Friday, January 22, 2016

The Non-Politics of Riding a Bike

On Monday I posted a photo of MLK Jr. on a bicycle. Wednesday I had some photos of presidents and world leaders on bicycles - along with some commentary on how partisan political pundits try to bring the bicycle, or the act of riding one, into their political attacks. Today, I thought it might be nice to just share some pictures of other famous people enjoying their bicycles.

Pop almost any name into the Google search box and add something like "on a bicycle" and see what comes up.

I'm sure everyone has seen this very famous photo of Albert Einstein taking a spin. It's often accompanied by the quote "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Ernest Hemingway in WWI (notice the rifle hanging from the top tube). He famously wrote, "It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." Nevertheless, it's hard to find many photos of Hemingway with a bike.
Reader "Unclemiltie" reminded me that America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, loved to ride his bike, and was still riding in his 80s. It's a little bit ironic that he made his fortune at the helm of what was then the world's biggest oil company, which greatly enabled America's love affair with the automobile. This Library of Congress photo shows him posing with his shaft-drive Columbia bicycle.
I managed to find a bunch of photos from the world of pop and rock music.

The Beatles in the Bahamas from the filming of their movie Help
"As a kid I had a dream. I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike, I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool -- maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors, and the first night I even kept it in my bed." -- John Lennon
Some kids never grow up. Lennon and Yoko Ono in Amsterdam, just tryin' to get some peace.
Mick Jagger on what looks to be a pretty nice Condor.
As long as we're on a roll with British rockers, here's one of Eric Clapton with one of his many Cinellis. I had a whole article about Clapton and bandmate Ginger Baker almost a year ago.
Can't leave out the King. Paramount studios gave Elvis this personalized Schwinn Racer, "Hound Dog," when he was filming one of his movies, Loving You
Many movie stars used bikes as an easy way to get around the expansive studio lots, so it isn't hard to find publicity shots of them on their bicycles.
Humphrey Bogart, making it look good.
Glen Ford and Rita Hayworth on a tandem - probably about the time they were filming the classic movie Gilda. Ever seen it? If you've seen the film Shawshank Redemption, there's a scene where the inmates are all watching a movie, and up on the screen we see Rita Hayworth do this amazing flip with her hair and the whole crowd explodes into whistles and catcalls. Morgan Freeman's character, Red, says "This is what I really like - when she does that shit with her hair." That's Gilda.
There's another one of Rita.
Marilyn Monroe, out for what looks like a pleasant ride with playwright and then-husband Arthur Miller.
Audrey Hepburn was well-acquainted with bicycles. Born in Belgium, she also spent much of her youth in the Netherlands. Many claim she spent the German occupation as a courier for the Dutch resistance, though that could be disputed -- after all, she was only 11 when the occupation began. True or not, she was a natural on a bike.
Great shot from a great movie. Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy. "Rain drops keep fallin' on my head. . ."
And there's the Sundance Kid himself, Robert Redford, out-of-the-saddle on a Schwinn (can't tell for sure, but it looks to be a Paramount).
Sidney Poitier, and director Sydney Pollack. Poitier is the definition of smooth.
Speaking of smooth: Sean Connery, probably on the set of one of the Bond films.
. . . Still looking good decades later.
Ewan McGregor at speed on a fixed-gear. McGregor has a number of bikes, including some pretty sweet custom rides from British builders Mercian and Bob Jackson. That fixed-gear machine in the photo is from the company GOrilla.
If I'm including "Obi Wan Kenobi" Ewan McGregor, I should maybe end with "Queen Amidala" Natalie Portman. Somewhere else on the net I spotted this photo misidentified as Audrey Hepburn. I suppose there is a certain resemblance. A younger generation may well remember her the way previous generations remember Hepburn.
Yes, the pictures could go on and on, but that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed it.


  1. The Audrey Hepburn and Ewan McGregor photos are so good.

  2. They're all good! Loved this post!

  3. Should have also said, there is a fun airbrushed version of Einstein without the bike, just hanging in midair with that grin on his face. Perfect for Mister Gravity.

  4. Jagger was an avid cycling fan. Frank Westall, from England, who was our soigneur at the 1976 Olympics knew him well and we almost met him in 1976 when he visited the village. Unfortunately it was on race day he came.

    1. George - thanks so much for adding that. It's awesome to know you're reading the blog!

  5. Wow the rear triangle on the GOrilla is tight! I bet one could stunt the life out of it.