Cyclogeography - Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier
by Jon Day
Cyclogeography is an essay about the bicycle in the cultural imagination and a portrait of London seen from the saddle. The bicycle enables us to feel a landscape, rather than just see it, and in the great tradition of the psychogeographers, Day attempts to depart from the map and reclaim the streets of the city.
Informed by several grinding years spent as a bicycle courier, Day lifts the lid on the solitary life of the courier. Travelling the unmapped byways, short-cuts and edgelands of the city, couriers are the declining, invisible workforce of the city. The parcels they deliver – either commonplace or illicit – keep the city – and capitalism - running.
'This is a street-smart, super-sharp exploration of the "soft city" as seen from the saddle; Jon Day has written a bold and clever book about the zone where capital and cycling collide. It fascinated me from first page to last.’ - Robert Macfarlane
'Magically good. Jon Day conjures the secret city of the cyclist, revealing himself over the course of his swooping journeys as an astonishing writer, capable of dizzyingly elegant and thrilling flights of thought.' - Olivia Laing
Following in the footsteps of the literary walkers, Day explores the connection between cycling and writing, and in the history of the bicycle he reveals also the history of the landscape. The great bicycle road races – the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España – are exercises in applied topography. Cyclogeography explores the relationship between bodies, bikes and geography.
• Includes interviews with Iain Sinclair and Richard Long
• Lifts the lid on the underworld of Cycle Couriering – and the strange or illicit contents of the parcels that are delivered.
• Explores the subculture of courier bicycle races including the Cycle Messenger World Championships and the Alleycat races.
• Traces the beginnings of the great bicycle races such as the Tour de France
Jon Day is a writer, academic and cyclist. He worked as a bicycle courier in London for several years, and is now a lecturer in English Literature at King's College London. He writes for the London Review of Books, n+1, the New Statesman and others, and is a regular book critic for the Financial Times and the Telegraph. He is a contributing editor of the Junket, an online quarterly.