Author Topic: The Bicycle Book


The Bicycle Book
« on: August 12, 2011 »

The Bicycle Book by Bella Bathurst

from the book:
One of the lovely things about riding round a city -- any city -- is watching other cyclists and savouring their strangeness. There is not and never has been on single urban type, and there never really could be... Wait near a frequently used route and watch the cyclists streaming past during the morning and evening rush hours. After a bit the scene begins to appear like the Eastern Bloc countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall: many different groups jostling for dominance, a total restructuring of social politics, lawlessness, occasional outbreaks of violence, lots of exceptionally bad clothing. For every rider blazing with gadgetry, there's another on a bike which looks as if it was cobbled together out of old chair legs and office stationery. There are packs of Ridgebacks all racing each other to the junction, there are old ladies on things which look like two-wheeled shopping trolleys, there are men in suits and pillocks on Bianchis. There are government-issue cyclists who are either very afraid of breaking the law or very afraid of being caught on camera while breaking the law, and there are those for whom the law is an entirely optional concept. There are those who ride like they belong on a bike and there are those who ride like they'd rather be in an armoured vehicle. There are those who have helmets, those who don't, and those who sport different headgear entirely -- wooley bonnets, Santa hats, things with built-in headphones. There are businessmen on space-age racers going at the same pace as girls on silver single-speeds. There are those for whom The Look evidently matters more than either The Bike or The Ability to Ride That Bike. There are people who look like they know what they're doing, and those who are obviously bluffing. There are guys on low-riders, slung out half reclining like Dennis Hopper on a Harley, and those who have evidently forgone the stern mistress of style for the stairlift of practicality. There are those who cycle in skirts, there are those who cycle in overcoats, there are those who wouldn't dream of cycling in anything other than six-inch red stilettos. There are fluourescent commuters on their spanking new hybrids and lardy boys twiddling along on folding bikes like elephants on beach balls. There are tourists on Boris Bikes and lots of kids of seventeen trying to get home on a BMX without being seen by anyone who knows them, and there are ladies who are Doing Their Bit for the environment. There are those who cycle with a child at either end, and there are those who prefer to load the bike like they do in Cambodia. Just like London itself, everyone is represented; every age, every class, every race and religion.