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Introducing the Lycra lads: London's bicycle couriers in 1987.
Cycling Sport

Introducing the Lycra lads: London’s bicycle couriers in 1987.


A vibrant and stylish group had taken over the London streets. According to the Observer on December 6, 1987, cycling had never been so romantic. If you stopped to daydream on any street corner, you were likely to encounter a well-equipped messenger. However, their purpose was not just for show. These modern cycle couriers were competing against the traditional motorbike dispatchers. Photographed in their sleek outfits with reinforced crotches for protection, let’s get to know the Lycra Lads.

Swas stated that style and confidence are crucial aspects of the job. He shared that riding was his first experience with actual work and that earning money became possible once he became familiar with the routes. Swas enjoyed the competitive nature of messenger work, where they would race each other along their designated routes. He also noted that as soon as he carried a courier bag, he could bend the rules of the road without receiving any honks from other drivers.

In the past, Zero was employed in adventure playgrounds, but now he considers the city his own. He no longer feels the cold. He evaluates bikes for Dispatch Rider magazine and has plans to relocate to Manhattan, where riders can make $500 per week.

David Nugent, a graduate in the field of business studies, initially took up riding as a means to increase his physical endurance and earn income. Despite the isolation of this occupation and the feeling of being easily replaceable and unrecognized by the companies he worked for, Nugent stands by his decision and intends to continue riding until he is no longer physically able.

Jim Hoskin, a former art student, saw it as an opportunity to fund his painting. He was among many artistic individuals who were attracted to the route due to its picturesque views of Westminster Bridge and St Paul’s at sunset. The most challenging aspect was enduring the harsh weather and heavy traffic while cycling 60 miles daily, often squeezed between buses. “People would shout out insults like ‘You trendy git!’,” Hoskin recalled, although it was difficult to maintain one’s cool while carrying a 6-foot inflatable banana.

Source: theguardian.com