It’s nearly a year since we sat at a computer, looked at each other, took a deep breath and clicked our commitment to buy an Xtracycle free radical kit to fit onto my Raleigh mountainbike. My goodness, but I’m glad we did. We’ve answered our main question of „will we use it?“: the rebuilt bike and us have covered at least 1800km since then and it’s pressed into service at least once a day for shopping, carrying arts materials, picking up the boys, and a lot of other things.
So it’s time for the next stage of living and working car-free: last week in a slightly deja-vu moment, I sat at the computer again and ordered a Bakfiets from Henry’s Work Cycles in Amsterdam. Anyone from Amsterdam will be saying: „er… so what?“ right now, as these are essentially the family saloon in many cities in the Netherlands. For everyone else, hopefully the picture gives a clear idea of what we’re getting.
This gives us even more possibilities than the Xtracycle: my wife can ride it, for one, and in normal clothes, as we really don’t do lycra. We can fit all three boys in at a pinch, maybe even take the neighbours kids to Kindergarten with us, and we’re getting one with rain cover so at least the passengers/shopping will stay dry. It’ll also become a transport for work: it’s amazing how many bits of theatre equipment you can schlepp by pedal power
The real challenge is how to get it to Stuttgart: a Bakfiets is about 2.80m (roughly 8′) long, so it’s not going to fit into a rental car. We could have it delivered but it would cost a further €700, so instead I’ve come up with a cunning plan to ride to Stuttgart from Amsterdam. Unfortunately I can’t pretend this makes me incredibly fit, as we’ll be riding at a relaxed place and following a well used bike route along the Rhine, but with a climb of 380m and about 650km door-to door it’s going to be a challenge.
On top of this we’re hoping to make a film: I’ve managed to interest a producer I worked with previously, and he’s taking on the idea as a challenge. We’re following three rivers, the Rhine, the most important river in western Europe, then the Neckar, and finally a tiny river called the Körsch. Each river has affected people down the ages to today- we’re following them because they make the easiest route through the hills- and in turn, each has been affected forr good and bad by the people living along them. Cycling along the rivers will give us a unique perspective on them and the people alongside them.
Are we going to make it cycling/filming/getting home in time? It’s a bit late to ask as I’ve already ordered the bike, and we have tickets for the sleeper train to Amsterdam. We’ll arrive there on September the third…