Friday, June 29

15 Reasons I Like My Bike

Bike travel was new to me upon my arrival in The Netherlands. Sure, I could ride a bike. Learned how when I was six, thank you very much. But never in my life had I used a bike as means of getting somewhere. A bicycle was used for play when I was young and when I was older, for exercise. It never occured to me to view it as anything other than the thing I used to get my heart rate up a couple of times per week. In fact, if I were telling the whole truth--and I am--I would have to state that the bike I owned in Arizona gathered more dust than it did miles.

But that's not my story anymore.

In my archives you will find some of my early impressions of the native Dutch and their prowess on the bicycle. Also stored there are confessions of my own you-couldn't-call-it-prowess-you-might-not-even-call-it-skill experiences on a bike. But I am proud to say, I have learned a little something along the way. Though still not as skillful or as artful as a Nederlander, I can ride well.

I like to ride.

And I like my bike.

I'll give you 15 reasons why.

1. It's old,
2. a little rusty,
3. and has been painted by hand to cover the rough spots.

4. The frame is a little bent,
5. a couple of spokes are missing from the wheels,
6. and only half of the chain cover exists.

7. It is sturdy and sure.

8. Painted the same blue as the night sky after sunset, but before real darkness falls, I purchased it for less than 150 euros.

9. I bought it the same day my husband graduated from Leiden University with his LLM in Public International Law (with a specialization in International Criminal Law).
10. That was last August. We had just moved to The Hague after a year of study and frugal student living in Leiden.
11. It felt extravagant to spend 150 euros on anything, let alone a bike.

12. Andrew's seat is strapped to the back.

13. I have a basket in the front.

14. You wouldn't believe the quantities I can carry inside that basket.

15. On the seat of my bike I am free to come and go as pleases me. I never have to wait in traffic and when I am tired of pedaling, I can lift my feet, swing my legs wide, and coast along, feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my face.

I ask you, what's not to like about that?


  1. it sounds wonderful - I wish the city I lived in were more bike -friendly! I would ride...I would....I think...

    I LOVE that basket at front. I imagine you riding to the shops daily to get food for dinner. A great way to keep fit, feel happy and get fresh food (just what you want to eat) every day!

  2. Your Dutch-ness is showing dear! Sometime I'll compose a 15-list of reasons why I hate driving in the Netherlands!! Have a nice weekend!

  3. I'm with Rebecca... I wish we lived somewhere more bike and pedestrian friendly. Why did they stop making sidewalks and bike lanes?

    What a wonderful opportunity for you!

  4. rebecca-
    I love my basket too. I just had it installed a few months ago, and it is the greatest addition to my bike! (and kinda solidifies my "dutchness")I do indeed toodle off to the shops and fill the basket with dinner goodness daily. And flowers!

    Hee-Hee! Yup, in this I am pretty much Dutch! Sometime I will wax poetic on all the reasons I am glad we have NO car.

    It will be something I will really miss about Holland when our time here is done. The country is so built for bikes and biking, it makes it easy to join the crowd as it were. It certainly wasn't possible to live this kind of bike-everywhere life in Arizona.

  5. What a pleasant Friday 15! I can't ride a bike, since my stroke, but I just LOVE this!

    It reminds me of the bike I had as a child.

    Happy Friday!

  6. Hi Jenn,
    Dont you think it is amazing how when you have learnt something so young you can remember it all those years later....When i was reading your list it wasn't until i got to number 8 that i realised you were talking about your bike, i thought they were euphuisms for something else....Lol

    Cheers Mark

  7. I like my bike too, I can almost do everything you can do on your but my heart rate only goes up not because of pedaling but because ot the rumble it makes.

  8. It makes me want to go out an buuy a bike and I don't think I have been on one for YEARS! Have a great weekend!

  9. So how much did you spend on a bike lock?

    I learned the rule from my Dutch ex-colleagues not to spend more than 10 € on the bike itself (you give 10€ to a junkie around the train station and a couple of hours later it provides you with a bike) (I never tried/wanted to test that theory!!!). But the lock had to be a multitude of that price!

    In Belgium it is also necessary to buy a good lock though.

  10. Wow, that almost makes me want to live in The Netherlands. I haven't been on a bike that moves in years.

  11. jennie-
    This bike was probably around when you were a child!

    hahahaha! Nope, no euphemisms, this is just an ode to my bike. :)

    hehe. good one. I saw your bike in last week's photo hunt. I think yours goes a little faster than mine!

