The Casual Cyclist

Monday December 05, 2011 Written by smith

Matt Hurst started The Humble Vintage bike hire service in Melbourne and Sydney after riding beautiful old wheelers in Buenos Aires. Two years later he's successfully operating in wo cities and has just published a book (his first) called The Casual Cyclist's Guide. He tells us more about it here.

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Hi Matt! What is a 'casual cyclist'?

Eek, if anyone would know it should be me right? Well, I'd say that it's someone who approaches a bicycle as a means of day-to-day transportation instead of sport... and someone who rides wearing clothing suitable for their destination, not a velodrome.

But of course there are guys who kit up in lycra - for whom a 100km on Saturday morning is a casual ride, so it's open to interpretation. 

This is your first book, what three important things have you learnt through the process? 

Gosh, there were so many times I thought: "I wish I knew this at the start"...

1. It's a big job, but bigger than whatever you think a 'big job' involves. (For many people too... not just the author)

2. There are many decisions in the process that you don't get to make

3. Have it proofed, and have it proofed again. And again

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Can you tell us about the book's design?

The book is rich in design and just a lovely little object. The first question I asked when I got approached by the publisher was "can I choose my designer?". I was very up front. I wanted to have input into how the book looked. How can you spend six months writing 50,000 words and not care about how the book actually looks?!

I called Andrew Ashton at Studio Pip & Co, who was happily up for the project. I also asked Tin & Ed to do some illustrations for it. Andrew and Sarah at Studio Pip & Co did a lot of small illustrations as well. I drew all the maps and had a fairly strong idea of how some of the spreads would look. Andrew really got it and made it look like what was in my mind, but better. There are delightful little touches all over the place.

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What kind of bike do you ride yourself?

Since starting the bike rental I pretty much ride whichever bike is closest to the front door! I haven't ridden the same bike for more than a few weeks at a time in years, but I do have a couple of favourites. If I only had two bikes one would be an upright / European-style bike, the other would be a nice racer. Probably not single speed though, while it is de rigueur these days I do still gears.

What three things should every casual cyclist carry with them?

1. Whatever attire they would normally wear at their final destination

2. A relaxed nature – overly aggressive riders are about as bad as overly aggressive drivers

3. I guess I should say a copy of The Casual Cyclist's Guide right?

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What are your favourite Aussie cycle routes?

I generally joke that my favourite route is the one that takes me from where I am to where I'm going. Some of my favourite times have been riding with a friend or two from one place to the next. I'm also a sucker for hot nights. So a warm night, a few friends, a few different parties/openings/bars/houses to visit and that's it – I'm happy.

The Casual Cyclist's Guide is published by Hardie Grant Books and costs AUD$20. Buy it here. Ships locally and internationally.