Archive for April, 2010

Hangzhou West Lake by Night

Freitag, April 30th, 2010

As tomorrow is the May first holiday and the beginning of the Shanghai World Expo we were not able to get a train ticket back to Beijing for this evening. So we decided that instead of staying in Shanghai it would be nicer to take a day holiday in Hangzhou. So we took the fast train to Hangzhou and stayed in a nice guest house near the zoo.

We had dinner in a small hole in the wall place with local food. It was really good and of course really cheap. As we knew tomorrow would be endless amounts of tourists we decided to take a long night walk to the famous and beautiful West Lake (Xi Hu).

Hangzhou West Lake by Night

We walked over one of the embankments crossing the lake. The one we took had 6 bridges and was very long. But we had a nice view of the mountains in the West of the lake.

Mountains West of Hangzhou Lake

There was hardly anybody out. It was really peaceful and quiet. This was in the direction of Hangzhou city center.

Hangzhou City View

It was a beautiful night with a full moon. We walked for over 2 hours at fast pace. Back at the hostel we booked 2 bikes for the next day so that we could explore the city.

Full Moon and Reflection on West Lake

CycleChina 2010 Exhibition Bike Tricks

Freitag, April 30th, 2010

Today was the final day of the CycleChina 2010. Our Natooke booth still looked nice.

Natooke Booth at CycleChina Exhibition in Shanghai 2010

I took a final tour around the other exhibition halls. I likes this new design bike done by design students from a Chinese-Danish-German collaboration. Even though I am not sure that it will ride comfortably. Also I might not do trick on it.

Special Design Bike

And again I did some bike tricks.

Ines Brunn at the beginning of a performance

Bike tricks on Bamboo Bicycle

Attracting Crowds with Bamboo Bike Tricks

Ines Brunn doing a Headstand on Bamboo Bike

There are more pictures of today on my webalbum. I also uploaded a video on youku which is the Chinese version of youtube. Each time it was so easy to attract a crowd of people. They then all wanted to take pictures of me and the bamboo bike.

Audience coming to take pictures after the bike show

People crowding around Ines to ask questions about bamboo bike

Ines Brunn in a crowd of amazed people

We were not in a rush to take down our booth which resulted in us being teh last in our hall to pack our stuff.

Packing up the Natooke Booth

Bike Tricks on Stalk Bamboo Bicycle

Donnerstag, April 29th, 2010

I am having the impression that there are less walk in visitors at this year’s China Cycle exhibition. But it is still fun to perform on the open area and watch how my bicycle stunts draw a crowd. Here are some pictures of me (Ines Brunn)  doing bike tricks on a bamboo bike made by Stalk.

Ines Brunn doing Bicycle Tricks at China Cycle Exhibition

Bicycle stunts on bamboo bike

Crowd is getting bigger watching Ines perform

Big circle of people watching Ines’ amazing bike tricks

Headstand on the Stalk Bamboo Bicycle by Ines Brunn

There are new buildings around the exhibition center that have not been there last year. Like this one that looks like it has caves for rock climbing. It really looks inviting. I wonder if anybody will try to climb it when it is finished.

Rock Climbing Building

Natooke White Beauty Flying Banana

Donnerstag, April 29th, 2010

Unfortunately I was not there when Arrigo came to pick up his Flying Banana track bike named “The White Beauty” that we had put together in Natooke. It is just so beautiful!

Natooke White Beauty Track Bike

Beautiful Curves on this Natooke Flying Banana

Low Carbon Conference and Trick Biking at China Cycle

Mittwoch, April 28th, 2010

In the innovation center of the China Cycle exhibition in Shanghai they had some interesting bicycle designs. My favorite was this really nicely done wooden bike in the form of a 60 for the 60th year anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Wooden 60 China Bike

There was a conference on “Low Carbon Emission” so Shannon and I (who co-founded STC) went to listen to their ideas.

Low Carbon Emission Conference

It was actually about a bike ride from Beijing to Shenzhen called “China Tour” to promote cycling as “Low Carbon Life”.

Low Carbon Life Event Logo Description

It is organized by the China Bicycle Association (CBA) together with the company Xidesheng (XDS). The launching event on May 16th in Beijing Chaoyang Park will be organized by a PR company.

Forever GM and the Beijing PR Company Leader

Then a few young cyclists did a circle in the venue with the China Tour outfit.

China Tour Bike Riders 2010

The 12 cyclists that will ride from Beijing through China down to Shenzhen have already been selected. But Shannon and I are looking for a way to participate with STC.

I did tricks on the real bamboo trick bike today again here at the Shanghai exhibition. I uploaded a video of it that you can watch here. It was a video taken between the halls. The bamboo bike is really stable

There was bicycle art by Fang Zu Han. He does nice pencil drawings. I prefer this one.

