Please meet Vitor, a Portuguese bike fanatic who owns and runs Recycled Bicycles here in Amsterdam. He grew up in Lisbon and has been BMX riding since he could pedal a bike. I meet him at his workshop on Spuistraat one rainy day to chat about his shop and his passion for bikes.
How did you end up here in Amsterdam?
I came here for a visit in the early 90s and loved the cycling culture. In ’96 a friend of mine was living here, so I crashed at his place for a month and really got to know the city. I moved here shortly after.
When did you start up Recycled Bicycles?
In around 2002, I was sick of the menial jobs I was doing at the time, tired of working for someone else too. Since I’m a BMX rider I’ve always been around bikes–I love fixing up my own bike and I was already helping out friends too. So I started up the shop to build bikes in 2003. We’ll be celebrating 10 years next month!
Where do get all the parts of the bikes?
When I opened the shop, I built all the bikes from abandoned parts on the streets.But one day, the police came knocking on my door and told me I couldn’t use the abandoned parts from the street or in the trash–that it’s illegal to go through the trash and take home parts of bikes. So now I have to buy the bikes from the Gemeente, like everyone else. I wish they had a better system for the small businesses like mine; I’m competing with so many larger businesses that have much more money.
What is the bike culture like in Lisbon?
Different from Amsterdam, but growing every day. There are many more people on bikes now–not just for exercise, they are going from A to B. One day we’ll see some fietspad in Lisbon…
Do you have other hobbies besides BMX and building bikes?
I also play bike polo. It’s a tight-knit sport right now, just a small group of us here in Amsterdam play, but it’s gaining momentum. I also want to get more into long-distance riding. I did a ride from Paris to Lisbon, and it was an epic journey. I want to do it again, but on a fixed gear bike this time.
Thank you Vitor! Keep on building those bikes.
In September 2012 our Cycle Chic team member Else moved (temporarily) from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires. She has been living here for about four months and already succeeded to set up Buenos Aires Cycle Chic, so we really believe she deserves to be crowned as our Cyclist of the Month!
WHY DID YOU MOVE TO BUENOS AIRES?
After I finished my studies it was a good time to flee the country for a while, not having a permanent job and all. Besides, like so many others, I wanted to experience living in another environment with a different culture, learning a new language, and all that.Although I never visited before, Argentina seemed like the perfect place. It’s a country with a very interesting past and present, beautiful and very diverse nature, lots of sunshine, wine and steaks. And hearing many good stories about Buenos Aires – most of them true – made the choice pretty easy. The ocean separating it from the Netherlands is also a plus.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN BA?
Of course I’m learning Spanish. I also write a little about art and culture – not in Spanish – for a magazine/paper. Besides that I’m organizing a bicycle event with the Netherlands Institute Buenos Aires (NIBA). This institute aims at establishing cultural and scientific exchange between the Netherlands and Argentina. The bicycle event is called Holanda en Bici and will take place in April. There will be an exhibition in the public space, a big bicycle tour and expert meetings about various subjects, like urban planning and infrastructure. The aim is not only to portray the Dutch bicycle culture, but also to hitch in to the current interest and development of the bicycle culture in Buenos Aires and contribute to it.
YOU HAVE STARTED BACC, CONGRATULATIONS WITH THIS. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THIS ALL HAPPENEND?
As I was part of the Amsterdam Cycle Chic-team, it seemed like an obvious choice to continue my involvement with cycling in Buenos Aires. As a Cycle Chic blog promotes the daily use of the bicycle and, at the same time, portrays a city’s cycling culture, it would really add something to the scene here. Besides that it’s just a lot of fun. That’s why I started it and am now blogging with several others (Dutch and Argentinean).
HOW IS LIFE ON 2 WHEELS IN BA?
It’s a bit of a jungle out here. The city is not very bicycle friendly. You have some bicycle lanes, but most of them are narrow and curved. Though you are relieved whenever you encounter one; zigzagging past cars, taxis, buses, motors, etc. can be pretty intense. But besides that, the city is working hard on becoming more bicycle-friendly and getting people to cycle. There is a very colorful and lively bicycle scene. Plus, the city’s landscape is ideal for cycling, and eventhough it might cause you several heart attacks, there’s nothing better than cruising through Buenos Aires on two wheels.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BEFORE COMING BACK TO AMSTERDAM?
I hope Buenos Aires Cycle Chic is fully up and running with a lot of followers and ‘likes’ on our Facebook page, and an enthusiastic team who will continue blogging.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WHAT IS YOUR BIKE LIKE?!
It’s a second hand bicycle, which I bought through Mercado Libre, the Argentinean e-bay. It’s a bit rusty and unstable, but I already got attached to it. As I will not be here forever, it’s perfect for the time being.
Thank you Else for this interview and those nice pictures.
We look forward to seeing you soon in Amsterdam!
