Saturday, July 28, 2012


Embarrassing story below:

It took me a year and a half, but I am finally biking around Copenhagen.

When we moved here, I was eager to adopt the local means of transportation. I did lots of research on how to transport Riley by bike and settled on a Chariot carrier (it's fantastic).

Then, I rushed out to a big Wal Mart-esque store called Bilka and picked out a cheap bike that came home in a box and Neil had to put it together. Not only was it extremely difficult to assemble, but once we had it together we realized the bike was actually too big for me. Even with the seat lowered all the way, I could not sit on the seat and touch the ground with my feet, which made starting once stopped extremely difficult.

I am really not sure what I was thinking. In my defense, I thought I needed to buy an inexpensive bike and that Bilka was the place to do it and I had not really ever purchased my own bike before. I had bikes growing up and then the one bike I had as an adult was a gift. (A gift that was later stolen from our apartment parking garage in Washington, D.C. - but that's a different story.) It really didn't occur to me that bikes came in sizes other than child and adult. I picked out a women's bike and that was that.

Neil tried to dissuade me, but I was not going to be talked out of it. The bike was purple and had a big basket on the handle bars and I liked it. I loved it up until I tried to ride it and realized it was not very fun. Not only was it too big, but it was also heavy and the pedals braked when you pedaled backward instead of freely spinning around. I hadn't had a bike with pedal breaks since elementary school. When we went on family rides, Neil kept wondering why I was biking so slowly while I struggled at every intersection to get back on my massive bike and pedaling again. Not to mention the fact that we had me towing Riley all the time because we didn't realize we only needed a $20 bolt for Neil's bike so he could tow Riley, too. I was slow and miserable.

We went on a few summertime rides, I locked the bike up and we hardly looked at it until this spring when Neil started using it to take Riley to school. It had become a sore point in our relationship, Neil was always wondering why I wasn't riding my bike and I was constantly feeling guilty for buying a bike that was too big for me. And then, one miraculous day a few weeks ago, my bike was stolen.

Don't misunderstand. Having the bike stolen made me feel sad and violated the way any theft is apt to do. Even worse, we hadn't written down the bicycle frame number and so we can't get insurance money for the bike. My perception of Denmark as the safest place on earth is a bit tarnished, etc. But, BUT... with the too-big, too-heavy bike out of the way, I got to purchase a new bike.

My bike at the store before I bought it
 I went to three stores, had them measure bikes to fit me and adjust the seats to my height. I compared prices. I knew what I wanted - a bike, with hand breaks and pedals that can go backwards and forwards that was my size and that I can use when we return to the US (i.e. has more than two gears).
I went for test rides. I was not messing around. And I ended up with a perfect bike. I actually look forward to riding it. I love picking Riley up from school with the bike and I have ridden it every day since I bought it two weeks ago (aside for a weekend when we had friends in town).

My bike on a sunny day ride

I am not yet totally proficient in riding bikes in Denmark. I'm a little unsure about how to hand signal and I can't multitask on my bike, like the many Danes I have seen texting and driving or chatting on their cell phones while biking. (not that I should aspire to this) I have no idea how to wear a skirt while riding my bike, but I realize I just have to give it a shot and see what happens.

It feels great to finally embrace this part of Copenhagen life. Apparently, now that we finally have the city wired and we know what we're doing, it's time to start thinking about moving home... but I'm going to enjoy biking around town a bit more first.


  1. Hi- my husband just bought me my birthday gift, a purple bike with a black basket in the front, and pedal brakes. OUCH! In the states, I had a speed bike. I too want to adopt to the culture here, and ride everywhere (Rema 1000 here I come). I will just put on a smile, and ride. Ive seen grandmas on this bike, and if they can handle it, I have to too. Enjoy your new awesome bike....lucky!

    1. Hi Sandra! Your purple bike will be great as long as it is not way too big for you! Have fun.

  2. I had the opposite experience last week, after having my first bike stolen a few years ago. I'd bought the most amazing bike I've ever had. I loved it, even if I didn't ride it enough. It was stolen too. I hope you have an awesome lock too. ;)

    1. Sorry to hear about the bike theft. We had both our bikes stolen in DC and here. I do have a good lock AND I have a year of awesome bike insurance.