(London 1981) long ago decided to devote less time to his work as a graphic designer to spend more time on his passion: bikes. Thus was born CycleLove
, a blog that talks about life on two wheels from a very unique perspective, from art to design, through photography, style and heritage of one of the oldest kinds of transportation in the world. James just launched with two colleagues the short documentary Cycle Hire Tour
, which features the five-day journey that took them from London to Paris representing a particular tribute to the Tour de France, that this year returns to the British capital, although in the opposite direction. In Good2b we have interviewed.
You’ve just had a party to screen the short documentary Tour De Cycle Hire, where you celebrate the Tour De France but the other way around, going from London to Paris in five days. How did the idea start?
We wanted to do something to celebrate the Tour de France coming to London, and remind people that cycling can be pure fun, rather than just a sport. Or maybe it was an excuse for a crazy bike ride.
Three friends, three gears and 300 km have been preparing the short documentary Tour De Cycle-Hire.
Three friends, three gears and 300 kilometres on London’s hire cycle bikes. Why didn’t you get proper bikes for the trip? It looks like you didn’t had that much preparation…
Yup, the plan was to have no plan! Route-planning was minimal, and most of our ‘training’ involved a beer. We rode on standard ‘Boris Bikes’ for the trip; the only modification we made was to strap a water bottle onto the seat post. A lot of people thought we were crazy but we knew it would work. The lack of gears did make it hard to go fast on the flat, but the bikes are so solidly built they can handle any terrain, and we didn’t get a puncture the entire trip.
In the documentary you’re using really specific bags, where they designed for the trip?
Not specifically for the trip, but my friend Graham from Borough designed the bags to fit on the front of the London, New York, Montreal and San Fransisco cycle share bikes (all essentially the same bicycle with a different paint job). They have extra straps which convert them into satchels or backpacks which was handy for when we stopped off along the way.
When did you start CycleLove and what as the aim of it?
A few years ago I watched a documentary about street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham which inspired me to start taking photos of people riding bikes. Because I’m a graphic designer by trade, I started doodling minimal bike logos, and the photos plus the logo became CycleLove. It snowballed from there to me doing events, interviews, photoshoots, reviews… anything creative on or around bicycles.
Why do you think cycling is getting so popular?
Cars took over our cities, and it’s taken a while for us to realise that they’ve also been killing them. When messengers started riding old track bikes and the fixed gear scene evolved, cycling was suddenly in fashion again, and slowly that’s trickled down into mainstream culture. That combined with the evolution of dedicated bike infrastructure (with clued-up countries like the Netherlands leading the way) has made cycling much more accessible; it’s usually the fastest way to get around a city. So riding a bike has become both cool and practical. Winning combination!
Riding a bike has become both cool and practical.
Which are your favourite cycling cities?
Having just spent a week there, I’d have to say Antwerp. It’s so much easier for cycling than London, where you always feel like a third class citizen on the road. Paris is also a lot of fun by bike once you get the hang of Vélibs. I’ll try to cycle in any city I visit if possible, although I must admit that I never found the courage to get on a bike when I was in central New York a couple of years ago. They’ve been building a lot of bike lanes there recently so next time I’ll be sure to go for a spin.
What’s your ideal bike?
There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, and I think the same is true for bicycles. So long as it has two wheels and gets me somewhere faster than walking, I’m happy.
What do you think of public bike service in cities?
I love them, because they give people who wouldn’t usually cycle a chance to try it out. When I’m going out in London I’ll try and use a Boris Bike instead of public transport whenever possible, and it actually ends up cheaper if you take more than one trip.
Your favourite hotspots in London are…
The lobby of Ace Hotel
for a coffee (from Bulldog Edition next door)… it’s like a playground for adults. A walk or cycle around Victoria Park for mental decompression after a long day. The Adam And Eve pub
in Homerton for a pint; it’s a traditional boozer with amazing food from Cornwall.
Tell us 10 top songs to listen to while you ride your bike…
(I don’t actually listen to music when I’m cycling but if I did, it might be something like this)
You never thought you’d end up…
Being seen as stylish. Photos of me on a bike are always turning up in funny places and it makes me laugh because fashion was never my strong point.
The phrase “a keen cyclist”. It’s so lazy, people use it for anyone who’s into cycling and it pisses me off.
Honest. With yourself (always) and with other people (so long as you’re not hurting them).