y o u b i k e l o n d o n: Manjula and Max from San Francisco, USA

Name and age?
Max and Manjula, 30 and 33.
Where do you live / ride to?
Manjula:  We're from San Francisco, and, um we're riding to Morroco! 
Max: We're going from here to France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and then Italy.
What do you ride?
Manjula:  We're both riding Surly Longhaul Truckers.  Mine is a 42cm and his is a bit bigger, about 50cm.
Helmets or no helmets?
Manjula: Helmets, always.
Max: Definetely. Helmets are sexy.
Is that official?
Manujula: Oh yeah, absolutely.
What's your primary reason for cycling?
Manjula:  Well, I cycle for work and for pleasure, and for travel and just figured it's a good way to see the world. 
What's your least favourite aspect of cycling?
Both: The cars!
Max: But here, we're still trying to get used to riding on the other side of the road.
The correct side?
Max: You reckon? Riding on the 'correct side' is very difficult if you've never done it before!
And of course you'll just get used to it and then get to France....
Max: Seriously, I can't wait to get to France!
What's your most favourite aspect of cycling?
Manjula: That's a good one...
Max:  So many things, but the feeling of propelling yourself through space, whether it's getting from one place to another or getting up a hill, or going on a camping trip, that feeling that you're moving through the world faster than walking - so you don't get bored - but not so fast that you don't miss anyting.  It's the perfect pace to go at, and in your own body doing it feels really really good.
Manjula:  I really appreciate cycling, in the sense that you can have a good ride on your touriing bike or you can have a good ride on a piece of junk that's 50 years old.  And, I like ringing bells.
What do you never leave the house without?
Max: Locks, helmet. Although we didn't bring our locks tonight because we are not planning to leave our bikes anywhere in London unattended.
How many locks do you carry, and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
Manjula: I've never had a bicycle stolen, touch wood.  I carry a D lock (we call them U Locks in the States) and a cable.
Max:  I ride a different bike, a fixed gear conversion, at home and just lock the frame and rear wheel with a U Lock.
I guess this applies to San Fran as much as it does to London... what advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of riding in London for the very first time?
Max:  Go with a friend and go slow.  Sometimes I think we all try to do too much and it's better to do something small and enjoyable, like a flat picinc somewhere, and then you'll enjoy it more and get hooked.  The other thing is to get your bike tuned up 'cos riding a crappy bike is not a fun experience, and if it's not fun people will stop riding their bikes, and that's a shame.
Manjula:  You know for people who are nervous, they should just try it.  Also, act like a car not a pedestrian.
What could be done to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
Manjula: In the few days we've been here.... The roads are very narrow, the bike lanes are even narrower...
Max:  One of the things that I have found just riding around here is that the street signs are really not easy to read, so for someone like myself who doesn't know London I'm looking for some street, couldn't find the sign, and had to find my way whilst trying to deal with traffic.  Perhaps if ways were better signposted people would feel more confident getting from A to B on a bicycle?  More bike lanes and wider bike lanes would help too.

**Manjula and Max were a joy to meet and I wish them all the very best with their epic bike ride to Morocco.  You can keep track of their progress on their trip blog which is here. **


manjula martin said...

Hi, Mark, thanks for the great interview! We made it to France, where Max threatened to kiss the right-hand side of the road, and are on our way south. Happy riding to all.... -Manjula

yohabloespanglish said...

Manjula, I'm another American living here...I've had to get used to riding on the left side of the road and it took me a while to get used to it. But now when I go back to the States I almost ride/drive on the left side!

Mark, this was a nice interview to read.

P.S. I think there should be a guerilla street-sign-posting group here in London.

MELI. said...

SAN FRANCISCO in the houseeeeeeee!!!
fantastic pair, hope to meet them sometime in the city

cheers /xxo.m