Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

When I traveled to France in August for this year's Paris Brest Paris, bikes were on my mind. I saw them everywhere -- on the streets, on the PBP route, at work and at play, in art and in advertising. As you'll see, les vélos are a big part of the French culture.

Here's a rack of the Velib bikes, a new self-service bicycle transit system launched by the city of Paris in July. More than 10,000 bikes, equipped with baskets and generator lights, can be rented at 750 locations around the city for as little as 1 Euro a day. The program looks to be wildly successful. We saw the stylish bikes everywhere we turned.

While touring the City of Paris Museum, I spotted this painting of a track race.

What better way to announce that La Samaritaine department store is closed for renovations than with a bicycle poster. Check out the dog in the basket.

This poster was in the door of an art shop just down the street from our hotel near the Bastille. Unfortunately the exhibit ended a few days before we arrived in Paris. That cyclist is in a very unorthodox riding position. Good posture, though.

Here's my very own steed on the train to St. Quentin for bike inspection. Certain train cars are equipped with hooks to hang the bikes out of the way.

You'll see lots of shots of bikes parked outside the gynasium in St. Quentin, where PBP check-in was held. I liked the way theses bikes lined up on the railing beside the soccer field.

Ende took this shot of English rider Drew Buck's vintage bike with a "retodrive" transmission, a two-speed set-up which required Drew to pedal his bike backwards uphill! Read more about retrodrive bikes here.

Here's Drew in action. I snapped this shot of him just outside Brest. Why the onions and the unusual bike garb? Read more about "Onion Johnnies" here.

Here's Cap'n Ende lifting his bike in a victory celebration on the Brest pedestrian bridge. "Careful," I warned him, "I've read that can cause kidney stones."

I took this shot of a postal carrier's bike in St. Jean de Luz. Notice the official emblem, La Poste, on the front bag and the down tube. Does the USPS use bikes? If they do, I've never seen 'em.

I took this shot of a bank poster in St. Jean de Luz. Why does this remind me of my buddy JoeRay? Hmm... that grade looks steeper than 3%....

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