Oh, good lord, I bought a bike! I reckon I must have been completely undone by the lovely fresh air here, and by having walked yesterday along the banks of the Rhine for a good distance, then longing to go further, and being overtaken by hordes of cyclists of all ages and degrees of fitness. I was then consumed by the urge to lay my paws on one of these marvels; luckily I had sniffed out a second-hand-books-and-bric-a-brac place, and knew just where to go.
En route, I stopped off to buy a lock at a cycle shop (having failed at the Proper Cycle-Enthusiasts' Shop, where either I asked for completely the wrong item, or they innately disdained the very idea of locks - I mean, what would you need a lock for when you have taken your beloved cycle to bed with you?). I spent a bit more than the minimum, meaning I now have a lock which requires me to wrestle with it as with a python, so tightly and securely is it coiled. Evidently part of the fitness thing, balancing the excessive use of the muscles of the lower limbs in cycling...
Actually I'd previously wandered through Lidl, wondering if they might have a cycle lock. They didn't, but had all manner of wonders relating to cycling. I sniggered at the padded cycle leggings* and strolled on, undeterred (but with a jar of vegetables which I couldn't find in my dictionary and therefore couldn't resist).
Having snagged my prize from the sweet, gangly, absent-minded bookseller, I wheeled it cautiously through the streets. A wave of ohmygodwhathaveyoudoneNOW? swept through me - after all, it has been a couple of decades (aargh) since I last rode a bike. I had one at Cambridge - and in my three years there I had three accidents and it got stolen four times, despite me having painted it in lurid and revolting shades of fluorescent green and yellow. The last time, I thought, they can damn well have it. (Mother was relieved, I think; one less thing to cart back when I graduated.)
However the trepidation was soon overtaken by a ferocious desire to hop on and conquer the world. It is TRUE! Once you've learned to ride a bike, the knowledge never leaves your body. Emboldened, I swept past the flat and on to the river bank I'd walked down before. Along I whooshed, (OK well snailed a bit at first, and got overtaken by pensioners and very small children, but I soon remembered how to change up gears) and felt a glorious sense of freedom. (I would say, surely there is no better way to see the countryside, but I actually still think that the best way is on horseback. However common sense prevails and I am sticking with a bike for the moment.)
I cycled about 5K downriver (or maybe upriver - not quite sure yet!) before turning, and realising that whilst the cycling motion came naturally, I'd unfortunately forgotten how to change down gears. The way back felt rather longer...** This moment is recorded for posterity in the photo above. Please note the bike is not abandoned, simply resting attractively against the railings whilst I contemplated the distance home through the viewfinder.
Well, that's it. I own a cycle and have worn flat shoes all day. Never mind the dratted language, I am now Officially German.
* now on To-Buy list, given state of behind; I thought I'd learned my lesson vis-à-vis saddle sores last time I pinched a friend's horse and headed off into the countryside for the afternoon, only to be forced to limp the last couple of miles back to the stable leading said horse by the reins. It would appear not.
** although much enlivened by my first glass of local wine - see next entry!