May I present…direct from the land of milk and honey and one of my favorite people in the world…our new baby bike seat. Squeal–It’s what I do in my head every time I think about this thing. And when Baby Pickles and I took our first ride on it, she did a lot of squealing too.
Bikes for the win! Seriously.
Recently, an old friend of mine introduced me to a new friend of his as “a bicycle activist.” I had to think about it for a minute. Was it true? While I don’t make it to every Critical Mass anymore, I do see bikes as a key to living my ideals. I initially got into biking as my main mode of transportation the year before I moved to Germany. I was beginning to think critically about car culture and the habit of the 9-5 career path. I didn’t want to work more to pay for a car that was mucking up the environment and keeping me alienated from the world around me. On my bike I noticed my surroundings. On my bike I was a part of the world, not fenced off apart behind metal and glass.
Biking to work didn’t cost me a thing, and it kept me fit. I didn’t have to sit in traffic jams, and I noticed the birds singing or the smell of summer on the air. When I moved to Germany, I sold my car, and I haven’t owned one since.
When we first moved back to Frankfurt, I took the train everywhere. Pickles intially refused to ride in our Chariot kids’ bike trailer, and so my feet and the train were my only options. While I am totally in love with Germany’s public transport system, it is still limiting, and it still costs 2.60 a pop for local rides. As soon as Pickles started enjoying the bike trailer, and I started biking again, I felt so free. It sounds cheesey. Maybe it is. But on my bike, I don’t have to worry about train schedules or missing the last ride home on a night out. I save at least 20 euros a week not buying train tickets. And it is just so fun to zip around the city with the wind on my face: Just slow enough to take in the scenary and fast enough to get me anywhere in this tiny metropolis.
The Chariot trailer is awesome, but it has its downsides. I love it for the space (you can haul two kids and half your house in the damn thing), and it is convenient that Pickles can nap in it. But I sometimes don’t feel like using it because it makes biking harder. The thing is feather light, as far as bike trailers go, but if I’m already feeling exhausted, just thinking about pulling extra weight around makes me think twice about even leaving the house. And Pickles refused to ride in it calmly until she was over a year old, baby hammock attachment be damned. So there’s that.
Then we tried out a Bobike seat in Holland. Pickles loved it. Our Dutch friend bought us two. After something like six months and a lot of excited waiting, finally, finally, we were able to pick up the used Bobike seats she had gotten us during our most recent trip to Holland. And the people rejoiced. At least I did. But I still needed a bike.
See, I ride a racing bike. It is fast and light and purdy and I love it to pieces. But it is also impossible to attach a Bobike seat to a racing bike–the handlebars are all wrong, and if for some reason you did manage to attach it, you would be riding with your head all up in your baby. No thanks. So I started haunting eBay’s classified ads for a Holland bike, and after a week of appointment roulette and one false lead, I bought this nifty black number for half of the sticker price. Lady had bought it and discovered that she hated riding bikes. I can’t say I mind. She was so happy to be rid of it that she thanked me six times before I made it out of the door.
Last night I finished installing the seat and tweaking the bike. I strapped on Pickles’ helmet, and off we went for a ride down the river. Holy shit. I love it. I LOVE it. Riding a bike in an upright position is pretty comfortable, if not so fast. (Though this bike is pretty light for a Holland bike–thanks aluminum.) Pickles squealed and shouted and pointed at everything she could see, and I squealed right along with her. We can go for an evening ride every single day! We can just hop on a bike and run to the store! I don’t have to think about attaching the trailer or hauling it around for every single trip! I am so smitten. I can’t wait to get home and go for another ride.