For today’s blog’s soundtrack:
I was given a bicycle. YAY! It’s about 20 years old. Requires some serious TLC, doesn’t have a working back break, squeaks a little in the mornings, has “sensitive” gears BUT it is a beautiful mint blue girls’ bicycle with a basket on the front, it takes me further than my legs can and cheaper than the bus can. It is a license for adventure and freedom and fun. And the fact that everyone else has a bike and you can therefore cycle to places all together like the biker mice from mars just makes it suuuuuuper cool. (oh, and they are very green friendly too – shout out to my little sister there).
Everyone’s bicycle is a bit different. And it’s up to you to get to know your bicycle and understand its small kinks and sillinesses. It’s almost like that scene in Avatar when the Na’vi have to connect with their mountain banshees. I looked for a clip of the scene on Youtube but couldn’t find it anywhere… anyhoo.
I remember learning to ride a bicycle next to Liesbeck Parkway in Mowbray, Cape Town, South Africa with my dad when I was about 4 years old. It was on a small gravel path that used to run alongside the road. I remember the grass, the blue sky, the wind pulling at my hair through the ridiculous helmet, the elation of finally balancing and cycling at the same time, the terror of knowing that my dad wasn’t holding the bike any more. Since then I’ve done a couple (as in two!) mountain trails, some road biking (on a mountain bike) and when I’m on holiday, I sometimes, maybe dilly dally around on a bike to get to the local shops.
NOTHING in that story is the same as riding a bike in winter in Finland.
First of all there is snow. snow. snow. snow. You are cycling on snow, sometimes even ice. This is um, challenging on many levels. 1) Cycling in snow is like cycling in sand. The more snow there is, the more it feels like soft sand which is exhausting. 2) It makes it a little bit more of a challenge to direct your bike especially when going down a slope, under the subway into a tight left corner.
Secondly, my bike has gears (yay) but not the same as the gears that I’m used to. It’s almost like a little gear stick so I have to take my left hand off the handle bars to change gears (to see why this is scary, see points 1.1 and 1.2 above). This was very weird at first and I just cycled around in the wrong gears most of the time.
Thirdly, it feels normal to cycle in the sunshine. To cycle through snow covered forests, over snow covered bridges, passed snow covered iced over seas and lakes is a very wonderful feeling.
Lastly, Oulu is very bicycle friendly with roads next to the roads for cars that are just for pedestrians, bicycles and kids being pulled in sleds. When you do have to cross the roads, cars and buses wait for you and pedestrians get out of the way. You feel like some sort of road demigod. Ah!
Anyways, it’s very wonderful to have a bike and I am very excited on all the adventures that still await me and my bike.
Post script: I don’t name inanimate objects, so this bicycle does not and will not have a name.