by Rossella Forle’- clicca qui per la versione in italiano
Cycling is a revolutionary act.
There are several advantages that we all know. We preserve the environment from unnecessary emissions of C02, it’s an excellent exercise, it’s great way to reduces stress and it’s free. So far, we all agree!
Back to London after seven years, I have noticed that, in addition to the proliferation of craft beers, independent coffee, beards and women with doubles eyebrows as Frida Kahlo and gold shoes, the bicycle has become super fashion, even if apparently it’s not so popular like four years ago, it continues to be a growing trend.
If you do not have the bike and you live in East London, it’s like being a Smurf without white hat, not in the Masonic meaning, as Antonio Soro claimed. Basically it’s not cool!
Excellent trend I would say, definitely better than ecstasy in the 90’s. I think it’s the same generation, who today is becoming vegetarian, vegan, frutarian to save its ass and not die before 60 years old.
As cyclist I can create a list of different types of cyclists in London. I see and I live them every day and at the end I’m part of this category too:
the super jerk – cycling it’s his way of life. His bike costs almost like the Porsche that stopped next to him on the red light. It has been built by another bearded man like him, who after 20 years as Art Director for Saatchi & Saatchi, has decided to retire from public life in the Danish countryside. He builds just four bikes per year.
The super jerk style is perfect, he’s super ripped, his leggings are perfect, he constantly wears his shoes with cleats, even in the pub.
He is always surrounded by cyclists like him, they talk about bikes, measuring their daily performance with Strava or Cycle Hire. He did not ride, he runs, you can feel him quiet exceeds you on the cycle lane, like a shark in the ocean. Every day it’s a challenge, like running the Tour de France, even when he goes to work.
The cyclist of the week (the opposite of the Sunday cyclist) – he is the one who takes the bike just to go to work. Never change his clothes, he pedaling in his office suits. You can see him with the Barclay bike. It is always stressed, seems always late, he is the version on the bike, of the clerk with Punto in the Roman traffic jam.
the Mamil – (middle-aged men in Lycra) as they call him in England. He is about 50, he has a good career, he can be the head of the Financial department in a corporate, married with grown children. Some of his friends and probably his wife told him that his body is not great like before, once he put on the belly. Also his friend doctor advised him to eat less fat and do more exercise. So he chooses to change his life. He decided to go to Evans and buy the perfect cyclist kit. That day he met Louis the sales person. Obviously Louis will advise him to buy the most expensive bike of the shop and the best cyclist kit. Louis will say that Lycra, is the only fabric to wear, any time of the year.With the commissions of this sale Louis will go on holiday in Ibiza.
Mom on bike – Mom bike is one of my favorites. I think it should be considered an endangered species, like the giant panda. She always has an huge bike, heavy, full of bags, with a baby seat big as her bike. With rain or snow, she takes her child on bike to the kindergarten. The most stoic ones are those with the trolley with two children inside and the flag on top, dragging breathlessly as a rickshaw. I believe she is some sort of benefactor of humanity .
The artist cyclist – she is a bit bohemian, she goes around with the second hand bike bought from her friend, who after years in London, decided to take a course as yoga teacher in India. She lives around Broadway Market and London Fields. Strong supporter of recycling, she can be vegetarian often vegan. She is not wearing an helmet but a French hat. She goes slow heedless of time passing. You can meet her on Sunday morning, at the flower market in Columbian Road.
The dandy – he has mustache, short pants to the ankle, with colored socks he loves vintage shoes, everything he wears is vintage, his bike as well ( of course). It seems the personification of a postcard from last century. The bike is the only vehicle he uses, after Uber.
The freestyle – he is the one with the small bike, the BMX 80’s, the stand riding type. He doesn’t ride, he stunts on the asphalt, the bicycle version of the skater. Perhaps it is also skater. If you find him in front of you on the cycle path it’s boring, his goal is the bloody trick. He scoured not ride!
The bromton man – he is one that uses the folding bike. He knows he is an intelligent person, often an architect, practical. He lives in Essex or in the countryside just outside London. If unfortunately somebody crosses him on the overground, with a normal size bike, he will look at him with superiority, as if in front of a prehistoric man. He is a modern man and he knows it.
The kid – You can meet him around the Council Houses from Homerton to Brixton or in any other context that remind you a ghetto. He uses the Barclay bike but for different reasons. He likes wheeling in the middle of the road or in the neighborhood parks. He goes around in gray sweatsuit with hood, the extreme version wears Nike slippers with white sponge socks. You can see him around only in groups.
And then it’s me, I do not know which category I fit in, I am in the middle between my mum in the traffic and the Italian girl from the high school on the Liberty 50. I’m always dressed in the wrong way, overdressed in hot weather, too light when it is cold. I don’t use a helmet every time. My bike is the contemporary version of the typical Italian mum bike with basket. I cycle in heels or wedges and skirt, that I daily destroy. I’m scared to ride between cars, every time I do it I feel that death is close. I do not always respect the traffic lights for pedestrian and I can swear in Italian if necessary.