A kind reader recently alerted me to a fantastic article by David Colman about dutch bikes and sophisticated bike fashion and after reading it I figured it was high time the Boulevardier bombard the current bike craze with his two cents…
I thought that David Colman really hit on a few points that I resonate with when it comes to biking, mainly how macho bike culture is and how ludicrous most bikers look when riding. In fact, just thinking about it is honestly pissing the fuck out of me. I’m sorry, but there is nothing radical about the way bike culture is performed right now. The fact there is a gender ratio in bike messengers of about 0% women 100% men in Denver just goes to show how inherently fucked the situation is. It seems everywhere you look, women are either being objectified to sell some bike event or product or are being put down through misogynistic language or posturing. It seems that if you have even the smallest iota of punk points or bike-tough cred all of a sudden it is okay to re-enact the type of dominant patriarchal culture that you might find in frat house. Well this mansy says, YA BASTA!
As far as fashion is concerned, I love David Colman’s term kamikaze messenger-wear because it encapsulates the Xtremism and adolescent stasis of the majority of bike fashion that I see every day. It is a perfect example of function over function, where people either look like their an extra from Waterworld or like some sort of spandex space monkey, when they’re simply riding to work. Plus let’s not forget it’s mainly the young white affluent indie-businessmen that are embracing bike culture, centered around the barely functional, overpriced, fixed gear, as their salvation from becoming the yu.pí that they already are.
Of course, bike culture doesn’t need to be like this at all, there is the Derailer Bike Collective which we all love and adore, a collective run by a majority of women and has S.P.I.N. nights Tuesdays from 4-7, a bike repair class open to wimmin and transfolk as a way to counteract the patriarchy of male dominated bike shops. I’ve also heard that Derailer is in the process of revising the way they bring in new members and encourage participation, so if you’ve ever wanted to be a volunteer at a real diy bike repair and recycling shop, now’s the time! Furthermore, I’d like to give a shout out to mansy C-Con, whose job is to bike through the city helping homeless youth come rain or fucking blizzard. Here’s a mansy that is just making it work and never resorts to the type of kamikaze outfit to get the job done, talk about bike tough in Denver? He’s got it in spades. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the hobos riding the undersized salvaged mountain bike the wrong direction, in the gutter, on 14th, the Boulevardier loves you guys, just don’t get hit!
I also truly enjoyed David Colman’s celebration of biking slow, which is my personal modus operandi. This might come as a surprise to some, but I’m not really into the machismo Jackass-wannabe attitude that posits that in order to ride a bike you have to put your life on the line. I happen to enjoy a leisurely ride through the city and tend to stick to the roads that are designated as bike paths or have a bike lane, and you know that’s working just fine for me. Although, I will say that riding slow was definitely part of the reason I was one of the only four people who has sat in jail overnight for Critical Mass in Denver, I just couldn’t get away fast enough! The other factor was a new fancy haircut I had just gotten, but that’s another post… Yes, they arrested your favorite mansy just for riding a bike! That’s some bullshit if you ask me.
As for my take on bike fashion, I’m still in the experimental phase, I’ve been tinkering with some loud, colorful leggings and britches combos, but it’s not really ready for the streets yet. So in the meantime, here’s my revision of the ‘Bike or Die’ v-neck from the Make Total Destroy colection:
more controversy after the jump!
Post script: In order to understand the comments below, in my original post I referred to the all-male line up of Art-Crank and the Cycle Jerk’s Gang Bang bike race as two example’s of how patriarchy is reflected and propagated here in Denver. In the original post I kind of went crazy and used language that was definitely inflammatory and I felt like it was leading to a lot of hurt feelings, which wasn’t my intention at all, and I’m sorry for that, which is why I took it out. I definitely still take issue with an all male line up of artists and djs for an event like Art Crank that seeks to promotes the bike community but I really just see it as a reflection of the greater patriarchy in bike culture and my only criticism is that it didn’t do enough to fight that trend.
As for Gang Bang, I think that it is totally offensive and callus to call an event that, and given that the flyer is a picture of a women in underwear soliciting a group of male bike messengers only reinforces that. Whether or not a woman helps organize it, I believe this type of imagery promotes patriarchy and sends a message to people that may not know the organizers personally that biking is a men’s only sport. I do want to say that the Cycle Jerks do a lot for the community and work really hard to put together an inclusive event for a lot of people but I think their choice of the name Gang Bang and it’s advertising undermines that.
But definitely read through the comments, it’s a great discussion! I had no idea so many people were this passionate about men’s fashion! But definitely make it to the end, that’s where some of the best posts are, after the conversation dies down a little and people share their ideas… and humor, it actually gets really funny at the end!