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Cycling Symphonies with ‘Koor de Stemming’

8 Aug

In what must have been the sunniest weekend this year, Amsterdam choir ‘Koor de Stemming‘ visited Dublin. To mark the occassion ot their visit, bear bicycles and the Dutch Embassy Dublin organised ‘Cycling Symphonies’ — a hit-and-run a capella concert tour through Dublin; on Dutch bicycles and delivery bicycles.

Here’s the video:


And here’s a look behind the scenes.

Before you watch this, it’s good to know that before the choir started its tour, one of its singers helped inflate the bicycle tyres of some bikes to well beyond the maximum capacity. When you then add in those tyres subsequently got to roast in the sun for several hours (causing them to expand), you’ll see the result is a ‘blowout’ (in Dutch: ‘klapband’).

Our filmmaker Paddy Cahill captured its sound, and the ensuing looks on several soprano faces.

Cycling Art in Summer Bike Competition

28 Jul

Bear bicycles, a company selling Dutch bicycles in Dublin, is organising a competition to win a Summer Bike. Since we sort of know the people at Bear (feel free to investigate the link between this independent cycling advocacy blog and this Dutch bike shop), we are in the unique position to give our readers a preview of some of the applications in that contest so far.

We encourage all our readers to put on their creative caps, and to submit a piece of ‘Cyling Art’ in Bear’s competition —  check out this link and see how you can win a Dutch bicycle for the Summer.


Barcelona’s Bike Babe

20 Jun

Txell and Steven

Txell Hernandez Gill is a Barcelona born bike babe. In her spare time, she runs Barcelona’s Cycle Chic chapter, which she set up two years ago. In the daytime, she works for BACC (a Catalonian cycling organisation). But the two jobs aren’t enough to satisfy her cycling appetite. Txell’s Belgian born boyfriend Steven is also heavily into cycling. He moved to Barcelona 10 years ago for a 6 month internship, but ended up staying to set up a bike courier company: Pedal. Now he and his colleagues cycle the city in black clothes on Bullit cargo bikes, darting past traffic to get deliveries there faster*.

Txell was also responsible for the program of the Cycle Chic Blogger Conference we’ve been blogging about this weekend. We have already written about the Cycle Chic Breakfast and conference venue with bikes in the bathtub. The last item we want to share: our guided cycling tour through San Joan Despi, a small town located 20 minutes by train from Barcelona.

St Joan Despi is worth a visit for three reasons. First, it is the home of Jujol (Gaudi’s most famous disciple). Second, it’s where FC Barcelona (a football club that recently won a trophy) has its training camp. And finally: the people of San Joan Despi are increasingly into cycling – which is why their mayor organised a private cycling tour through his town for us.

The mayor also arranged for a private police escort. As we moved from modernist cultural heritage to the pitch of FC Barcelona’s training site, the Catalonian police officers whizzed by on electric bikes – halting at junctions, blowing their whistles, stopping all traffic. When we parked our bikes to go into a modernist building and hear our guide elaborate on the architect’s religious background (one of Jujol’s buildings is wholly dedicated to Virgin Mary), the officers would stay outside to guard them. At the closing reception in the local library – with tortilla, bocaditos con Jamon, and a musical quartet playing guitarra music – the police even helped us carry our bikes into the patio.

Secure bike parking in San Joan Despi

The evening ended with a night time bike ride back to Barcelona city (film footage should be on Mikael Colville-Andersen’s ‘Copenhagen Cycle Chic’ shortly). There, in the Barcelonetta neighbourhood, we went for a drink to celebrate cycling.

At the bar, the security for stalling our bikes was again well taken care of. The bouncer couldn’t take his eyes off our folded Brompton bikes.

* Note for our Dublin readers: Pedal BCN reminded us of Velocity Couriers here in Dublin; who have the exact same cargo bike; except theirs is white. And their outfit is green.

