Monday, November 2, 2015

Meet Betty

Most cities have a strong bike contingent, and Hamburg is no exception. Up until now I've been a dedicated pedestrian, trying to negotiate the balance between bikers and walkers depending on where I live. 

Here in Hamburg that means staying heads-up to ensure I’m not walking in the bike lane on the sidewalk or in danger of being run down in spots where there’s no designated sidewalk lane and no safe street-riding opportunity for the cyclists. Now I’ll have to look at things from the other side. 

I realized that expanding my scope of exploration and even running some regular errands requires wheels. That means relying on the schedules of buses or enjoying the relative freedom of a bike. 

Except that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden a bike as an adult. So Larry—an unequivocal bike enthusiast—and I went shopping a few weeks ago at a couple of bike stores to figure out what appealed to me, what would work for me, and what it might cost. 

With so many folks commenting on bike theft it seemed unwise to jump right into that kind of investment. So we went to the Flohmarkt to see if we could find something that might be salvageable with a bit of elbow grease and spare parts. 

There were sad specimens aplenty and a couple of contenders, but then we found Betty—my fantastic new used bike, complete with rear basket, shocks, working front light and no rust. 

photo of two young girls sitting on the concrete slab of a statue
No childhood photos of me on a bike, but here's a gem
from 40 years ago here in Germany.
That's me on the left, thinking whatever 
deep thoughts four-year-olds have...
We got her home, pumped up the tires and I took her on a few wobbly spins on the road around our building. I’m sure Larry is secretly harboring fantasies about us taking long rides through the city, but I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m barely anywhere, so it will be one short trip at a time for me for a while. 

But what better place to get back in the saddle than the country where I learned to ride a bike in the first place?