Aude, on behalf of the ACC team
Meet ‘Miss fair fashion’ Marieke Eyskoot: her mission is to make fair fashion normal in the Netherlands. “For me fashion is a way to celebrate life. I love it! But it should also be nice for the people who make it. I can’t enjoy clothes that people made in terrible working conditions.” For many years people have asked Marieke where they can buy fair fashion, what to look out for when shopping, easy things they can do for a more ‘fair lifestyle’ and if a fair lifestyle isn’t too expensive? Those questions made Marieke decide to write the book ‘Talking Dress- Vertelt je alles over eerlijke kleding (en lifestyle)’ that was recently published.
‘Talking Dress’ is a guide –written in Dutch – to a fair lifestyle in the Netherlands and Belgium. The book shows you the way to your own fair fashion lifestyle. Ranging from shopping tips to DIY-tricks, from washing instructions to swapping ideas, from clothes to accessories, beauty products, food and even marriage: Talking Dress makes it easy (and fun!) to do good and look great at the same time.
We love Marieke’s book and know that she uses her bike every day, so we asked her for an interview. We met in the lovely fair lunchroom and boutique ‘Beter & Leuk’ on the Eerste Oosterparkstraat.
Marieke and her bike
“This interview is a tribute to my bike. I bought it second hand in 1996 for 100 guilders and I have cycled it daily through the streets of Amsterdam since then.” The frame is from 1967 and it is a classical black Gazelle Dutch bike. But after more than 40 years some essential parts can’t be repaired anymore. So Marieke has to get a new bike. The decision of which bike to get was an easy one; “A Roetz bike of course!” Roetz’ bikes are sustainable and fair bikes made in the Netherlands. (Read more about Roetz on our blog).
“I love to cycle and I use my bike every day, to go to my office, to meetings, to go out and to go for cycles in the weekend. I like to go fast on my bike. It is a great break every day to cycle in between the many meetings, phone calls and long hours behind a computer. The movement, the wind or sun and just being outside for a while make me feel relaxed. When I pass bridges I always slow down a bit, to enjoy the beautiful city and look at the water.”
“I can still clearly remember the moment I learned to cycle. I was with my father practising in the street where I grew up. I was cycling and he was running beside me, holding me. Suddenly I heard him quite far behind me shouting ‘I am not holding you anymore!’ and from that moment on, I could cycle on my own!”
- Order Marieke’s book ’Talking Dress’ (19,95 euros, free shipment in the Netherlands).
- Marieke co-organises MINT, the fair fashion section of international fashion tradeshow Modefabriek
Today our blog is 1 year old! Let’s celebrate it and choose the best picture of the year…all 4 of us (Joni, Else, Meredith and Aude) picked our 2 favorite pictures. Now it is your turn to choose your favorite one among our selection and enter the contest:
Have you made your choice? Please let us know (comment below) or on facebook.
You may be the lucky one winning this saddle cover! There are 3 saddle covers to win, we will pick randomly 3 people who shared their choice with us..so don’t miss it, you have until Friday 21st december!
Ed is born in Assendelft. He moved with his sweet wife Ellie to Amsterdam in the 60’s where they got 3 daughters. Ed retired 8 years ago after having served as a social worker for 30 years. Next to his work, Ed has always been a big collector. He used to pile baskets on his bakfiets and cycle all over Amsterdam, looking for pieces of bikes, etc.
As you can see, both house and bicycle storage contain huge collections of all kinds of items Amsterdammers ever left on the street…
One day, Ed and his wife were asked by their daughter to look after her newborn twins: Ines and Sofia. Ed’s daughter is a graphic designer and works full time from home. She is very good by the way, see here.
As they live on opposite sides of Amsterdam, Ed had to find a solution to go and get Ines and Sofia twice a week.
So 1,5 year ago, Ed decided to give a new life to his bakfiets. He removed the pile of baskets and made this unique creation to carry this precious duo:
The bakfiets itself is actually older than Ed himself! But, as Ed likes to put it: «this sort of quality is nowhere to be found anymore these days».
As you can imagine, they do not go unnoticed. Many tourists as well as locals have already got a snap of them!
This is a picture he took of another of his daughters with some more grandkids:This bakfiets has a nice story :Translation : «The story started with my friend Henk. A long time ago he made a bakfiets in the form of a bible. He used to cycle around Amsterdam with it for years. He also set up the bakfietsclub of Amsterdam. I became myself the chairman, secretary and treasurer. Henk passed away a few years ago. It seemed that his last wish was to be buried in his bible. So we drove him in his bakfiets to his last resting place. Henk’s daughters offered me the undercarriage of the bakfiets. In his attic, Henk still kept a float of a waterplane;just to have something to sail away with, in case a deluge would ever occur. We have then installed the float on the bakfiets and it is still on it today.» Ed Koomen.
Ed never had a car, he is a member of the cyclist union Fietsersbond. He is a real Dutch man; healthy and happy to cycle! Inspired by the Roman times, his motto is «veni, vidie, fietsie».
Ines and Sofia : enjoy the ride!
PS : As it’s never too late to start learning Dutch, here you go: Opa = grandfather and bakfiets = delivery bike
Aude: Where are you from?
Meredith: I am originally from the beautiful Central Coast of California. I first moved to Rotterdam in December 2010, when I just finished urban planning studies at UC Berkeley, and my husband was accepted to graduate school at Erasmus. Now we live in Amsterdam, since July ’12, and totally love it here.
