Everybody has a cycle in Amsterdam. Some people even have a tiny cycle that carries their big cycle. Many people who have not yet learnt how to walk or talk have a cycle. I am almost certain most babies emerge from their mothers’ wombs pedaling away on a bicycle. “Push Mevrow Push!” “Head! 2 arms! 2 legs! 2 wheels! It’s a perfect baby!”
There are dedicated lanes, bike shops, bike rentals, bike repair, bike everything except bike classes everywhere you look. So how long can you resist getting onto a bike? Just because you never got beyond balancing yourself on two wheels is not a good enough excuse to walk about everywhere or use public transport, is it?
And that’s why I went bike hunting last week. Almost fell off about 10 bikes in various shops in various cities, and realized that there were probably 2 or 3 bikes in this whole country that I could successfully ride: low seat (at five feet four, I can barely see the top of the heads of Dutch bicycle-riding toddlers), hand brakes (with biking, like with speaking, I cannot stop once I start), and pedals that freely move backwards so that I can take the Vastu-approved stance (right leg up) for propelling my bulk into forward motion without STEC (Skull-To-Earth-Contact).
One of these 2 or 3 bikes awaited me at a second-hand bike store this Saturday! It stood alone alone in a corner, and the token cobweb to denote age and neglect, the hasty and clumsy coat of silver paint to denote its potential stolen status, and the smile on its face as soon as it saw me (or so I’d like to think) sealed the deal. All that was left was to take it for a test ride, and as soon as I dragged it to a quiet lane, sat down and started pedaling, the seat began to sink down (just like office chairs do, when you’re yelling angrily in a meeting). How many of you cousins of Lance Armstrong can claim to have ridden a bicycle with a rapidly sinking seat? I did not fall, and if a cycle can be evil and still safe, that cycle was made for me! Or more likely, it was stolen from someone, painted crudely, and decorated with a cobweb for me.
I paid an unreasonably high amount to the shopkeeper and went cycling in a park. Then on a semi-busy road. And since then, I’ve been practicing in an open space near my house. I’m getting so good at it that today I accidentally rode it with the front wheel turned 180 degrees and the brakes facing me! And I still did not fall! Is this cycle great or what?
It would be childish and immature to name the cycle, so I thought a lot about it, and I cannot decide between Masakkali (mah-cycle-y) and Dogmatix (because the tiny cycle and I look like Dogmatix and Obelix going for a walk).
Wish us luck! And remind me to buy liability insurance. Using the brakes is not on my list of things to learn till next week!