I have always had a bicycle. Well, always except my time in college and when I lived in the US. Now that I live in The Netherlands, a country renowned for its cycling infrastructure, it is something that I enjoy not just for short commutes, but also as a way to spend leisure time.
While I have mostly rented or used the popular OV-Fiets bike share program to go on weekend trips around the country, I decided to get my own bicycle this past April. I figured that it would be nice to have a better quality bicycle at my disposal than the ones that are available through bike-share or rental programs. For a brief while, I even thought about getting one of the more in-vogue electric bicycles — wouldn’t it be fun to spend the same amount of effort to travel even faster — so I thought. Well, it isn’t, because the bicycles I explored either had really bad range or suffered from quality issues. I thought — if I only get a range of 50-60kms per charge, I could pedal that much on my own without an electrical assist. And so, I got a cheap(er) Dutch ‘transport’ bicycle with 3 gears and a pedal brake.
Now, while everyone is deciding to buy a bicycle to eschew public transportation, it also means that I could no longer take a bicycle on the train every weekend and ride somewhere new. I am now literally confined to a radius around home, unless I want to buy a mask and risk getting a Coronavirus infection. Luckily, Amsterdam is surrounded by nature in every direction. And so, over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find a regular rhythm, more so because summers are especially tragic when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet 🙂
It’s almost become therapeutic now. Also amazing is that I could take multiple different routes to get to the same spot. I don’t even need a map anymore. Often times, I run into the same people cycling after work or just exercising. It has become a nice new habit.
There are two expansive golf courses near where I ride. There is also a great amount of flora and fauna — I speed past wild berries and lots of birds. Being summer, the grounds are often full of families grilling and just having a grand time.
The thing about cycling in The Netherlands is that the whole country is a natural park. Even along cycle paths, you would find benches and rest areas with amazing views of waterways, nature, or just other cyclists merrily enjoying the planet. Even industrial areas have features.
One of the highlights of my routine has been the occasional chocolate aroma that blows from the nearby chocolate factory when the timing and the wind-direction is just right. Talk about adding flavor to life!