Saturday, July 25, 2009

Radsport in Peking? Wirklich?

Natooke is a fixed gear/juggling supplies shop in a burgeoning hutong street near Beijing's Lama Temple. It's certainly the only shop of it's kind in Beijing, and perhaps the world. While I can juggle, and sometimes do it as a crowd-pleaser in my kindergarten, I wouldn't call myself an enthusiast of the art. I do, however, consider fixed-gear bikes as a passion. On a recent visit to the shop, I talked with Ines, who, along with a friend, runs this kooky, little place.

Ines is German and is the bike side of the shop. She is a kunstradfahrerin (I use the German, not out of pretension, but because I'm not sure if there is a proper word for it in the English speaking world. Check this link). It's like bike dancing, I guess. It seems to exist mainly in Europe and, as far as I can tell, predominately in the German speaking parts. Kunstrad bikes are essentially like fixed gears, but have many crucial differences, namely a 1-to-1 gear ratio. They also have strange handle-bars and a very steep head-tube angle, but I don't want to get too technical. I first encountered kunstrad on the internet, while living in Germany, but it has taken coming to China to get a closer, hands-on look. Hopefully, I can check out on of Ines' shows sometime soon.

Going back to fixed gears, I've learned from Ines that there is a community of riders in Beijing. They are relatively small (about 30 in a city of around 17 million), but they are growing. Perhaps I'll be the next member of the club. My eyes are peeled for an appropriate frame.

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