Thursday, 8 July 2010

Preparing the ground (or: know your enemy)

Trying to play catch-up with the blogging here - it's my first week and i'm already 2 days in arrears...

On Monday I had to take another spontaneous day off work (oh the hardship, in the beautiful sunshine) to add to the one from the Day The Punto Died. That one, Friday, was spent mostly cleaning things, cutting grass and digging weeds. But it left the weekend free. Monday was a whole other proposition.

First I had to get on my old boneshaker and cycle the 5kms into town (note to self: measure that soon) to the station ticket office to purchase a monthly season ticket. Silly idea since I was also after a new bike, so I took the bus instead.

The individual return train-fare per day is around EUR 19 so I was expecting it to be hugely expensive. As it turned out at EUR 151 it's much cheaper than a month's worth of petrol. The second task was more expensive, but a lot of fun. The bike shop had some offers on so I got a Shiny New Bike (SNB) with a funky clip-on front basket. The SNB has 21 gears which seems rather over-the-top for these parts. We are very close to The Netherlands, in fact we used to be The Netherlands at various points of history and so it's not surprising to find out that it is as flat as the proverbial pancake (of which plenty are consumed in The Netherlands). It's not uncommon to see people whizzing around town on their trekking-bikes with their feet going nineteen-to-the-dozen because they're in the wrong gear. I try hard not to point and laugh.

But 21 gears! As I pedalled the SNB away from the shop I was busting to try one of them but there is nothing remotely resembling an incline on my way home, except the tiny hump-backed bridge which even my old legs could manage on the mono-geared boneshaker. But still, as I approached the bridge I clicked around with the gears until suddenly I was in mad-pedalling mode and heading down the other side of the bridge with my legs a blur to any passing pedestrians. That's when I realised the other funky thing about the SNB: the brakes are both on the handlebars and no amount of back-pedalling was going to slow me down. But wooooo. Gears. Great!

After that it remained only for me to affix the large, flat basket to the rear of the SNB and I was ready to go. Of course that short sentence doesn't convey the hours of fun to be had with tiny wing-nuts, bolts which are not quite long enough and one of those stupidly fiddly IKEA-Stylee screw-tightening-thingys.

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