Modernist building by San Joan Despi -- in foreground: Mikael Colville Andersen (Copenhagen), Anne Williams (Montreal), and Maria Elisa Ojeda (Barcelona)

Cycle Chic Bloggers enter FC Barcelona's training grounds

Bouncer watching Brompton bikes

Cycle Chic Breakfast in Barcelona

17 Jun

We’re in Barcelona this weekend, to attend the Cycle Chic Blogger Conference. It also happens to be Barcelona’s bike week. As a part of that bike week, Barcelona Cycle Chic and BACC (Catalunya’s cyclist organisation) organised a ‘Cycle Chic Breakfast’ today.

At 7.00 A.M., they rolled out red carpets on various spots in the city: under the Arc de Triomf, on a square near Passeig de Gracia, and on a junction close to the Sagrada Familia. They set up a tent with food next to the red carpet, and then stopped cycling commuters with a fresh juice and a snack.  The cycling commuters could also have their pictures taken, in a contest to win a vintage bike.

We had the honour of being the photographer at the Sagrada Familia junction. It was a privilige to get close-up looks at such an amount and variety of cyclists in the Barcelona rush hour. Here are some of our favourite shots.





Filming in the Rain, with the Dublin Cycling Campaign

13 Jun

Cycling Campaigners Dublin line up for Cycling Film

Yesterday, we were shooting a film for the Dublin Cycling Campaign.  The Campaign consists of a colourful cast of characters, each of which would merit a separate full feature film.

For example: I would love to write a script for a comedy with Paddy (a film maker) and his brother Conor (a webdesigner); the duo from Limerick only communicate by cracking jokes anyway. Similarly, I could think of a classic Victorian costume drama featuring Georgia and Nicola. They design gorgeous garments that bring back the days of James Joyce, and a film would help on their mission to inject style in Dublin’s cycling culture. I could also think of an action film with Will, Damien and Colm — thoughtful and tenured Campaigners that have a James Bond like quality to them.

Together, these film stars have been doing ground breaking work for cycling in Dublin for over 15 years. Now, with cycling on the rise, they need more members. For that reason, we built a film set along the Grand Canal yesterday to shoot a promotional film.

Our film maker Paddy had found a unique camera dolly for filming: a big cargo bike. Together with his sound technician Justin, he got into the bike’s cargo load to shoot the film looking backwards, thus capturing a smiling line of Cycling Campaigners passing by. Paddy suggested Conor would be good at cycling the cargo bike, and Conor agreed. Of course, at that point Conor didn’t know the cargo bike’s battery assistance would be turned off to prevent interference with the sound.

It was also decided that the film would take place in the rain. Dublin has a poor image when it comes to the weather (when we moved here from Amsterdam, we received several umbrella’s as going away gift). To use that poor perception to our advantage, we went for an unconventional tongue in cheek approach – the actors advocating joys of cycling with smiles and dripping wet faces. For fifteen runs, they cycled behind the cargo bike, delivered their line, turned around, an queued up in the rain for the next take.

The result was great, and the film will appear on this blog shortly.

After filming, the Campaigners regrouped in a Smyths Pub on Haddington Road, where film maker Paddy thanked them for acting; saying he was very happy.

Happy about the film; and happy about staying dry himself, in the back of the cargo bike.

Cycling Film Crew Setting Up

Cycling Film Crew - in the cargo load - nice and dry

Intelligent Deliveries

Camera, Lights, Action

The Filmset: Rainy Grand Canal

Cycle Chic Blogger Conference — send us your stuff

29 May

In two weeks, we will be attending the Cycle Chic Blogger Conference in Barcelona. ‘Cycle Chic‘ is a concept Mikael Colville-Andersen invented in Copenhagen. Its aim is to show the style in cycling. Colville-Andersen started in 2006, and has since then spread  Cycle Chic over the internet faster than a bowl of crisps is passed around at a house warming party. Cycle Chic now has worldwide coverage, with bloggers in all the major cities showing how bikes and beauty are a natural combination. The bloggers avoid anything with helmets and lycra, and seem to have a preference for ladies on traditional bikes (who wouldn’t?).

In Barcelona we will be meeting those bloggers to hear about cycling from Seville to Sydney to Sacramento — and then some.

We, in turn, will show what Dublin has to offer on stylish cycling. And that’s where you can help. If you have footage of our city’s Chic Cyclists, let us know.

