I Want to Ride My Bicycle

by - 8:34 PM

It happened on an almost daily basis when I was an overexcited four-year-old. I'd run into the house, yelling: 'Dad, dad, I need my bike! Can you get it out of the shed?'
My dad would look up from his book and ask: 'Which one do you want?'
It was one of the toughest questions I had to answer as a kid: which bicycle would I take for a ride today? There was the tiny purple one that went really fast, or I could go for the black one covered with 101 Dalmatians stickers. The rusty one was also an option, just like the mountain bike and the pretty white one my grandparents had bought me. And I still had my tricycle, but that was for babies.
In the end I always chose the tiny purple bike, because it was so light and fast. My dad would take it out of the shed and soon I'd be off to join the bicycle races I held with the other kids from my block.

Growing up in the Netherlands, I never realized that it's a bit odd to have five bicycles when you're four years old. Every kid from my street had at least one bike and if you still had your training wheels on at age five, you were a total loser. The faster and better you could ride your bike, the more popular you were. I think I was 10 when I noticed that the bicycle culture is a typically Dutch thing. In a country of 17 million, we have 20 million bicycles. It's part of who we are, just like cheese and tulips. My bike is my bae, I don't feel complete without it. Because here in the Netherlands we get put on a bike almost the minute we are born and stay on it till the day we die.

Meet my loyal friend: my bike
At age two we get our first tricycle or a miniature bike with training wheels. Bikes define your status in those early years and the competition is fierce. Everyone wants to have the fastest, prettiest and biggest bike. If there's and image of a clown or a lion on your bike, you're basically the king or queen of the playground and when it comes to wheels, size does matter.
About a year later the training wheels come off. Every three- and four-year-old will be practicing as much as they can, because they all want to be the first to win a bicycle race without the training wheels. Let me tell you, it's not easy to get rid of those things. I was three, almost four when my parents decided it was time for me to become a big girl. My dad took the training wheels of my tiny purple bike and said he'd catch me if I fell. We started out easy: my dad held the bike straight as he walked behind me, while I was busy trying to cycle and not fall over at the same time. Suddenly my dad picked up the pace and started to push me. Faster and faster we went. I loved it - until my dad said he'd let go of the bike. I looked over my shoulder and saw I was cycling on my own. 'Look ahead, Envy! Go go go!' my dad cheered me on. For half a minute everything was amazing. Then I reached the curve at the end of our street; I panicked and fell over.
At the end of the week I could ride without training wheels. I was queen of my street for about two weeks, until the other kids mastered the skill too.
After this one big step we Dutch kiddies go everywhere by bike. We go to kindergarten, the supermarket and grandma's house by bike- of course with our parents on their bikes right next to us in case we fall.

The mindset of
most cyclists here
A couple of years later, around the time we learn to read and write, the first kids show up at school on their bike, but without a parent. That's when everyone starts begging their parents to let them cycle to school all by themselves. And when your parents finally give in, you once again feel like a queen - queen of the world this time. Especially when you cycle past all the kids who still have to cycle to school with their parents. They see you rollin', the hatin': elementary school cycling in a nutshell.

For a couple of years nothing changes. Then, at 15 at the very latest, the Dutch change their attitude and become fearless daredevils as soon as they get on their bike. You're not a real Dutchy if you haven't avoided a major accident by mere seconds - without wearing a helmet of course.
That's how almost 100% of our population grows up on a bike. And once they're all grown up, you don't want to be an unsuspecting driver. We cyclists don't stop for anyone or anything! The road belongs to us!

Stay Awesome!

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6 Fellow Ramblers

  1. I just found your blog. I love it! I also really like your "make it happen list"! looking forward to making one myself.

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    1. Hey, thank you! Hope you have a great time making your list, I also hope you'll give me credit since the my original idea is now popping up on more blogs :) Let me know when you put yours up!

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  2. This post reminded me so much of my cycling experience when I was a kid!. I remember I saw one of my friend riding without the training wheels and she was telling me how difficult it was two just ride on two wheels. I was determined to learn after that. SO I went home, made dad remove the training wheels and from the next day started learning how to ride a bicycle with just two wheels. I still remember how I used to go cycling for hours and come back home in the evening.
    The last time I rode a bike was probably a year and a half ago. My friends from college were even talking about how we should all go cycling someday as it would be fun to do that!

    -Kathie K
    A Sea Change

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    1. You could have been Dutch then! I love those memories. Once one kid lost the training wheels, suddenly everyone wanted to lose them, haha. Those days were great, it didn't matter where we went, as long as we went there by bike.
      I hope you and your friends have fun! They say you can't forget how to ride a bike, so no problem there, but I can't believe you haven't been on a bike in over a year!

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  3. I used to ride my bike every day but of course, always near the house. School was too many miles away to bike xD Then when I came to Pakistan, no bikes! My brother has a bike now but it's really big and I dunno if I can ride it. After reading this post, I think I should try his bike out xD

    the-emo-wolverine-writes.blogspot.com

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    1. If my school was miles away I wouldn't cycle there either, but most schools here are within a five mile radius. Does your brother get weird looks when he rides his bike? It's such a normal thing for me that I can't imagine being in a place where there are no bikes on the roads.
      If the bike is really big I wouldn't try if I were you cause it'll hurt only more if you fall

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