This week has been a week for bicycles.
In the Netherlands bicycles are a necessity in everyday life, especially if like me you don't have a car. The guide to cycling in the Netherlands below makes interesting reading.
There are actually more bikes than people in the Netherlands!
Formal dress (a suit and tie, or a smart dress) is no obstacle to cycling. In fact, I actually now cycle to work everyday in my suit and heels, something I didn't do at the beginning. More than half of all bikes always carry more than one person. You will never see one bike helmet, not a one. As my husband told me when we first arrived only foreigners and biker racers wear helmets. Massive bike locks are used which are mostly worth more than the bike they secure. Bikes have all manners of boxes, baskets etc to transport kids, groceries and dogs around, Dutch pepole use their mobile phones whilst pedalling their bikes, something I haven't quite manged yet.
I had (notice the had) two bicycles. I cycle every morning on my posh bike (bought new and quite expensive) to the train station. I would get on a bus to the town centre of the local town Breda. (it is about a 15km round journey from home via nursery to my work, a bit too long for me at 7am in the morning) There, I had what the dutch call a stadfiets (town bike) This is normally a cheap bike, mine was 50 euros and in fact the chain and baby seat were more expensive than the bike itself. I would get on this, cycle to the nursery, drop my daughter off and cycle back to work. And then do the same in the afternoon.
But now that has all changed, because on Tuesday when I got to the bicycle stands, where my bike was kept, someone had tried to steal the bike and taken the wheel off!!! Yep! I still can't understand how in a culture where bikes are so necessary for everyday transport and life that people can do this!! So RIP Ting Ting (the name my daughter gave to our bike)
So that made me extremly late for work on Tuesday, then to top it all off, I arrived at the station in my home town on Tuesday evening only to find my back tyre completly flat. So I hauled the bike over to the special pump contraption they have at the station and proceeded to try and pump it up. Now I have no idea how these things work! After about a 30 mins workout where nothing seemed to be happening I gave up and walked home pushing my bike. I left it at the repair shop, but it meant I was bikeless for a whole day the next (The bike actually had a fault with its tyre so that's why I kept getting punctures)
Being without my bike for a whole day, made me realise how necessary it is, I had to walk to the train station, walk to the nursery! walk to the shops after work! and walk to go and pick up the bike later, I realised that now I don't actually walk anywhere anymore.
Still after its second time at the repair shop in one week it still doesn't go fast, so it still must be me and although it is a necssesity in my life, I swear when I have my license I am never cycling again, I have done my Dutchness and thats it!!