A special treat! A guest post from fellow bike-and-sewing blogger Oanh, from Melbourne, Australia!  Oanh and I connected over our mutual love of bikes and sewing reflective clothing, and she’s the one who helped hook me up with the super cool reflective fabric last month. I asked her to write about biking and sewing; I am always interested in what biking is like in other countries, as well as what other people who bike sew, and I hope you are too. Follow her blog, and check her out on Twitter. Here’s the first part, about biking (mostly):

I have my first guest posting gig.  I should be famous any day now.  Thank you, Tin Lizzie, for inviting me to ramble on about biking in Melbourne, Australia to your readers, wherever they are.

So, a little about me.  I’m Oanh (it is pronounced like the number one, if you have an Australian accent. Oanh, one, won are all phonemes in my ears and if they’re not for you … any variation on how you say one or won will probably make me respond.)  I blog over at www.uniqueschmuck.wordpress.com about whatever takes my fancy, and the thing that currently takes my fancy is SEWING.  But I have rather a lot of hobbies, and one of them is also RIDING MY BICYCLE, which together with sewing is how I came to find Tin Lizzie and her awesome reflective Tron dress.  I love Lizzie’s obsession with making reflective clothing because it is also my obsession.

In my mind, I’m new to cycling, but in reality I’m not.  I keep forgetting that I’m actually quite experienced.  I just counted on my fingers and I’ve been riding a bicycle as my primary and preferred mode of transport for 7 years.  Currently, I lie a little when I say the bike is my primary mode of transport, because I live in Australia and it’s a big place and my job gave me a car that I have to use to get to a number of different places in and around Melbourne which if I went by bicycle would mean that I was cycling for most of the day and still not at a site in time for a meeting (but boy, would I be having fun).  So, I drive much more than I would like but I consider the bicycle my preferred mode.  I also lived in the UK from beginning of 2007 until end of 2010, which is when I became a cyclist.  There, I pretty much rode my bicycle everywhere.  When we left the UK, my partner and I intended to ride our bikes back to Australia.  We did not quite make it – we wriggled and wended our way around Europe and Morocco for 8 months instead.  We wrote a fairly detailed blog, which if you’ve got lots of spare time, you should totally waste some of it over there: www.crazyguyonabike.com/nnocycling

Oanh in Montenegro - doesn't that look like perfection?!

Oanh in Montenegro – doesn’t that look like perfection?!- TinLizzie

Basically, I’m a travel and commuter cyclist.  I don’t race and I definitely do not do any crazy-ass downhill mountain bike riding.  Matter of fact, I’ve been known to walk my bike downhill because it’s just too scary (for me).  For my cycling purposes I have two bikes: my Santos tourer and a Trek Belleville, which is my commuter bike.  Both are actually in the same kind of ‘market’, they are built to carry STUFF, riding posture is mostly upright and both have wheels that can take most terrain (although the Santos has fat tyres which can take all terrain and I have extreme discomfort riding the Belleville on non-paved surfaces as it seems she handles them badly but it is probably the case that I was spoiled by the Santos’ excellent handling of unpaved surfaces.)  Actually, the Santos spoiled me for every other bicycle: she handles beautifully, she was fitted to shorty-pants me and she’s blue.  I bought the Belleville because I could rarely lock up the Santos and leave her.  I know she’s just a bike but I’d be devastated if someone stole her.  So now I have a bike that I can ride most places, lock up and leave and be philosophical about if anyone steals her.

I live in Melbourne in Australia, which is probably the most bike-friendly city in Australia, but that’s not saying much.  Australia is a very car-oriented culture.(see reference 1)  Unlike the UK, most adults in Australia have a driving license and probably own a car.(reference 2 and 3)  All of our infrastructure is made with driving in mind, and the distances between places, when one is not in the inner city, can be vast.  I’ve never been to the United States, but I suspect we are similar in that respect.  Where I live in Melbourne – its inner northern suburbs – is probably among Melbourne’s most bikey areas and the route that I travel to work is along a creek trail and along Melbourne’s ‘bicycle highway’ – Canning Street.

I looked it up, and lots of bike shops popped up too. I've been to Melbourne, but ages ago, and long before I was interested in bikes.

I looked it up, and lots of bike shops popped up too. I’ve been to Melbourne, but ages ago, and long before I was interested in bikes. Of course I’d love to go back! – TinLizzie

The cyclists that I see when I’m riding run the full gamut of bicycling fashion, from full lycra riding kits (some of them are even wearing bibs, for which I do hope they have a nice long ride) to lovely looking lasses in dresses and heels, and dapper lads in suits.  Each rides to their own ability, their bike and their dress, although I’ve seen any number of well-dressed-in-normal-clothes women overtake huffing and puffing lycra-clad men.

I myself tend towards a halfway house of lycra plus normal.  I’d love to wear whatever I would wear for work that day on my bike but a couple of things stop me.  Australia is often hot and I always arrive at work sweaty.  Slowing down doesn’t work for me – I ride at my pace and I like riding fast if I can (which is not to say I’m a fast rider; but the fun of a bicycle is the feeling of speed, and I’m not going to slow down to preserve my prettiness because that’s fairly low down on my priorities).  I don’t really want to ruin my work clothes because I don’t have a lot – nor do I want a lot – of clothes.  I’m notoriously good at getting fabric caught in chains, rubbing my calf against exposed metal bits and greasy bike chains and just generally getting dirty.  I cannot stand it when my clothes restrict me, so the trousers that I can happily wear at work give me knee resistance and I don’t like it.  It’s just easier if I wear bike shorts (summer) or leggings (winter*).  I need bike leggings, and I intend to make myself some but I just haven’t got around to it yet.

* We do not get truly cold in Melbourne, Aus.  As in,there is rarely frost on the ground. Cycling in winter is my favourite.  Australia’s danger is our hot summers and Melbourne has hot, dry, and extremely windy, summers.  I cycle much less in our hot season than in our cold season.

Reference 1: In 2012, “approximately 7 in 10 people (71%) aged 18 years and over travelled to work or full time study primarily by passenger vehicle, similar to 2009 (72%). This could have been either as a passenger or a driver. Only 16% of Australians used public transport, while 4% walked and 2% cycled.” See Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘CarNation’  http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features40July+2013 

Reference 2: At the time of the 2014 Motor Vehicle Census (MVC), there were 17.6 million motor vehicles, including Motor cycles, registered in Australia. (ABS)

 Reference 3: 30 June 2010, Australia’s population increased by 377,100 people, reaching 22,342,000. (ABS)


6 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Oanh in Australia

  1. Used to sew –about 80% of my wardrobe. Including lined jackets, etc. for about a decade before cycling passion bit me 23 yrs. ago.

    A number of my relatives suffered through the same thing of factory piece sewing at home in Toronto and San Francisco.

    Great dress with reflective tape edging!

  2. Ha. A funny thing about Melbourne is all of its long, straight streets … I tend to travel north-south and rarely east-west. To that end, I had no idea there were so many bike shops so near my cycle route – I only see the one, therefore only the one exists. And I am going to investigate that Famous Melbourne Bicycle Shop! (one day, maybe not soon though)

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