Maybe I haven’t mentioned this before, but there are certain ‘life skills’ I don’t possess, and one of them is cycling. Before I moved to the Netherlands in August, I had read that cycling is the way most people here get around, blah blah blah. I just thought “yeah, whatever. I shall take the bus, as usual”. Until I entered a bus one day and it was €3.50, one way*. I’m sorry, what? Well then, I went and got myself a bicycle – a kids’ bike, so that my feet could easily touch the ground. I left the bike in storage for weeks, till one day when I was talking with my (Dutch) housemate and she mentioned that she had seen a colorful bike in our storage room. I said it was mine, obviously, but that I didn’t know how to ride it. She said she could teach me if I wanted. I said “sure, thanks”. So she taught me. Or attempted to…I mean, the learning process is such that no one can really teach you to balance, the best they can do is give some guidelines. Anyway, she taught me, and for the next couple of days, I tried to practice in the backyard. Then I stopped, and forgot about the bike. Until a few days ago, when a member of a student group I just joined invited me for something called a ‘cycling dinner’. It’s like a running dinner, but with bicycles. You cycle to one house for appetizers, the next for the main course, and the last for dessert. Of course I wanted to go, but there was one little problem: I could balance on my bike, but then I was still a danger to other people. So I said “I don’t know how to ride a bike”, and the guy said “not a problem, you can ride on the back of someone else’s bike”. And that’s just what I was going to do, until about 40 minutes to when we were supposed to meet up. I started thinking “You weigh 50kg, why would you make someone lug 50kg halfway across town, just because you don’t know how to ride a bike? You need to practice anyway, so suck it up and move it”. So I did. 😦
Now, I would love to tell you that I cycled like a pro, and all you need to do is believe in yourself and magic will happen, but no. There was nothing ‘pro’ about the way I cycled. I will spare you the step-by-step details, just know that I struggled with finding my balance every time we had to stop (at traffic lights) and start again, my seat was too low, I bumped my legs into parts of the bike from time to time, I almost hit people several times (Disclaimer: I did warn my group members that I was/still am a danger to other road users), I delayed the group more than once, and I was relieved when I finally got home later that night, exhausted. But did I have fun? Yes, I did. I’m pretty sure I provided entertainment for other road users as well, so I’m glad I was useful in some way 😀
* It’s cheaper if you have an ov-chipkaart – that’s what they call their bus cards/passes here.
PS: I’m still gonna get a bus card, because you see, the weather here is quite…wet. And most dutch bikers are pros so they can ride with one hand and hold an umbrella with the other, but me, LOL. I dare not take my eyes off the road for even 1 second, else I will find myself drifting in the direction my eyes are looking. I can’t take any of my hands off the handlebars either. Also, when I’m coming home from a party or something, I really would prefer to get home in the quickest possible way, and a bike does not fit that criteria, for me.