“My name is Francisco Martins and I’m 34 years old. I have a degree in graphic design and I work with design and illustration, besides being an amateur cyclist. I have a cycling project, Daemon Cycling, that started out as a blog and became a platform for initiatives outside the online universe, organizing races and cycling challenges. Because I live in São Paulo, road cycling and fixed gear are what I do more frequently, but I also do mountain biking etc. The project is based around the styles of cycling I do the most: road cycling, urban mobility, and a bit of mountain biking when I have the opportunity.”
When did you start pedaling?
I began to paddle since I was a little kid out in the countryside of Minas, I’ve always been the bike guy. It was like a toy when I was a kid and it gave me freedom like no other toy would. It was like you get your bike and go as far as you can and when you go back home you have that secret like “my mom will never know where I’ve been”. That’s fucking insane. So I always paddled.
When I moved to Belo Horizonte I ended up putting the bike aside, because I went there to study, etc, so, I kinda lost the connection. In the end, I stayed in the city for 10 years and away from the bike. In 2009 I came to São Paulo and I happened to have some friends from Minas living in the city, and they insisted that I needed a bike to use in São Paulo. So the bug bit me again, and since then everything I do, I go by bike. My life got so much better because I stop taking the bus, and I didn’t need to stay there waiting at the bus stop or get stuck in traffic. So I do everything by bike – of course that occasionally I call a cab or take an Uber, but mostly I go by bike.
What has Cycling brought to you?
Oh, it brought me a lot of things, problems, and debts in the bank as well (laughs). But, man, it sure brought me great and sincere friendships here in São Paulo. It was funny because when I first moved here, all the people I knew here worked with design – great friends, incredible and very talented people – but we only went out to drink. We would go out to get wasted and go to parties. It was awesome. When I started to ride, I met people that were interested, simply, in bike riding, and it was great because I really liked to just chill, it had another purpose. I started to get more involved and what was just fun started to become a hobby, that turned into a sport, and today takes up a lot of time in my life.
You keep the fixed gear culture alive with these Daemon events – you make more people ride and you make people ride even more – where does its all come from and what’s your goal with these events?
The main reason I organize the races is that, for example, they are races I would like to run in when there were none here at the time. So I ended up organizing races so I could have the opportunity to participate in them, but I realized that you can’t organize the event and participate at the same time. Who knows, maybe one day in the future I can participate in the races too.
It’s really sad to see things happening outside Brazil when here we’re just left thinking “Oh, It would be so cool to have a race here in Brazil one day”, “One day we’ll have a fixed gear scene”. Dude, if we just sit here and wait for that to happen, in the context of what we are living right now, with the market that we live in, it’s going to be really hard. If we don’t organize ourselves to do things, we will never have the opportunity to live and experience the things that happen outside Brazil that we say are so cool.
We are bombarded with information and inducement of all kinds – not only to consume things but visually. Since fixed gear is becoming a counterculture, it has a relationship with the city. When I was a teenager I used to skateboard a lot and I really connected myself with the fixed gear because of skateboarding. It’s a really similar context. So all this together makes this lifestyle, music, video style, esthetics, illustration – all this is part of this rising culture, and we see it happening outside Brazil, and here it’s still so weak. So my goal is to make the scene stronger, to have enough people involved that we can demand from our market better products with more accessible prices, or that we produce something here in Brazil ourselves.
There’s this dumb protectionism in our bike market in which certain brands and companies insist that we keep buying shitty products for exorbitant prices. Simply because they are protected in some way. So we have to give a lot of credit to people that are producing their own stuff because these people got grit – even with so many difficulties they’re all out there grinding and take hits for everyone, you know? It’s tough. It’s really hard to compete with these big brands, especially if you don’t have any incentive, if the government doesn’t help you with anything, if the market doesn’t have space for you. It’s really tough.
In what way do you see the bike affecting the way you move around the city?
Certainly, the more bikes you have, more human and alive the city becomes, people will have more time to experience the city in the best way possible. What changed in my life was that I was able to feel more of São Paulo as a city, because when you’re out there riding you can feel the smell of things, you have the time to stop and look at building facades and houses, to look at people, to put your feet on the ground – to put your feet on the ground is very important because if you’re in a car all day you have no real contact with the city.
The predictions are that this amount of cars that we have in the city will in fact end. It’s unsustainable man. And you know what else, if you think that reports from Mercedes itself say that its biggest rivals are Apple and Google, because they are investing in smart cars that don’t need a driver or even electric cars and that kind of stuff. This car based society that we live in today is bound to end in a near future. And the bicycle will have a big role to play in humanizing the city. It will allow you to really live the city, to calm traffic down, to have contact with other people.
