António Pedro is a 34 years old living in Matosinhos and working in Central Porto. He’s a doctor and father of two. António started bike commuting one year ago when stopped driving 120 km every day. In the beginning, only every now and then, no more than a couple of days a week and then but, gradually, he started using the bicycle every day. Like the most of us, Pedro has discovered that pedaling in winter is better than in summer and the nights are better than the days. Nothing beats an automobile-free night ride, safe from the heat and with most of the cars already parked at the suburbia.
Maybe I’m an incurable optimist and I’m seeing bikes where they don’t exist, but it seems there are much more of us out there, don’t you think?
Our conversation happened in different days. We chatted during a visit to the organic grocer at the Matosinhos Fish Market Biomercado, having a cup of tea at a local cafe and in a couple of visits to our bike shop. I’m quite fed up with all the sterile cycling discussion on the Internet. What most interested me in António was not the way he uses a bike, but the things he shares related to food and the “paleo diet”. A doctor, a man of science following a ‘wave’ too many consider as pseudo-science. Interesting. I wanted to know more and found not a fundamentalist, but someone that managed to achieve a very interesting balance, something normal in our “A Brompton Week” participants. A bit as our good friend Pedro.
“For me, it’s a bit difficult talking about food. Just some few years ago I was a sweet tooth and didn’t put too much thought on the way bad food can harm our health. When turning 30 I was in a really bad shape and started thinking about my health and my future. The paleo diet kept my attention and was a good driver for change, a way to start thinking about food in a more open manner. Sugar was the first thing to go and I started immediately to feel much more energy during a working day. I was never worried about my weight but lost 6 or 7 kilos in this transition period.
Without being an extremist, I avoid eating processed food, sweets, and pseudo-healthy stuff. I’m not eating most of the cereals and I’m much more into the healthy fats and proteins. We are taught to eat a certain way but, in the end, everything is questionable. Pseudo-health food, for example, is a very profitable business. It’s one of modern life paradoxes, like paying a gym subscription to pedal indoors.”
After changing his diet, almost everything changed in Antonio’s life. The time we spent together showed someone in a transition period, trying to adjust his daily life to new paradigms. “This was the tipping point after which I made a profound reflection about other dimensions of my life, including the way I consume, dress and eat or the way I move in the city. There is a wide range of bad habits society imposes us from an early age which is not alright. Changing the way I eat, I discovered other things that can be changed too, if I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone. “
The humble bicycle is part of the change too and Antonio’s enthusiasm with our demo Brompton was very present every time we met and also in his social media sharing. The extreme flexibility allowed with such a compact folding bike, the mechanics, the reliability and the way it adapts to a lifestyle in transition were topics in conversations he had with colleagues and fellow commuters at the hospital car (and bike) park or online after sharing pictures of the bicycle. “It’s a paradox. A bicycle that allows me to be less concerned about bicycles. I store it in my flat, I can use the public transports and always chose the best commuting option at a given moment. It’s truly an intermodal vehicle. It’s a bit more nervous than a big wheel bicycle but more maneuverable. The comfort and the performance are very similar, though.”
Antonio was selling his car during this Brompton demo period. Maybe a car is not that important now. When “thinking bicycle”, António is thinking in many different ways of getting around.
The Brompton Week is an experience we are making with some of our customers and friends. They are spending a few days with one of these iconic bikes and will tell our readers how it was. Simple, fun and certainly life-changing.