Misadventures in bicycling.

I have a feeling this is going to be a topic I revisit frequently.

I have to admit that the bike my parents gave me when I graduated from training wheels was the last bike I owned. Suffice to say, it’s been a while. I was never more than an indifferent bicycler at best, and by indifferent I mean capable of staying upright and moving in a forward motion 70% of the time.

So of course I moved to the Netherlands.

I thought that finding a student-budget friendly second-hand bike would be ridiculously simple. After all, there are more bikes than people in Holland, so the place must be swarming with perfectly functioning bikes begging for a new loving owner, right?


Out of four bike stores/repair shops I went to in my first week, I found a grand total of three bikes, all of which were way too big for me. I found a new, close-to-the-bottom of the range bike that would have been perfect, if only it hadn’t cost more than my monthly rent. I spent far too long considering the logistics of stealing a bike. I was on the verge of resorting to the dubious world of online private sales when the LGB swept into town, positively pulsating with determination to find a device for self-generated vehicular transportation within  24 hours of his arrival.

After asking a few locals for advice, we duly tramped off to the recommended retailers, complaining about walking induced foot pain the entire way. From our list of three stores, only one had any second hand bikes in stock. We test-rode a few, providing much amusement for the sales clerk in the process, and found our perfect matches. LGB haggled and pouted for all he was worth, and we ended up paying €185 each for a bike, a chain lock and a basket on the front. Three-weeks-in-the-past self probably would not have paid that much, but weeks of futile searching had led me to revise my expectations. Plus, I wanted to stop complaining about the blisters on my feet and start complaining about the bruises on my bum, dammit!

To celebrate our new found mobility, we cycled up to Scheveningen to drink cocktails and watch the sunset over the water. There were a few wobbles, a few awkward restarts at traffic lights, but overall the experience was not nearly as traumatic as I had feared.

The following day I went off to the market to buy some fruit. Naturally I rode my bike. I navigated traffic lights, intersections and riding on the confusing side of the road without drama, stocked up on plums and was riding back to my apartment with the wind in my hair and a song in my heart.

And then I got hit by a motorcycle.

Ok, so I exaggerate slightly. He pulled out about 50cm in front of me to make a left turn, so technically I ran into him. And it was a scooter. But why let the truth ruin a dramatic statement?

My bike and I crashed to the ground, my poor plums spilled everywhere, and after I scraped myself off the pavement I uselessly stood fighting back shock induced tears while lovely people around me picked up my fruit, straightened out my bike, and even bought me some water to calm me down. A few minutes later I was in a fit state to function, so I got back on my bike and rode the few blocks home.

As I climbed the four flights of stairs to my apartment, the twinge in my knee became somewhat more of a death-metal scream. I decided to take the advice of the people on the street and head off to the hospital to have my knee checked out (I also decided to walk there). Within five minutes of arriving I was seen by the doctor. He poked and prodded and bent and straightened my knee and informed me I had a contusion. Which is a fancy way of saying I banged it pretty hard and had sustained a nasty bruise. But it sounds more impressive his way.

I have no doubt that this is not the last accident I will have on my bike, and I am certain this is the first of many collections of bruises and scrapes I will acquire. But my bike is sturdily built, and feasibly the same could be said of me. So I shall meticulously record my experiences in a scientific manner with the intention of providing an answer to the profound question: which has more structural integrity, a bike or a B?


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