I first met Richard on my recent cycling trip to France with Unique Cycling Tours (if you missed my write up, where have you been – check it out here). In fact, the front page of the Unique Cycling Tours web page has a photo taken by Beardy McBeard of our group in Provence, that’s Richard front row outside, and me second row inside. And no, it wasn’t a particularly steep climb, we were posing.
Apart from the fact that after a long days riding Richard help drag me back to our hotel on more than one occasion, there are a number things I remember about my time with Richard, these being – He can’t descend for crap, but he is a strong climber, he’s lousy at directions – so don’t trust him when he says follow me, and he’s a passionate Richmond Tigers supporter as evidenced by him watching a Richmond match one morning on tour – that was when Richmond were getting flogged.
This is Richards story.
Cycling has always been part of my life.
As a young kid we lived in a court in Aspendale and I’d spend hours drawing racing tracks in chalk on the court and then race around those tracks.
We moved to Brighton, opposite the Town Hall and Municipal Offices, so on weekends I’d again be racing around, this time on the paths and gardens of Brighton’s town hall – my bike then was a Malvern Star SuperMaX BMX bike.
That bike then carried papers in a milk crate for my paper-round, but it’s final incarnation was towing my sailboard to Brighton Beach. The universal joint on the mast formed a flexible hitch to my bike. They were pretty carefree days!
As a Melbourne Uni student I lived in Carlton and rode both a heavy MTB and a single speed with drop handlebars pointing up.
That single-speed bike remained my choice of transport as a young solicitor. Suit and tie riding a single-speed from Carlton into the city – yes, I was a hipster way before hipster was even a word!
It was around this time that I met my wife, Anne-Marie. We were like-minded on bikes and enjoyed cycling around Melbourne, a great camping/cycling trip to the Barossa and then a 3- month cycling/camping trip around Europe.
With three kids our riding has again changed. We have a lot of bikes – road, MTB, CX, track and a couple of Dutch bikes. Last time I counted there were 17 in our garage. Not bad for a family of five!
I started in D grade, then made it to C grade and towards the end of the season I was hovering around the Top 10 for C grade. Hoping that I’ll be able to snag a C Grade podium at some stage this summer (2017/18).
Whilst I did a couple of Cyclocross races last winter, the 2017 winter was all about a trip to France to climb hills, so maybe I’ll roll out for more Cx in winter 2018.
That trip to France has also been the reason I haven’t done much MTB riding. My best bike is a Cannondale Scalpel with a lefty fork. It’s amazing and incredibly light, but we’re not near MTB trails and it just doesn’t get enough use.
The trip to France was initially a trip to Italy, but the timing of the Unique Cycling Tours trip to France aligned best with school holidays so off to France I went. Such an amazing trip! Apart from meeting Ian (Eds note: aw shucks) the highlight was definitely doing 3 ascents of Mont Ventoux on the same day. Pretty chuffed with myself. There’s 12 hours condensed into 11 minutes on a video I made of that day. Link Here The Bowens of Hampton
Back home I’m fortunate to live in Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs. We have Beach Rd on our doorstep. I used to ride socially with some mates on a Thursday evening – the Hampton Huffers – we spent 60 minutes riding, then 90 minutes having a beer afterwards!
Right now I have a group of like-minded mates who are regularly out riding at 5:30am (but always with coffee afterwards!). Our group meets on the corner of Teddington Road and May Street, so when I casually started calling us TedMay.cc the name stuck. A few years ago we decided to formalise our bunch and we now have 14 men and 7 women all wearing the TedMay.cc kit.
Our bunch rides solidly, but we are very much a social group. Conversation is lively and I’m a strong believer in the mental benefits of our group rides.
I also believe strongly in the politics of cycling. In the 2014 Victorian State election I was lead candidate, spokesperson and strategist for the Australian Cyclists Party. With policies focusing on planning, infrastructure, transport and health we went very close to putting me into the Victorian State Parliament. Another 2000 votes and I would have been Richard Bowen, Member of the Legislative Council!
Whilst I wasn’t elected I was very proud of the team we assembled and the way we were able to raise the profile of our policy areas. Selected media from 2014 still puts a smile on my face:
- Cycling Tips
- 3AW Neil Mitchell (who hates cyclists)
I guess you could also say that I’m into pro-cycling. Most years we’ll go the big track meets in Melbourne, whilst I think we’ve been to the Tour Down Under six times now. Being in Europe this year we went to Dusseldorf for the start of this year’s Tour de France. That was fantastic, but in many ways the annual experience of Adelaide and the Tour Down Under is a better experience – the whole town pumps cycling and it’s all so accessible.
The final thing I should mention is the online business my wife and I run.
Bags in Motion started when I was trying to obtain a replacement part for my M-Boye backpack. As well as obtaining the part we also picked up distribution rights for this product. I still use this backpack today – designed by an Australian cycling commuter it’s perfect for our conditions – and we still sell it.
In fact, if you’ve read this far we’d be happy to offer you a special deal on the M-Boye backpack … until 30 Sept 2017 enter the code WEDLEGS50 at checkout and it’s yours for $50, delivery included!
And if you’re interested, I can be found on:
Thanks Richard. I don’t k now how, but I spent 10 days with you and didn’t hear one word about your ACP work. Well done on your involvement and great to see the enthusiasm you and Anne-Marie have for cycling has spread across your family.