Bicycles For Humanity

Another of my bike related projects is running the Melbourne chapter of Bicycles For Humanity. This is a completely volunteer run charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty in the developing world through the provision of sustainable transport – you guessed it, in the form of a bike.

A bike means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load so this means access to education, health care, fresh food and water, community and economic opportunity and employment. Life changing in way it is hard for us to fully comprehend.

I won’t write a length about this here but instead direct you to the B4h website at

And ask you to contribute to the current crowd funding campaign on Start Some Good

This project works in places where numerous other initiatives fail. The stats are confronting.

In the 1970s 10% of Africans were said to be living in dire poverty. After 40 years and a trillion dollars of aid that figure is now around 70% living in dire poverty. Clearly a different approach is needed. One of the ways forward for Africa to move away from aid dependance is micro-financed small business empowering people on the ground.

That’s what this project is all about. Your support makes a difference.

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The Variety Cycle with Stefano Ferro

Our friend Stefano Ferro will be riding an epic 4000km from Sydney to Uluru as part of the Variety Cycle this month. We’ll be catching up with him on the road and learning what it takes to take on a ride like this. The Variety cycles will take him through mountains, temperate rain forest and a WHOLE lot of desert. Subscribe to our Youtube channel to keep updated on the progress.

Follow Stef here ( he was third in the world on the Feb Strava challenge!)  –

Donate here –

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Ritchie Porte

Late last year we had the pleasure of catching up, briefly, with Ritchie Porte, Mark Renshaw and Nathan Haas.

If you’ve been following pro-cycling at all over the past few years you’ll know these guys well. Watching Ritchie haul Chris Froome to Tour De France victory last  year was extraordinary and Mark has, in the past, been famous for leading out Mark Renshaw to be the fastest guy in the world ( in a bike sprint). Nathan rides for Garmin-Sharp and over the past three years has taken out the Herald Sun Tour ( twice), The Tour of Utah and The Japan Cup.

It was a huge honour to be able to talk to these guys and rare as you’d not usually be able to get close to them at any major event without fighting the world’s media to their bus.  However Bicycles For Humanity ( the charity I run) is partnered with Corporate Cycling Challenge who host these guys at their events. We were  there so we had open access to chat to them. Altruism does pay off.

We’ll be posting parts of the other interviews over the coming weeks – In this one Ritchie outlines his plans for the coming year. His season is all about the Giro and there’s a lot of confidence that he can take it out this year.

He’ll follow that up with super-domestique duties in the TDF – once again. Team Sky look unbeatable with both Froome and Wiggans on board – the question on everyone’s lips is whether we’ll see another internal battle like we did between Armstong and Contador back in 2009 or Hinault and LeMond back in 1986.

As Ritchie diplomatically says – it’ll be interesting.



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The Shave

When you begin road cycling you start down a road of slow erosion of resistance to things you would never in your life have considered doing in the past. First is going out in public,  ‘commando’ in skin tight lycra and in shoes that make you walk like a duck. The next is a larger jump and I have to admit I resisted for longer than most – shaving your legs. Road riders have many explanations for why leg shaving is so necessary. Most of them are erroneous or just plain bullshit. We may tell you that it is more aerodynamic, that is makes road rash easier to treat, that it makes it easier for the legs to be massaged but unless we are actually an elite pro-rider with regular sessions booked in the wind tunnel and a full time masseur, this is complete rubbish. There are a few reasons roadies shave their legs and none of them are to do with practically or speed.

1. Belonging – Road cycling has a long and proud history. By shaving your legs you are stepping in to that history and committing to what, for many, is more a lifestyle than just a sport. You’re giving more weight to a sense of belonging with your fellow roadies than reasonable common sense – all obsessions demand this, just accept it.

2.Vanity – If you have spent years and endless hours and sweat building those quads and calves to sculptural proportions you’ll want to show them off. A haze of leg hair interrupts the sharp profiles and dangerous corners of  those muscles you’ve worked so hard for – these are psychological tools against your opponents in a race, don’t hide them

3.Respect – In any group ride someone with hairy legs is going to stand out as a beginner – someone to be wary of, someone without enough experience (or commitment) to be able to trust. Shaving your legs is a signal that you’ve taken that step to invest the time and pain in taking the sport seriously enough that shaving your legs does not represent a threat to your masculinity – any more than wearing skin tight, brightly coloured lycra in public does.


