Let me start by reminding you that riding a bicycle is impossible. Impossible. Bicycles are two-dimensional objects – especially my ageing wannabe racing bike. And we expect these two-dimensional objects to propel us, increasingly three-dimensional objects, along a plane perpendicular to the aforementioned bicycle. A plane that exerts a gravitational pull on us and is hard and jagged enough to bruise and graze us – or worse – when the geometry of cycling fails and the gravity gets a hold of us.
Riding a bicycle is impossible. Earlier humans seeing us
riding bikes would burn us as devils or witches. Yet billions of us do it every
day; Defying gravity, the gods and good judgement. It’s not only fun, enhealthening
(note to self: check dictionary), but a very practical way of getting from A to
As you might have gathered from this blog, I live in
Amsterdam which is famous for having a free and liberal attitude to cycling. Compared
to many other big cities where cycling is treated like a criminal offense,
Amsterdam seems to positively welcome cycling and cyclists. Cycle paths not
only exist but are clear, visible and don’t suddenly stop and become a wall as
they do in some places.
The streets swarm with cyclists at most hours of the day and
especially in the morning and evening at those times when people bring and
collect their kids to and from the various kid-repositories and bring and collect
themselves to and from the place they keep themselves during the day (usually a
place of work, but not exclusively).
This morning was one of those days where people cycling in
front of you randomly and suddenly slow down for no apparent reason. The whole
journey was me braking to avoid nudging into the back of some work-bound
Amsterdammer. It was especially difficult because today I had been paying more
attention to the street than other parts of the environment. This was due to my
recent flat tire from which I pulled a hunk of glass which was a perfect scale
model of an iceberg. So today I was studiously watching out for flocks of
By the end of my journey, I was paying more attention to the
frequently stopping bikes and other eye-level hazards with only glances towards
the glassy danger that lurked below because a flat tire won’t kill you. It
saved me from ploughing into the back of the last cyclists that randomly
stopped in front of me: two policewomen both with impressive blond ponytails poking
out from under their cycle-cop caps.
It was then my mood was set for the day. I realised
how happy I was to live in a city where my protection was provided by
three-dimensional, blond devil-witches effortlessly doing the geometrically and
gravitationally impossible. How can you not appreciate that?