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THE BIKE SHOP YOU CAN COUNT ON: RIDER STATS ON THE CAPITAL CITY TRAIL

You may have noticed it outside our shop: a monitor that counts the number of cyclists that go past on the @Capital City Bike Trail. Installed by the @Moreland City Council in 2013, it helps us keep track of changes in rider traffic.

Each year there’s been a fairly steady increase of riders going past, but this year there’s been some changes in the stats.

January saw a 26% decrease from last year. Closure on the bike trail and poor air quality from bushfires would have contributed to the drop.

February was also a little quiet with 4% less riders than last year.

This month the numbers have picked right back up. Since we began counting in 2013, March has been the busiest month of the year, with numbers always topping above 100,000. March marks the end of summer cruising and time for uni students to click back into gear. The cooler weather is also a great excuse to get pedaling and blood pumping.

SUPER TUESDAY is the first Tuesday of March, and has consistently been the busiest riding day of the year. Last Tuesday, the numbers topped the charts with a whopping 5,263 people riding past.

There’s one day that has us all a little puzzled. On the 15th of Feb 2020 only 981 cyclists rode past, that’s less than ¼ of the daily average. Has it got something to do being right after Valentines day? It’s a bike riding mystery that’s yet to be solved.

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Wombats and Bicycles | Velo Cycles Melbourne

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!