Saturday, August 21, 2010

The European Grand Tour: 2010

The family Grand Tour of Europe was a great success, with the small caveat that I was unable to even sit on a bicycle seat the whole time. While the orthopedist gave me the green light on stationary bikes, I could not find one along the way. So instead of riding, I opted to photograph bikes instead. Spending most of our time in the cities, I saw surprisingly few road bikes. What I did see, in great abundance, were urban commuter bikes of all shapes and sizes as well as bike sharing programs in almost ever city we visited. 

Since moving out of NYC, I've long missed the ability to use a bicycle as my primary means of transport and looking at pictures of Amsterdam and Copenhagen usually make me drool. I was amazed to see how many people (of all shapes and sizes) use the bicycle to get around Barcelona, Paris and Munich. Munich especially impressed me as a bicycle city. Unlike New York, though, there was an utter lack of affected coolies hoping to be seen riding their bikes through town. I saw only one poseur on the whole trip with his tricked out fixie complete with sawed off handlebars and tarot card shoved in his spokes. Instead, the roads were filled with mild-mannered people of all ages using their bikes to get to work, shop, eat, etc.

With raised bike lanes (in Munich) who needs helmets?  
Even the postal workers use bikes to deliver the mail!
Police bikes (unlocked!) in Versailles
The other thing I noticed immediately in Germany is how seriously the Germans take their lights. No wonder most high-end headlights come from Germany! It's against the law to ride after dark in Germany without front and rear lights so the bikes you see are equipped with nice lights and many with dynamos to power them. Most bikes also have fenders.

So my fantasy of urban living and cycling continues.

For now, though, I'm eager to return to my road bike for some long miles. I returned to the studio yesterday and spent an hour on the trainer. After a month away, my quads were feeling it a bit, but with a little luck, the orthopedists will give me the green light on Tuesday to ride on the roads again and I'll be off to enjoy the Endless Mountains 1000K on Thursday.

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