I am posting some Cycle Chic material from Dublin below, to set you off in the right direction. But please feel free to contribute anything you have — films or foto’s; poetry or prose.

Lady on bicycle, Dublin 8 (by Rich Gilligan)

Ladies cycling on o' Connel Street, Dublin

Lady Cyclist on Dublin bike, near Beckett Bridge (by Cian Ginty)

Bloom in the Park: Irish Crafts and Dutch Bicycles

7 May

a touristy Ireland poster

When we first arrived in Dublin, we used to browse through tourist shops a lot. Learning what the tourism industry sees as the country’s unique selling points, is a good way of getting your bearings in a foreign country.

Being Dutch, we hardly ever bought anything, but we did fall in love with Ireland instantly. Not because of those posters with rolling green hills, that give the impression you can bump into Gandalf the Grey here at any given moment.

Gandalf the Grey

No – we fell in love with Ireland because of the country’s attention to its traditional crafts. Where Dutch tourist shops are stacked with plastic windmills made in China, Irish tourist shops reserve the prime spots for hand knit Aran scarves, woodworked gardening instruments, or relish from Ballymaloe.

As we spent more time in Ireland, we learned the love for traditional crafts isn’t confined to tourist shops either. At the Electric Picnic music festival last year, we were surprised to find woodcutting workshops, embroidery classes and slow food sit-ins – a welcome change to dancing to loud rock music amidst a lager-fuelled crowd of hipsters.

And now, the traditional crafts are coming to Dublin, with ‘Bloom in the Park’; a festival that brings the best of Irish horticulture and food.

This Friday, we were at Bloom in the Park’s opening photo shoot. Ceramist Colm de Rís, garden designer Jane McCorkell, broadcaster Ella McSweeney, and Bord Bia show manager Gary Graham were riding matte green Dutch bicycles, with crates overflowing with food and flowers.

broadcaster Ella McSweeney and elves in the Phoenix Park

Little girls were dancing around them, dressed like elves – their high laughs accompanying the rustle of the leaves in Phoenix Park’s ancient trees. In a blur, the bicycles seemed to transform to horses, and the little girls seemed to float around them, arms waving and wings flapping.

It may have been our imagination, but for a moment, in the background, we thought we saw a tall man with a grey beard and pointed hat standing among the trees – almost as if Gandalf had also turned up for the  photo shoot.

(l-r) Colm de Rís, Ceramicist representing Crafts Council of Ireland clients, Jane McCorkell, 2010 Bloom Garden Design Winner, Ella McSweeney, Broadcaster and MC of the Chef’s Summer Kitchen at Bloom and Gary Graham, Bord Bia Show Manager

Bord Bia’s Bloom which takes place over the June Bank Holiday Weekend for five days from Thursday June 2nd to Monday June 6th

Delivery bicycles and Little Green Fingers

10 Apr

Children should be playing outside. Research shows it increases their physical and mental health. That’s why Caitriona Walsh set up ‘Little Green Fingers’, Ireland’s first child minding service that does all its activities outdoors – with help of a Dutch delivery bicycle. Yesterday, Little Green Fingers was awarded the Early Childhood Ireland Innovation Award. Caitriona and her children showed up in their delivery bike to receive the Award.

Like normal childcare facilities, Little Green Fingers has literacy and numeracy games, such as number treasure hunts, telling stories, or rhyme exercises. The difference is: Little Green Fingers does it all outside. Caitriona uses a Dutch delivery bicycle to transport the children to the beach, the woods, or to excursions. She and the children spend delivery bicycle trips singing, pointing, and discussing surroundings. Special outdoor waterproof clothing keeps the children comfortable, regardless of the weather, and specially designed cameras allow them to document their outdoor adventures each day.

Caitriona set up Little Green Fingers because she saw a need for alternative child care. Caitriona says “children spend too much time in an artificial world, and not enough time in the real world.” With Little Green Fingers, she aims to teach children about animals, plants and garden work. With the delivery bicycle, Catriona also takes children to the fire station, Newbridge farm or other local attractions, to give them an understanding of their community.

The Malahide community, where Caitriona is currently based, is lucky to have her. Let’s hope the Award paves the way for similar concepts in the Dublin community.

