In the 1980’s China became widely known as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” — 76% of Beijing’s road space was occupied by bikes. Today, the situation has changed drastically, but we haven’t forgotten about the bike.
We planned the first annual Suit Geek Ride to give some of our friends and customers a reason to put on a suit and ride around town, making a few stops at some iconic locations and a couple bars along the way.
We asked a few friends some questions about riding and wanted to share them with you.
What makes riding a bike special?
“I remember when I was a kid. Riding was freedom. I could go anywhere I wanted—or at least within a reasonable distance allowed by my mom.
Today, I still love riding my bike and for some of the same reasons. Riding is also a great way to get some exercise and reduce our carbon footprint. “
What do you normally wear when riding a bicycle？
“I never really thought about how I dress when I ride—I normally wear suits, so it wouldn’t be strange if you saw me riding around town in a suit.”
“Around the time when shared bikes just started hitting the street, my wife helped me register an account to rent an Ofo bike to pick up medicine for my elderly father at Chaoyang Hospital, unfortunately at that time the seat of the bike was not adjustable and I gave up after riding for a while! Based on the bad experience, I never rode a bike after that until this ride!”
Your First Bike？
“My first bike was also the bike I had for the longest period of time. I remember it was a new Fei Ge 26 men’s bike (don’t ask me why I bought a 26), bought with cash and industrial coupons. It accompanied me for half of my elementary school and secondary school years, until I lost it at school for staying out and playing for too long… Since then I had been riding my mother’s women’s bike! Been ridiculed until graduation from high school …”
Compared to Before the Year 2000 and now, does it get more convenient to cycle？
“I am a firm believer of ‘If <3km, walk, If <5km, ride’. Although, currently I rarely have chances to travel anywhere further than 3 km, which is also one of the reasons I do not ride a bike. With shared bicycles, I think cycling is definitely the prime choice for traveling between 3-5 km especially in some parts of the old neighborhoods where you can hardly find a parking space. The only difference between now and before is nowadays the number of motor vehicles has significantly grown, there’s also more unfriendly behavior towards cyclists, so you must pay attention to safety when cycling.”
“If my destination is under 10km, I’ll ride my bike.”
Which do you care more about when picking a new bike, look or function？
“Initially before picking a bike, I put function first, such as speed, weight, stability design and those kinds of things.
Of course, what you think at the beginning usually has nothing to do with the end result – whoever invented the phone, Bell or Meucci, certainly didn’t think it would turn out to be a tool for telecom scams – Anyway, all my bikes that were brought home were solely for the reason of being “good-looking”. And as time goes by, I would add more shiny embellishments to the point where there is no empty space for more decorations. As a result, both my folding bike and city bike became very much like a “float” for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
During the ride, Mr. Bao and Mr. Jamen, who smoke out of pipes, both told me in a serious tone that at this age, less is more. I hope those who come after me will take this piece of wise advice.”
Any thoughts and tips on how to take care of a bike？
“I dust and polish my two ‘fancy’ bicycles regularly, to the point where it’s too smooth for flies to stand on without crutches. But then, the intention of the bicycle, which is to carry people around town to explore, somehow gets lost. My meticulous care for my bikes turns them into large tchochkes. Likewise with clothes, as long as you don’t put them through purgatory and give them a proper cleaning at the end of each season, that should be enough caring. Hanging them up like in the museum would be a waste of tailors’ hard work and the sheep who were shaved bald for it.”
Can you share a memorable thing that happened when riding a bike?
“I can tell a story of my friend (I promise it’s not myself). My girlfriend, who is a young lady with extraordinary biking skills, rides so fast that even the a champion horse with a carrot hanging before it may not be able to catch her. She should audition for the new Flash movie, seriously.
Then one day, to no one’s surprise, she avenged all the people who have been scared by the reckless takeout scooters by riding her bright yellow steel-framed road bike into a motorcycle which was also painted yellow.
The story teaches us two things: first is always pay attention to red lights even if you’re a trained cyclist, and the second is that you should not ride too fast if you have bad vision. (Our lady in the story are both of those things, I think she must be the Chosen One, the so-called Akimori Maru.)”
“I like cycling because It’s good for time control without the constraints of other traffic conditions.”
The longest time you have had a bike for?
“The bike I had owned continuously for the longest period of time was the first bike I bought while I was in college. I had it for more than 8 years, then it kind of faded out of my life, and after another 4-5 years, I gave it to a friend.”
Best place for cycling with a partner?
“If I can pick a location to ride with my significant other, I would like to take her to the campus of PKU, where there is an ideal cycling environment and a vibrant culture.”
Share a memorable thing that happened when riding a bike?
“Once I was riding a bike to school and I went a little crazy, a classmate saw me on the bus and asked me later dead seriously, you bought a new motorcycle?”
“I ride my bike to and from work on most days. It’s a great way to get some exercise, it’s also better for the environment.”
“I ride to work, it’s a great city for riding. It’s also a perfect way to see the city.”
“The bicycle for me in Beijing really open up the city, you know, explore the city, meeting new friends, and so on.”
I hope this ride might inspire folks to ride a bike once in a while—if they don’t already—for all of the health benefits, convenience and for a greener future….and of course, to ride in style and have fun! □ PRINCIPLE M
Interviewer & Writer: Justin Photographer: Adora Cinematographer: Nicolas Schmmit Produced by PRINCIPLE M