Small Print.

Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 01:00

Body, bikes and Soul...FORGET LIMOUSINES, tour buses or helicopters - the only way to travel to a festival these days is by bicycle.

Since 2009, Give2go.iehas been organising group cycles to music festivals to promote sustainable forms of transport and to help raise money for charity.

“We did the first Tour de Picnic in 2009. We had 30 people cycling to the Electric Picnic from Sandymount,” says Brian McDermott, the co-owner of 2Wheels bicycle shop in Sandymount, Dublin 4 and one of the people behind Give2go.ie.

“This year, 600 have their deposit paid, and 900 have registered their interest so we’re hoping to get 1,000 down. That’s been our goal for some time.”

A more modest group will setting off for the Body and Soul Festival this weekend in Ballinlough Castle in Co Meath. Festivalgoers who have paid €30 each will arrive at the Papal Cross in Phoenix Park with their bags, which are then transported to the festival.

McDermott’s crew are on hand to check bikes to make sure they will last the journey, and experienced cyclists accompany the groups. Massages are available on arrival, and there is the option of a bus transfer home.

“For the Tour de Picnic [above] it’s certainly a big logistical effort. We depart them in large groups of a couple of hundred each and everyone gets nice and spread out, we don’t have any competitive aspect to it. It’s about enjoyment and promoting a sustainable mode of transport. We get good support from the Garda.

“In a way, it’s just like an airport. You arrive and check in, dump your bags, and people have a bit of breakfast, we provide some entertainment, and then when your ‘gate’ is called, you hop on your bike and off you go.”

It sounds like a leisurely way to get to a festival, but in the past few years the organisation has managed to raise more than €1 million for various charities.

It also acts as a social network for those heading to the festival. “There’s lots of people who cycle down with us who maybe don’t know a lot of people going to the festival and we try and facilitate that.

“And by the time they get there they know each other and end up camping together and having a great weekend.”

- Laurence Mackin

The revolution will be satirisedTHE CONCEPT of exchanging water skiing for a night of comedy might seem outlandish but it’s at the heart of a self-proclaimed “comedy revolution” that began touring Ireland this week.

Stand up Against the Bankers: Barter Tour of Ireland is the brainchild of comedian Abie Philbin Bowman (right) and ex-banker Aidan Killan. It grew from the frustration the duo felt while performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year.

“The festival is actually a brilliant metaphor for the financial crisis,” says Bowman. “Imagine an army of comedians, actors and entertainers willing to invade a country, desperately trying to get you to see their show and then it all collapsing in on itself in three-and-a-half weeks.”

The duo wanted to tour in Ireland but they knew that, in the current climate, a lot of people would not be able to afford to pay for tickets. Bowman decided to find an alternative way of getting around and now they are performing in exchange for whatever they can get.

The duo have already been offered a place to stay and water-skiing lessons in exchange for their first show, which was in Terryglass, Co Tipperary, last night. The duo are hoping to get hot meals, a venue and donations in exchange for a night of entertainment.

The comedian, is inspired by writer and professor Gene Sharp, whose theories and practices of non-violent resistance have been applied during worldwide conflicts from the Arab Spring to the overthrowing of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia.

Bowman links the project to a quote from Lebanese American writer Kahlil Jibran: “If it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.”

“Money is our dictator,” Bowman says.

Comedy can’t change the world, he admits, but it’s a way of getting an alternative message out there.

Stand Up Against the Bankers tours until September 1st. Abielaughs.com

- Orla Tinsley