Tom, the Raleigh Vektar & Roa's rabbit on Hackney Rd, London
The Raleigh Vektar. Could anything be cooler or more 80′s than this BMX with its own computer console, a PacMan like sound track and a body that looks like it was built from the Star Wars Lego collection? As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the bike’s owner, London designer Tom, has updated the sound system so it connects to an I-Pod. Then one day he was riding it around town and had a chance encounter with the Belgian street artist ROA…
Feeling tweedy: London's most civilised bike ride (Image: HWL)
Last year we joined in with the the London Tweed Run and created this little video for the very cool Metropolis channel on Babelgum.com (see below).
This year, the weather was just as perfect! Blue skies, summer weather, if only London could always be this glorious. A little warm for tweed perhaps? (Remember, ladies don’t sweat, they ‘perspire’.)
Here it is, a ‘metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style’. Style, not speed. Elegance, not exertion. Perhaps this will inspire you to start up your own event?
Get your heart pumping (do not try this at home if you are a middle-aged man with cholesterol issues)
Combining the elegance of the Tour de France, the old-fashioned excitement of arm-wrestling and a mosh-pit ambiance Rollapaluza is the perfect sport for London. All you need are some willing participants, a supportive crowd, sufficient space for two stationery bikes and – most important of all – ready access to reasonably priced beer. Once that’s set, the racing can start and continue unhampered regardless of the weather outside. (Note that lycra is optional, but don’t forget to book the DJ.)
Rollapaluza, once a fashionable sport in 1940s Britain, is undergoing a revival in London and across the country. Initially aimed at the courier scene, the retro-flavoured event at venues like cycling cafe Look Mum No Hands are drawing a more mixed crowd of dedicated cyclists who come along for some friendly competition and small but perfectly formed prizes. Gritty messengers, Shoreditch hipsters, and the occasional lycra-clad competitor dual for glory if not for riches by racing against the clock in heart-exploding 20-second sprints. Results suggest that sheer willpower and physical grunt are the deciding factor, rather than sporty paraphernalia. (Clothes do not maketh the rider, though the timely consumption of Fruit Tingles may lend a competitive edge.)
Hillbilly's secret weapon
A tight-lipped supporter
Freedom, bikes and travelling in style…Just so you know, Londoners have gone mad for all things bike. Over the last year we’ve been working on Freewheelers a web video series profiling urban cyclists and street fashion for Babelgum.com and Pete Bishop from The Shop animation studio. So many hot bikes, so little time. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favourite, is it Charlie’s Ugandan courier bike, Loolie’s Tank Bike or Chicago Greg’s fixed wheel? …They all have their two-wheeled charms, but I’m posting the video devoted to the lovely London designer/artist Benedict Radcliffe’s Fluro Bikes because no other bike has looked as beautiful on film as this one. Here he is on a brisk autumn day in a suitably atmospheric lane off Spitalfield’s market.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to purchase one of Ben’s bikes from the hipper-than-thou 14 Bike Co in Brick Lane. While I’m at it, other favourite London bike haunts are the Look Mum No Hands cafe in Clerkenwell which lends itself to incredibly cruisy ‘production meetings’ see our story about their Rollapaluza event here.
The traditional Swedish summer cottage is anti-bling bling, short on creature comforts, big on nature. Sweden has one of the lowest population densities in Europe, an extensive coastline and reasonable stretches of forest that they haven’t yet cut down to transform into Billy IKEA bookcases so nature and woodsy isolation can be found a few hours’ drive from so-called ‘civilisation’.
Cabin comes equipped with own Swedish flag
The area features still lakes and lovely greenery
Cheerful dining area
The summer cottage of course appears frequently in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and if you’re among the 20 people on earth and haven’t read it, I’d avoid reading the series in situ (ie: in an actual cabin) or risk giving yourself the willies. If you are unable to resist the temptation, then arm yourself with sweet Swedish pop such as the Cardigans, Abba or Lykke Li as a sort of aural antidote.
Whereas the French have concepts like joie de vivre and vague je ne sais quoi, the Swedes have ordning och reda – meaning tidiness and good order – and lagom (meaning ‘just right’, not too much or too little). Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like a great deal of fun, but the benefits of well-organised moderation are immediately apparent in certain contexts, such as Scandinavian furniture design.
The Mosshult cabin we hired this summer (pictured) combines both these concepts under the one roof – it has everything you could possibly need (if you feel like taking a bike ride, chopping wood, changing a light bulb, making pancakes or tying up little bits of string, the cottage can cater for it) but nothing unecessary or excessive (think plasma-screen). It’s wonderfully cosy, cute and of course, incredibly clean. It can sleep four (one double bed, one set of child-sized bunks, both small but equipped with warm duvets and pretty garden views) but the cosy dimensions suggest that it would be more comfortable with two, especially if (or should I say ‘when’?) the weather turns foul. On closer inspection, almost everything (from the beds to the cutlery) seemed to be made by IKEA…spooky! Continue reading