Almanac Poetry: ‘Ode to jOe” by Andy Thurlow

Andy Thurlow must have a thing about bikes. Last year saw the publication of Kieran Modra – the way I see it, his biography of now-retired legendary Australian Paralympian cyclist, Kieran Modra. Andy and his wife Marlene  also organise their own cycling group, the Sprocket Rockets, in and around Tanunda. Lately, they’ve been in the Netherlands visiting their son Daniel who works on the Zeebrugge offshore wind farms. For any visitor to Holland, bicycles soon become a quintessential image of the country and provoke a range of responses. Here is Andy’s:


Ode to jOe


A group of people riding on the back of a bicycle Description automatically generated
Now that is a tandem! (Photo courtesy of Andy Thurlow)







  1. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Amsterdam is all those bloody bicycles and their ‘don’t get in my way’ riders. They certainly put the wind up me! How and/or why does a country need 1.3 bikes per person? But what a beautiful country, its flatness ideal for this mode of transport – if only they could become more ‘easy riders’.

  2. Andy Thurlow says

    Thanks, Ian,for getting Joe off the streets of Amsterdam and into the media. Marley and I have really enjoyed this very beautiful country and been recipients of wonderfully friendly hospitality. The bike tracks here are awesome and all of this cycling has to be good for the general health of the Dutch. Thanks again and I hope that stories about the cycling Dutch and people like Kieran Modra inspire others to get on their bikes.

  3. Sidney Wrangles says

    All hail to Jo and his cycling obsession. What else is there to do in Holland? The ski season would be very limited, white water rafting through Amsterdam canals could be a little on the slow side and there wouldn`t be too many options if you are a mountaineer! Do they still play clogball out there?
    Jo is on a definite winner..keep on riding Jo.

  4. Rick Kane says

    Thanks Andy

    What a hoot of a poem and family and Joe sounds a top guy.

    We have just returned from Amsterdam. What a beautiful city and such friendly people. We loved the bicycle culture. Two things we noted in comparison to Australia (Melbourne). Bikes aren’t gendered in The Netherlands. There’s no male appropriate design/female appropriate design. They are a utility (as beautifully captured in the accompanying photograph to your poem) for a people that have a utilitarian way of seeing things. Second observation. No lycra.

    Ride on.

  5. Marion Hamon says

    Your Ode to Jo is really great,
    Our trip to Holland will have to wait.
    I thought the bike I had was dead,
    But no, I found it in the shed.
    I decided to get it out of hiding,
    To motivate myself to riding.
    I won’t wear Lycra but I’ll don my Nikes,
    And traverse the paths just made for Bikes.
    Perhaps, when you return Down Under,
    We can do the Tour De Tanunda?
    To join your group would be a dream,
    My riding is rusty… I’ll just slipstream.

    Will catch up on your return. The Power needs more bums on seats.

  6. ROBYN MARKEY says

    The pressure’s on to respond in Verse
    To your lettre d’amour to Joe –
    That one obsessed with wheels and bikes
    Who off to Holland did go.
    It’s obvious from your lengthy tome
    That paradise he’s found:
    The Dutch have served the perfect pi
    With their cycles and level ground.
    And while I’m glad Joe’s happy there,
    My derriere doth protest.
    It take just five minutes on the bike
    For it to scream out for some rest.
    I’ve tried the padded and fluffy seats
    And those ridiculous biker shorts.
    They didn’t help and so I think
    I’ll stick to other sports.
    “But it’s not just sport”, I hear you cry,
    “But a lifestyle and a passion.
    And furthermore, there’s no emissions.”
    (Green Energy’s so in fashion!)
    I understand your argument
    And agree in every way.
    So Joe I have a challenge for you –
    I think it’ll make your day!
    Apply that focussed mind of yours
    To crafting out a seat
    That cushions my delicate, sensitive bum
    And gets me off my feet.
    Then, and only then, will I
    Squeeze into that crazy lycra,
    Don the helmet and oil the cleats
    And become a bloody cycler!

  7. Andy Thurlow says

    Fair Marion Dust off your steed
    Our cycling club Will fix your need
    Against the Cats We are supreme
    Our coach says We’ll beat any team
    But we are Bulldogged Back to earth
    So my advice For what it’s worth
    The best way To avoid this trial
    Forget the score Live in denial
    Enjoy the footy On this site
    Distract yourself Write all ’bout bikes

    PS Robyn …what a con-nun-drum
    to find the words that rhyme with bum!

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