It was August and all Europe was going through an extremely hot summer. Even so, from above, the country looked like it had a recent flooding – there was water all over it! The canals, the famous dutch canals, were everywhere, not allowing anyone to forget that a big part of the country was bellow sea level. Airport included. It’s name, Schiphol, meant ship hell (or ship hole) because 400 years ago, there was a bloody ship battle fought in the water above the airport region. And that’s where lil’P landed. In the airport, not the water.

Bikes, bikes, and… more bikes. Believe me, there isn’t enough bikes on this paragraph to describe how many bikes that bike country had on the bike paths, on bike parking lots and on bike shops. Specially on the bottom of the cities main canals.
Lil’P first contacts with the dutch bikes was not a very pacific thing. On the very first walks around, he quickly learned to pay more attention to his back while wondering on the streets: there were killer bikes on the loose, and any absent minded foreigner could easily turn into an hit-and-cycle victim. And the bikes were nothing like his old green bicycle that had two tiny wheels, being the front one, a even smaller wheel; the typical dutch bike was designed for the tallest people on the world, the dutch.
Everyone rode a bike. Everyone. Kids going to school, old ladies going shopping, mothers taken their children to the kindergarten, even the executive guy with suite and tie would ride a bike to go to work. How women drove their bikes with mini-skirts was a mistery to lil’P.
As it was the dominant mode of transportation, there were bike paths everywhere, and of course, bikes had their own stoplight signs where always growing swarms of bikers waited patently for the green. There was no way lil’P would wonder around on that country without a bike, so, he went shopping for one.

Technically, it was a female bike since it had no frame, but cycling it, was like driving a very thin harley due to it’s high steering fork. Didn’t had a bell, but had some nifty misterious breaks and gears hidden inside the axis that worked flawlessly. Fifty euros, the guy said. It seemed like a good price so lil’P took it. Driving the first ride home, was an adventure – after the first 100 meters, every pedal started to produce a loud crank noise that called everyone’s attention and every stop to fix it, only made it sound louder. Eventually, lil’P got home and after a few adjustments, that never annoyed him again. On the other hand, he found out that a bell was a very useful thing to have but he learned with the dutch that if yelled loud enough dling! dling! dling! it would have nearly the same effect and that way, he could avoid some crashes.

Lil’P was told that he should spend at least the same amount of money on locks as he would spend on the bike. And the reason was obvious around the city: right after the drug smuggling, there was the bike contraband. Anyone walking around the city center without a bike would quickly be approached by weird blokes wispering fiets koop, eh?. Sometimes, trying to sell the bikes they were riding, but usually, they just asked five minutes to get it.
One effective technique to prevent this, was to paint the bike in such horrible colors and patterns that no one would ever buy such a thing. Pretty effective, it seemed. Still, the locks were necessary. At least two of them. One for the main frame and another for the front wheel, to make sure the bike would still be complete when it was necessary.

(to be continued)

8 strings to “dreams do come true (III)”

  1. Darae says

    i love this article! perfectly catches the atmosphere!

  2. José Pedro Magalhães says

    I so much agree with everything you said.

  3. Karin says

    did you see the woman with shopping bags on her steering wheel, one kid on the front of the bike, her bikebags full with other stuff, one hand mobile phone? that was me :) if it would have been raining, right, there’d be an umbrella

  4. Sarah says

    I’m loving these stories!

  5. sara mesquita says

    I was also amazed with the ‘bike-system’ and of course, I already have a bicycle too:) although I must confess that I very extremely rarely ride it cause I’m quite dangerous and you must admit that it is a funny thought, imagining sara ridding a bike through the city
    I’ve token the liberty of sneaking around in your mental string…. and I’ve just loved it!!!
    you probably still remember all the stupid questions I’ve asked you and all the stupid fears I’ve had before coming here…. But now….oooohhhh….. now I just regret the fact that I can ONLY stay here for one year :(
    I’ll try to keep contact with you… that is… if you don’t mind, of course……and keep on with your excellent work…. and it is good to ‘feel’ that you’re still the same ;)…. And I really mean it!

  6. bert says

    mister nice to call by skype read u r home page its impresive to read jion us more on skype thanks for looking at my site greating bert holland

  7. aquelabruxa says

    és muito engraçado!! acho que este foi o texto que me fez rir mais – dos teus e de tudo o que ja ouvi ou li sobre as bikes em a’dao.

  8. aquelabruxa says

    bem e de saber por mim como é