Tour Down Under cycling enthusiasts force bike mechanics to step up a gear
Nathan Morris’s shop more than doubles bike services during the TDU. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Bike mechanics across Adelaide are working hard as thousands of cycling enthusiasts gear up to ride, inspired by this year’s edition of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest race.
The Tour Down Under (TDU) launched this week and Unley’s Bicycle Centre increased its daily servicing jobs from about five a day to 15.
“A lot of people get their bikes serviced when the Tour Down Under is on because they do a lot of the social rides alongside it,” owner Nathan Morris said.
“We’d probably book out the workshop a good week in advance during January whereas throughout the year it’s maybe two or three days in advance.
“It’s pretty huge.”
A TDU spokeswoman said over the 10 days of last year’s event, more than 2,000 recreational cyclists started their daily ride from the City of Adelaide Tour Village.
She said the race attracted 46,000 visitors from interstate and overseas, and “many of these travelled with their bikes”.
The TDU women’s race is underway and finishes on Saturday as a precursor to the men’s Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Tour, which begins in Adelaide on Tuesday.
A large inflated bicycle marks the City of Adelaide Tour Village. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Jack Valentini from Bicycle Express in the CBD said they had about seven mechanics on full-time to do about 30 servicing jobs a day — up from about half that number outside the TDU period, and even less during winter.
“I think the tour definitely inspires a few people to get out on bikes, and they do tend to come in and buy more bikes,” he said.
“But it’s more of an increase in parts and servicing because most visitors from interstate or overseas bring their bikes with them.
“Parts seem to break in airfreight and people come in for bits and pieces.”
The Tour Village sits alongside Adelaide’s Three Rivers Fountain. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Queensland brothers Wes and Ricky Swindale were among those who travelled from interstate for their sixth year watching the TDU.
Wes told the ABC that they came to Adelaide to ride around “watching the pro riders and to do a bit of cycling ourselves”.
Premier Steven Marshall said last year’s race generated $63.7 million for the state’s small businesses, hotels, bars and retailers; 800,000 spectators were roadside and similar numbers are expected this year.
Queenslanders Ricky and Wes Swindale are regular visitors to the TDU. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Bike SA chief executive Christian Haag said investment in bike shops was a significant proportion of visitor spending both in and out of Adelaide during bicycle tours, with “the TDU being a big one”.
“They will spend X amount of dollars at a bike shop for spares and such, maybe where they live or maybe in Adelaide.”
He said the public Challenge Tour, held on Stage Five of the TDU, inspired recreational riders to start training up to three months beforehand for what was “probably one of their largest rides of the year”.
“In terms of general recreation, we know from experience anecdotally there is an increased sense of perceived safety during bicycle tours.
“That acts as an encourager … because we all know there are people who want to ride and, whether through perceived or real concerns about the road environment and motorist behaviour, they don’t.”
Christian Haag believes perceived motorist angst dissuades some people from cycling. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)