Fang Zu Han Bike Drawing

And this is him with the head of the CBA

Fang Zu Han and the Bike Association

Natooke Booth at China Cycle Exhibition in Shanghai

Dienstag, April 27th, 2010

First day of the 2010 China Cycle Exhibition. I was astonished to see so many exhibitors getting in early in the morning. We actually had to wait a while in the crowd until we finally got in.

Exhibitors at Shanghai Exhibition Center

Our booth sidewalls had moved over night so we bought more tape to stick them back up. And here are many pictures of our first own Natooke shop booth with the booth chics and booth man:

Natooke Booth Left Side and the Booth Chics

Natooke Booth Back Side and the Booth Chic and Booth Man

Natooke Booth Right Side and the Booth Chics

Our booth was different than most booths. We wanted the people to interact with us. So we had the walls covered with some of the many newspaper and magazine articles about my Natooke store, the Respro anti-pollution masks and hump backpack covers, the Beijing fixed gear bicycle group, the STC cycling initiative and my trick bike performances.

Natooke Shop Booth at Chine Cycle Exhibition

Respro Masks at the China Cycle Exhibition

Natooke Bicycle Booth at Shanghai China Cycle

Bamboo Bike at Natooke booth

We would have liked to display more bikes but it would have been hard to transport them to Shanghai by train. So we decided only to take the bamboo bike made by my friend Zack Jiang. Bamboo is a green alternative to metal. This bamboo bike is made in the same geometry as my trick bike. Zack made it to prove that his bamboo bikes are really stable and do not brake even if I do my extreme bicycle tricks on this bamboo bike. The bike got quite some attention at the booth.

Bamboo Bike Attracting People

Of course I also met friends like Zhou Chang Chun who does some Chinese style bike tricks.

Bicycle Friend Zhou

As well as a cyclist friend from Tianjin called Baihua working in a newly started outer tire company that tries to look like CST brand.

Cyclist Friend Baihua

I performed bicycle tricks 2 times today on the bamboo bike. I made a webalbum with more pictures. But here are just a few.

Ines Bike Trick Performance

Bicycle Stunts by Ines in Shanghai

It was nice how easy it was to draw a crowd. And also people video taping that all said they have never seen anything like this.

Ines Brunn Cycling Show at China Cycle

Right after each show I got swamped with people. It was really fun. A lot were not believing that it was a real bamboo bike.

Ines Posing for Pictures after Performance

Ines Swamped by People after Performance

I met some great people that know me through the bicycle film festival, like Karta Healy.

Karta Healy at Natooke Booth

Also of course some Beijing friends like Master Yang had also travelled to Shanghai for this exhibition which is the biggest cycling show in China.

Beijing Master Yang in Shanghai

Global Times: Where’s the Catch

Dienstag, April 27th, 2010

Today there was an article about Fede and the juggling shop in the Global Times. It is a very nice article. Here is a copy:

Where’s the catch?

Source: Global Times April 27 2010

fire poi on the street in Beijing

Goodness gracious… fire poi on the street in Beijing. Photos: Matthew Jukes

It looks good, works as a form of meditation, and can push your body beyond its natural boundaries. Although China may have been one of the first places it started, it has now been all but forgotten. But, there’s always room for change. “My idea is that juggling will have the same evolution as break dancing in Japan and Korea,” said Federico Moro, the man with the balls to keep the Beijing jugglers running.

Already a well loved hobby, and in some circles a professional sport in the West, juggling can be anything from the simple act of tossing a couple of lemons around to passing six sharp objects at speed across a stage. Quite simply put, it’s moving around a number of objects that exceeds the number of limbs you’re using to do it.

Here in Beijing it’s limited to a group of people who meet up on a Monday night. Strange fortune perhaps, as China was possibly one of the modern ancestors of juggling, albeit with swords.

Zen like

In the depths of Yugong Yishan, normally renown more for its music than strolling players, Moro, shouts out. “Anyone can do it!” and “It’s just like riding a bike!” This encouraging shout normally means a lot of sheepish grins as most of the novices in the crowd look down at the sea of dropped juggling balls around their feet.

“Everyone can do three balls. Everyone is able to do five balls; everyone can do six or seven balls,” explained Moro. “The whole point is the amount of time you are willing to put in.”

He insisted that all you need to learn how to juggle is two minutes of lesson, and then 10 to 20 hours of practice on your own. The more you’re spending scrabbling around on the floor to pick up dropped objects, the better. The idea is to keep swapping which hand you start throwing with, and to enter into the rhythmic zen like state which keeps three balls in motion just in front.

