Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Lovin': Larry vs Harry & A Dose of Cycle Chic

Copenhagen is known for many things--beer, Vikings, Danish design, high prices on everything--but one of my favorite things about living here is the bike culture. And until you have seen it in person, until you've really experienced the scariness of being yelled at in Klingon by a more professional Danish biker, it's very difficult to understand how cool it is. Bikes are everywhere in this city; just 40% of Copenhageners own cars, and one in three ride to work. For me, my bike (a Dresco I have dubbed Detective Lenny Briscoe) is my main mode of transportation. I love my hunter green Detective, a bicycle my dad got for me within two days of moving here, a bicycle I chose specifically because it looked like everyone else's. I wanted to fit in. And don't get me wrong, I love Lenny Briscoe; but after my father's Copenhagen bike purchase and after living here for a little over a year now, I know that my next set of wheels (whenever that purchase might be necessary) will be more distinctive. I have several "dream bikes," and one of these is a model by a fantastic company called Larry vs Harry.

I first learned of LvH through my dad, who helped me make the big move across the pond. Sure, he came with me to help a very big transition in my life and to help me get settled in. But my dad brought with him to Copenhagen a personal agenda: for his 50th birthday gift, my mother agreed he could pick something for himself. That "something" was a cargo bike, specifically a Bullitt bike from LvH.

We found the shop on Frederiksborggade and were lucky enough to meet the super-cool co-founder of the company, Hans Fogh (and his awesome dog, Skipper). Hans lent my dad the Steve McQueen model to test out for the week he was here, to see if this wonderful bike was something he would want to export back to the homeland. Over that next week, I had to pry my dad away from the Bullitt. Both because (in his own words) his "butt was out of shape," but also because he wanted to ride everywhere. Seriously. We biked a 20k to IKEA one August day, emerging with only sheets and towels. (I will never let my father forget this day--I was not a happy ballerina child.)

Hans in front of the shop on Frederiksborggade, with a Bullitt bike of course.

So a week later, my dad was best friends with Hans as well as the proud owner of the last Steve McQueen Bullitt model made. The bikes are an updated version of the Danish "long john" bicycle, and the frames sport different kinds of heroes...people like Che Guevara, Burt Reynolds, Elvis, and of course Steve McQueen. LvH is too cool for school: everything rocks, from the Bullitt bikes themselves, to their website and blog, to their slogans ("A pimp is only as good as his product"; "You will not be able to stay home, brother!”). Perhaps my favorite thing about Hans specifically is this series of videos he made for the Larry vs Harry website. Anyone who dresses up as Elvis and shows people the coolest cargo bike ever is pretty awesome in my book.

My father with his new best friend, Steve McQueen.

There was a very sad day towards the end of my dad's visit here. This was the day he had to return Steve McQueen, so Hans could ship the bike to America for "min far." It was a sad day for me, too, because I decided to skip the trip to LvH in favor of an afternoon nap. I should have fought the human urge to sleep, because when he went to the shop, my father not only saw Hans but he also met one of Hans' good friends, a man named Mikael. That's not the "sad-for-me" part; there are loads of guys in Copenhagen named Mikael. Here is the "sad-for-me" bit: This Mikael was the one and only creator of one of my absolute favorite blogs, Copenhagen Cycle Chic. I had discovered Mikael's site--a site where he posts, quite simply and fabulously, candid pictures of stylish Copenhagen cyclists--a couple of weeks before moving to Denmark (again, via my father), and had come to this country with the dream of making it onto the blog, of being considered a chic cyclist. (It hasn't happened yet, but I still try to look somewhat put-together whenever I take Lenny Briscoe out for a never know...) Plus, I knew from perusing the website that Mikael owns my ultimate fantasy bicycle: a Velorbis. So this one day, my father met and befriended Mikael while I took a snooze and missed an opportunity to meet a local celebrity. I still regret that nap. I'm not even joking.

Mikael on his Bullitt.

In short: Copenhagen's bike culture is unique, wonderful, and eco-friendly. And the Bullitt bikes and websites like Mikael's make it that much cooler. Hans and Mikael "dig it," and you should, too.

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