Reverence: Velib-The Paris Free Bicycle System

Reverence: Velib-The Paris Free Bicycle System

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Before arriving in Paris I kept hearing, “Oh the best way to see Paris is on foot, walk the whole city, it’s really the only way to experience it.” I’d rather be shot and thrown into a dumpster by the Seine. Walking is not for cyclists – it sours the guns, it’s slow as hell. We are not walkers, we are rouleurs.

Enter the Velib – the word is an amalgam of velo and liberty, 20000 bikes, 1800 stations spread around the city. This was conceived to get cars off the streets and judging from the number of people using the bikes, it must be doing something right. These are not intended for sightseeing as much as they are a 24/7, nearly free way to get from point to point without a car and its associated pains.  The bikes were custom-designed, 3 speeds, adjustable seat, a cable lock, basket, front and rear lights driven off the hubs. The coolest part is the sturdy male tab that easily mates with the base station. Post-ride you dock your bike into any open base, it locks, and you walk away. Brilliant.

Having been here for two days makes me an expert in all things Parisian, of course. The city is rather flat so the three gears are enough, the tires are tough, it’s no speedster but really who cares?  It’s not your bike. No emotional attachment; use it and walk away. There is always another just like it waiting for the next ride. I’ve ridden a few of these bikes that needed some love but almost all of them have been great.

One subscribes to this kind of service. I bought a one week service for 8 euros. A whole year is only 29 euros. The first half hour is free, the next is 1 euro. You log in, grab a bike, adjust the seat, no time lost in adjusting the helmet as none are provided. Then you accelerate into the maelstrom that is Paris traffic; a torrent of motos, scooters, trucks, buses and bikes. Exciting and dangerous-absolument. But I figure I’ll still last longer than that cyclist with headphones and cigarette.

[album: http://filemanager.dutchmonkey.com/photoalbums.php?currdir=/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/j.andrews3@comcast.net/velib photos/]

 

// General // Reverence

  1. @PeterP
    Grazie for the link to the France article. Very interesting. I also love the way all businesses close and everyone has a relaxed 1-1.5 hour lunch, talking, a glass of wine, some espresso after. It’s better than the 0.5 lunch I’d take by myself, in my office, at my computer, reading cyclingnews…what a loser.

    @Oldschooly

    There’s a clothing shop on Republique called OH LUMIER, there you will find a couple wool jersey’s on the cheap and it’s not too far from Cycles Laurent

    Thanks for the tip, we just rode by Laurent Cycles again today as my wife had lost her new cycling hat, maybe one last trip to Oh Lumier will happen tomorrow, our last day here. I loves me the cycling swag.

  2. If we are sharing photos of how we pay homage to Him (bless his name)… you’ll have to ignore my gurning, but how about this one:

    Went to a dinner earlier this year for the launch of Maglia Rosa, and the Prophet himself came to bless the occasion

  3. @roadslave
    You went to the Rouleur dinner? A guest article is in order.

    That is the Most.Awesome.Pic.Ever.

  4. Gianni and Mrs. Wife – Great read up, I got to go on them for an hour last year and have also tried them in Montreal. It really is the way to go in a city. In Montreal I have seen a maintenance truck hauling off the damaged ones and all that I rode were in good nick – perhaps because they spend the winter out of use they are in better shape?

    What a great trip – you made it to the shrine of shrines (in proper obeyance) and looking extremely fit and at your ultimate climbing weight – an attempt at the Volcano when you get home – Neh?

    Travel and bikes are the last frontier of cycling. I do take my little home chopped 16″ fixie Dahon when I travel so at least I am riding and not walking. I am always in muftie, never in V kit and of course look like a complete wanker but who cares I am on my bike… and I love urban gorilla riding!

    @roadslave
    And now I post that with Himself staring at my post… Redfaced and cringing – THANKS Roadslave (so jealous)! It looks like you were at the part of the evening where the cigars and stories were going to begin?

  5. @roadslave

    If we are sharing photos of how we pay homage to Him (bless his name)… you’ll have to ignore my gurning, but how about this one:

    Went to a dinner earlier this year for the launch of Maglia Rosa, and The Prophet himself came to bless the occasion

    It’s pretty much the same look.