    I know! I hadn't really ridden one (much) in years. I love that I am back in the saddle so to speak.

    I invested decently in a lock that's certain! It's a must do here to (hopefully) avoid the thieves. That is one big reason I love my USED bike so much, I don't think it's so enticing to thieves. That and I really didn't want to pay 500+ euros for a bicycle!

    The Netherlands is one great biking land! And there is so much to see!

  12. I love the bike, and the basket, and the opportunities you have to ride. If gas gets more expensive, I'm hoping the 60 mph auto traffic around here might decline to the point where riding a bike isn't quite so hazardous. Who knows, someday we might even see trams!

    BTW, Jorg & Olif are now marketing a dutch commuter bike in the States... for a mere $750!

  13. To be honest, I don't think I've been on a bike since we moved here to AZ in 1990. That's pretty sad.

    [[sob]] I can't call myself Dutch anymore!!!!!

  14. WHAT??? No, see, I could never go for that. If it isn't ridiculously expensive to maintain, doesn't guzzle gas, add to my laziness, or contribute to pollution, I'm SO not interested.


    (Do you suppose I could find one that would seat me and my 4 kids? Wouldn't we be cute?)

  15. I love bikes too, but they keep getting stolen.

  16. anno-
    That's it exactly, the infrastructure here completely supports bike as legitimate travel. I don't know of anyplace in the states that is set up for bike travel the way The Netherlands is. And yes,the public transportation is also great. Trams and busses is what makes it possible for us to not own a car here.
    And that is a real pleasure.

    Your Dutchness would show up fast if you were here, trust me, you'd be back on a bike in no time!

    As I opened the internet tonight I saw on my main page a news story about Americans starting to swap the gigantic SUV machines for smaller, more fuel efficient models. It made me smile... and yet, I wonder? Will Americans really wake up and see?
    And, I am going to send you an email with the photo, since I can't post it here, but yes! There are bikes for families! Perhaps I will even do a post about those bikes!

    free cyn-
    Yup. That is the common crime here. Lucky for us, we haven't lost any bikes to thieves, yet. My neighbor recently had one stolen though. He was shopping in the city center and when he was ready to return home, he noticed his bike was gone. Terrible.

  17. Passion for a Bike - what a title for a novel - and you have allready the synopsios - go ahead write it - finnish the ride.

  18. I love cycling. It is my preferred method of transportation. Of course, since MJ came along I have been, sadly, bike free... but just a few more months until she is old enough for me to put her on the bike with me and off we go again. :)

  19. Good for you. I love the whole idea of riding bikes as a means of transportation. The fact that it's also good for you is a bonus.
    You think there are a lot of bikes in Holland, have you ever been to Japan or China? I was a bit dumbfounded when I saw a sea of people, all wearing the same white hat, riding bicycles in southern China. It was amazing. To see bikes parked in Japan is also quite a site as it's so dense. I've wondered how one would even know which bike was theirs?
    I can't wait to get my old bicycle back in running condition. I want a nifty basket for mine.

  20. I don't think I've ridden a bike in 10 years. Before college, I rode my bike everywhere. Now, I don't own one, but I was recently talking with my husband about how much I would like to get one. Unfortunately, where we live there are no sidewalks and people drive like lunatics. However, there are some nice bike trails or so I've been told.

  21. Ah...two full groceriebags on the steering wheel and my "fietstas" overflowing with the rest. I also love my bike for almost all your reasons and for the fact that it gives me the freedom to come and go without having to wait for a bus.

  22. That sounds so great! I remember how it seemed everyone in Holland rode a bike. I was even hit by one. :) Wasn't too bad though, just a bit of a bruise. Have a great weekend.

  23. Riding a bike is not only good exercise, handy in busy traffic, but also very cheap and good for the environment. You're right: our country is made for the bike. Except a few places in the province of Limburg (a bit hilly) but furthermore you can ride easily everywhere. In the countryside we have very good bikepaths next to the roads, so you can safely go from one village to another. Nice to learn that you enjoy riding.

  24. weineke-
    I really do like my bike. And just today as I was riding home from Andrew's school with him on the back and the rain pouring down on us, I just had to giggle the whole ride. The bike paths are so nice and so handy to getting anywhere in the city safely! Even if you do get wet!

  25. It has been way too long since I've ridden a bike. When I was a kid, during the summer especially, I was always on my bike. That bike was fun and freedom and adventure. I loved it. I should back on one again.