Friday, March 15, 2013

A blog about bicycles needs a bike.

At some point you have probably heard that Amsterdam has a lot of bikes, I too had heard this and I'd even perused videos and articles about Amsterdam and it's multitude of bikes, so I thought I had a good idea of what to expect. However, nothing had prepared me for just how many bikes there are, they are literally everywhere you look.

They swarm down the streets, they congregate on the bridges over canals, they have whole parking lots dedicated to them at every train and bus station, they come in all shapes and sizes but are mostly sprayed flat black, they get stolen often and if abandoned they slowly get stripped of their useful parts, they all have bells and most of them have a basket, pannier bags or a baby seat or two, some have all of the above.

If like me, you consider some bikes to be eye candy, then you will love Amsterdam because it's the land of stunning bikes. I have seen bikes that a few months ago would have had me running down the street for a photo opportunity, but now they are completely normal and everyday.

It has taken me about 10 days to stop commenting on each bike as it passes, a habit that couldn't die quick enough for Kyle. There was a point when we were walking down a street in Amsterdam when he turned to me and said "I know, I see them too, they are all lovely, you don't have to keep talking about it!" We had a bit of a chuckle, but I sensed he would have tossed himself in a canal if I hadn't of stopped. 

Of course as I have previously mentioned, we had to sell our bikes to move here. This was somewhat of a tragedy in my mind, especially as I had heard inexpensive bikes are easy to come by here, which they are not. We perused a few bike shops and I began to realize the reasons I loved my Yuba Bikes more and more, I mourned their absence.

About the 7th day of being here we acquired a traditional "Amsterdam" bike- it literally says Amsterdam on it. It had a front mounted bike seat that we squeezed Jack into so we could make it back to the station a little quicker. It's a back pedal brake bike, has a wheel lock like every other bike here and appears to be in decent shape. I like it, but feel like it's very cramped to ride, ultimately not a bike I would be inclined to ride daily.

A few days later I started a little side job to bring in some cash, ironing for an expat family who live in a stunning home facing a canal. I knew they had a nice man's bike for sale (with a toddler seat on the back), but it was out of our price range so I disregarded it, then they messaged me that we could have the bike for free! This experience continues our excellent luck in meeting warm and kind hearted people, even when our other experiences have been less than perfect.

When exploring the streets I had seen a particular bike that I was really drawn to, it looked very sturdy and seemed to more often than not have a few child seats attached to it. We were walking past a bike shop when I noticed a used one for sale, after three attempts at wheeling and dealing we were able to reach an agreement on the price. It's a little beaten up, pretty rusty (like every other bike here), but seems to be in fully functioning condition and will ultimately be a money saver. I got the sense that the shop we purchased it from would have looked at me oddly had I asked to test ride it, they seemed very busy, had happy customers and offered a 3 month warranty covering everything but flats so I just went with it. We bought it, then put Jack in the seat on the back (which they threw in to sweeten the deal), it was kind of bizarre to have my first ride be after the money had traded hands, something I would never have done back in the U.S. or the U.K. We found a street that was a little quieter than the others, I hesitantly mounted the bike, wobbled into the path of a more experienced rider with her two kids on board, apologized profusely whilst she muttered under her breath and then proceeded on for what would become an eye opening bike ride with a sea of other cyclists at rush hour to the Amsterdam central station. I had a few moments of awe, a few of fear, but mostly an overall sense of accomplishment that I was most certainly ticking off a bucket list item.

The bike above is a Batavus Delivery Bike- this is NOT my bike. My bike is green, has a lot of dings, dents and rust, has hand brakes and a child seat, plus a double kickstand. I also paid about 15% of what they go for new! The only changes I need to make- adjust the brakes, toss on some inexpensive panniers (you can buy them for about 10 euro here!) and get a cushy seat because my bum was complaining the whole ride. I also managed to buy the only bell-less bike in Amsterdam, so I will get one of those too. Not having a bike bell here is actually dangerous. What I really love about this bike is I got on it and immediately knew we would be friends, it simply felt like a perfect fit.

One of my first fist-air-pump moments in the Netherlands came when I realized I would have a bike for the 30 days of biking in April, last year it was literally in my top 5 highlights of the year, I absolutely loved it! In fact I'd go as far as to say it was the catalyst that made me realize I had what it took to move to Europe, to pursue so many dreams. I don't think the 30 Days of Biking will be popular in the Netherlands, it seems like they would wonder what all the fuss was about, why celebrate in one month what you do every month anyway? I imagine them reacting the same way the average British person would if there was a 30 Days of Tea event.

Because I could apparently write forever today, I shall force myself to sign off and I ask that you celebrate with me that once again I can state this is a blog about bicycles and other stuff that is written by someone who actually owns a bike!



  1. Great to hear that you are back in the saddle, and thanks for reminding me about the 10-euro panniers! I bought a set on my trip to Amsterdam and your mention brings back fond memories.

    1. They had some that are white and blue, decorated like the plates from Delft! I really wanted them but thought they would clash with the metallic green paint on my bike lol.

  2. So happy for you. I'm glad things are looking up. You're a brave girl, this is quite and adventure. Best wishes.

  3. Awesome news, Lindsay! So good to hear.
    BTW, love the sound of Delftware style panniers!
    So let's see the new wheels!!

    Happy Trails,

    1. They are pretty awesome, I should look into how much they would cost to mail, at 10 euro they might still be a bargain with shipping!

      Pics coming soon!

  4. I love this post! Look at you go!! On a proper Amsterdam bike in rush hour traffic with kid on board - you're fitting right in already!

    More stories of biking in Amsterdam please!!


    1. Thank you! The only thing about cycling there is as it's so much quicker than walking we kept getting lost! We can only barely find our way around on foot because we walk along trying to remember what we just passed lol.

  5. I'm so glad, reading more optimism in your words again. And hey, I guess every blog ones started with one focus and at one point, it becomes a method of therapy...and at another point it might change it's subject. Just go on!

    1. Thanks Juna, yes I think they just morph with your emotions and experiences. The last few months have been super hard, can't wait to start feeling more secure again. Thanks for reading!


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