It all started in mid-January. I was itching to buy a bike. After going through Waterlooplein and being thoroughly dissatisfied with all choices, I decided to go through the ISN Facebook group. After a bad day, I travelled all the way to the Containers to check out a bike an Australian was selling.
The bad day is the keyword here.
I ended up buying a beloved, yet wholly rubbish bike. But it worked! And it came with bags and a €30 lock! And it fit me.
(Buying a bicycle for “standard height” in a country inhabited by Dutch people does not go well.)
Admittedly, I should have done various things that day to avoid this whole debacle. That is bring someone with the mental capacity to assess the strange situation with a dire, dire bike, because that someone was clearly not me.
But no worries! I decided to man up and get over it. I cycled quite a bit. I ignored how slow it was, how the brakes worked intermittently, how the left pedal seemed like it was about to fall off…
It took about two months for me to realise that it was all an unfortunate case. There were some quick fixes involving lots of kicking and bending and oil. It liked to squeak a lot, which made one forty-minute journey in the evening quite interesting — “What is that sound? THERE ARE CHILDREN SLEEPING!”
Propriety was thrown out of the window where the bike was concerned; people I had only just met did not find any trouble telling me that my bike was a piece of shit.
What could I do? My loyalty to the bike was quickly diminishing since it decided not to brake in front of a moving tram. I concurred. All the time.
On Monday, I decided enough was enough. It was completely and utterly hazardous. It could not continue. I took it to a repair shop where they pronounced it a certified deathtrap. Something definitely messed up with the pedal where the metal was blahblah and even they suggested it was not worth the money to fix it.
I took it home where I relegated it to the bike storage unit.
Cue Celine (of vases and tulips) who saw my woe and sold me her spare bike. “It’s also a bit shit and is in need of some repairs.” Its front wheel was bent out of shape, and the back wheel was flat.
These were easy, but expensive, repairs. No matter. I grudgingly paid for the repairs as he moved into But territory.
“You have a major problem with the chains. Where did you get this bike from? Has it been used a lot?” And chains blahblahblah.
“How much?” I said, because at this point I was channeling Emma Thompson’s Eiffel.
What else exactly could be done? I had already invested in the bike, I may as well dig into the coffers to make sure it was actually usable. I picked it up a few hours later where the repairman informed me that there was something with the gears and–
“It’s fine. It’s perfectly, perfectly fine. Don’t worry about it. I won’t use them anyway.”
I recall something about the gears for the front wheel being a bit temperamental, but the back wheel gears were okay. I say I recall because I was massively distracted by a pigeon eating bird poop on the pavement.
With a goodbye and an adjustment of the seat, I cycled home in the rain, only to encounter a group of school children and tourists crossing the road. I flicked into the air with my left hand to discover that I had no bell.
… of course, this had no effect except highlight the idiotic exchange student who was cycling with an ever-adjusting seat (I didn’t quite stabilise it), with not-so-responsive (but working, I suppose) handbrakes, and no bell, wearing a ridiculous cat hat.
Adventures with Bike II. May you be less eventful and adventuresome than Bike I.