At any given meet up, the group can include newcomers, hardened pros and even the odd visitor just stopping by to keep in practice.

“I’ve been juggling for eight years,” said Koert Van Eijk who had come over to visit a member of his family in their place of work. “It’s my first time in Beijing, I thought I’d give it a shot and I found this group very close to the hotel,” he added. As an avid jongleur, he’d even brought his own balls. Van Eijk is used to the juggling clubs in Amsterdam, where visiting enthusiasts pop in for a quick practice.

Mind and body

Making it sound casual and easy is all very well after several years of practice, but it’s also good for the brain, as much so as meditation, and good for the body, in the same fashion as martial arts.

“Juggling is my meditation,” said Moro, who studies and connects mind and body movements as part of his project the Body Foundation. He’s now been juggling, and practicing the diabolo for around 10 years. “What I’m doing gives me the tools to do things in a different way. These tools are a good way to read yourself.”

The skill set may be similar to martial arts, with reflexes, dexterity and con-trolled movements which develop with practice. But there are fundamental differences, most importantly for Moro, the lack of “martial” in the arts.

“You don’t have to think about attack and defense,” said Moro, “and there’s no hierarchy involved.” He believes that both things detract from the body’s ability to learn, for jugglers you pick up the tool you want to practice with and work from there – no belts and sashes needed (unless you really want to).

The group in Beijing practice on the whole for fun and despite the obvious novelty as a party trick, and the fact circus skills help attract the opposite sex during festival season, China hasn’t branched into the pro circuit just yet.

Beijing Jugglers Monday Workshop

Just like riding a bike. Photos: Matthew Jukes

Novelty

“At the first workshop I really loved it, but I never expected my legs would be so sore,” said Michelle Yu, a newcomer to the group who had been dashing about madly to pick up the balls. Like many hanging around the hall, she’d been brought by word of mouth to the workshop. “I really like it and want to practice and improve my skills; it’ll be a lot of fun when I don’t have to keep picking up the balls!”

Standing off to one side, so as not to injure anyone, the poi spinners also wander down to the Beijing jugglers, long term residents and visitors alike. For those who’ve never seen it, poi are a pair of wires with small weights on the end.

“It’s China! I just had to come and see this place!” exclaimed Ruben Valas, who’d been entertaining people, and more dangerously distracting motorists outside with some lit fire poi. He’d been traveling, but had met Dave Cooper, a member of the group in a bar and had come down. Cooper’s chosen tool is the devil stick, another Satanic sounding form of juggling done using balanced sticks.

“I picked up devil spinning at Glastonbury in 2004. Everyone can do three balls but no further. I just messed around a bit today devil sticking the festival away…” He was only too happy to put on an impromptu performance for a local travel channel that turned up to film the group last week.

The different forms of object manipulation practiced by the Beijing group all have their own unique style, and aesthetics, but the processes are essentially the same. You’ve got to be on your toes (hands) and stay focused to keep everything airborne.

“Of all the sports of we can imagine juggling is the one which improves the most connection of synapses in brain,” said Moro. “Switching between left and right, left and right, the two sides [of the brain] keep working at the same time.”

As a general rule the jugglers meet every Monday night in Yugong Yishan, travelers and passersby always seem to gravitate and share their experience and it’s normally an opportunity to see several different types of the art at the same time. If nothing else it gives the uncoordinated man on the street the opportunity to learn what they’re capable of and not get laughed at when their balls drop.

For more information check out www.natooke.com

Booth Preparation and Shanghai

Montag, April 26th, 2010

To have a low carbon footprint we had decided to take the train from Beijing to Shanghai for the China Cycle Exhibition. It was amazing but we actually managed to store all our stuff somewhere in the train. I was happy that in the end we had decided that I only took one bike. The night on the train was quite pleasant. We arrived this morning at 7:30am. As we were 3 people we had expected that we need 2 taxis. But I was happy to see that for teh upcoming World Expo Shanghai now has many big taxis that easily fit us and all our stuff. On the way to the exhibition center we passed the World Expo area. I tried to take a picture out of the fast driving taxi and the rain did not help to get a clear picture.

In the Background is the Area of the World Expo

When we arrived we first had some breakfast at our tiny little booth space. It looked so sterile all white and empty.

Lonely Empty Booth

Then we started our preparations. Samantha and I crafted some interesting small lights using the bicycle lights and the green bike grips.

Pile of green bike grip lights

Julien built up a display stand for his Respro anti-pollution masks.

Display stand for Respro Masks

I am not sure how many times we had to say “bu yao”. About every 2 to 3 minutes somebody came to our small booth asking us if we need chairs, tables, shelves, help with setting up something, printng of our logo and more. It was mainly because we were one of the first in the whole tent to work on our booth.

