Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview with a cyclist - Jocke Selin of Carrygo Bikes

This week's interview is with Jocke of Carrygo Bikes. Originally from Finland, Jocke now resides in Oxfordshire,he just completed building a cargo bike of his own design.

Jocke (center) riding with the pack as a child.
Tell us about your favorite bike. What do you like the most about it and why is it special to you?
What do you like the most about it and why is it special to you?  
For my 11th birthday I got a Yamaha BYZ 301, more commonly known as a BMX. Of all the bikes I've had in my life, that is probably the one that I still wish I had kept. Not only was it the first BMX in the whole town, it was also indestructible. To an 11 year old, that last bit can be quite important. I learnt a lot of bicycling skills on that bike. The jumps got higher and longer, so did the wheelies (albeit I never mastered the balance point!). It never broke - there was nothing to break (apart from that pesky brake cable). Oh, the hours I spent on that bike, in the forest, car parks, stairs, jumps. I still walk past the BMX bikes in the shops and wonder "Should I...?".

How has cycling changed your life? 

Jocke & Caz at the Nürburgring Race Track in Germany
Cycling hasn't changed my life, cycling has been my life. With the exception of getting my car license and the first 6 or so years living in UK, there's pretty much always been a bicycle in my life. I learnt to ride as a little kid, stabilisers and all. We rode around the yards, streets and forests as a little pack. From there we graduated further and further afield. All the way to going to cycling to discos way on the other side of town. I cycled to school, on my own, from the age of 8. Through sunshine, rain, sleet and snow. When I didn't have my bike, I had to walk or, even ski (I grew up in Finland). The bike was undoubtedly the favourite means of transport (well, at least until two wheeled petrol [gas] powered things came into the picture - but that's another story). I also had one of the first mountain bikes in the town in my late teens, again, reliving that freedom of playing about in the forest. 
The lack of cycling on the other hand, that has changed my life. Living without a bicycle, with perfect hindsight, lulled me into some sort of apathy. The car was used more and more, the weight came creeping, the bills kept increasing. Before you know it, you need to pay bills for the car that you never thought you had to deal with. You're staring at your beer gut and wonder where it came from and how you're supposed to get rid of it. 
Wheelies at the Nürburgring Race Track in Germany
Today I try to avoid the car. It's a practical shelter for really bad weather, or when traveling more than one, or for long distances. The rest of the time, I try to walk or cycle. This idea was obviously taken so far that I've built my own cargo bike - all in the name of leaving the car standing.

I do most of my bicycle maintenance in my kitchen (with my limited skills), where's the oddest place you've ever done bicycle maintenance or mechanics?
An odd question that makes me look like a normal guy; I don't think I've been doing any bike maintenance in any odd places. Garages, basements, back yards, even roadside repairs, they all seem natural to me. I have to confess repairing a motorcycle engine in a my bedroom though.

Testing the chopper before painting
I rely heavily on the advice of more experienced riders, what would be your first piece of advice for someone hoping to start cycling?
I wouldn't say I'm an "experienced cyclist", but one thing keeps coming back to me when I spread my cycling propaganda; People seem to think it's hard, but these are the people who judge cycling from afar. Anyone who gets on a bike, and cycles doesn't seem to be having the same sort of issues with its (perceived) hardship. So my advice would have to be not knock it before you've tried it. Some parts may be hard, but there are other benefits that can't easily be described.

Do you have any cycling goals or aspirations for the coming year?
I just want to cycle more, be outdoors more. It feels like we've forgotten how wonderful it is to be out in nature, how it is to be close to it. Sitting in an office, or locked in a car is just miserable in the end. More cargo bike journeys, and more mountain biking would be awesome. Naturally I'd like to spread the cycling evangelism and perhaps convert someone else to cycling.
Taking the motorbike out in the snow
Where can we hear more about your journey?

You can follow my cargo bike related rants and raves on Twitter under the moniker @CarrygoBikes, and the website http://www.carrygo.co.uk.


  1. I still remember your Yamaha bike! That was a cool bike!

  2. A nice one. Great pictures. Thanks. / Mark


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