On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


New Wheels

This morning, I made a giant leap towards integration into Dutch society. I bought a bicycle.

Of course I already own a bike -- a really nice Trek commuter bike. On paper it would be perfect as my new mode of transportation. However, its many features would attract thieves and it'd be gone -- one piece at a time. B- and I plan to use our fancy bikes for bicycle touring in the Spring and Summer months.

I made a half-assed attempt at buying a used junker only to find that most used shops don't carry bikes in my size, which is to say "extra-small." The Dutch are giant people.

So, I trotted down the road to my local tweewielerbedrif, literally "two-wheeler business," for a new one. The shopkeeper was nice enough, but spoke no English whatsoever (I'll go over the myth that the Dutch speak English in a later post). I happened to have my Dutch-English dictionary, but the transaction mostly took place with him saying a lot of stuff and me nodding. I'm pretty sure that I have a warranty, and that I need to go back for a few tune-ups.

My new Dutch-style bike is very old school - sit upright on a big cushy seat. Really, it's quite leisurely to tour around the city. While it's common to see bikes with no speeds and back-pedal breaks, mine has 3 speeds and hand breaks. These features alone make me nervous that my bike will soon be stolen.

Other unique features include a built in pannier with wheel guard and a headlight powered by a generator-- generating energy from the rotation of the front wheel. My dad had one of these lights on his German bike back in the 70s. It's nice to see they're still in use.

On the subject of theft, apparently bike thievery is quite prevalent. B-'s seat was stolen within 2 weeks of bike ownership. My new ride has a locking mechanism that prevents the back wheel from rotating. I guess in theory, if someone were to break through my Kryptonite lock, they still couldn't ride the bike.

It's not a stereotype, the Dutch ride bikes everywhere. With dedicated bike lanes on all major streets and special traffic signals, it's one of the most efficient ways to get around. I'm eager to start exploring my new home!



Anonymous wally (doc paradox) said...

Niiiiice Ride. It has a chain guard! Bike riding in A'dam was one of my fondest non-narcotic memories there.

4:15 AM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

Yeah it's a cush ride, for sure. I feel very spoiled riding around on it.

The past two mornings, I've gone down to the train station with B- (photos coming soon), mainly to ensure that I get up and out of the house more often than not. This morning we left early enough that it was really dark still, so I had to run the headlight. The drag from the generator is really something to deal with! I'm less keen on it now. ;)

10:34 AM GMT+1


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