Samantha in almost empty exhibition hall

We had printed out pictures of bikes that we had built up in our shop and we tied them together to hang them on the front of our booth while still yelling “bu yao” every other minute.

Bike Picture Girlande

We set up things a bit different than the standard small booths. Like we put the table in an angle further inside the booth and not the the front. And as we did not bring any bikes there is a lot written on our huge posters on our walls. This is the first time for me to have my own booth. It is an exciting feeling.

My booth at the Cycle China

Samantha was happy when we finally left the exhibition center as it had been cold the whole time and had actually been raining hard.

Samantha Song in Shanghai

As it was Samantha’s first time to Shanghai I took her to Nanjing Donglu and we walked to the Bund.

The Shanghai Bund at Dusk

Here is a picture of her taking pictures.

Samantha at the Shanghai Bund

I never saw this fountain that sometimes turns on and changes colors – I assume it is new for the World Expo.

The Bund Fountain

Then we walked to the refurbished old part of Shanghai near the Bund.

Old Shanghai

Around here they have these great bicycle stands. They are flower beds on top and have a pole so that each bike can be locked to that iron pole. I think they look great in the city and are practical. Just what a pity that there are hardly any peopel cycling and using these bike stands.

Old Shanghai Bicycle Stands

Article “Are There Really No Hipsters in China?” About Natooke in SLATE

Mittwoch, April 21st, 2010

Wow, there was an article about fixed gear in China and about my bike shop in Slate online magazine. Here are some sections of the article:

Are There Really No Hipsters in China?
Irony-resisting Chinese bicyclists have skipped the fixed-gear trend that has swept the rest of the world.
By J. David Goodman

BEIJING—A multicolored messenger bag slung over one shoulder and short-brimmed hat cocked to the side, Nie Zheng parked his brakeless bike in the corner of a trendy cafe in the Beijing Central Business District before settling into a molded plastic chair to chat about his particular obsession. “It’s been a dream since I was a kid to get a bicycle like this,” the 40-year-old fashion photographer told me. “But no one sold them here.” It took nearly nine months, he said, to get a track bike he wanted sent from England in 2007.

Such devotion is something of a rarity among the fashion-conscious in China, where bicycles are simply not mainstream cool. In fact, this bike-saturated nation has—so far—managed to skip entirely what is arguably the biggest global bicycle fad in a generation: the fixed-gear.

And the absence is notable. Despite the rise in car ownership, China remains the world’s largest bike market, with 51 million sold in 2009, according to the China Bicycle Association. With so many bikes, is it really possible that, apart from a few devotees like Zheng, no one in China got the trend memo? …

An homage to cycling style at Ines Brunn’s shop, Natooke, in Beijing

… Still, despite the odds, a handful of devotees from the West believe that now is the time to import the fixed-gear trend to China.

Hanging in the window of Ines Brunn’s new fixed-gear bike shop—Beijing’s first—is a Flying Pigeon that’s been converted into a fixie, a literal link between the past and what she believes will be the future.

“People ask: Why do you open a bike shop in Beijing? I think, well, you can do anything here,” said Brunn, a German-born physicist and acrobatic fixed-gear rider. In a year, her riding group has swelled from seven to 70. “I am optimistic!” she told a Beijing audience in November. “I see signs that the perception of the bicycle is changing.” …

I cannot remember having made such a useless comment to why I opened the Natooke shop. I love bikes and bicycle culture. And I love riding fixed gear. In the past it was hard to get parts for fixed gear bicycles in China so by opening a shop I could enable more people to enjoy riding these bikes. And of course our fixed gear bike group in Beijing had grown now to over 150 people. Because fixed gear is more like a fashion trend it inspires the young generation to get on to bikes. I am happy to see that my shop also attracts the elderly Chinese bicycle lovers. There is still some remaining bicycle culture in Beijing and I am optimistic that it will not die out.

The article was written by J. David Goodman who writes about urban cycling for the New York Times. He writes about cycling and bike culture. It is really interesting. Thank you for this article :-)

Wudaoying Natooke on BTV

Sonntag, April 11th, 2010

Today Beijing TV station BTV broadcasted a short clip about Wudaoying on their news. In that both Fede and me talk about our Natooke shop on Wudaoying hutong. The stupid thing is that they say “While the German Ines is working on bikes for customers, Fede is entertaining people with juggling performances in the shop”. You do not know how many people came in and asked Fede to perform for them.

The link to the video is here.

But otherwise it is a nice promotional clip for Wudaoying hutong focusing on all the foreigners that opened shops on this street.