    Top marks, Roadslave. Judging by the timing, it looks like this may have helped you when grinding up the Kapelmuur.

  6. @Rob

    What a great trip – you made it to the shrine of shrines (in proper obeyance) and looking extremely fit and at your ultimate climbing weight – an attempt at the Volcano when you get home – Neh?

    I decided I’m working on Gianni for my next assault in January. He’s so fucking trim and it’s only at most a half-day’s suffering. Who gives a shit? Sure, you want to die while you’re riding up, but as soon as you step off the bike the suffering eases.

    Besides, he did it so long ago, I’m sure he’s bound to do a better time now that he’s lighter than ever. I don’t think getting older really matters much in a climb this long.

  7. Gianni – Ah ha ha, @Gianni

    @frank
    @Ron

    The best bit of it being the full on perfect kneel form in fucking flip-flops

    I wish I was wearing boat shoes.

    Ah ha ha. No you don’t. They’re awful.

    I don’t even know what to make of that site Frank linked to yesterday. How can there be that many of those types in the world? It’s baffling. But yes, that photo of the plaid shirt dick was spot on.

    Nice photo, roadslave! I seriously don’t know what I’d do if stood next to Merckx. People like that aren’t real to me, too super human, too incredible, too mythic. I’d probably just smile a huge one like you though and feel lucky as.

  8. Gianni does look fit & trim for a climb! I think if we keep on building him up, and challenging his lemur-sized manhood, we can get him to ride with you next time, Frank!

    Maybe we could start a no expenses paid contest and the winner could act as the DS for you two? The VMH can only do so many duties. Maybe the VSP #2 has to buy his own ticket to HI and then fill & carry bidons all day.

  9. @roadslave
    I’m in awe. A dinner for the launch of the Maglia Rosa, what does that mean and how do I get invited to that sort of thing? Do tell.

  10. @Ron
    Thank you for the giant pit lemur reference, I hoped someone saw that. That was the French wine talking…

    @frank
    @Rob
    Another climb? I don’t think so. Frank and I may attempt the East Maui Loop, essentially around Haleakala, 175km and a fuck-ton of climbing, dirt roads, terrible asphalt pave. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
    Why would I even suggest a ride like that with a 35 year old, Olympic grade, massive seat post showin’ Dutch Monkey?…madness, again, that devil French red wine.

  11. @frank

    Besides, he did it so long ago, I’m sure he’s bound to do a better time now that he’s lighter than ever. I don’t think getting older really matters much in a climb this long

    Ned “da lung” Overend just won the Mt Washington Hill Climb. He is Rob’s and my age so we can’t really be using the age excuse too often. And that is no hill, such a cruel whore of a climb for us big boys. Much worse than Maui and only 7 or 8 miles. Rob, of course, placed 2nd one year.
    Frank, you would enjoy that one.

  12. Wait a second, do Giant Lemurs & Dutch Monkeys get along well enough to spend 175kms turning the cranks together?

    Do we have a primate behavior specialist amongst the Followers?

    Gianni – No problem! I more or less feel as if I’m on a group ride in this community, so most of what I hear (read) is in my head somewhere. Might be hurtin’ too much at the time to mention it, but I laughed at that yesterday.

  13. @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

  14. @scaler911

    @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

    Did you spend the whole afternoon falling over in lift lines and not sticking the drops?
    Did he spout inane blather as well?
    I’m sure he’s a loverly fella and great skier who well and truly lived the dream, but by cripes his films used to shit me.

  15. @JIPM, @frank, @Gianni, @scaler911 thanks for comments… it was an awesome occasion… it was the Rouleur dinner, so good spot Jeff… getting in was a case of a) hitting refresh every seven seconds on a thursday evening waiting for the email to come through announcing tickets were available, and b) once it went live, just throwing money at the problem… not a cheap evening, but well worth it. The Prophet was on great form – expansive, reflective, humerous, ruthless… combined will Zilli and Liggett, made for a fun evening. Liggett really has NO filter on what comes out of his mouth… he was meant to be MC for the evening, but answered every question before passing them across to Him… very amusing.

