Well dear Reader,
this is a very important post, quite like in fact any post on this site, which is going to be a Dickensian view in depth of the mores of french, and american biking.
If you have little interest in the " petite reine," or in our plain english "the little queen ," as the french call the Bike, then you might be advised to skip this important post.
So in United States, the bikers fall into two categories, the real normal bikers, like for example these :
and those are the regular normal bikers. That means they have special light helmets, special tee-shirt made of very complex artificial fabric, with lots of little ads on it, special biker shoes, special bikers socks, same complex fabric, special wrist-band for the sweat, all this on top of a special light runners bike with special water bottle.
There is a little lance-amstrong-flavorish to the ensemble.
If you look at this regular American biker in his, or her totality, you could say this is a great hommage to the by-products of our oil industry.
And this, dear Reader, is how a regular biker, 1st category, looks like, at least where the Reporter usually lives. And this seems the high, high majority of the whole lot. We are talking here of about 96%.
Then there is a 2nd category of bikers, and those, we have to sadly say, are looked somewhat scornfully on by the first category.
Those bikers are usually using older types of bikes, perhaps a little more family-looking like, sometimes, < gasp >, no helmet, " les cheveux au vent" say the french, which only means " hair in the wind" really, they drive a slightly slower more erratic line, they wear inappropriate jeans, no wrist-band at all, they laugh a lot, chat at the red light and start late, in one word or rather six, they seem to enjoy the ride.
When you think deeply about this, it shows that only 4 % of the entire bikers population enjoy the ride, which is kind of sad really.
Now this was for the Americans.
We proceed now to the french mores.
France being a group of very grumpy people, this is where the study is particularly striking.
We would say that we do find the same similar accoutrement [ a french word ] in french bikers as in the hommage to the by-products of the oil industry, but those are in fact of an infinitely small proportion.
We could say that about 4 % of the french bikers population would have the courage to add to their line of clothing the very special accoutrement of the oil industry.
And we have to say, in the same sad way as before, that the rest of the 96 % looks down on them.
I mean, if you have french friends who in fact have in their closet the special accoutrement, you may be sure that they will use it in the very early hours of the morning, at dawn, when no one is in sight.
Which in fact makes the figures on the french study somewhat hazy, but then, you know, there is a lot of haziness about the french, unlike our courageous transparency here.
This being said, and I know many of you are thinking ' Well, now, I know everything about the french bikers majority, they wear no helmet, hair in the wind, no wristband, and they enjoy it. Period.'
Well unfortunately, dear Reader, not so fast, for as in everything, the french are much more complex than that.
First, they invented the Bicycle. You should as well know that, immediately. Never mind that supposedly it was Baron Karl von Drais who first introduced it in Mannheim [ Germany ] in 1817 and then in Paris [ France ] in 1818, ask any real parisian, you will see that wikipedia has it all wrong.
So, because the french invented the Bicycle or " petite reine," well it was normal that the Bon Marche would devote an entire block of its elaborate ground floor to the regular biker.
So, if you visit the Bon Marche in Paris, and are interested in biking the simple french way, first here is the name of that little devoted area :
" en selle Marcel " means "up the saddle Marcel " now Marcel rhymes with "selle," but honestly Marcel was like a very common low grade undistinguished sort of name in the 50s.
No one wanted to be named Marcel, but as in every hipster historical period, there is now a revival of all those vilified names, and now,
in the toniest parts of paris there is a lot of little Marcels being born and baptized. So, " en selle, Marcel."
Next starts the difficult choices of the standard french biker :
First the Bike,
none of that finicky graphite amstrongish bike here, but this one instead :
pliable, folding on itself, and in the Bugatti blue color.
Nice, simple, effective, low key. Fits in the narrow french parisian elevator.
IF, you don't like the idea of folding your bike, then it comes to :
that one, or the next,
as you see, pale blue, or black. Nothing else.
Then comes the real essential : the bag to be attached under the back of the saddle.
Now we will have none of those unnatural crude by-products, but this is the perfectly small sized standard leather baglet that you will treasure all of your short life.
Then to put in the little baglet, the essential " rustines," those are the natural rubber bandages you will put on the holes in your tire, made by diverse french pot holes you may find on french roads.
Add to the rustines, the safety chains next. and their cute padlocks in diverse colors,
then most important comes "la sonnette" or in plain speaking: "the ring" :
this one below is similar to the one the Reporter had in the fifties when she was barely born, and was given a byciclette as a standard thing to have to move to another place, " les cheveux au vent" hair in the wind, and enjoy the ride, when you are a french little one.
In the second pic, you also have today a choice of painted ring, with like gold fish on them, sort of Chinese flavored, not at all the thing if you ask me.
although you can also choose the more sonorous appendice :
along with the pump to pump up your tires at night.
So, as you see dear Reader, there are definitely slight differences between what is the accoutrement of the standard bike rider in America, and the one of the very standard french.
The french just think that biking is principally to be used to go buy croissants, or get to take a stroll at the farmers market. Biking is not for exercise. Then the french will pedal back to their home, and stand in front of tv, for a minute and a half, and scream at the monitor because their favorite biker in the Tour de France is placing only 14 at the end of that fourth day of the race.
Then they will shrug, and tell you again that biking is " pour faire des courses," which in plain english is, " to run errands," with all your rustines and sonnettes, but certainly not for exercise.
Exercise is for " ces fous" or in plain english, " these nuts" that ride le Tour de France.
Such are the mores in the world of french bikers.
With all love,