I was determined to make it to the Sydney Rides Festival launch on Saturday but on the way to Taylor Square, I bumped into Ralf and Digger* and a bunch of other friends so that I only made it to the bike fair about 2pm. And by that time, most of the produce stalls from the Saturday Sustainable Markets were packing up, leaving a curious array of cycle-themed stalls.
There were a few men in tight latex pants, but the new breed of hipster cyclists were mainly represented with clothing stalls for the "Stylish Urban Cyclist", such as the one for CycleStyle (above), which sells reflective tweed cycling capes, iPhone-friendly riding gloves and "skirt garters" for holding women's hems in place.
Cyclette (above) is another dedicated bicycle fashion label, which specialises in "sexy girls cycle wear for on and off your bike". Their designs include "Granny-Flashers" bloomers, strapless mini dresses, as well as handle-bar bags and fingerless gloves.
The cycling sub-culture is a curious thing; I didn't realise its followers were so dedicated. I was discussing the cult-like nature of bike-riders with a friend on Saturday when she told me the story of one of her old boyfriends. She said he became strangely obsessed with cycling and used to look with envy at the latex-clad cyclists who populate the Victoria Street cafe strip in the mornings. One day, he said, he would be lycra-clad too, and joining the cycling mob on their rides and coffee stops.
And he achieved that goal eventually too.
That old boyfriend would have been over the moon on Saturday. He could have bought back issues of dedicated bicycle magazine, Treadlie, or had his bike checked and tuned for free (both above).
My friend Ruby Molteno hasn't used her bicycle in over a year because the rear tyre went flat and she didn't know how to replace the inner-tube. So she took the bicycle along on Saturday and had it repaired for free. But because she is such a good person, she insisted on buying the cycle repairers coffee and muffins. Now she is hooning around the neighbourhood on two wheels. Look out pedestrians!
There were also electric bicycles (below), which cost about $2000. I took one for a test drive once when they had a stall at the Kings Cross Saturday Markets and it was fast and hilarious, and a little bit lazy too as I imagine I would initially use the motor for hills but would eventually become addicted to motor-driven sweat-free, non-pedalling.
Child cyclists were also going nuts at the festival and I was almost run over by a few:
CBD-based bike shop MC Cyclery set up a Games Arena for the day, which was mainly hogged by male cyclists playing some bike-back version of polo:
There were also a few deck chairs (below) for lazing in the sun. The same deck chairs arrived yesterday at Sydney Square next to Town Hall and the square next to Wynyard train station and will stay around for the next six months giving office-workers and other city habitue somewhere to relax.
One little interesting thing that caught my eye was the chalk artist busker:
I've seen a fair bit of chalk art in my time but never have I seen this 3D version, which only works from a single viewpoint that the artist has set up on a tripod. It was very clever:
The fair was interesting but there wasn't as much live music as promised and when I arrived there was only one food stall selling tandoori wraps. If you like food stalls, check out the Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park North, which opened last night and runs every weeknight from 5pm - 9pm, until October 21. I went once years ago and was disappointed but last night I popped in to discover that there are loads more quality stallholders as well as beer tents and DJs.
*Poor little Digger is presently recovering from that surgery they give to animals when they reach a certain age and he has been forced to wear one of those funny, plastic Elizabethan-style cone collars, so that he doesn't nibble at his wounds. He looks very cute but I won't post his picture here because I don't think he'd appreciate it.