The first time I rode my bicycle in the Netherlands I was ashamed by my overall lack of condition. With my daughter on the back, I thought I was doing pretty darn good, when out of nowhere this grey haired old lady, went zooming by! Of course this was immediately noticed by my daughter who exclaimed “mom, that old lady just passed you”. WTF, these old ladies got speed. I then realized she was on an electric bicycle and felt immensely better.
Most people already know that Holland is the place for riding a bicycle and I have read that there are more bicycles than people in this country. So of course when we moved here, we had to go out and get bikes for everyone. I assumed that bicycles were affordable since they have over 17 million here, but I was certainly wrong. (Click here to learn more about bicycles in Holland).
Buying a new bicycle from a local bike shop almost gave me a heart attack. A simple, black, no frills, no gears, only pedal breaks bike ran about 300 euros! Want something a little fancier, like a bike with handbrakes and 3 gears, well be prepared to spend around 500 for a new bike! We left with 2 new bikes for the kids and a huge gaping hole in our wallet!
As a going away gift from my old job I received a green Heineken bicycle, which has been fun to ride, but a nightmare to own. I can’t leave it anywhere for fear of it getting stolen! So far I have only had my bell jacked. I get comments every time I ride like “do you work for Heineken” or “hey you got any beer?” hu hu hu…You get the idea! At some point I will have to buy a ‘kroeg fiets‘ or “bar bike” so I don’t break a sweat every time I leave my bike somewhere.
Recently, I added on a ‘fietskar‘ or bike cart to my bike so that I can transport my son regardless of the weather. He actually loves riding in it, and surprisingly it is easy to navigate and has loads of “trunk” space for groceries or whatnot. I never in a million years would have imagined myself riding a bike regularly, nor could I have imagined taking my son around in his own little cart. None of my friends can believe it, and most laugh and say I am becoming gasp….DUTCH.
My kids also love riding their bikes around, it gives them great freedom to go where they want. It has taught my older girls how to be responsible, as they take themselves to and from school. They know they need to leave on time in order to get to where they are going. I also spend way less time being a taxi driver to them as they take themselves to sports, school, friends houses and can even make a run to the grocery store for me!
In the warmer months I spend less money on gas in our big American guzzler (another blog post soon to come) and it is surprisingly much more convenient that I had realized when it comes to dashing in and out of a store for one small thing. I still take the car to do my larger grocery shopping, mainly because I once went shopping, bought a bit more than my bike could handle and ended up almost toppling over as I tried to get home with bags piled high!