In which the Reluctant Cyclist has an evening out.
In an effort to mix my new cycling interest with my more usual propensity for attending museums and galleries, I dragged my chap along to the Victoria and Albert museum in London for one of their marvellous Friday Late presentations. Called 'Eat, Ride, Sleep, Repeat' it was an evening devoted to the design culture surrounding and inspired by bicycles.
Usually more at home in bike shops than museums, the chap was initially nervous about an evening at the V&A but was immediately impressed by finding Ted James Design in the main entrance. This man actually makes bikes by hand. I had to ask what that actually means, and he showed me how he bends the metal for the frames to make the whole thing from scratch. A marvellous lime green example was on show that he had made for his mum. You've got to like someone who spends a month making something for his mother; it certainly beats flowers from the garage.
We then chanced upon a room full of people doing life drawing. There was no need to look away embarrassed, though, as the life models being used were Bobbin bikes and their vintage counterparts. A group of amateur artists were gamely having a go with charcoals and pencils whilst the bikes, to their credit, were staying very still to aid the process.
Passing by a cinema powered by volunteers riding stationary bikes we found more arty goings on with Look Mum No Hands providing coffee that visitors could then use to create coffee cup cyclist pictures in the style of artist Elizabeth Southwood.
In the main sculpture room, amongst the Nero-classical nudes, little stands could be found displaying bicycling oddities such as bicycle taxidermy. If you don't want to get rid of a bicycle, Regan Appleton will turn your family friend into a sculpture, allowing you to hang the handlebars country house style on the wall in place of a big game kill.
Also in the sculpture room was The Indian Bicycle Shop, who import beautiful Twenties style roadsters from the sub-continent. For every ten sold in the UK, the owners then donate one to a schoolgirl in a deprived part of India to support her in continuing her education.
Talking about buying bikes reminded my chap that he had something to tell me. Our abortive expedition to the bike shop last week had given him an idea. The idea was carbon-fibered and costing £3,500. Yes, he had decided to buy a new bike. For himself.
The ensuing argument covered the relative cost of the last car I bought (lower), the amount of bikes which he would then own (6), the amount of actual riding he was likely to do on it (very little) and the prior agreement about whose bike we were meant to be buying (mine).
My final analogy, for what he was spending on a bike, was the same as I'd pay to own a horse, fell a little flat after the chap pointed out that bicycles require considerably less aftercare and maintenance than a four-legged ride. I still felt I'd made my point well, though, until awaking later that evening from a sofa-snooze, I found him ogling bike-porn as he decided which widgets his expensive new love would require. Needless to say, his make-up idea of a bicycling holiday 'for when we both have new bikes' did not strike the right note with me and I am currently awaiting a delivery from Interflora as a result.
We’ll be speaking with the wonderful folk from the Indian Bicycle Shop next week to learn about their work with disadvantaged schoolgirls, so stay tuned.