Merci Daniel!

Let’s talk about freedom, bike messengers’ philosophy and photography with Daniel who is actually working as a messenger in Paris. Welcome to the Parisian jungle and enjoy the ride with this inspiring cyclist who has changed his philosophy from “ride fast young” to “ride fast die last”. A chill moment. Definitely.

Hello Daniel! Welcome! So who are you and what are you doing in life?

Hi! So my name is Daniel Lima, I’m 29 years old. I am a bike messenger in Paris. I love bike and photography!

What’s your story with cycling? What was your first bike?

It started when I was very young during some holidays in Portugal where I only used my bike. In Paris, I was not cycling too much, until 16 years when I had my first fixie. A Leader 721 bike, all black with carbon wheels … to show off haha!

Tell us more about your practice? What do you like about cycling?

Cycling is my life. My job. And my passion. The means of transport I use the most. I cycle about 25,000 km a year. I love endurance. What I like about cycling is the feeling of freedom and sport. For me, it’s a genuine pleasure. When you’re riding a bike, you FEEl sensations of speed, freedom, and adrenaline. Especially when you’re a bike messenger. But cycling mainly brings me the feeling of freedom.

Let’s talk about your gear. What bike do you own?

The bike I’m using to work with is an Omnium Cargo. And I use it every day, like 80km a day. And for fun, I have a 2018 Endurance Canyon SLX A8.0 bike. I use it for Classics Challenges and rides. I’m not using my fixie anymore but I’m keeping it close to me!

Beside cycling, you are a photographer and you publish on Messenger of Paris IG and FB accounts your photos. You’re also sharing pictures of Classics Challenges rides. Are you their official photographer? And what’s your story with photography? Could you tell us a bit more about your FB and IG accounts Messengers?

Not at all. I am not their official photographer. Her name is Sophie Gateau (by the way, hello Sophie!). I am unofficial. The photo is a passion.

As I’m a bike messenger, I often meet my colleagues in the street. I  like photography so why not mix them?

So I’ve made a page so keep and share these memories and photos with my buddies. I also shoot the Alleycat events organized by the Parisian bike messengers. The goal of Messengers is to take pictures of and for the friends. And it’s started to grow: I started shooting on other events like Ride Steel, Classics etc. For me, the Classics can be linked with bike messengers philosophy because they are also riding the Classics. But it’s more in the bike messenger underground.

Not too hard to take pictures in cycling world?

Basically, we all know each other. So when I took part in events, I already knew a lot of people. For the Classics Challenges, in fact, I do not impose myself. I don’t make people posing for me. Sometimes they don’t even see me. When I started, I had a small camera, I slalomed between groups. I was only shooting and not speaking to people. I was doing my thing and I was sharing them on the internet. Then people started to know my page with the Classics Challenge. Now, I go between them. Ask them Photo ? OK, cool. I shoot. And I move on.

What do you like the most about taking pictures of cyclists and cycling more generally?

The desire to transcribe this freedom that I feel on my bike. The landscapes. The groups. Cohesion. Community.

What’s your photography gear? And why did you chose your gear in particular?

I’m shooting with a Nikon D750 camera. I started with a 50mm 1.4 lens. Then I headed to 24-70 2.8 and now I’m using a 35mm 1.4 Sigma lens. Before I took all my stuff with me on my bike but I’m now only taking my 35mm. This focal length is perfect for bike shots. OK I agree, sometimes a small zoom would be very appreciated. But we sort things out!

What’s your masterpiece and the story behind?

I can’t say it’s “a masterpiece” but it’s a photo that I like! So, it’s a photo I took at the Keirin Caviar event 2-3 years ago. In fact I came late, a course had already begun and I reached the starting line. There were red lights and smoke. I took a picture. The photo shows very well the philosophy of the bike messenger.

What is bike messengers’ philosophy? Can you tell us a little about this community and your daily life?

When I started several years ago, for me, my philosophy was “ride fast young” hahah. It was a bit like that! And now, with time, I’ve calmed down and it’s rather “ride fast die last” haha.

