By Joshua Samuel Brown
Hailing from Bavaria by way of Beijing, Ines Brunn has performed track bike gymnastics at bike shows and events around the globe. Our Corospondent in Asia caught up with Brunn following one of her performances at this year’s Taipei International Cycle Show.
How long have you been doing bicycle acrobatics, and how did you get started?
23 years. I was a competitive gymnast and wasn’t getting along with the Barvarian state coach and decided to leave the team. By coincidence I saw a lady who did tricks on a bike, and just got hooked.
What brought you to Beijing?
I’d been working a high paying job in telecommunications based in China and doing bicycle shows on the side. I found that working a full-time gig made scheduling performances difficult, so in 2008 I quit to open up a bike store in Beijing. My co-workers thought I was crazy! Now I sell bicycles from my shop in Beijing and perform whenever I want.
What’s your weapon of choice for the streets of Beijing?
A track bike with 48-14 gearing; one brake. What can I say, I like to ride fast. Road racing is kind of new in China, and it’s fun to ride a road bike race on a fixed gear. The road bike riders try to pedal into corners after watching me and hit their pedals on the ground.
Is Beijing a good city for track bikes?
It’s great. Flat as a pancake and bike lanes everywhere. Also, people are used to seeing bicyclists, so as chaotic as things get people are looking out for you. And the weather is completely dry for three quarters of the year!
What’s the fixed gear scene like in Beijing?
They’re catching on. I started a fixed gear club in 2007, the first in China. We had two members to start, and we grew to seven after I put the word out to all the bike shops to call me if they saw anyone riding a fixed gear. Now there are at least 800 fixed gear riders in Beijing.
Tell me a bit about bicycle acrobatics.
Well, I started doing bicycle acrobatics in Germany, where it is a rather technical sport. You need to tell the judges exactly what you plan to do in advance. It’s very precise over there, very…German! What I do at shows is more what I like to call artistic cycling, more of a free-form choreography which is a pretty new thing. The sport doesn’t exist in Taiwan or Mainland China, so people tend to be quite amazed here.
What’s it like performing in the States?
When I perform in San Fran and NYC I get a lot of bike messengers in the crowd, and they just go wild. Sometimes I think they’d be less impressed if I were a man.And the woman love that fact that some of the badass hard core male riders can’t even do the majority of my tricks.
What’s the overall vibe at bicycle shows?
People can sometimes be rather serious at bicycle shows. I mean, cycling is supposed to be fun, right? Yet at the business level it can be all so somber. I try to use my performances to inject some festivity into what rightly should be a very festive atmosphere. It makes me happy that people watching me perform have smiles on their faces, even if the smiles only last until it’s time for them to get back to business.
Is there anyplace else you’d like to perform?
I’d love to perform at Interbike, and I haven’t performed at Eurobike yet.
I believe that only things that give happiness are self sustaining, and I’m convinced that cycling is definitely one of these things. Cycling is not only good for the environment, but good for the world because it makes those who do it happy. This is basically the philosophy at the heart of everything I do.
In Beijing? Visit Natooke, Ines’s fixed gear shop at Wudaoying Hutong 19-1 (near Lama Temple subway) Dongcheng District, Beijing 100007, China.