M+J of Swift Industries just spent two weeks Germany visiting Family and ringing in the New Year!
The most fascinating element of German culture is that bicycles are so integrated into day to day life and civics that they don’t seem to carry the edgy culture that we experience in the states where bicycling is primarily a response to dominant car infrastructure…A German bicycle shop is rather mundane, for the most part. People have maintenance done, purchase a back basket, or get fenders to enhance the mobility and function of the bicycle. Even in -11 degrees C, people of all ages head to work, the bakery, to school and more on their simple step-over frames and folding bicycles. There was little outstanding about the bicycles we saw, aside from the fact that EVERYONE rides.
In the States we have so many different cycling scenes, and a delightful array of aesthetics linked to riding styles. But ultimately, it’s not in our blood to ride bikes to do the grocery shopping, or get our hair done. Sure, there are some of us who make it really clear that bicycling is integral to our lifestyles, but let’s face it: we’re only a small percent in the grand picture. I applaud our revelry, and simultaneously frown at the context of our endeavors. In Seattle I boast my rainy commutes and love to floor people with my persistence, but if I tell my cousins I cycle to work every day–rain or shine–they’d look at me like I was telling them I eat breakfast daily.
There are high end bicycle shops for the spandex warriors and dedicated mountain bikers, and a few specialty shops in Berlin that lure the messenger and fixed scene in. Keirin Berlin is one that carries RELoad Baggage and deep V hot pink rims. Their site is linked up there at the top of this post. Also check out Fahrer: a small company producing little bags and doo hickeys to adorn one’s bike.
All that said and done, I really love the beautiful detailing and personal touches we celebrate in our bicycle shops. I did pick up a new LED Dynamo light for my city bicycle. I may one day treat myself to a Schmidt Hub (when it rains money instead of water in my neck of the woods), but till then I’ll light my way up Interlaken the way my grandpa’s bike was set up in Ulm.
J is back in Cascadia beginning our work for the year and for now I’m sending
Love from Brooklyn,