#Ride #Love #Share: Portraits of Everyday Cyclists, born to bike!

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#Ride #Love #Share: Portraits of Everyday Cyclists, born to bike!
January 2021

#Ride #Love #Share rolls on with three more ordinary cyclists - with extraordinary stories to tell!

In the previously painted portraits of Anna, Laura, Gustavo and Victor, we’ve seen how the bike can be a reliable companion, both in everyday life and on long journeys, providing certainty and stability in a constantly changing world. (If you missed their stories, you can read them here.)

For our latest instalment, we meet up with Antonella, Romain and Berend, three passionate cyclists with a common thread that runs throughout each of their lives. In addition to a strong enthusiasm for two wheels, these portraits all feature cyclists who were born to bike, learning to ride at a very young age and carrying that passion with them throughout their entire existence - to the extent that, for two of them, bikes have even become a career.

 

Antonella: A Cyclist and Cargo Bike Entrepreneur

If you’ve ever seen a cargo bike in Milan, it's probably thanks to the work of one person. Antonella is the founder and owner of the first cargo bike shop in the city. She proudly states, “I've always ridden a bicycle, but after having two children, I needed a way to travel with them throughout the city. And it certainly couldn't be by car because I don't drive. On a trip to Copenhagen, I saw mothers commuting with their children on cargo bikes. It was love at first sight; I immediately decided to buy one for myself and it changed my life!”

Her shop is called Frida Bike, named after Antonella’s eldest daughter and located in the heart of Milan in a beautiful and inspirational courtyard - so beautiful, it’s even been used as a backdrop for filming several movies and television series. “In 2015, when I decided to open my shop, no one in Milan knew what cargo bikes were. In the beginning, it was not easy; it was a risky choice - a real gamble! Since then, I have handled all the regular shop duties alone. I greet, advise customers and even undertake some mechanical repairs. I love my job!”

But cycling is not just a job for Antonella; it’s a way of life - so much so that she sometimes feels like a cycling activist: “People often stop me while I ride my cargo bike and ask me a lot of questions. I try to show them how it is possible to ride a bike with children, how easy it is and how fun it can be! I actually found my first customers right on the street. They approached me curious to ask about the bike I was riding and then wanted to come to the shop to try it. The greatest satisfaction for me is seeing my customers come back to tell me that their cargo bike has changed their life!"

Antonella tells us about the changes in mobility that she is noticing in her city: “15 years ago, there were very few cyclists in Milan. But these days, due to the global health emergency, many people have decided to get back on the saddle. Of course, among them are people who may not be used to pedalling and are therefore a little inexperienced. There is a new awareness of a need to adopt a new way to move and experience the city - something more sustainable and less hectic. And this new lifestyle also includes cargo bikes.”

 

Romain: A Creative in the Saddle

The hills of the canton of Geneva are the stage on which Romain shows off the bicycles that come out of his atelier. At Hand Bike, Romain gives new life to used bicycles previously destined for the scrap heap. By doing so, just like Antonella in Milan for cargo bikes, Romain has become a leader of bike culture in Geneva.

It all started with his grandfather's bike: “It was very old, and I used it to go to school. I started to work on it a bit, to improve its speed and functionality. When my girlfriend saw the final result, she asked me to do the same thing with her bike. Later, my friends started asking me, too… and then I decided to make this passion my job.”

Over the course of 10 years, Romain has worked on more than 500 bicycles recovered from flea markets around Switzerland and France. "I love to play with the shapes and colours of bikes. In some cases, I do everything to try to preserve the original parts and thus share their history. Other times, however, I completely customize them and give them a new name.”

There are a couple of bikes that Romain is particularly proud of: Theres Hand Grill, the bike I created with a barbecue in the luggage rack and a space dedicated to bottles and plates. Then Raclcyclo, an old, 18 kg bike to which I added a raclette plate on the rear rack and a heated plate for potatoes on the front rack.”

Have you ever seen a bike with a barbecue attached? Or one with a raclette plate on the rear rack? Now you know they exist, and that’s thanks to Romain!

 

Berend: A Young Outdoor and Commuting Enthusiast.

Berend lives in Utrecht where he works as a recruiter at the local University. He loves nature and the outdoors, and always uses his bike whether commuting daily throughout the city or on longer weekend trips. Like every Dutchman, I was born with a bike! I use it to go everywhere, much more than a car. Even when I moved to Sweden to study, I used my bike to get around.”

Asking Berend for some information about his bike, he confesses, Unfortunately I don't have my own bike. They have been stolen from me several times, so I decided not to buy another one. Instead, I rely exclusively on rental bikes.”


Berend loves combining his passion for cycling with a sporty lifestyle. "I pedal for about an hour a day in the city for commuting, to go out with friends or to run errands. When I lived in Sweden, on the weekends I would take bike rides along the coast. And here, too, I often take trips out of town on the many cycle paths that surround Utrecht. Next year, I will participate in a triathlon, so for now, my weekends are dedicated to training to get ready for the race. I cannot wait!”

This passion for two-wheeled vehicles has the ability to inspire, leading many to make bikes a part of their everyday lives. Some are spontaneous ambassadors, incorporating bikes as a natural part of a daily routine, while others decide to go further by turning their love of cycling into a true career. Antonella, Romain and Berend each demonstrate how a cycling lifestyle is possible at any age, in all circumstances, and in every city -  even with a cargo bike in Milan!

If you, too, are a bicycle lover and want to share your experiences with us, please fill out the form and send us your story. And keep following us for more extraordinary stories from ordinary cyclists! #Ride #Love #Share

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