Mark Mathews

Rider of the Week – Mark Matthews

my first bike

This weeks riders is one of Adelaide’s cycling characters. Mark loves cycling with an absolute passion, has a wonderful finance Sarah who is equally passionate about cycling, and has a young daughter Ruby who is growing up surrounded by bicycles.

This is Marks story.

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Mark is a Systems Administrator and Asset Accountant in a major metropolitan council, working with an infrastructure asset management system for which he was part of the implementation team a couple of years ago. It definitely provides him with all of the challenges he needs, and with his diversity of experience,  he also gets to work in other areas such as payroll, finance, fleet and IS.

  • Smudge Monkees,  what is that all about?

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This started off with me wanting to do some fund and awareness raising for several charities, but not wanting to do it under my own name. Creating a brand gave me something to hide behind, and it didn’t have to be about me. I have a strong history of mental health issues, suicide, and cancer in my family, so these hold a special place for me.

  • My First Bike

This pains me deeply to say, the first bike I bought for myself was a gold glitter painted dragster, complete with 6 foot chrome sissy bar, ape hangers, and 3 speed Sturmey Archer.

Why the pain? Because as a ten year old, I resprayed it rattle can blue, threw away the sissy bar, ape hangers and gears, and added a small saddle, cow horns, and strategically wrapped copper wire in the hub, so that by back pedalling, it would change gears. I really wish now that I had kept it all original and actually looked after it!

  • What got you into cycling.

I guess I stopped cycling at about 19 or 20. I may have purchased a panel van at about that age also, but I’m sure the loss of interest in cycling was just a coincidence, and not attached to that event at all.

Approaching my 40th birthday, the Dadman was diagnosed with his first bout of bowel cancer, I was topping the scales at well over 100kg, and a work colleague invited me to join in on a corporate triathlon, offering to buy me a extra extra extra extra large t-shirt to compete in. To assist me in my preparation for the tri, he lent me a Giessauf road bike to train on, and from that point on, I was addicted once more.

  • How many bikes have I owned

That’s a little scary to think about, there have been a few. From 0-19, I worked my way through seven bikes, starting from the classic three wheeler, progressing to a Standish with a whole 12 gears! That was a pretty awesome moment having a bike with more than three speeds.

From 40, I have had a few different bikes, bought some, inherited some, found a couple in hard waste, totalling 20 bikes. So 27 in 52 years is pretty reasonable I think….

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Naturally I don’t still have all of these, some have been given to friends, some to new arrivals in Australia, and a couple to ABK. I think at the moment I am down to 10 bikes, being a mix of road bikes, mountain bike, fixie, vintage, cyclocross, tandem, choppers and a cargobike.

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There is also a vintage tricycle hanging from the roof of the bike shed for decoration!

I don’t have an actual favourite in the current collection, but my Wilier CX is my go to commuter and tourer, the Focus roadie is my go to when I want to ride faster, and the Christiania trike is the go to for quaxing and transporting Miss Ruby.

  • What bikes do I covet

Oooh, bright shiny thing! This is an ever changing list, for so many different reasons.

If I can put together about $7,000, it would be a Christiania Taxi. We had the opportunity of taking a lady with a brain tumour out for a ride a month or so ago. It was a real feel good moment, not just for me, but for her, and her husband. I’d really like to be able to do more rides like that, and give others the opportunity to do it too.

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I would love to have the old rainbow Giessauf back, but if I was going to buy a replacement, I did spy a rainbow Stinner the other day that was just draw dropping.

  • What do you get out of cycling.

Poorer. I get poorer.

Apart from that, I got a fiancée and an awesome daughter, they were two unexpected bonuses from cycling.

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Personally, I, like many, rely on cycling to help with my overall wellbeing. I find that time on the bike, any bike, and any amount of time, just helps to keep the black dog at a safe distance. As a consummate hubbard, I also like to help others with their cycling, whether that be teaching them some of the basic skills of holding a wheel, or helping them climb a hill. I’m not a competitive cyclist, I don’t find any personal satisfaction in racing, but I do enjoy watching it, and cheering or heckling.

I also love seeing Miss Ruby grow up in our cycling community too. She’s been riding in a cargo bike since she was three days old, she currently has two balance bikes, and for her third birthday she got her first pedal bike.

 

We recently added a WeeHoo to the stable too, which allows us to take part in events such as the Lofty 105 and Gravelaide as a family, and she loves it.

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  • Do you do all your own maintenance

No. Well, we do some, but generally get others to do it, so that we can spend our free time riding bikes, and make sure that the work that is getting done is done right. We’re really spoiled for choices in Adelaide for bike shops, but the main ones I frequent are International Cycles Stepney, and Standish Cycles Mile End. Yes, these are smaller stores, but the staff are always awesome, and you always receive personal professional attention. Having the range of bikes we do, there are other shops we get to less frequently such as MiCycles, 99 Bikes Prospect and Bicycle Express Halifax St, but they all cater to the various needs we have with such a wide cross section of bikes.

  • Favourite bit of kit

I use Champion Systems currently for all my kit, as we get all of it custom made for us, and we don’t have to buy in large quantities. There is no doubt for me that the Barrel of Monkeys kit I’m currently wearing is my favourite design so far, but my go to piece would have to be a musette. Yes, I am that Hubbardy that even off the bike, I use a musette to carry stuff in.