As I said I was resistant for a long time. My legs are, when unattended to, very…. very hairy and I suspect that the sheer amount of work that seemed to be involved held up the decision to take the plunge for a long time. When I finally did decide that I was going over to the dark side it was when I bought a bike so beautiful that it would have been an arrestable offence to get on it with the legs I had. If I had been in Italy or France I may have been arrested for even considering riding it with hairy legs. I screwed it up royally. There is something very different about getting a razor to happily plane over the multiple angled surfaces of your calves and knees and thighs – an serious extra level of skill and experience to shaving the relatively uniform, and small area, your face represents. This added to the contortionist act that you need to perform to get to the back of your legs meant I was woefully unprepared – there was a lot of blood and of course having developed my legs into highly efficient machines, the capillaries that do such a great job delivering blood to the muscles also did a great job of continuing that supply – down the outside of my legs. It was all a little ridiculous and hurty – a kind of tragic comedy routine. This added to the fact that the skin beneath had never previously seen the light of  day and was therefore glow-in-the-dark white, made me question my resolve. But there was no turning back. I didn’t consider that going out with my legs half shaved was really an option (remembering the 3rd reason, above, for shaving in the first place) so I pressed on with as little skill as I’d started. It was a mess and it was surprising how long those small cuts and abrasions took to heal. I tried to pretend they were from my last crash in some important race where a small dog had crossed the course – luckily no-one asked, possibly because it was all too obvious and embarrassing. The first time – it’s not for the weak hearted. Put aside some time and be patient, careful and aware. Here’s a few tips learnt on the road.

1.Use clippers first if your legs are very hairy. A razor simply won’t cut it against a forest. The clippers on an electric razor work well for this part. Once you’ve got rid of all the fuzz you’ll then be able to see better the complex shapes and corners of your calves.

2. Use shaving foam or gel. I have to admit these days – I just use an electric shaver – the first experience with a cheap razor still haunts me. If you are using a razor, use shaving foam or some similar lubricant. Showering first will soften the hair and make the whole things easier.

3. Go slowly – Remembering your legs have not only  a highly developed capillary structure ( due to all the riding you’ve been doing) but also major arteries.

4.Be smooth and deliberate about each stroke – you don’t want to go over areas again as this can irritate the skin.

5.Tight skin is best for shaving. It provides less chance of cuts and a closer shave so keep those legs straight. Also remember the profiles and surface of your legs can change dramatically dependent on which muscles are flexed. Be especially careful on any concave surfaces and behind the knee. No razor is designed to handle these. The ankles are also places to be careful about for small nicks and the front of our calves can be stripped like a carrot if you’re not paying close attention.

6.Sharp razors are best – and if you are hairy make sure you have enough of them. You don’t want to risk injury using a blunt one and it will be a drag if you have to bike to the store to get more with one leg shaved and the other not.

7. Go all the way. I had this dilmena where I wasn’t sure where to stop – the clear decision is  ‘don’t’. Go to the top of your thigh if only so that when you next go swimming you’re not  a laughing stock. The ‘Hairy Shorts’ look was never in – and never should be in any world we want to live in.

8. Never stop. There is no going back – once you’ve started doing this you’ll be doing it forever. Male leg stubble is dangerous to everything that comes in contact with it – including your own legs. Also if you did have to mow down a forest to get there you won’t want to leave it to the point that you have to do it again – its much easier just to shave them every couple of days than get the clippers out again.

9.Be resolute. You have now crossed over to a new level of commitment to your sport – own it. I’ve had to field the eye rolling  and ‘Really, Dad?’ from my teen aged daughter many times. One of her friends even caught me in the back yard with the clippers once. Remember – no-one else but other cyclists will understand.

You have a long list of reasons to give should anyone ask – aerodynamics, road rash treatment, ease of massage – all of these can be pumped up to not only sounds plausible but also allude to how fast and hard you are on a bike. It’s all about the spin. I hope that helps. We need to be honest here – road riding is about many things for those of us that are into it. One of them is aesthetics – the lines on that bike you love, the design of your favorite cycling shirt – your legs, and their sleekness,  are part of this appreciation. If you’re going to take the plunge – good luck, we salute you.

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