From this month’s Australian Cyclist Magzine:
(edited excerpt – it’s not on AC’s website)
The streets of Canberra are infested or liberated or both, depending on your point of view. Tall Bikes, long bikes, bikes for two with a couch. These are the creations of The Rat Patrol.
So the Rats chop, top, join and weld old bikes into near works of art. They then use them to cruise the back streets until they build up enough beer fuelled energy to travel to a festival for a little tallbike jousting. A non-profit, leaderless democracy, the Rat Patrol is based on a group that began in Chicago and has since spread around the world. They regularly have build days to reuse steel and spread their ideology and skills.
The Rats infested Canberra some time in 2005 when a seriously ‘chopped’ bike was fabricated as a prop for a concert in the middle of a forest during an 18-hour endurance cross country bike race. Since then it has become a somewhat mysterious force that shuns mainstream attention but regularly shows up at charity rides, art shows and exhibitions such as the delightfully named “You’ll Never Get Here By Car”.
The Rats urge that it is not about being cool, although that does seem to be something of a common theme among members. Initiation requires new members to complete their own mutant bike before they can join.
The Rat Patrol website lives at www.rat-patrol.org/RPOz and rat communications come via groups.google.com/group/rat-patrol-oz. If you want to be on the mailing list you’ll need to say who you are and why you want to be on the list. Don’t expect a quick answer. Far better to work on the mutant bike and head into the dark streets of Canberra. The Rats will find you long before you find them.