amsterdam 1: biking

i landed in amsterdam monday morning, and i have been biking every single day, miles and miles. it is the primary mode of transportation.

it has made me tender, and it has made me feel very strong and accomplished. it is a healing experience to get places with my body, to feel the pain of body use, and feel it subside, normalize. i have been experimenting with strategies to make it work, and the best approach is so obvious: slow down. everyone here appears to bike with such ease and confidence, while i struggle to get my machine in motion, stay balanced, not collide, discover the best angle for my delicate body with the machine. and it goes better if i take my time, stop and walk up hills that daunt my knees, and take in the gorgeousness around me.

and i feel myself getting stronger every day. biking is another confidence worth developing, more and more of my travel is in places where bikes replace cars much of the year.

biking these allies and canal roads feels very different from biking the wide slow streets of detroit. i am relearning the etiquette of crowds, conscious of the brief important relationship i have with this wheeled creature, who i just decided to call The Darkness. (lynnee is on a bike appropriately named little red corvette.)

The Darkness is an all-black steed like i have at home, heavy in front with a massive basket, reverse peddle brakes. she stands a couple inches longer than my legs.

i have had two unremarkable falls. both times i have watched my embarrassment with amusement, receiving the help of others.

last night was the best ride so far. on our way to and from a place that ended up being a non-destination, we found ourselves on a road where every floor had a wrought iron balcony, little minarets edging rounded towers, shades of periwinkle and lavendar, navy blue doors, red window frames, little orange futball flags strung out like world cup christmas lights.

the end of the day here, from around eight til ten, is the time of perfect light, slow sunsets and magic cloud formations. we time our days so that we are on our last ferry as the light goes, on our way to a quiet place across the water from centraal station.

it is time to ride now.

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