Posts Tagged ‘bicycles

27
Jun
08

Bike betrayal

Today I was reading Ikzalwelgekzijn, the blog of my good friend M., and I simply couldn’t resist translating this post so that non-Dutch-speakers could enjoy it too. Here it is:

Betrayal

My bike spent all of last month slowly but surely folding up its back wheel, and the last couple of days even included a measure of joyful tail-wagging. This morning I decided that this could go on no longer, that my fifteen-year-long-unstolen bike and I needed to part ways when I returned from my cornetto lesson. I planned to continue riding it while searching for a successor (because I’m that insensitive), and then trade it in. Possibly even for money.

But my bike is no fool, and immediately spat out a spoke once I got to the station – which then refused to let itself be dislodged, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

This made the search a great deal less complicated: my new bicycle was waiting for me in the nearest shop (a bicycle parking shed). And indeed, there was, among the enormous quantity of new and fixed-up bicycles, exactly one that I wanted. Albeit for half what I wanted to pay, but insensitivity has its price.


The men from the bike shed even wanted to lower the seat for me, replace a nut, transfer my lock and recycle my old bike. The new one rides like a dream, speeds up and brakes and rings and the stand even works. And to top it all off, I found out when returning home from singing and drinking that the light works. Wait: That The Light Works. And suddenly I realised what a terrible burden it had been, using those little lights all the time, however much genius had gone into their design.

With retroactive effect, I hereby take leave without regret from my rattletrap, the jalopy, that thing that I always carelessly parked in the slums outside the station. My Bike Light Works! Well, for now, anyway.

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14
Jun
08

Familiar Dutch bicycle friends

I was in town last week having lunch with A., and you’ll never guess who cycled by:

Cycling brass band

That’s right, it’s the mobile cycling brass band! And after they paused to play the William Tell Overture at a pub around the corner, they came back the other way:

Brass band again

They actually sounded really good. I hope they keep this up all summer!

26
May
08

Even more Dutch bicycle action

In response to Stars’ reaction to the previous Dutch Bicycle Action post (and also due to the fact that I was bored this afternoon), today I decided to cycle around Utrecht looking for more examples of bizarre/interesting/noteworthy bicycle activity. I walked out of my front door and was immediately confronted with this:

Third Wheel

I have no idea what’s going on there, but this certainly gives new meaning to the term “third wheel”. Then I jumped on my own bike (the one behind) and started cycling around my neighbourhood. The next thing I noticed was these two identical bikes, nicely snuggled up against each other:

Lover bikes

Ain’t that sweet? And despite what you’d think, it’s actually not that common to see two bikes of the same brand and colour locked up together like that. Which is why I was extra surprised to find these:Twins

What are the odds? Or maybe it’s not that uncommon after all. Still, I think it’s cute. Cycling further, I chanced upon the following scene:

circus act

Sorry it’s so small and out of focus, but I had to act pretty fast to get this shot. It’s one girl riding a normal bike, with another standing up behind her on the rear baggage rack. Oh, and notice which direction that car in the background is driving in. Now I know that Dutch readers will be thinking “Come on, it’s just a couple of girls being silly”, but trust me, in Australia this would be a circus act.

I then headed into the centre of town to try to find some real hardcore bicycle action. I wasn’t disappointed:

Don\'t jump

This photo illustrates a) why the canals need to be trawled regularly for garbage, and b) why it is strongly recommended in the Netherlands to use two bike locks.

15
Apr
08

Bakfiets

This story happened a while ago, but I thought I would tell it now anyway, as I’m blogging and all. As you may or may not be aware, the Netherlands is a country of bicycles. Because the landscape is so flat (and perhaps because the Dutch are oh-so-economical), over the last 150 years or so the bicycle has proven to be a very popular form of transportation in this country. There are almost as many bicycles here as people, and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the huge family rolls-royce model with two child seats and saddlebags for the shopping, to the tiny fold-away ones you can take on the train without even having to buy a ticket for them (again, very economical). They even have a mobile street bar propelled by the patrons.

One particularly useul species of bicycle is the bakfiets, or ‘container bike’. It’s a bike with an enormous receptacle on the front that you can use to transport things like, oh I don’t know, home-grown vegetables to market, street organs, Ikea purchases, that type of thing. So when one of Michiel’s neighbours dumped an irresistible 2-seater couch in front of their house, we both agreed that the only thing to do was to get a bakfiets and get it over to my place toot-sweet. So I rented one for the afternoon for 3 euros from the biological vegetable farm down the road, went down to Michiel’s and chucked the couch into it.

Of course, it didn’t fit.

So, with one hand on the handlebars, and the other holding the couch in place, I cycled along the busy road at a glacial pace for 20 minutes, and miraculously made it back to my place with both me and the couch in one piece. Then, happy with my accomplishments, we unloaded the couch and proceeded to carry it up the stairs.

Of course, it didn’t fit.

So I removed one of the handrails and managed to get it up the first flight, around the corner and into the doorway of the second flight of stairs.

Of course, it didn’t fit.

This time there wasn’t even a handrail to unscrew, so I had to concede defeat and take the couch back down the stairs and onto the street. And when I returned to it around half an hour later, it was gone! The economy of the Dutch proves to be advantageous yet again!

Just before I go, here’s another fine example of Dutch bicycle technology:

Random quote of the day:

Counting is for people who can’t dance.”