Maybe I grew up but I’m no longer risking my life. And also: we are used to this urban jungle so we can move easily. Quickly. And avoiding street dangers. An accident always happens too fast. For now I’ve been lucky since I haven’t had anything very serious. Basically, the bike messengers’ philosophy is: picture yourself that a bike messenger from Copenhagen comes to Paris for an Alleycat (ndl: an urban race bike) and makes a request on a FB group, the Parisian community will ensure that this person will find a place to stay. There is real solidarity. Even if we don’t know this person, we will find a place to host him. That’s the philosophy of the couriers. It is a true and united community. We share the bike and our passion. But there is always this little competition between us: who will go faster? who is the most agile in the urban jungle? So that’s about all that bike messenger’s philosophy for me!

What do you like the most about your job as a bike messenger?

Basically: no boss. I have a master in visual communication. I worked a little after school. But I quickly thought open spaces were not for me. I needed to move, I needed freedom. So I thought, “how to find this freedom?” One day, I saw a bike messenger in the street and I thought “damm’, it’s not bad”. I applied for a job for several months. I had no experience, so my applications were refused. But one day, I applied for a job on the Internet and that’s how I’ve found the company I’m still working for.

Do you think this job should be recognized as a dangerous one?

Yes it’s a dangerous job. If you drive dangerously and if you’re not careful. It’s a job that requires attention. Every time. We must be cautious all the time. When we are in the streets, we must not afford a second of inattention because this second can be lethal. So you really have to think about everything that is surrounding you: what people, cars, cyclists are going to do. I’m cycling every day and more and more, I see cyclists taking excessive risks: crossing the street while the bus is turning. Finally, risks that I would not take. They are cycling without any helmet, doing shitty stuff. But I don’t know if this work should be recognized as a dangerous one: we think about a way to train newbies on a bicycle in town. Because they take their bike, they think they own the street, that everything is fine. It’s the world of the Care Bears’ world. It’s a jungle. Especially Paris. So let’s organize trainings of 5/6 hours to avoid dramatic accidents.

A judgment of the Court de Cassation of 2018 was made and which allowed the deliverymen to be (finally!) recognized as employees and not as auto-entrepreneurs. Do this law change things for you? What do you think about this?

For me, no real changes. I signed directly for a real and permanent work contract. For the deliverymen, it’s something good and necessary I’d like to say. Because the apps and websites of delivery are paying them for each delivery and paid them badly. So it forces people to risk their lives to do as many deliveries as possible. So to be recognized as an employee is great. These companies which precarious this status by paying them for the course, is bad and means dishonest competition with companies that are hiring messengers as an employee. They offer services that are similar to ours, but do not pay social benefits to the state. So that’s what we chose very well.

Cool projects in photo and bike in the pipe you’d like to share with us?

I’m leaving for a little Paris-Porto biketrip in July. After that I’ll continue the Classics Challenges and shoot during the bike messengers championships.

Tips to give photographers who want to take sports photos and especially cycling?

Ahahah … Well know how to adjust your device already. That’s a good start. This work is a matter of balance on bike and reflexes. But more generally, there is a sport mode on the reflections now. Autofocus follows a runner for example so it helps. So practice!

Who would you like to say merci?

To all the people who support me and share my pictures. For me, it’s the goal of Messengers Paris. So, the people who support me: a big thank you!

And merci mais non merci?

They will recognize …

Photographers who inspire you?

My favorite photographer is Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado. An undisputed master. I would love to have his skills. If I had to put a single photographer on a pedestal, that would be him. Besides, I recommend the film he did with his son, it’s called The Salt of the Earth.

Thank you Daniel!

The Cyclo ID
Strava Account: Messengers Of Paris
Instagram Account: messengersofparis
Bike(s) : Omnium Cargo & Canyon Endurace SLX A8.0 de 2018.
Photo gear: a Nikon D750 with a 35mm 1.4 Sigma Lens
Favorite ravito: Kristine’s homemade speedballs