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I Rode a Bike!

Posted by melagee on July 2, 2012

Listen, have we met? Do you know me? Because if you know me at all, you probably know that I am kind of afraid of bicycles. I don’t think they’re going to come to life and try to eat me, I’m just afraid of falling off of them if I try to ride them. I rode a bike when I was a wee girl, but as I got older my balance started to go to pot, and I became more afraid of smashing my teeth on the pavement or cracking my skull on the curb, so I stayed away from the things. I have always thought that I would be willing to ride a tricycle, though, as they have their own built-in balance.

It was with that thought that Daniel and I went into a bike shop in Amsterdam(ish) and asked if they had any trikes. The shop owner was nice enough not to look at me like I was insane, but he said no. However they did have a bike that was built low to the ground and with the pedals slightly forward, like this:

It’s called a “crank forward” bike. No, really.

I tried it out and Holy Crap, I could ride this bike. My feet could easily touch the ground, so if I started to tip one way or another, I could just plant myself and stay upright. So we rented the bike and I RODE. Brother, did I ride. We were riding bikes for about 3-4 hours.

I was crazy! I started out all shaky and nervous, but by the end of the day I was all turning corners and avoiding cars and people, and being my badass self on a bicycle! I had went up hills (and down hills), and tiny dirt paths, and on the street! Where the cars go! Me! On a bike!! It was amazing! I was amazing.

That afternoon gave me a horrible sun burn, awful aches in my arm muscles, and the first really good reason to live in Amsterdam. The infrastructure for bikes there is unbelievable; I think there are more people riding bikes than are driving cars. There are dedicated bike lanes Everywhere, often with built up dividers between the bikes and the cars. Daniel told me ahead of time that bikes were so very very commonplace in Amsterdam, but it really didn’t prepare me for the reality of it. The idea of being able to ride a bicycle anywhere you want and not worry about being mowed down by traffic is awfully appealing. I think about riding a bike here in Vancouver and I am terrified at the thought of being caught in traffic. And if you think it’s no big deal, then hooray for you; to me, riding a bike in Vancouver traffic is a big deal. Riding a bike in Amsterdam traffic is carefree and liberating. It is a supremely tempting thought.

As a side note, Daniel’s house is actually in Bussum, a lovely little town about a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and that’s where we rode our bikes. Riding in Amsterdam proper would have been a little scarier,  but only because it’s so much more dense (with bikes). Bussum is delightful, and I liked it much much more than Amsterdam.

Another aside, I named the bike Paul. If you know me at all, you’ll know why.


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