You must be super curious about the strangely poetic title of today’s blog, right? Ask yourself what this quirky musing has in common with donuts and dumpsters, with hauling market supplies in Africa, and with the simple act of looking banging on your bike (note: not always simple). The answer? They all belong to the big, happy family known as Worldwide Bike Culture.
At Five At Heart we are (unsurprisingly) always pretty keen to hear about new/unique/innovative facets of riding a bike, and once we stumble upon one thing, it’s hard not to keep the wheels of research rolling (ug, so many unintended puns). Get ready to be inspired, enlightened, surprised – well, we’re going to experience a whole range of emotions ok?! So let’s have a look at a few bike scenarios from around the globe that show how multi-faceted a bicycle can be. Each of these case studies act as big windows into the lives and times (a rather brief moment in time, actually) of their riders, so come along for a spot of e-people watching.
Let’s kick things off with a worldwide movement called Critical Mass. Forgive us if you already know/participate in this event, but hey, better late than never and all that jazz. We had a look at the Melbourne ‘branch’ for want of a better word,(http://www.criticalmass.org.au/melbourne/) and found the following statement:
Critical Mass is a dis-organisation, an organised coincidence. This is not an official Critical Mass web page, (there is no such thing)…
Basically it is a leaderless group who meet monthly to reclaim the streets for bikes and pedestrians in a colourful, vibrant ride geared towards all abilities. Guerilla cyclists, if you will. Google ‘critical mass (insert your city here)’ and see what comes up; it wouldn’t be unusual to find yourself finishing up at a party with your new-found amigos.
Next up, let’s sally forth to Los Angeles, and meet the peeps behind the name of this article. The Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time (http://www.thepassageride.com/) are a group of modern day explorers that meet up each Wednesday (ain’t nobody got time for ‘hump day’ here) at the same donut shop and set out on a unique ride. In their own words:
Convinced that bicycle infrastructure encompasses much more than bike lanes and river paths, we climb hills, wander off-road, and venture underground to bring out the hidden and unexpected connections between otherwise disconnected places.
How else would you know that there was a dumpster full of fortune cookies somewhere in LA, described by one of the ride’s founders as “emblematic of the experience of extracting wonder from the city, and if you do it in the form of fortune cookies, so much the better.” We couldn’t agree more. Another important thing to note, you are encouraged to eat four donuts after a hard ride. Don’t know about you guys, but that would totally be our jam if we were based in LA (do ya like what just happened there with the jam and the donut)??
Bring your best get-up because now we are headed to Copenhagen. Cycle Chic blog (http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/) is essentially photos of attractive Danish people on bikes. Actually it’s more than that, but let’s be real, that’s definitely a thing. What makes them attractive is the fact that they are just going about their lives; headed to work, school, or out and about with friends, in their regular civilian clothes, looking super schmick. As they say, ‘dress for your destination, not your journey.’ Bloggerella, a female rider featured on the site, has this to say about riding in a skirt: “First things first – you need to be wearing a skirt. So step away from the spandex. Put on a skirt and preferably a pair of heels and hop on your bike heading for work.” These simple photos show the rest of the world why cycling culture is so incredibly successful in Denmark (and other parts of Europe). Because it’s just so, well…normal.
For a change of pace, let’s look at Africa. In places like Zambia, ‘functionality’ is key and bike culture takes on an entirely different meaning. Having a bicycle may be the difference in attending school or not, or in being able to collect and cart drinking water. Organisations like World Bicycle Relief (http://www.worldbicyclerelief.org/) aim to ‘mobilize people through the power of bicycles’ with their Buffalo bikes, which are specifically designed to be sturdy enough to carry loads of food, water and farm supplies. These bikes are sold directly to non-governmental organizations, corporations and individuals (micro-financing is also an option here). Jobs have also been created for 60+ people who assemble them, and 900+ field mechanics are trained and on hand if owners run into any problems.
Last stop (though there are many, many more we could discuss) will be in Japan, and what a contrasting scenario unravels before us now. In daily Japanese life, cycling thrives despite a pretty apparent lack of dedicated bike infrastructure. Cyclists often take to footpaths, where pedestrians and bikes must navigate each other (imagine how chaotic this could be somewhere like Tokyo). The fact that this actually works speaks volumes about the polite and considerate residents, who simply get on with it with respect for each other. In total contrast to that is Japan’s Keirin Schools. For those of you asking ‘what the hell is Keirin’, I’d suggest clicking this link (http://www.wired.com/2015/12/jasper-clarke-inside-the-fast-paced-world-of-japanese-keirin/), as Taylor Glascock has kindly already explained the most important parts for us. Basically, it is a seemingly insane variety of racing bikes with no brakes, at the highest of speeds, in one of the few sports that legally allow betting in Japan. Not for the faint-hearted cyclist, if you want to be involved with this, you best be ready to dedicate a year of your life to a Keirin School (if you’re good enough to be accepted that is). Wondering if you can cut the mustard? Read this http://bg.keirin.jp/en/depth/school/index.html and let us know!
We’ll finish up here at risk of becoming rambly, but be sure to let us know of any other super cool and exciting things going on in the world of bikes. Or even non-bikes, we’re generally pretty down with anything cool and exciting!
Cover Image – Sean Deyoe
Inside Article Image – Unknown, www.worldbicyclerelief.org