For more information, check the Little Green Fingers website:

Digital Marketing and Bikes

4 Apr

bear bicycles @ Gallery Number One -- matte red Dutch bicycle

Digital marketing agency Ebow may primarily be an expert in the digital world, but that does not mean it has forgotten about the physical world.

To build a bridge between ‘offline’ and ‘online’, Ebow has set up a portal; a wormhole connecting the world wide web to earth. Through it, online businesses warp their products into the real world. And this spring, the wormhole is warping Dutch bicycles – in matte pink, gold, green, red, and fuchsia. Where is this wormhole? It’s right here, in Dublin’s Gallery Number One.

The Gallery – with its big windows, QR codes and art – is the brainchild of Ebow’s owner, David Douglas. He describes the Gallery as his ‘digital playground’. The centerpiece of the Gallery is a 6 square foot close up of Tom Waits; hiding under his hat, hands with outstretched fingers next to his face, the beginning of a grin on his lips — like he’s playing hide and seek with his audience. The rest of the Gallery is filled with art by Matthew Knight – a young artist from Belfast who got inspiration for his art when living in Amsterdam. Knight’s most remarkable piece is a yellow Statoil jerry can. On it, the artist painted a bloated green gherkin on a tricycle. The gherkin has a cowboy hat and revolver, and it shoots you a look that leaves you unsure whether you should run away or give it a hug.

The rest of the Gallery is filled with Dutch bicycles and delivery bicycles, brought to Dublin by bear. Bear is a bicycle company from Amsterdam, that set up an online shop in Dublin last August. Via their website, bear aims to sell high quality Dutch bikes at the lowest possible price. Recently, bear launched its ‘Embrace the Spring’ bicycle exhibition in the Gallery, to mark the beginning of its ‘Cycle the Seasons’ campaign. Bear will be releasing a new, distinct Dutch bicycle for each season, starting with their matte green spring bike (bear won’t say what colours are still to come). Bear notes their bikes are suitable for all seasons, saying their “spring bike will also work in winter”.

Last Friday, the art, photo and bike exhibition opened with a launch party. The Gallery space was quickly filled, people walked around or stood chatting outside. Ebow had chosen to serve sunny Sol beers; a sign summer is coming and winter is still far, far away.

Ebow serving Sol at the bear bicycles launch party

David Douglas checking out a delivery bike by bear

a delivery bicycle and a kiss

matte green bicycle, safely suspended above child's head

dutch bicycles in fuchsia

chatting outside

Tom Waits (right) and delivery bike (left)

a lady and a matte pink bicycle

STATOIL, gherkin, tricycle


photos by Elena Hermosa

Cycling in the St Patrick’s Day Parade

17 Mar

On St Patrick’s Day, we Dutch got a unique chance to be as Dublin as we can be.

Because we’re into bicycles, we’re member of the Dublin Cycling Campaign. And because of that, we got to join in the last act of the official St Patrick’s Day parade: a host of Dublin cyclists, dressed in white green t-shirts with ‘That Was Brilliant’ written on the back.

And indeed: it was brilliant. Together with forty other cyclists, we met on Dublin’s north side and from there slowly made our way through the city. I thought the purpose of parades was to amuse spectators:  to let them clap, cheer, hug and sing — safe and anonymous from within a crowd.

However, today I found out that there is actually more to see from a spot within the parade. From the inside, I saw the real attraction is the crowd itself – not the parade. It gave rise to a theory: rather than serving as entertainment for the spectators, parades may just be an elaborate way of attracting spectators, so that persons parading by have something to look at.

Granted: the theory is far fetched, but it’s less unlikely when you consider what we saw, as we made our way through Dublin: children on shoulders, teenagers in lamp-posts, families on balconies, RTE helicopters and police on horses. Moreover, we saw leprechauns behind bars, rugby teams with shamrock glasses, girls with face paint and viking helmets, musicians without instruments and drunkards making friends.

The whole crowd seemed to work in concert, as if in an effort to perform a play for those lucky enough to walk undisturbed on the inside of the crowd barriers.

Take a look for yourself: