This is a love letter to my bike.
I purchased my bike, a proudly German-made Kalkhoff 21-Speed Voyager, last Tuesday after a ridiculous amount of research, shopping and final deliberation. I finally got the bike I needed after nearly a month of hoofing it everywhere and I’m going to be honest: it’s the best decision I’ve made here yet.
During my initial deliberation, do you want to know what my biggest fear was? That I’d forgotten how to ride a bike. Weird, right? Well, I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least three and half years, if not longer. Hell, I’m pretty sure my parents sold my old bike when I went off to college. So, imagine the embarrassment I’d feel if I rode like a complete greenhorn in the bicycle capitol of Europe?
Thankfully, that nightmare didn’t come to pass (unlike the one with the bus). When I found the right bike vendor, I ended up trying at least four different bikes. I remember trying the first one out on the street. The moment I got on, I took a deep breath, prepared for the worst. And, surprise, surprise, I ended up flying down the street like a natural. Crisis: averted. Turns out that you really never forget how to ride a bike.
Now, I had originally planned to get a nice town bike, a real cruiser. However, during my conversation (all in French, by the way) with a bearded bike vendor who looked straight out of Portland, I ended up having a choice between bikes that were trop cool and très sportif. The former were the slow types, and while they were fun…I realized how much of a speed demon I was soon enough. I ended up getting the fastest bike within my price range. And then some.
The first week with my bike was like a honeymoon between two young lovers. I had the biggest, stupidest grin on my face the first afternoon I had the damn thing. I went everywhere on the highest gear settings and blasted around town like a bat out of hell. My 25 minute commute to class was cut down to 8 minutes due to my antics. As my roommate Esteban says, a bike is the key to Strasbourg. Once you go bicycling, you can’t go back.
Then the soreness hit. Whoops. Big surprise. Seriously, I’d been a biking maniac the entirety of last week and for some reason I thought I’d be just alright? Remember, I hadn’t ridden in three and a half years. Suffice it to say, the commute to class today was…painful. It was made worse by my dogged determination to remain on top gear. No riding trop cool for me. My pride demands it, sore muscles be damned.
Still, compared to the hell that is prolonged bipedal locomotion, a little pain in the thighs is a cheap price to pay. Moins cher, as they say.
So, if you see some gringo going too fast on a German bike in downtown Strasbourg, you’ll know who it is.