On yer bike on operations

This article has photo gallery Published on WO2 Andrew Hetherington (author and photographer)

Location(s): Kabul, Afghanistan

Australian Defence Force personnel from Task Group Afghanistan pose with their bicycles and other vehicles they use to get around their base at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. (photo: WO2 Andrew Hetherington)
Australian Defence Force personnel from Task Group Afghanistan pose with their bicycles and other vehicles they use to get around their base at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Deploying to Afghanistan, cyclists might expect to hang up the helmet and lycra, but some Australian Defence Force personnel have found a simple way to keep fit and conduct their day-to-day work efficiently.
 
At Task Group Afghanistan Headquarters at Hamid Karzai International Airport, a hand-me-down economy has resulted in a bicycle network, in camouflage rather than lycra, noting the operational environment.
 
Even the Commander of the Task Group, Brigadier Cheryl Pearce, rides a bike with a special handlebar mounted carry box emblazoned with her one star rank on its front.
 
“My staff officer, Flight Lieutenant Ester Suh, convinced me I needed a bike and I use it to pick up my laundry and to go and do my afternoon exercise,” Brigadier Pearce said.  
 
“Riding a bike during the day provides me with a moment of freedom in an environment where we have limited movement.”
 

Royal Australian Navy Sailor Able Seaman Kristen Foster with the bike she rides during her work day, deployed to Task Group Afghanistan headquarters at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.

Royal Australian Navy Sailor Able Seaman Kristen Foster with the bike she rides during her work day, deployed to Task Group Afghanistan headquarters at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.

Task Group Afghanistan administration clerk Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Kristen Foster makes good use of her bike.
 
“It’s very handy for me to use, as part of my job I have to organise visiting members' accomodation here,” Able Seaman Foster said.
 
“It cuts the time it takes me to get from the office to check the rooms are ready at the accomodation lines. 
 
“I also use it to ride to and from work and it’s great riding home after a long day when I’m tired, as it’s quicker than walking.”
 
Work is not the only use Able Seaman Foster has for her bike.
 
“It’s great to get out of the office, to relax on a ride, in the fresh air with the wind blowing in my hair and it challenges different muscles in my body,” she said.
 
“I didn’t expect to be riding a bike here on deployment; it’s brilliant and nice to have another option.”