Warsaw was created by two bike lovers, a graphic designer & a bike messenger. Sven and Charlotte are the duo behind new Paris-based brand Warsaw Cycling. Between messenger-runs, alleycats, the Red Hook Crit and riding 340K in 12 hours (just because), they wanted to wear unique, personality-filled kit that they couldn’t wait to zip up. And when you can’t find it? You make it. In the middle of launching their new online store, and as the first their new tops hit the mail, they answered a couple of my questions about their own riding and inspiration.
Hi guys. Tell me a little about your own cycling adventures. How did you both start, and where are you now?
My first real adventure was a 150K ride on a fixed gear four years ago. Now I’m trying to race as many fixed crits as possible.SvenSven: I cycle cause I work on my bike everyday as I’m a messenger. First I was just commuting in Paris, to get to work and get around with a shitty fixed gear conversion. ‘Cause I wanted to move faster in town and couldn’t bear anymore crowded public transports. I used to ride with a crew every Wednesday, cruising in Paris. And now I must admit, I need to cycle or I feel that something’s missing…
My first real adventure was a 150K ride on a fixed gear four years ago, with two other friends, Randy and Orion. We went from Paris to the coast (Dieppe) and it took us 6/7h. It was rough and painful, was riding in short jeans and sneakers at the time. Immediately after that, I upgraded and bought cycling shoes and a bib short (my ass begged me, hah!) Also we went on that same ride Charlotte and I this spring, and it took us 5 hours and that was her first long distance. She did a real good job!
Last summer I started to ride for a crew called “Rock’n’Rollin” and took part into a project called “Riders United”, a 3 day ride through the Alps, with riders from France, Italy & Argentina. It was a really enriching experience! The longest ride I’ve been on, was a solo ride from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand (where my mother lives), on my road bike, with a bag on my back in the boiling summer sun. 340K in 12hours. The last 20k of the ride were the most painful I have ever experienced. It was a kind of ultra cycling experience.
And I raced my first Red Hook Crit as well last summer. I was quite stressed since it was my first real crit. And now I’m trying to race as many fixed crits as possible.
Charlotte: I started to ride on a fixed gear in Warsaw, 4 years ago, I was barely using it comparing to how much I ride in Paris, where I moved 3 years ago. Here, it gives me freedom to move around Paris how fast I want, whenever I want and saves me from horrible public transport.
Tell me about riding in Paris. What do you like about it? How is riding in Paris different?
My last crit was the Red Hook in Barcelona, which was an amazing end of summer. I finished it and didn’t get overlapped. I’m pretty glad as the other girls ride fast as hell!CharlotteCharlotte: It was a huge difference! There are paths everywhere (most of the time). I think there are a lot of people that complain about Paris cycling life but honestly I think, we are given a lot, it’s just the others that are not respectful enough (drivers or other cyclists). You have lots of cars parked on paths, or people walking on it. But, even if it makes me really nervous, I still think that’s how Paris is, because it’s very small and it was built in a way that cannot have people walking, biking people and driving people without them interfering with each other and you just have to learn to live with that.
When I brought my fixed gear with me and it was a way for me to meet people, I started to do some PCR (a local bike crew) rides on Wednesday, I did some alleycats and vintage rides (beret baguette, la patrimoine). But mainly, I used my bike for commuting.
I started just this year to ride and train more seriously in late spring when I got my new frame. Then we rode to Dieppe together – my first long distance. Then I did 3 crits this summer, my first in Dijon still riding with my Vans and then upgraded to cycling shoes finally! My last crit was the Red Hook in Barcelona, which was an amazing end of summer. I finished it and didn’t get overlapped. I’m pretty glad as the other girls ride fast as hell!
Now I’m planning to buy maybe a road bike, to enjoy more adventures in France’s beautiful landscapes.
Amazing. What’s the Parisian alleycat and racing scene like?
Charlotte: Alleycats were organized and are still on pretty often – I must admit I haven’t taken part in any two years, though. There is one interesting event, that Street Pistard (a bike crew) organise, called “9 heures de Longchamps”, where you ride on a circuit (1 lap is 3-4 km) for nine hours with 2 teammates (3 in total, to be more clear). The one that makes the more laps wins, this year it was Sven’s team that actually won, with Charles and Hervé. So there is a lot of going on here in Paris.
Tell me about one ride where you felt a real connection to the ride – it might be when you first fell in love with cycling, when you learned something about yourself, or a special moment on the bike.
Sven: I would say 3 weeks ago when I went to the velodrome of Saint-Quentin in Yvelines with friends, that was quite amazing. I really recommend to anyone that hasn’t tried yet! It requires a little bit of skills but the sensation once you’re chasing speed is wow! And there’s something really magic about the place and the huge wooden track! I really enjoyed myself!
Can you tell me about one of your favourite places to ride?
Sven: My favourite place to ride would be at my Mom’s! She lives in Auvergne, in the National Parc of Livradois-Forez which is basically in the middle of France. There are a lot of nice countryside roads and it’s peaceful! I like to go on short or long rides to find peace.
Tell me about the story of Warsaw Cycling. How did it come about? How did you get inspired to start creating your own kit?
Sven: The story is simple. We simply wanted to wear something nice that we liked and couldn’t find on the market. That’s why we went floral.
We both are from Eastern countries, Charlotte is from Warsaw so we chose Warsaw cycling cause its something more symbolic regarding our roots. The name is purely abstract, even though Charlotte grew up in Poland and particularly in Warsaw. Nevertheless, she is half french, and I am from half Croatian but I grew up in France. We don’t want to be misunderstood that we are from Poland (although kind of; the half of the brand is), we just mainly liked the name and it honoured the background of one of us.
Charlotte had a brand and made women’s apparel when she lived in Poland, so the creating process was much easier, although very different. We are both very involved in the cycling scene so all this made us naturally come to create a brand together.
Charlotte: I design the kit, the process was long as I haven’t designed any patterns before. I got some info from a friend with more experience and some books about it, and just did it as I’m a graphic designer. Then we send the design to the factory graphic designer and they send us a sample. That’s how it worked the first time, more or less, though not that easy as it sounds though, hah.
What’s been the most challenging part of it so far?
Sven: The design itself, drawing what you imagine and then both agreeing on it.
What are you most excited about for Warsaw Cycling in the future?
Charlotte: The next kit – we have lots of ideas but we have not decided yet which to choose.
Sven: To go on biking adventures and this way promote the brand and cycling.