Bicycle Diaries: What <i>velo</i>punk isn't

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23.12.08

What velopunk isn't

a few thoughts in the
season of commodification


Over at AlterNet there's a great excerpt of Chris Carlsson's Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners Are Inventing the Future Today! It points to the rise of a new bikekultur with examples such as our own, local Rat Patrol. What makes this new sub-culture different from the wheelmen/women of the 19th and 20th Centuries as well as the Share the Road advocates of the 20th is it's emphasis on
... localism, a more human paced, more face-to-face interaction, hands- on technological self-sufficiency, reuse and recycling, and a healthy urban environment that is friendly to self-propulsion, pleasant smells and sights, and human conviviality.
The Rat Patrol, in particular, rejects the one-up-man-ship of 5k Bianchis, style-driven Lycra, and weekend warrior bike paths. As I read this and other insights I couldn't help thinking of my own sub-sub-culture of gentlemen & lady cyclists. While we don't share the Rat's love of homemade freakbikes, we do start with the same beaterbike medium in restoring the glories of lightweight touring. And in donning classic kit we certainly agree with with the Rat's rather exhaustive manifesto:
• Abnormal concern with perfect finish and perfect operation of the bicycle
• Keeps glossy bicycling magazines under the mattress
• Suggests you should buy new equipment instead of repairing old bicycle • Always rides in superhero tights
• When riding, is more concerned with speed and distance covered than scenery or places visited
• Unable to hold a conversation unrelated to bicycles or biking
• Paranoid delusion that he/she is being persecuted for his/her hobby
• Speech is sprinkled with component brand names
• Constant desire to witness bicycle's transforming power in his/her own life
• Believes that biking is a morally superior choice, therefore befitting a morally superior attitude
• Attempts to bring bicycle-related issues into every conversation
• Awkward duck walk caused by wearing cleated bike shoes into roadside businesses
• Easily impressed with expensive equipment and celebrity endorsements
• Wears helmet even when not on bike

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