The Tour Down Under has come and gone, with its great racing, great rides, and great times.
Being in Adelaide, there are huge numbers of locals that get out on the bike during the event, but with Melbourne being a big drive away, plenty of Victorians get across too. LOTS of them.
It then gives rise to the thought of what the differences in cycling culture are between Melburn and Radelaide?
Words and Images - Dave Edwards
Before a pedal is turned in anger, a Melbournian must, repeat MUST, absolutely consider all principles by which their hair, kit, shoes, socks and body pose will work together.
Kit can only be worn 3 times before being thrown out, lest it not look fresh, and should be made only by MAAP, Rapha or Jaggad.
Shoes can only be of a select few brands also, and should close by laces or wire. Your hair should be a fade taper, your socks must be the right height and brightly coloured, and at all times must a Melbournian be draped across their bike at an angle to show how little they care about how they look whilst cycling...
A cyclist of Adelaide will get dressed in kit that roughly matches, ride whatever bike their local bike shop gave them the best deal on, will be either 5kg too light or too heavy and will rarely look cool. They will have hair assembled on their heads, faces and legs in whatever fashion struck them at the time, and they generally spend most of their time making fun of each other.
Both groups will then go out and ride their absolute guts out, going as far and as hard as they can.
Melbournian - Will only drink espresso made from ethically sourced, single origin, hand roasted beans from remote parts of Africa or South America. The addition of milk is only permissible in a Macchiato, any other option is criminal.
Radelaidian - Any coffee that they can get their hands on until the pub opens, and then they can drink beer instead.
You can tell if someone is from Melbourne because they will be chatting about the great rides that they can get to, when they have driven for 2 hours out of town. Otherwise they are talking about the innumerable flats that they have encountered on the Kew Boulevard...
In Adelaide, the riders lament the 5km it takes to get to the nearest climb. Then the talk will largely revolve around which climbs are best linked together to make the sweetest routes, to get in 1,500m of climbing in a morning before work...
Melbournians go to Radelaide for the Tour, a couple of trips to Bright for a mountains weekend, and a trip to Bunninyong.
Adelaideians will go to Falls for 3 Peaks, may go to Bunninyong once every few years, and dream of Europe...
If your bike is more than 12 months old, and you live in Melbourne, then you may as well retire from cycling…. Unless it is now over 25 years old, is steel, and fitted with original Campagnolo parts.
Your bike simply must be the latest model, preferably a Giant or S Works, with the single caveat being a custom made titanium frame from an Australian manufacturer.
It must have gumwall tyres, it must have carbon rims, and under no circumstances are any marks allowed on it. None. Clean your bike mid-ride if you have to, your steed must be shiny. IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE BIKE.
To match the ethos that an Adelaide rider posses' when it comes to their kit and hair, they will ride whatever bike their local bike shop gave them the best deal on.
Aero or climbing bike, middle or top of the range, cool brand or totally obscure, mixed or matching drive train, and any damn wheels they please.
It would be more unusual to find two South Aussie riders getting about on the same rig as each other, than it would be to find a Vic on a 2 year old bike.
Ultimately, both groups just want to ride their bikes. The Victorians want to look good doing it, and the South Australians are just happy to get a roll on however it comes.
Somehow the blend of the 'matchy matchy' principles from the tourists, and the 'don't give a f...' ethos of the home team, makes the perfect atmosphere for a great week of chasing wheels, on sweet roads during the third week in January.