Sunday, February 20

i like to ride my bicyclee i like to ride mah bikeeeee

A typical scene: Dennis, with his lanky figure perched upon his bike seat ahead of me, clutched a bottle of wine in one hand and took a drag of a cigarette with the other. The ultimate badass expression of 'look ma, no hands,' I thought.

The biking abilities of these Dutch folk are nothing short of acrobatic. The amount of babies strapped into bikes, dogs yipping from bike baskets, hand-holding on bikes, people standing on the backs of bikes and even household furniture being transported on said bikes really does make you cock your head and go, “…huh,” and question the laws of physics. Basically, I’m convinced there is nothing short of cooking a three course meal they can’t do while in motion.  When Kristen and I attempted such shenanigans in Florence, we were carrying a liter of soda and an obnoxiously large watermelon in our basket. We were berated with a bunch of (deserved) vaffanculo!s  spat out passing car windows (accompanied by stereotypical hand waving and chin-flipping in proper Italian style) as we punched in and out of traffic. Maggie and I tried our hand at mad bicycle skillz the other day and thankfully avoided all catastrophe... So, they say practice makes perfect right?
Securing our wheels to any immovable object
It makes it so enjoyable to ride here because you can just coast. Forever. The city is so incredibly flat; my quads are getting spoiled. I’m getting better at navigating too... In getting lost, the trick is to find one of the main canals (they run parallel to each other) and move from there. You’ll hit one eventually. And, in the event that you’re STILL lost: get some Maoz falafel and try, try again.  We’re all getting pretty good though. However — Kevin, our fearless leader and program director, has the habit of taking us out on excursion and getting us lost. And by lost, I mean he speeds onward with his 6’3+ frame and long, rapidly pedaling legs until someone inevitably gets caught in traffic and takes a wrong turn. Riding with him is akin to a sick game of Frogger. But we’re learning.
Santy and I outside Crea
The best part: cruising at night. We all have front and back lights (without those, you can be pulled over and ticketed!) that don’t do much in terms of illumination but hopefully will keep us from getting smushed by bigger things on wheels. Though I live near the centrum, my neighborhood and surrounding area is so peaceful. Lately, we’ve been having late-night meet ups at one of the UvA cafés to do homework and exchange crazy host-parents stories (topics have included living room Buddhist meetings, fleshlights, and perpetual fears of cell-phone radiation). I love the ride there — cutting through some side streets, I wind up on a long stretch of canal just past the tourist strip. From there, I can hear a slight rumble of revelry, but around me all is quiet. My lock and chain occasionally give a quick rattle as I change pace. The canals are illuminated by the streetlamps; the slight humps of the bridges make the landscape a bit more dynamic. We lock our bikes to anything we can find, often to each other, joking that if they can steal these three hunks of metal all chained up that they probably deserve too.  That has definitely been a highlight here: the solo night rides followed by the cups of coffee and good company.
I can't wait until it starts warming up around these here parts, and I wouldn't hateeee it if it didn't rain until May 17th. As fun and cute as scarves and mittens and that whole shebang is... I'm stoked for the day when I can ride around the canals in some stunna shades and t-shirt and jeans hands

(ba da chhhh  — sorry, had to say it. ;)

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