When you are inside a car, it’s really easy to start fighting with someone in traffic for some dumb reason, for some minor lack of attention from you or from the driver next to you, and that becomes a gun fight, back and forth – people think that because they’re inside a car it’s like they are protected inside a tank. But, have you ever bumped into someone on a line inside a bank and the dude yelled at you “watch where you’re going, motherfucker!”. Do you have the guts to do that at the bank? No, dude, you’re there staring at him. Maybe he really didn’t do it on purpose. You’re protected inside your car, and that gives you the power to shout, curse, go over people. That’s really bizarre.
What’s your relationship with the city?
I’ve always liked big cities, I’ve always like to see people and movement. When I moved here, I went crazy because I came from a small city to BH and after I came to São Paulo. I really like the city, but it has been making me sad lately because when you travel, the cities are beautiful and full of cool stuff, but when you get back here, you really have to make an effort to find the beauty in things that, man, are really not beautiful. You have to find beauty in chaos. But I still think it’s the best city to evolve professionally and to be in contact with the things that have evolved the most: culture, fashion, sports, it’s all going to be right here.
The city also gave friendships, because when you’re pedaling – especially if you’re out on the road – you are in a risky situation, and if you are in a group of people you have to trust them. You end up developing a very strong trust and intense relationship with these people because you’re out there on the road and if any shit goes down, that’s the only person you can rely on. So once you have that trust it’s very easy for you to end up being friends. Indeed, these biking groups that turn into a group of friends is something that ends up being very natural and normal, especially because of this reason.
What places would you go to if you went on a ride with someone? Is there a place that you identify yourself more?
Damn, that’s a tough one, because it’s dumb and a bit stuck up, but dude, Pinheiros is dope. We call it Pinherópolis, because – especially me that came from a small city – to live in Pinheiros is really awesome because you live the life of a quiet neighborhood, almost like in a small town, but with full access to São Paulo. And it’s awesome because Pinheiros is kinda West but it’s still a noble area, there are people that will go crazy for the center. I think the center is pretty cool too, but dude, I can solve all my stuff here in Pinheiros, I think it’s a really stylish neighborhood. So when someone from abroad comes to São Paulo I always say “I’m going to take you to this really awesome neighborhood” and we go to Pinheiros and go a bunch of cool places.
Obviously, there’s a lot of other cool places in São Paulo that I love, Like the Mercadão, I also really like the parks. And dude, a bike ride around the city is the best thing there is.
Describe to us what a day in Chico’s life would be like?
In an ideal day: I wake up around 6h, drink a quick cup of coffee, kiss my wife, and go paddle. I’ll try to hit the road if I can, if not I’ll go to USP. If do go to the road I’ll paddle around 80km; if I go to USP I paddle about 50km. I go back home and have another breakfast, take a shower, then I go to the office – I’m working really close to home. I have lunch with someone, then I go back to the office or I go out to run some errands, like visiting a supplier or delivering something and going to the post office. There is this guy that produces stuff for me and he stays at Jaguaré, so take my bike, go all the way there, then I come back and work some more. I was hurt but I do Krav Maga, so sometimes I train at night. Go home, eat dinner, and I watch movies or series with my wife. It’s something like that, on a good day.
What role do your sneakers have on your daily hustle?
I always really liked them, To me, sneakers are the most important piece of clothing, and it tells a lot about your personality. So, I always liked to judge people by their sneakers you know? Like “Damn” that dude is wearing those sneakers, so he must be something like this, he must watch this kind of movie” (laughs). I think that sneakers are really specific – there are people that don’t care, but I can make someone out by the sneaker they have on. Well, I’m really specific about the sneakers I use. There are some brands that I use more than others and some that I never wear. And the fact that you stand on them all day, there are a bunch of stuff to be specific about right?
I think it’s also interesting how it became an icon because it represents dates, different eras – from certain designers to different eras. Certain crews used a certain sneaker, you can see that with Hip Hop, Punk Rock, Heavy Metal, especially with skateboarding; a lot of different groups have their own sneaker that gets out the message that they want. And there are people that think it’s ridiculous for us to be talking about sneakers and that it’s all nonsense. Even my wife asked, “Where are you going to find that much to talk about sneakers?” And dude, there is a whole fucking lot to talk about! We’re talking about something that has history, it’s design, fashion, it’s a series of very specific things, it’s just something random. With it, I can relate with a specific era, people, design, culture. I think it’s fucking awesome.