I was born in Paris, France and moved to Ireland when I was seven years old…it has never really felt like home.
I have had an arthritic condition in my feet since I was ten. It generally doesn’t bother me, but as a result I have the flattest feet in the world…seriously.
I got engaged when I was 20 years old to a Danish photographer and artist, after only knowing her a month. She was 6 years older than me. We split up within a year. She is now an architect and has a young child with the man she met after me.
My father’s middle name is my first name and my middle name is my father’s first name - Francis.
I want to be my own boss by the time I am forty - 10 years from now. I have a dream of owning a small café/bar that sells book and newspapers as well. The menu would be limited and my girl (Minttu) would have an organic grocery store next door which would supply the produce.
You don’t need a license to ride a bicycle, but that doesn’t excuse you from knowing and observing the rules of the road. Most places should have a book you can buy and/or a .pdf file you can download which will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do in any given scenario. The one pictured is issued by the Irish Road Safety Authority (RSA) and is available for €4 from all bookshops or free online from here.
Virtually all laws which apply to motorized traffic apply equally to bicycles. You’re not a second class citizen on the road; you shouldn’t act like one and you shouldn’t let yourself be treated like one. Being assertive and knowing your rights is a great way to stay safe and you can ride plenty hard and fast without being a liability to yourself or others. Knowing the rules will keep you out of trouble, the right side of a court case and on the moral high-ground when you tell ignorant motorists to go ____ themselves. 2. Buy the right bike for you.
Find yourself a local, independent bike shop and ask a lot of questions. Tell them what you want out of your new bicycle and listen to what they have to say. Not only will they be happy to sell you a bike, they’ll be happy to sell you an appropriate bike. If you want to ride fixed gear, go forth! If you want to be seen to ride fixed gear, grow up. They’ll kill you very quickly if you’re not 100% committed and I guarantee you’ll get as much respect from people who actually know what they’re talking about for your righteous road/mountain/whatever bike as you will for your pink fixie that’s never seen a puddle. 3. Get your hands dirty.
They are many books like the one above that’ll tell you everything you’ll need to know to keep your bike on the road. There’s also, of course, a wealth of information online with video tutorials and expert advice and all the rest of it. Buy yourself a couple puncture repair kits, tyre levers and a decent bike multi-tool. Learn how to fix a flat, tighten your brakes, what should be greased and what shouldn’t. A couple hex wrenches and a little homework will solve most problems and be a lot quicker cheaper and more satisfying than having your bike in the shop overnight - also, things invariably break on Monday mornings or national holidays; you have been warned. 4. Have the tools to brave the urban jungle.
So you look like an idiot in your rain gear and reflective jacket? Perhaps, but it’s raining and that meeting can’t start without you - so suck it up.
Good quality rain gear, bicycle gloves, good lights and a decent lock (or two): If you plan on cycling regularly, these are things you’ll need. Put a bright white or orange light on the front and a bright red light on the back. Ideally ones that flash and, even better, ones that flash in odd time signatures; they’ll help you stand out to cars amongst the monotony of ambient city lighting. Put them high up where cars will see them and where they won’t be obscured by clothing. A personal plea: Don’t ever put red lights on the front (or white lights on the rear) of your bike. Not only is this breaking the law in a lot of places, it confuses me… and I’m on a bike too and can see you… a motorist won’t know which way you’re facing may well guess wrong.
Be sensible about locking your baby up. That dark alley really isn’t ideal. Find a well lit street with plenty of foot traffic. Spots outside shops that open late like off licenses or grocery stores are great, as in addition to lights and people, there’s usual a CCTV camera or two that’s of little genuine use to you, but tends to put dudes with hacksaws off.
Buy the best lock your bike shop has to offer (they’ll tell you which one). If you can’t afford it, you also can’t afford a new bike, so save up. A hardened steel U-lock is a good way to go. An additional cable lock is also a good deterrent. If your wheels are bolted, lock the front and rear wheels and the frame to the pole or bike rack. If your wheels are quick release and you only have one lock, remove the front wheel and lock through the frame, both wheels and the pole. Many cities have bike hoops which allow you to lock the front and rear. Personally, I only ever use these as they prevent the bike falling over and limit any movement that might allow a thief to get a better angle of attack which a cutter. If you’re using a single pole, make sure it’s tall enough that you can’t lift the bike over it (I see this too often). Don’t use trees - they’ll get broken and you’ll have it on your conscience.
Basically, common sense is your friend. When I walk away from my bike in the city I pause for a second to imagine how I’d go about stealing it. If it looks like a real pain in the ass, you’re probably good to go. 5. Love it.
Cold weather, hills and men in BMWs will do their best to ruin your fun. But there are few things more satisfying than beating grid-locked traffic, for free, and getting a workout at the same time. The more you put into it, the more you get out and with a little bit of preparation you and your bike will live happily ever after.