Reliving bicycle kingdom

Updated: 2013-10-10 01:40

(China Daily)

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Reliving bicycle kingdom

Cyclists wear anything they consider retro and ride two hours to promote bicycle culture. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

The Shanghai ride had nearly 300 people, old and young, expatriates and Chinese, packing the small square by the dock like a busy film set from the 1920s. Each participant paid 100 yuan to register for the event, and brought their own bicycles, preferably, also vintage-style.

"Events of this kind are very rare in Shanghai, if not all over China," says 38-year-old Wang Qin, a professional manager in the telecommunication industry in Shanghai.

The mother of two teenage boys brought her whole family, including her 70-year-old mother, for the event she considers "appropriate for everyone". They have prepared for weeks for their unified dress code: the golden age of 1920's oriental Paris.

As Wang and her mother wrap themselves in curvy tailor-made qipao and sport finger wave wigs, the three gentlemen — father and the two sons — look like three newsboys, in different sizes, with suspended tweed trousers, long socks and newsboy caps.

"It's fun, and better than the fancy dress parties where you dress up and have nothing to do but drink. Besides, I'd love to have my boys have some impression of vintage Shanghai," says Wang.

Was she worried about having difficulties riding a bicycle in the tight qipao? Not at all, according to Wang, a Shanghai native, adding that people of her age were "trained" to ride bicycles in any clothes through the narrow zigzags of Shanghai lanes.

Joyful atmosphere fills the day of the event.

A cool Harley aficionado, dressed as a cowboy, is a shrewd trader by day, encouraging almost every passer-by to have a ride on his 30,000-yuan Harley-style-inspired bicycle.

A teenage girl, with her pet Corgi in the bicycle basket, patiently stands and poses for photographers. But the person who attracts the most attention is the owner of a famous vintage shop in town, who made his public debut in the green uniforms of 1950s' China.

Xin Han, who dresses to look like Elvis Presley, says he decided to imitate the king of rock'n' roll because he wanted to try something unusual.

"I am not a big fan of Presley, in fact, but I love the looks of his time, and I have never tried that look before," he says, adding that while studying in the United States, dressing up in weird costumes was a monthly activity he did with his wife, who dons a polka-dot skirt.

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