In los angelenos, stateside, travelling on December 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

So after getting a phone call from the good people at swrve, I head to downtown LA to go and meet the people behind the cycling clothes that I enjoy wearing so much. Cycling clothes that don’t make me seem too much of a cyclist when off the bike, but when on the bike make it a pleasure to ride, just enough pockets in the right places, and cut just so, to make it a pleasure to ride in. And when the temperature dips as it has now in ye olde london town, and the snow starts to fall, my milwaukee hoodie keeps me toasty and warm, and dry, well dry enough until I wash it another couple of times to get back the water repellence it used to have…

Can you tell I’m a fan.

Downtown LA despite the skyscrapers, plethora of hotels and rooftop bars, feels distinctly deserted, and on street level the amount of bodegas, discount stores and multitude of boarded up shopfronts give it an air of dilapidation and destitution, it reminds me of Dalston and Hackney before the creeping gentrification took hold, when no one with any sense used to rock through there apart from the ones that lived there. But as I look around downtown la, I’m not sure where the people live here…

After a couple of wrong turns and a leisurely roll through town, I finally find the building their based in, about twelve, maybe fourteen storeys high, lovely old fifties/sixties thing, cornices, and pale brickwork around the windows, roll the bike into the lobby, let the large lift take me upstairs and then out along a corridor to their offices.

When the door is opened and I’m invited in by Matt, I’m surprised as I lay my bike down alongside his commuter that their office/workspace is also their workshop, one side of the large open space, which is divided by a run of shelving units which hold boxes and boxes of clothes, all labelled by design and size, opens out into a factory space where a run of sewing machines and fabric lie waiting for the staff to come in and start producing the goods.

 Matt tells me later that this is great since they can prototype clothes quickly, and if changes are required can turn those changes into finished clothes almost immediately. It also means that anyone in the who knows them can get their clothes customised within a day or two. I take this on board and when at the end of my visit I sort through their assembled clothing ranges – you didn’t think I would come all this way and not buy anything did you? – I take them up on their offer and have some of them tailored more exactly to me.

I spend a pleasant couple of hours in the company of Matt and Muriel as Matt talks me through the thinking behind Swrve and I just talk about cycling, travelling, riding apparel and the tour de france. Its lovely to know that the people who make the cycling clothes that I love to wear are as passionate about cycling as I am, and just want to make the best, most comfortable product out there. It is also good that the cosrt of said product doesn’t move past a point that most cyclists are comfortable paying.

Being in Swrve’s offices and talking to Matt about cycling, decisions to cycle, cycling heroes, cycling apparel, cycling in la, cycling, cycling, cycling, reminded me how much I do love cyclists, and made the sticker that I have on my rear wheel make me smile even more “everyone on two wheels is a friend”  because we know what its like to be the fragile one on the road, the exhiliaration of riding hard along anb emnpty road, or, dicing with traffic as it crawls along, and we fly past. The connection between yourself and that inanimate machine that you power and how in that connection, it becomes more than the sum of its parts, how in the end if you ride enough, you merge, and cycling becomes an extension of movement, as easy and unconscious as walking, talking, breathing, eating. 

So I bid my fare thee wells to Matt and Muriel and got just a little bit lost and out of breath as the darkness approached trying to make my way back uptown to west hollywood. Knowing that soon  I would have some more Swrve apparel to roll around town in..

US Site

UK Site

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