Punk Rock, Tweeds and Cycling!!

1. Punk Rock:

Musically and culturally I’ve always been something of a left-field kind of chap. And in many ways cycling is one strand of that general approach to life – the desire to travel around under one’s own steam and not require anything more expensive than constant cups of strong coffee and cake is a statement of coolness.

So it’s no surprise that I have been mining the web for blogs and websites that share this world view. My dubious heritage, such that it is, stems from my teenage years in the early 1980’s when, stupidly punk and incontestably gangly, my only option was to bike and ride the train. I’ve never lost the love of cycling and now, quarter of a century later, it’s still with me and helping me keep fit, lose weight and have fun.

So when I stumbled across movingtargetzine.com recently, I was fascinated to find that the counter culture is still alive and kicking. Started many yeears ago as a photocopied fanzine by a guy called Buffalo Bill,it is now a blog that apparently serves the cycle messenger community of London.  How hip can a cat get, we might enquire!

Seemingly a cross between Schott’s Miscellany and a sixth-form newsletter, its news pages cry “Posh John and Natt in Observer Woman!” and “10 motorcycle couriers killed in a year in Istanbul“.  The fact that it is only 10 a year is something of a miracle I would imagine.

The editor is apparently a keen bicycle polo player and represents Shoreditch at his sport (the cycle courier scene appears to be quiveringly trendy).  But it’s a fascinating read and I guess it’s about as close to the streets as you can get.  Err, dude.

Next in line is House of Pistard, whose truly punk rock strapline is ‘Destroying Cycling’ – an ambitious mission if ever there were one.  They have a mission statement that reads:

WE COURIER.
WE FANNY ABOUT.
WE PRINT TEE SHIRTS.
IN THAT ORDER.

which is admirable in the extreme.  They are a clothing supplier and their hooded tops are de rigeur amongst the committed couriers of East London, but again the blog is a rich seam of city life and stories and events that stem from it.

Awlright! as Julian Cope would probably say.

The fixie scene is also a big part of the courier tradition, these guys having been the key users of fixed wheel bikes for many years.  Therefore another excellent site, Fixomatosis, caters for them.  Part blog and part photography, this site contains pictures of track and fixed wheel action featuring dudes with tattoos and punky t-shirts a plenty.

Messmedia is a American/Canadian site which again caters for the delivery industry, with some cool shots of what is supposedly the new trend in courier bikes, this:

The Butchers Bike 2009

The Butcher's Bike 2009

You see, the Surly Big Dummy isn’t just for laffs after all – if you want to cut it on the mean streets of Hackney, this is the new thing to have.

Finally a question – name any bands that were big into cycling over the years.  Kraftwerk are the obvious ones, and remember the Age of Chance??

A dodgy 80s indie band from Sheffield!

A dodgy 80's indie band from Sheffield!

2. Not Punk Rock – Decorum is the new Black!

Well all that is ok, and if you’re sometimes an excitable chap like myself then it is all very well, but sometimes there is a case to be made for relaxing and NOT trying to make the club speed on a run.  For these moments, all too common I’m afraid as I age, there is the unmistakably English Tweed Cycling Club, also based in the trendy East End of London.

The quintessential butchers bike

The quintessential butcher's bike

Putting us all in our place with the assertion that:

“Discerning cyclists realise that bicycle technology reached its pinnacle in the 1970’s and everything since is just marketing”

, the Tweed CC are chaps and chapesses with a definitely laid back view of the cycling world.  With a seemingly active membership and regular routes through London and the South East (my interest was piqued by the idea of the Dunwich Dynamo, where the club rides through the night, presumably dodging container trucks up the A12, to have a bracing morning dip in the sea at Dunwich in good old Suffolk.

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2 responses

  1. “Musically and culturally I’ve always been something of a left-field kind of chap”….
    What kind of fields have you been hanging around in down there Paul? Would it be that be that one there, adjacent to the one on the far-right?!!!!!

    March 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm

  2. Pingback: Shoes and Tweed again « flamme rouge

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