They want to ride their bicycles. They want to ride them well.
I get a little teary-eyed when I see someone sitting all alone in the local park, with not a soul or second shadow in sight. The thought often crosses my mind that I should be the one to make a difference by expanding the shadow of their loneliness; I guess I’m just scared of a negative reaction – which shouldn’t be a valid excuse – but it is.
Over the last few weeks, I have noticed some peoples’ innate ability to showcase their marriage with the honourable ‘lonely’ by partnering with a not-so-significant other. Like an extension of the body, I have found that some find comfort in tying the knot with their beloved pooch, a very long novel, or even their phone, for instance. However, I pay particular attention to those who fly the cute balloon by deviously placing an obtuse ring around the left handle bar of their super-ferocious bicycle. A cultural revolution has been born, as bikes wean their way in as a great alternative to a spouse. Super stylish, super green, and super active – Shoreditchers make excellent spouses for their bikes, thus perpetuating the London bicycle phenomenon.
We have had some astonishing cultural moments over the years with bike lovers sprawled across our screens. A pioneer and cultural fashion icon in her own right is Dorothy-hating Miss Almira Gulch, who made bicycling on a barren Kansas backdrop oh-so-cool. As well, E.T. had a fair run with his wooden basket moment, cruising in the moonlight with his amigo. And of course more recently we saw M.I.A. in Rye Rye’s Sunshine video riding ghetto-style in her ‘Fuck Google, ask me!’ t-shirt, blazing some dope tight leggings and banging out with her iconic Baltimore Booty sexy hair.
Shoreditch lovers do offer some stiff upper lip competition, though. Bicycle shops are dotted all across East London, as are the ‘style soldiers’ waiting to harmonise their outfits with the shapes and colours of future biking trends. Upon arriving in London, I remember the feeling of my jaw hitting an East London gutter when a spring-floral dress wearing woman dashed past me on a basket-topped bicycle, stilettos, wayfarers, and lily-toned skin in toe, wanting to be the flyest.
But of course, not everyone gets it right.
I once hired a heavy-set ‘Boris’ bike and was destined for failure even before mounting the brick-like seat. I rode from Angel to Primrose Hill, riding in the awkward lane the whole way, sprouting several sweat moustaches and developing thigh-chafe, until I finally found a dismount bay. Ultimately, I missed a friend’s prim picnic lunch in replacement for a bus ride home – and, may I add – gagged the whole way home from an advanced case of ‘bikelag’. Others have been challenged even more, like my fun-loving East London friend who after several failed attempts at trying to bike her way through life, decided to opt for private lessons. Her ‘amazingly gorgeous’ tutor seemed to make things even harder – that is, until she was forever excused after being diagnosed with a medical condition that affected her ‘inner balance factory’, after which she could no longer blame the hot bloke for dirtying her vintage frocks. Luckily for her, she more than compensates with her Lawson-like cooking skills.
No, not everyone in Shoreditch looks like a bike riding, Burberry-wearing Agyness Deyn or Alex Watson, but many do have a knack for ‘making it their own’. Sure, many ride simply for the ease and convenience, to save money on travel costs, or to be ‘green warriors’ who actually are concerned about the polar bears. The bike culture has definitely cemented itself in the designated lanes across central London – we can all agree on that. But for now, until Tom Ford starts up a Bicycle Riding Workshop where suits and tortoise frames are mandatory, I refuse to ‘try’ and make bike riding look ‘right’ or ‘hot’ – because there are far too many Londoners already on the bike-wagon.