapped and said, ‘Fine I’ll do it, provided you wax your sasquatch arms!’ As soon as I said it, I wanted to grab the words floating in the speech bubble above my head and shove them back in my mouth. But as my wise Dad told me, ‘There’s two things you can’t get back: the spoken word and the lost opportunity.’

The good news was my bluff wasn’t called. The challenger opted to keep the pelt on his arms (even though I’m sure the constant threat of poachers means he never gets a good night’s sleep). So my legs, like a Sesame Street character, lived on as their happy, fuzzy selves.

One of these photos is my legs. I’ll let you guess which one.

So riders let’s set the standard. Embrace your fellow riders whether their legs are silky smooth, rough as guts or prickly like a pair. And when it comes to what’s growing on the top of someone’s head, do what Thumper’s wise father told him.


Ride free!