Embracing the Bike

Everyone here bikes. Rain or shine (mostly rain), biking is the preferred mode of transportation. Though with all the traffic here, the car certainly ranks a close second. 

I have tried to embrace the Dutch way of life. Ok I didn’t try that hard. At the first sign of rain / wind / cold, the bike went away. But every now and again, it makes it’s way back onto the road. Either for a family bike ride or a little exercise on my end.  Though in the end, it’s much more efficient to drive 10 minutes rather than bike 30.

A few weeks ago, we were blessed with gorgeous weather (I’m pretty sure that it was our summer and it’s already long gone). This just does not happen here. Like ever (at least in my time here). Sure a day here or there, but a solid week??  Nope. We took the bikes out as a family one day much to the complaint of Aidan who can’t decide if his bike is too small or just not the right style (mountain vs traditional upright omafiets). It was a nice day but I didn’t think much beyond it being a one off since the weather would never last.

Fast forward a few days and we are nearing the end of this lovely, unexpected weather and are heading back to rain and cold for the weekend. Josh and I have a standing lunch almost every week. So I decided, why not bike to Amsterdam??  After all, a lot of people do it. Why not me?  I can be outside, get some exercise and try something I haven’t done before – going outside my comfort zone.

I mapped out the route. 25 km (12.4 miles) each way. Already, I’m soooo not Dutch.  Am I really mapping out a bike route and trying to psych myself up that I can ride my bike 12 miles (turns out the route was 14.5 miles according to mapmyride)?  I don’t think it’s the distance that’s daunting. In fact, the distance really isn’t that big of a deal.  But I’m riding a route that I don’t know and taking it into the city!  Silly, I know.

I got on the bike, ready to rock and roll.  I’m a runner and that uses different muscles than the bike.  Within minutes, my legs were aching but I knew it would pass and it did.  I won’t kid you, it was a LONG ride into Amsterdam!  But it was beautiful!  I rode along fields, saw a castle and rode through the adorable town of Muiden.  I literally rode through pastures of sheep and cows and along side the dikes with glimpses of the IJmeer (one of the many waterways that lead out to the North Sea, but protected by the dikes).

The GPS told me it would take 1 hour and 10 minutes, but it didn’t account for the wind and the fact that I’m not that fast!  In the end, I got to Amsterdam after about 90 minutes and Josh just happened to be waiting outside his office when I arrived.  Perfect timing!

We had a great lunch but then I had to decide – do I bike the 25 km back to Naarden or do I take the train?  My knees were aching from the ride.  Going from 10km to 25 is a big jump. Could I do it?  As odd as it is, it almost seemed like the lesser of two evils – I wasn’t sure how to go about taking my bike on the train and was worried about getting it on before the doors closed, etc.  So I figured it was “easier” to bike the 25 km.  Do you ever do anything like that?  Take the longer way because in a sense it’s easier than doing something that you aren’t sure of?

But once I started off, I was committed.  There would be no train stations on the way back based on my route (there are stations between Amsterdam and Naarden, just not a reasonable distance from my biking route).  And so I went.

What a big f*ing mistake.  I did it.  Let’s just say that.  But the wind!  OMG the wind!  It wasn’t so bad in the city or I might have back pedaled and gone to the train station after all.  But once I got out of the city… I thought the wind was a challenge on my way in earlier in the day. That was nothing compared to the wind on my way home.  It was like you were pedaling and nothing was happening – you were barely moving. How do these people do this day in and day out here?

I wanted to give up but that wasn’t an option. I thought about locking my bike up somewhere and hailing a taxi.  But I was committed.  I was doing this!  There were times my knees hurt so badly and the wind was so strong that I just got off and walked for a few minutes.  I’d get back on with renewed energy but it would soon pass.

But the problem then became that I was running out of time!  I have to leave the house at 2:55 to pick up the kids.  I left Amsterdam at 12:45 with the assumption I’d be home by 2:15.  But I literally got home at 2:54, ran in the door to grab their tennis gear and jumped in the car to go pick them up.

So I can now cross biking to Amsterdam off of my bucket list.  Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt 😉  I don’t need to do it again.  But I’m feeling pretty proud of myself that I rode 50 km on my bike and didn’t give up!!

Knuffels en kussen,

Julie

One thought on “Embracing the Bike

  1. Pingback: Expat-iversary Lucky Number 7 | The Expat Chronicles

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