Who is Guillaume?
Guillaume, 36 YO – I live in Strasbourg, France, near the german border.
Bikes have always been a part of my life, but somehow in the background. If you had asked me as a child or a young adult, I wouldn’t have said that I was passionate about bikes. I just cycled to school or with friends, as – I assumed – everyone did.
It all changed about ten years ago or so.
At the time, I was disgruntled with my job and awfully out of shape.
A weekend in Amsterdam was all it took to open my eyes – I needed to get back on a bike.
I bought an old road bike for a few bucks, and started tinkering with it, slowly transforming it into a commuter. A lot of trial and error, I must admit. I think my love for fixing bikes stemmed from there.
Fast forward a few years, and I quit said job, and started working as a messenger.
I lived the messenger life for five intense years. This redefined my relationship with bikes; I learned what worked and what didn’t, got to experiment with different setups, and figure out a little better what I’m looking for in a bike.
Today, I work as a bike mechanic; I take pride in keeping well used bicycles on the road, as much as setting up top-of-the-line race weapons.
What is your first bike related memory?
I couldn’t say precisely – but I remember my brother and I using our bikes for adventures and exploration, which at the time meant two streets away from home.
How would you define your relationship with bikes and how is it part of your everyday life?
I’ve always liked how bikes simplified getting from point A to point B and I used mine mostly as a means of transportation . For a long time, I actually found it very boring riding for the sake of riding ; it came later in life, helping me keep my sanity during tough times.
How often do you ride?
I unfortunately don’t ride a lot these days. I commute daily, try to train with my colleagues during lunch breaks, and escape the city on weekends.
I have those dreams of long bike journeys, but lack time to actually do them.
Is there a specific track you ride which never bores you?
Not really – I tend to wander and get lost, which is a wonderful way to never get bored!
Have you ever travelled far from home with your bike?
I help a friend organising of the Japanese Odyssey, a little-known ultradistance event. I actually rode it four years in a row; without hesitation, my best cycling memories are in Japan. The scenery is magnificent, and the climbs super punishing – a recipe for unforgettable memories.
Otherwise, I try to get my bike with me as often as possible when I travel.
I love the fact that any foreign city feels a bit more familiar when you’re on your own bicycle.
What is in the kit you always carry with you? Or tell us if there is a particular object you always carry with you.
When I worked as a messenger, I quickly realized how being self-reliant was crucial, so I gathered a lot of tools and stuff. Now, I have a rather refined emergency kit. It is quite compact (can fit in a jersey pocket, under the saddle or in a small toptube bag.) and contains exactly what I need to face any mechanical.
Let’s get nerdy, here is its exact content:
– Two tire levers (tuned for weight, and one slotted to be used as a valve stem remove)
– A multi-tool
– Plastic gloves
– a set of brake pads
– a quicklink
– a tire patch
– self-adhesive tube patches
– tubeless “bacon” plugs
– a 16g Co2 cartridge (with an adjustable head)
– a presta to schrader adapter
Tell us about the most intense emotion you have felt whilst riding.
That is going to sound cliché, but the first time I tried a fixed-gear bike, it was kind of a revelation. It felt so simple, so direct, and yet intoxicating.
The “feel one with the bike” expression always made me cringe, but there is something to it.
What was your first bike like?
A small “bicross”. Well, a department store wannabee race BMX. Hi-ten steel, awfully heavy, with plastic spoked rims and useless brakes.
Do I need to mention that I loved it?
Of all the bikes you have or have had, is there one you love most?
I think my preferred bike is my On-One Pompino.
I love the fact that it feels right, despite the fact that I messed with pretty much everything on that bike.
It is simple, it is sturdy, reliable, good on any kind of road.
What is the best thing this passion has taught you?
I learned self-reliance the hard way!
The love of bikes opened my world. I always considered myself a rather shy or introverted person.I met a lot of people that I would never have crossed path with otherwise if it wasn’t for our shared love of bikes.
What are your other passtimes or hobbies?
Er… I’m afraid all my passtimes are more or less bike-related.
What genre of music do you prefer, who is your favourite singer/band?
I listened to music a lot in my twenties, much less now.
My tastes in music are quite eclectic, but I always seem to come back to electronic music.
On the top of my mind, one song that make me want to ride would “I feel better”, from Overwerk. The song is originally from Hot Chip, but the remix is just a bit more “epic”, for the lack of a better word.
Is there a book or film that you consider important for your life?
Not really cycling related, but a book that made a considerable impression on me was « Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work ». I read it at a time when I was profoundly unhappy at work and with the direction my life was taking, and it resonate with me a lot.
I think it helped me in my decision to shift toward a more concrete job.
Wine or beer?
Beer, without hesitation.
Hamburger or pizza?
Tough one. Pizza I guess.
Riser or dropbar?
Dropbars – for some reasons, I don’t get along with risers.
Even offroad, I think I’d rather have drops. But keep in mind I basically have zero mountain biking skills, which may explain this.
What are the threads/forums/sites and social profiles (Instagram) that you follow with most interest?
I spend a lot of time on LFGSS forums, mostly lurking.
As for social media, I certainly spend too much time on instagram, checking bike builds galleries 😉
Do you have new builds/projects or journeys planned? If yes tell us about them, so we can continue to follow you waiting to see you realize them.
I have a few details to fix/improve on my current bikes. Not glamorous stuff, think fenders, lights, etc.
As for more slow-burner projects, yeah, I have a few things in mind.
For a few months now, I have been toying with the idea of building a gravel monster, based on a hardtail 29er frame.
A bike to tackle long-distance unpaved routes, such as the TMV (Traversée du Massif Vosgien).
I also have a few frames in the basement, especially a e-stay 90’s MTB, currently gathering dust. I could rebuild it as it originally was, but purist restorations aren’t really my thing. So it may end up as an over-the-top, colourful commuter.
We chose to inverview you because we believe that you are ispiring for our readers, if you could give them advice what would it be?
As for bikes, I’d say go with what you like. A bicycle you like, and find beautiful, will always be a bike you’ll have more pleasure riding than the lightest/greatest/stiffest out there, or the more rational. Life is short, bikes don’t have to be boring.
INTERVIEW BY: EMANUELE VALLORANI