Saturday, June 21, 2008

Copenhagen by Cykel

I am pretty new to riding a bike. That old saying that you never forget or are too old or whatever - doesn't really apply to me. Since I've been traveling to Denmark every summer for the last 10 years though I've been tempted. These are cycling-happy people. And they look damn cute doing it.
A few years back, I revealed my desire to my friends in Copenhagen - Lone & Bjarne. That next summer, they wanted to show me Copenhagen by bike. They were easy on me and took me along small back streets and we didn't ride very far. I was hooked. I got a hand-me-down Schwinn Collegiate two years ago and have ridden it around my neighborhood ever since. OK, only 3 or 4 times actually and only for about 1/4 mile. But still, I feel pretty smug when I peddle down to the farmer's market in the summer, pick up some vegetables and ride home.

I guess I love the "idea" of riding a bike more than actually riding one. Seattle is a lot hillier than Denmark too, so cycling is tougher at home. Pretty lame I know. At least I'm not the only one. I even bought an adorable wicker basket in Denmark last summer for my bike and a bell too.

Nearly every Dane has at least one bike. In Copenhagen especially, there are more bikes than cars. There is bike traffic during commuter hours. The entire city has great bike lanes, traffic lights for bikes, bike parking and all. People talk on their on mobile phones - even send TEXT MESSAGES - while riding a bike. Little children sit on the back of the bike for a ride to school. There are even these cool cycle wagons made in Copenhagen for people to transport their shopping bags, kids and all. For years I have avoided riding a bike in Copenhagen, but this year I was feeling pretty confident. I also had about 12 hotels spread all over town to check out in the span of 5-6 hours. A bike would be quicker and the hotel offered me one for free.

So - there I was, feeling all smug and Danish and thinking I probably looked so cute riding around on my little bike. Then, tragedy struck. A pedestrian stepped out into the crosswalk and before I knew it I slammed on the front brake instead of the back break and nearly fell ass over tea kettle onto the pavement. The bike broke my fall thankfully, but still my ego was burrrr-ruised. It was already after 10am, so there wasn't that much bike traffic but nonetheless 3 or 4 Danes stopped their bikes (gracefully dismounting, natch) to see if I was alright.
Yes, yes, I replied - I'm OK, just a dumb tourist...thanks. I was embarrassed enough. The bike had a crack in the headlight, but I was unscathed. My ego was bruised, but not so much that I didn't want to get a picture of myself to at least say I did it.

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