‘A tandem? Are you sure that’s a good idea?’ Has been something of a leitmotif of our project so far. And well may
you ask, given how rarely these fine steeds are seen on our roads these days.
But a project built around the concept of solidarity needs a cycle that reflects that worthy aim. How better could we convey the fact that Croydon Bicycle Theatre is about teamwork, conviviality, (mis)adventure and story-making?
The idea of using a tandem for our ride to Croydon’s twin town city of Arnhem in the Netherlands quickly took hold following a number of auspicious signs; the mum at Kidical Mass who told me how much she loved using her Circe to get her 3 year old around, finding out about the Wheels for Wellbeing tandem training rides at Croydon Arena and then finally discovering a gem by in the ‘Literary Cyclist’ anthology, as we researched Croydon’s cycling heritage for the Cycle Fest. For it was no other than Arthur Conan Doyle himself who wrote:
The great limbs of the athlete made the heavy machine spring and quiver with every stroke, while the mignon grey figure with the laughing face and the golden curls blowing from under the little pink-banded hat, simply held firmly to her perch, and let the treadles whirl round beneath her feet. Mile after mile they flew, the wind beating in her face, the trees dancing in two long ranks on either side, until they had passed round Croydon and were approaching Norwood once more from the further side.
Conan Doyle is perhaps one of Croydon’s most famous past residents. I love that one of my first Norwood memories is of having an estate agent point out Sherlock Holmes’ house to us (when we all know Sherlock lived on Baker Street, not in SE25). I also love the fact that Conan Doyle rode around my neighbourhood with his wife on their tandem, causing all sorts of mayhem by the sounds of it, and making Norwood sound like some sort of idyll for tandem cycling when he added this little scene to his novella, Beyond the City.
Leap forward a month or two and we are now in possession (for a short while at least) of a very beautiful Circe Helios thanks to Blue Yonder Cycles. It has already seen service along the River Cam and the East-West Cycle Superhighway in summer’s Kidical Mass. Already, it is loved by all, particularly Miss E, the littlest member of the CBT family, itching to grow that extra foot that would enable her to get into the stoker’s seat.
Now only two weeks remain until we head for foreign shores. Let the adventure begin!