Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Size Does Matter

Yesterday was The Professor's birthday, and we got him a new bike. He's been using Catgirl's bike for ages, but it's a bit on the small side...and it's fuchsia. Not a very dignified mode of transport for a university professor. He's been wanting a Dutch bike for years, but the last time we were in Holland we checked out a few and they were extremely expensive. So, we settled on this one, which is pretty much the closest thing you can find over here in Spain.  The wheels are an inch larger than Catgirl's, and most importantly, it's not pink.

Let me tell you, this was not easy to find.  The concept of biking over here is pretty much limited to cross-country, and racing...after all Spain has won the Tour de France a fair number of times. So everybody either wants to be another Miguel Indurain, or they want to do acrobatics down the side of mountains. But ride a bike to work? Not so much. Then again, with the way people drive around here, riding a bike in a Spanish city is probably more dangerous than hurtling down a steep hill at top speed.

But we live just outside Pamplona, in a quiet area, and one of the few local bike paths just happens to go straight from our neighborhood  to the university.  So, The Professor rides his bike to work.  And a mountain bike just doesn't cut it.  Especially a pink one.

We had a heck of a time getting the guy at the bike shop to understand that The Professor has no intention of biking off-road or doing any dirt jumping, nor is he vying for the next Tour de France title, and that what we were looking for was a city bike, the kind you can comfortably ride to work with your laptop strapped to the back.  We said we wanted a Dutch bike, or something similar, but the guy had no idea what a Dutch bike was.  Come on dude, don't you know that Holland is the paradise of bicycling?  Haven't you ever seen a video of all those Dutch people riding through the busy city streets, their baskets and bike bags loaded with food, flowers, books, or whatever else they need to transport?  Seriously, you need to watch this:

After much explaining, the guy still didn't get it, and lacking an internet connection to show him the video, we walked ourselves around the store until we found this one parked in a well-hidden corner, behind all the mountain bikes, racing bikes, and various flashy designer bikes that looked like the kind of thing that would leave your hindquarters wishing you'd taken the bus.  "Oh, so that's what you're looking for," the guy said.  Yeah, no thanks to you, you so-called bike expert.  But we found it, and that's all that matters.

So, The Professor has his bike, but didn't get to try it out yesterday because it snowed.  This morning, however, it was sunny and clear, cold enough to freeze your butt off, but no snow, so he took it to work. His comment when he came home from work, "Wow, it's fast!"  It seems that the speed of the bike depends on the size of the wheels.

I guess that sometimes an extra inch does make a difference.


  1. The biking issue here is soooo frustrating. Algeciras is flat with year round biking weather. But I would be taking my life into my hands to leave my neighbourhood on two wheels.I love Amsterdam. All those gorgeous tall people on funky bikes with baskets full of goodies. Come on Spain, let's get biking! (in the city)

  2. Yo no aw ni pio de bicicletas, ignorante total. No sabía que existía una holandesa.
    Ro estuvo yendo como seis meses al trabajo en bici, era en el pueblo vecino y fue duro, porque en los últimos meses le cogió un poco el verano y el pobre venía derretido. Eso sí, sacó unas piernas !!!

  3. What a great way to lower energy consumption without lowering the goddamn speed limit.

  4. nice looking bike. Welcome to the bicycle commuter club!

  5. I used to commuter bike in Toronto, and it was pretty risky, couldn't imagine it in parts of where I live, though there is more in BCN...nice bike. I have done some in Holland, as well as Germany and it is DREAMY.

  6. I must confess a secret: I never learned to ride a bike! My neighborhood has some very nice walking/bike paths but they don't actually go anywhere. Southern California suburbs were not designed for cyclists ...

  7. Beautiful bike!

    I can imagine your frustation with the sales clerk, which is why I usually look first before I ask. I just had the same kind of service at the local Lowes, trying to find a ball bearing bolt for a rocker glider chair. The clerk had no idea what it was or how it was used in the chair, until I told him. DUH

    I love the video, its amazing how many people ride bikes these days.

  8. I wish I could ride a bike to work but I live too far away and I would have to take major roadways full of traffic. Now if gas prices continue to go into orbit I may have to chance it. Glad my life insurance is paid up.

  9. I LOVE that bike! I hope that we end up in a bike friendly pueblo. And I must say, kudos to you for quite possibly one the best gifts the Professor has ever received!

  10. Nice! If biking is your thing, I mean. And actually, I applaud the people who bike to work, etc. My sister and her husband do it; in fact, the main stipulation last year when they were looking for a house was that it be near enough to his workplace that he could still bike it in the winter!

    That video is CRAZY! Like the guy in the bike shop, I had no idea...but then, I'm not expected to have any idea, because I don't sell bikes. He was probably just some poor chap who was flipping burgers last week and next week will be washing cars.

  11. Rea: Yeah, I wish they'd promote it more over here too. It's gotten better in the past few years, but there's a long road ahead until biking will be safe in the cities.

    giozi: La verdad es que es una buena manera de hacer ejercicio, pero con mucho calor si que es dificil. Aquí eso no es problema, así que lo podrían promocionar mas.

    Erik: I take it you're not happy with the government's new policy. ;)

    Jim: He's been biking to work for years, but now at least he has a decent bike for it.

    oreneta: It is nice to bike in Holland, and if they worked on it a little over here, it could be really nice too. But there's not much of a biking culture here, so it would take some effort.

    Bud: It's never too late! :)

    Wanda: Yeah, it is a nice bike, and The Professor is very happy with it. Dealing with salespeople can sometimes be very frustrating, so most of the time I prefer to find stuff myself.

    Beach Bum: Traffic is a problem for cyclists here too, but we are lucky to live in a pretty quiet place. I would never ride a bike in the middle of Pamplona, although I've seen a few brave souls try it.

    PicklePits: I hope you end up in a bike friendly pueblo too. And it was an easy gift to pick, since that's exactly what he's been wanting for ages.

    ethelmae: Oh I know, biking's not for everyone...and even if you like it, it really depends on having a good place to do it. And the bike guy has no excuse. He knew all about all the other kinds of bikes, and gave us all kinds of information that we didn't ask for about mountain bikes, so he should know about this kind too.

  12. Wow, what a brave man The Professor is! I wouldn't ride a bike in Spain if they paid me...well...maybe if they paid me what Indurain made I would think about it.

    Uh....I have thought about it better. Nah!

    But then again...I wouldn't ride a bike to Winder, Ga either. There are too many beer-drinking, red-
    pick up, "Larry the Cable guys" loose!!!