SHE SITS UP HERE: US clowns come to town on ‘double-storey’ bikes

THEY raised eye-brows when they were spotted cycling around in unusually high bicycles. It prompted some motorists to take photographs of them to send to The Straits Times' Stomp website, to voice concern over their antics.

Published October 8, 2007 by The Electric New Paper
By Alvin Chiang

THEY raised eye-brows when they were spotted cycling around in unusually high bicycles.

It prompted some motorists to take photographs of them to send to The Straits Times' Stomp website, to voice concern over their antics.

But if you think these cyclists are obviously clowning around, you are correct.

These cyclists are indeed members of a travelling gig called Cyclown Circus, who has been cycling and clowning around the world to promote their act.

Their trademark tall bicycles, which enables cyclists to be taller than a sports utility vehicle, are the circus members' only way of getting around.

The group, which started in America, has so far been to more than 15 countries before making a stop here last month.

Circus member Tom Gerolami, 29, said: 'We travel around on bicycles because we try not to use petrol. We are making a statement because we believe oil funds war.

'Also, cycle is environmentally friendly.'

Fellow clown Carlota Rota, 26, said the tall bicycles enable them to pack more things on the road.

The Argentinian said: 'Without any luggage, my bicycle weighs more than 25kg already. Our bicycles are made from unwanted parts that other cyclists discard.'

Bags of clothes, chairs and circus props like trumpets and other instruments are tied to every possible bicycle part.

Six of them have been here for a month and another two members are in Indonesia.

Three of them have been living in a friend's condominium in Redhill and three others have been camping in East Coast Park.

The group performs regularly in Bugis near the Guanyin temple, collecting between $100 and $300 each time.

They see themselves as modern day nomads on bicycles.

Cyclown Circus was formed six years ago and Mr Gerolami has been with the act for about 21/2 years.

He started his journey from Rome, where he lived and worked as an art teacher for five years, teaching children between the ages of 4 and 13.

He said: 'I decided to join Cyclown Circus as my life in Italy back then was boring and routine. I didn't have a lot of time for myself. Now, I can do whatever I want.'

Since then, he has cycled to Cyprus, Georgia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia before reaching here.

Mr Gerolami, who has an hole the size of a 20 cent coin in his right earlobe, said: 'Travelling by bicycle is a very good way to see places and meet people as it moves slowly, unlike cars.'

Over the years, about a hundred people have been with the circus, he said.

Anyone can join and leave as they please and the list of members reads like a mini United Nations, with people from Italy, Belgium, America, Canada, Argentina and other countries.

Most of them already know a trick or two before they joined.

Mr Gerolami explained: 'Before I joined, I knew how to juggle.

'During our travels, we meet all sorts of performing artistes with different skills and we would learn from each other.'

It was during his travels with the circus that he met an Italian woman who worked in the theatre 11/2 years ago in Russia.

They became a couple but cannot be together because Mr Gerolami had to travel with the circus.

Mr Gerolami said: 'I'm a little tired of moving around all the time. I want to be a father one day and to do that, I'll have to leave Cyclown Circus. I'll go back to Italy.

'My former boss tells me that my job will still be waiting for me when I get home. She is really happy with what I've done so far as I can teach more things to the school children after my time with the circus.'