It’s time, here at Velo, that we tackle one of the big issues that has gripped the cycling world in recent times-wombats and the threat they pose to cyclists. Let us explore this matter with a couple of anecdotes.
Our assistant manager Ollie was riding the Great Victorian Rail Trail the other week – in the dark – when he had a run-in with one of these ground-hogging balls of muscle. It came flying out of the bushes – our theory is that it was startled by Ollie’s sudden presence-and slammed into his rear derailleur, the most fragile part of the bike. The derailleur then went into the spokes but somehow-and I’m really stressing this somehow because it really is quite miraculous-the derailleur remained attached to the frame and only broke one spoke.
They were flying down a hill – the steepest on the ride – when the waddlesome, furry outline of a wombat suddenly appeared in the ghostly light of their headlamps
Considering Ollie’s bike was laden with panniers, and that he was moving along rather smartly (due to his thunder thighs and huge aerobic capacity), it’s amazing the result wasn’t worse. Usually when a derailleur finds the spokes it is caught in the wheel, ripped violently from the frame and spun around until it is stopped by the chain or a seat stay. It then tears through spokes like a hot knife through butter until the bike comes to a skidding stop. At this point the rider then mutters something like “bugger me” and carries her bike home.
But the damage to Ollie’s bike was minor, and he was thus able to limp on to his grandmother’s place further along where he and one of our former mechanics, Omar, spent a couple of days drinking whisky and building a fence.
Troublingly, this isn’t the only wombat-related incident experienced by one of our staff members. One of our sales team, Peter, was out riding with a mate one night on the Main Yarra Trail. They were flying down a hill – the steepest on the ride-when the waddlesome, furry outline of a wombat suddenly appeared in the ghostly light of their headlamps. Totally oblivious to the speeding riders, the wombat continued onto the path in front of them, prompting white-knuckled evasive action from the riders.
“Sh******t,” said Peter, as he whizzed by a couple of inches from the wombat’s nose.
“F************k!”said Peter’s mate, who whizzed by a couple of inches from the wombat’s tail.
If either of them had collided with the wombat, things would not have been pretty. Wombats are so solid you’d be better off slamming into a pile of bricks. There would have been bent forks, crumpled front wheels and a jolly old trip over the bars. Fortunately, no people or wombats were hurt in this near-miss.
These two incidents clearly point to a concerning and widespread increase of Wombat run-ins across the state. As always, Velo Cycles are take the interests of cyclists and native animals to heart, and we are now lobbying the state government to introduce mandatory helmet laws for all marsupials. The picture below is from a preliminary trial of new wombat helmets.
An image from wombat helmet product testing
That being said – at least we don’t have to deal with these!