Aude: How do find living in Amsterdam?
Meredith: Of course I dearly miss our friends and family, but our Dutch life is easy to love. I have totally fallen for this city; there’s always something to see, a new adventure every day, a gezellig café to try, and of course, riding a bicycle is so easy and so chic. On the side, I have my own photo blog about our life and travels here called Dutch Pancake.
Aude: Tell us the story about your bike.
Meredith: It was love at first site. I named her Rosa. She is a second-hand Batavus Old Dutch from a bike shop in the Pijp. I added the bike shelf thingie and a second-hand basket from my favorite vintage store on Vijzelstraat.
Aude: How did you find us and why?
Meredith: I met the guy behind Copenhagen Cycle Chic at an event at the Pakhuis and he introduced me to Joni. As an urban planner and cycling fiend (and photography enthusiast), it just seemed natural to be a part of this cycle chic movement. Any way I can promote cycling to the world–I’m in!
Aude: Well, welcome! We’re glad to have you join us!
At Fa. Speijkervet, a recently opened restaurant in Amsterdam West, we meet Jerusa, who works there as a waitress. Living in the East of town, work is a little out of the way, but this cycling-loving lady enjoys the ride. Her firm and traditional bicycle makes it all the more pleasant. Besides, the ride is more than worth it: her brother is chef de cuisine and the menu makes your mouth water (Check out Speijkervet’s Facebook page). No wonder this place is already a settled hotspot.
Next to waitressing, Jerusa’s main objective is her music career. As a singer songwriter she describes her music as singer song pop meets indie pop. She has lived in New York and Nashville to write songs, gain experience and perform (and of course, used her bicycle to get from A to B). She is currently forming a band, writing her own material and is contracted with Dutch pop singer Ilse de Lange. Not too bad (check out her twitter with a link to her music channel). And oh yes, she’s also busy studying for a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Needless to say this pretty and talented girl puts the chic into cycle chic!
On a very hot day in Amsterdam (people were jumping in the canals to cool down) we met up with Mathijs. Mathijs is a 24-year old freewheeler who is a hands-on kind of guy. After being apprenticed by a traditional cordwainer, Mathijs is now starting up his own business as a shoemaker. He makes handcrafted leather shoes, which last a lifetime. His handiness and inventiveness are also represented on his bicycle. Inspired by Swiss military bicycles from the early twentieth century he created his own framebag from truck tarp. With this rock solid bag he uses the spatial design of his bicycle to the fullest and has his bottle of water and swimsuit within reach.
Meet Tomas. This good-looking 25-year old bartender from Amsterdam has a distinctive feature: check out his awesome tattoo. His natural appeal to cycling (who from Amsterdam doesn’t love cycling..) and his admiration for the simple and clean design of the bicycle traffic sign, inspired him to decorate his own body with it. People recognize Tomas by his unique tattoo, and he already inspired at least one friend to take the same tattoo. Tomas would be the perfect mascot for Amsterdam Cycle Chic and he is an obvious pick for Cyclist of the Month.
Pics and text by Else
This beauty from Amsterdam was caught just before parking her bicycle to grab a take-away soup for dinner. Lauren (26) recently bought a racing bicycle to tour the Dutch flat countryside, a real trend amongst Amsterdam youth. But she just as much loves crossing through town on her Dutch bike with bicycle crate. Now that she finished her masters the summer has begun for her; cycling from park picknicks to work to late night dancing. In the meanwhile she blogs about the hidden treasures of Amsterdam for tourist site Spotted by Locals.
Yesterday the Dutch cabinet resigned. After weeks of talks between the ruling parties, the party leaders couldn’t agree on austerity measures.
So? What does that have to do with cycling you might ask? Hardly anything to be honest. Only that the prime minister, Mark Rutte, always used his (ladies) bike to go to and from the meetings. That’s why we make him the Cyclist of the Month. That is at least one thing he can be proud of this week!
On a very windy afternoon we meet Cyclist of the Month Eske Scavenius on his way to work. Eske is 26 years old and always cycles in a suit to his work as a strategy consultant in the Rembrandt tower; Amsterdam’s tallest skyscraper (which is only 150 meters tall…).
Eske did not become Cyclist of the Month for nothing: when offered a company car, Eske decided to take a ‘company bicycle’. So instead of driving a BMW, Eske ‘rides’ a Gazelle. Remarkable, but not unique. An increasing amount of companies in The Netherlands offer their employees a company bicycle. For Eske it was an obvious decision to take the bike, not only because he lives only a twenty minutes cycle from work, but also because he simply loves cycling more than sitting in a car. And above all, it’s much better for the environment.
Eske is a very proud bicycle owner. Instead of going for a trendy bicycle with a retro-appearance (very popular in Holland), he went for a modern take on the classical Dutch bike. He added a traditional leather Brooks saddle that forms itself in time around your buttocks. Who needs a BMW to be fancy!?
Eske enjoys his commute every single time, rain or shine. A large part of the cycle follows the river Amstel and gives him a view of Amsterdam’s skyline. And there is certainly no better way to enjoy such views than from a bicycle’s perspective, with the wind blowing through your hair.