Monday, November 30, 2009

Folding Fetish: One of the weirdest cycling subcultures

Sometimes I'll be on a long solo ride laboring against a strong headwind. I'll see someone up ahead in a proper bike kit, and I'll start thinking, "Ahhh, maybe it'll be someone who can take turns pulling with me." But when I get closer, I realize that's another one of those folding bike dudes!

There's a big group of them in Guangzhou. I think the folding bike is the second most popular type of rig in the city, after the rusty, grimy dinged-up work bikes ridden by migrants. On some Sundays, many of the folding bike fans get all decked out in Euro team outfits, and they gather in the city's university district. They mostly seem to pose and prance around with their tricked-out, small-wheeled bikes. Some of them even bring their girlfriends with them to snap photos.

I got a kick out of this guy. He's a rebel all right.

I guess when I see these guys in their Euro team kits riding those miniature bikes, I kind of feel the same way a Harley rider probably feels when he sees a guy decked out in leather on a moped. Maybe I'm a bike snob.

The cool thing is that many Chinese - well, not that many actually - now have the leisure time and income to indulge themselves with such hobbies. Life isn't all about posting rip-roaring GDP numbers. It's about finding time to get out and do something fun and interesting. As more and more Chinese can do this, the country will be a much nicer place to live in.

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