I cycled to the riverside, hoping to forget about my troubles. Then, in the stillness of the landscape, I forgot about the hope itself, too. Occasionally, someone would cycle past in the opposite lane, leaving behind the sound of my breathing, of the wheels spinning, the hills, and the trees.
I’ve always loved listening to this soundscape verging on silence. You don’t need acute hearing to catch the expansive yet delicate rhythm of nature: columns of sunlight radiating from the clouds; their silent, moving shadows cast over you, becoming part of my you shadow. Is this a kind of freedom, too?
I look forward to each journey on the bike: the thrill of unfolding its frame and the idea of completing an unfinished route from that last journey, filling the gaps of my mental map. The best way forward is through intuition. There is no need to clarify directions and routes. I prefer meandering through the city or cycling slowly around the country as a way of connecting with my environment.
It’s not easy to find a bike that’s perfect for just that, which is why I fell in love with STRiDA at first sight. It’s obviously not built for speed. In fact, it’s so strange looking, it’s impossible to define. More than once, experienced cyclists have voiced scepticism and urged me to swap for a proper folding bike. STRiDA is too much of an unusual, designer gimmick for them. Its anti-aerodynamic frame and single-speed belt drive can be quite off-putting.
STRiDA’s futuristic design is, surprisingly, an invention from 1984 by UK designer Mark Sanders. Since production began in 1986, to date it maintains a niche brand positioning on the market. 35 years later it’s still looking the same, notwithstanding a few innovative upgrades. Its timeless engineering and human-centric design practically defined the bike of city dwellers’ dreams.
Mark wanted to create a minimalist bike, so he settled on the sturdy, triangular shape for minimum joints. Building on a few rough drafts, he took inspiration from Maclaren’s strollers and conceived a pushable-upon-folding design. It’s clearly a bike that champions convenience over endurance. Mark understood its limits in speed and control, and so he collected feedback on the test bikes to optimise the prototype’s control and sturdiness. One would be amazed by how fast and effortless the STRiDA actually is.
Still, it’s probably not at all a “fun” bike for those seeking adrenaline. It’s got a laidback, “ride across the country” ring to it, which is precisely what attracted me in the first place. There’s no need to faff with shifting gears on the road. I just ride, in solitude, as I slowly tune in with my state of being: feeling – the wind slice across the fields, or my sweat beads moisturise my skin – for the first time.