Sunday, April 26

Full Stop

*original writing date: June 2006*

In addition to my wonder and awe for the Dutch and all they are capable of carrying and/or undertaking while riding a bicycle- eg: full cup of coffee in one hand, mobile telephone in the other- is the ability to stop the bike with full grace and dignity. This is yet another facet of the bike envy I feel here.

Most of the Dutch vrouwen (women) and many of the men have an absolutely stellar technique for disembarking. This is accomplished by the subtle lift of the behind from the saddle of the bike and ever so expertly lifting one foot off the pedal, crossing it over and through the bike frame, and finally sliding it effortlessly to the ground taking a smooth step-step-step forward, as they coast the bike to a tender halt.

In similar manner, when mounting the bike they do so with the lead foot crossed over the other and balanced on the pedal. With one foot in contact with the road, the fietsenvrouw will give a kick-hop and swing her foot through the frame, reaching for the opposite pedal while simultaneously placing her derriere upon the saddle. And thus she is expertly on her way.

I have yet to master this enviable feat. Rather, my stops consist more of a white knuckle pull on the handbrakes, leaving several inches of tire skid lines on the path.

Additionally, when my rear end leaves the seat, there is no grace applied. But, with a grunt I fly off the saddle and do some sort of awkward jump-jump-jump forward, generally clipping my tailbone on the front end of the seat. Therefore, my start up tends toward a tearful re-entry as my tender coccyx alights and I attempt to find the least intrusive position for the pain. And then of course, I pray with all my might for no more stoplights.

Oh, to be Dutch.


  1. Perfectly described. I remember this--and in our day (1978) mostly the bikes were Puegeots and ten speeds and this didn't seem to matter. I was always amazed that women could wear a skirt of any length while riding also.

  2. how do you stop and start at a bike in the USA, you make me wonder?

  3. gb-
    Not this way, that's for darn sure.

    The first time I saw someone biking in full evening wear I was astonished. Now I can proudly (?) say that I have mastered biking in skirts and high heels as well... :)