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  • What was your best cycling dinner

I’ve had a pretty amazing time in cycling, and last year we had the opportunity to have dinner with the Orica team at the Legends Dinner, which included having Jens come join us for a while. That was pretty much living the dream for us.

  • What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories

One of the cycling community from the former Adelaide Cyclists site decided to run a session at the dog kennels, teaching people how best to ride hills. I decided to go along, just in case he needed a hand in running it, or taking groups up to the Bollards after their skills session on the stationery trainer.

I was chatting with various riders who I already knew, and then got chatting with one I hadn’t met before.

We rode down Cross Rd together, me chatting away merrily, not realising that this rider was actually trying to race me down the hill to coffee, even though her participation in the conversation dropped the faster we pedalled.

One ride led to another, and before we knew it, we were making life plans together, which of course changed dramatically after one particular ride, which resulted in Miss Ruby joining our tribe.

We’ve had some crazy rides together, most of them have included some very special people who we hold very dear to us, including riding to Lorne to do the Amy’s Gran Fondo, and riding from Port Pirie to Wentworth with another crazy mate who was riding from Perth.

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  • Have you had any nasty crashes

I’ve been pretty lucky with my cycling, and haven’t had too many significant crashes. I was used as a bonnet mascot by a driver when I was early forties, which fortunately only resulted in dermal abrasion therapy to my face and right arm. I had a touching cloth moment when I was descending at stupid speed and got the death wobbles. Really thought I was going to go over the edge, but managed to get it back under control before getting thrown off.

  • Whats the biggest cycling lie you told?

Am I nuts by saying that if you have to lie about it, you’re not going to enjoy it? Sarah and I are in the envious position of both of us loving our cycling, and being honest about our bike lust with each other. Naturally, this does tend to result in N+2, as if one of us gets a new bike, well, it’s hardly fair that the other misses out now is it?

  • What is the next cycling related thing you’d like?

I’d always welcome a new bike, and remember folks, bikes aren’t just a birthday gift, their an everyday gift, but failing that, probably some new light weight camping gear. What passed as light weight hiking 35-40 years ago, is almost triple the weight of the new gear! So standard stuff like a tent, insulated sleep mat, and some cook wear. (I have an itemised priced list if you want mate?)

  • Local Group to Plug

Since we’re out of the game temporarily of organising rides and events, there are a couple of groups out there doing awesome stuff for cycling.

The Port Adelaide Cycling Club has to be the friendliest, most accepting and welcoming club I have ever been involved in. They organise competitive events for all skill levels, social rides, forays interstate to take part in other events such as CX Nationals, and are family friendly. So friendly and supportive of family, that they actually have categories for the kids in the CX races. (Kids race free this year at CX, you just need to buy a licence for them, which is very awesome!) There were 3 kids in little crossers on the 7 th May, and about 40 in junior crossers! Massive shout out to the committee and volunteers who make all of this possible for us to enjoy.

The other would be Gravelaide. This is a new group to the scene, developed by three mates with a passion for gravel cycling. We’ve had two events so far, and each has had its own unique tests and challenges. These are limited number events to somewhere around 125 participants, and you get the opportunity to ride places these guys have discovered, with some amazing views. Bonus of course is the beer and burger at the end of these rides.

For pre and post ride coffee, cake and meals, we are very fond of Bici. Danny and Toni do a lot for the local community, and especially for the cycling community. Danny himself is a very keen cyclist, and does so much to support quite a number of charities, including the Leukemia Foundation where he was a sponsor and participant in their recent Ride As One tour from St Kilda, Victoria to Adelaide.

  • What do I love about Adelaide

There’s a non-cycling persective to Adelaide?

We love living city fringe. For us, we can walk or ride short distances, and we’re at work, or we’re on Prospect Road, O’Connell St, or Melbourne St with all of the eateries and entertainment they have to offer. We live basically across the road from the parklands, so we get to go for runs or walks with Harriet Dumpsalot and Ruby, and not have to worry much about the traffic.

We love the fact that no matter where we go in Adelaide, we are invariably going to bump into someone we know.

  • What is your non-cycling go to place for interstaters?

Still not sure what you mean by non-cycling? If we have visitors come over, and they haven’t brought bikes with them, we lend them bikes. The beauty of Adelaide is that we really can get everywhere by bike, and we get priority parking right out the front when we get there!

If by chance they are non-cyclists, there is still every opportunity that we will ride somewhere to meet them, and that is usually a kid friendly place, or somewhere that Miss Ruby is already known to the owners.

E for Ethel is great for catch-ups with some of the interstaters we know. Dan does great food, (try his pancakes!), and there are play spaces nearby for the kids either before, after, or both.

  • Cycling and Us

In case you haven’t picked up, bikes are pretty important to us. We made the decision three years ago to get rid of the second car, and just keep one family car. It wasn’t as hard a decision as it sounds, as every time I went to use the second car, I had to call the RAA to jump start it for us. This has worked out really well for us, and most days our car is left unused, and we are on our bikes.

Getting the cargo bike was the icing on the cake for this. It means we can go out and do all of our shopping with bikes, and easily fit the weeks groceries and Miss Ruby in the bike. I’ve recently attached a fork mount to the pannier rack of the cargo bike, which means when we need to, we can tow another bike behind us to an event, or even to the bike shop for maintenance, without it impeding on Miss Ruby’s space.

  • Favourite Quotes

We love this shit!

Keep the rubber side down.

I’ll use the first half of the event as training for the second half.

 

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