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I Love Riding in the City

NAME: John Perkins
LOCATION: Cairo, Egypt
OCCUPATION: Photographer

Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
Cairo is one of the craziest cities to cycle in. Cars never indicate, always honk, and frequently belch fumes that would choke a camel. And there are a lot of them. And potholes everywhere. Curbs are a foot high, and people meander on and off them at random. On a day where you’re in tune with it, you hop the curbs, glide through traffic, avoid pedestrians, trackstand at the lights, and wave at the gawping cops. Everyone wants to check out your exotic foreign bike, and maybe see some tricks. Here, bikes are mainly used to deliver food. To use a bike to commute or for fun is considered very eccentric. But maybe it will catch on. On a bad day, traffic ignores the lights, your head spins from the noise or the heat or the fumes, taxis screech to a halt in front of you every 30 seconds, your body is tired from constant evasive maneuvers, and you just want to sleep. Another of the downsides is lack of spare parts, finding a Presta valve or the right allen key here just isn’t realistic.

What’s been your favorite city to ride in, and why?
My favorite city to ride in is probably London. There are so many bike cultures there, messengers, commuters, roadies, BMX/trials tricksters. And I miss the days when I could wander into a bike shop and gape at the shiny parts.

Why do you love riding in the city?
Whether you’re going from A-B or working on a fancy trials line, cycling in the third world isn’t just about staying fit or enjoying yourself. You become a kind of ambassador, not the kind who rolls around in an armored Hummer, but one who’s always stopping to chat. I’ve met a lot of people through riding here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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