    Frank – good spot: in this photo, I only have one chin, and was climbing well for my weight… I may even have been only two weeks to peaking… hearing Him talk about His seven wins of Milan San Remo was inspiring “I knew that the longer and tougher the race, the more likely I was to win… because I knew I could ride harder and longer than all my competitors… that is why I won Milan San-Remo so many times”

    Interestingly, He thinks the current bunch of cyclists are the most exciting for a generation… so for all our lamenting the lack of panache, He disagrees.

    BTW, the dinner itself was great fun… every single person there was a bike nut, so for four hours we just talked bikes and shit. Who had Di2, who had Campy… carbon or titanium… what do you use to moisturise after shaving your legs?… do you track power to weight or VAM? there was no embarrassment, no furtive looks to our ‘normal’ friends, wives, partners etc. we could just be ourselves, talking about what we love. It felt great to be out in the open with our kind.

  16. @mouse

    @scaler911

    @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

    Did you spend the whole afternoon falling over in lift lines and not sticking the drops?
    Did he spout inane blather as well?
    I’m sure he’s a loverly fella and great skier who well and truly lived the dream, but by cripes his films used to shit me.

    Naw. He’s actually a pretty charming guy. I was working Ski Patrol, and was just showing him around. He’s a old school, don’t let the nickel between your knees drop, kinda skier. Graceful.
    I get what you’re saying, believe me,. That said, something to be said about making a living doing something that’s a hobby for most of the rest of us. Kinda like cycling, no?

  17. Yeah, i admit I’m being a bit harsh, but hey, the internet gives you license to be a cock doesn’t it?
    The rant really was more out of a sense of jealousy for;
    a) Miller being able to make a life out of skiing
    b) You skiing

    A sad combination of living in Aus where the skiing is pitiful and young child rearing has kept me away.

  18. @ChrisO
    They do have a bike share system in Melbourne now and it is a complete balls up which will eventually whither away. The bikes never get used because you need to wear a helmet – which potential users typically aren’t carrying. Cannot believe the idiots who set this up didn’t foresee this problem. They are now trying things like ‘temporary helmets’ (WTF indeed)…

    @frank
    So pleased to see a photo of a community member who isn’t 6’2″ plus with a full head of hair. Glad you are one of us.

  19. @mouse

    Yeah, i admit I’m being a bit harsh, but hey, the internet gives you license to be a cock doesn’t it?
    The rant really was more out of a sense of jealousy for;
    a) Miller being able to make a life out of skiing
    b) You skiing
    A sad combination of living in Aus where the skiing is pitiful and young child rearing has kept me away.

    Didn’t take it that way at all dude. I am very aware of how lucky I am to live where I do, and the odd experiences that I have had.

  20. @markus – if your talking about me… you are right on the fact I don’t have a full head of hair… far from it. But I am 6’2″ – in circumference, though

  21. Awesome picture, I once saw the bike snob in my butter dish,next to meeting Steida and riding with a world omnium champ, that’s about as close to the gods I have been.

    My town has a bike borrow system, you take a bike that isn’t locked up and leave it in the ditch for the next guy….

  22. @King Clydesdale
    http://en.gravatar.com/ seems to be the place to sort the avatars out

  23. @Dr C

    @King Clydesdale
    http://en.gravatar.com/ seems to be the place to sort the avatars out

    Thanks Doc.

    Also, looks like we beat bicycling.com to the punch, they just wrote there own article about the Velib.

  24. Breaking News: George Hincrappie announces his departure from the BMC Pro Team to the unclassified Montreal Commuter’s Collective

    Mr Hincrappie is quoted as saying “My off seasson will comprise of repeated traffic light sprints and hill rep on my new team bike as a result of the numerous code violations pointed out by the Velominati. By the time the new season starts, I will be a hardman

  25. These esteemed colleges of Journalism courses in Delhi would be better option you ought to earn your degree.

    Please don’t misunderstand; I appreciate entertainment being a lot as the next individual.
    One groovy method of getting the newest news is actually use in the internet.

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