woensdag 27 juli 2011

T minus one. ROAM takes off tomorrow!

What a great event. Now already!
At the moment that I joined the list of ROAM riders (I was so eager that I am the second person on the list, right after Josef, our captain, himself) I could not have dreamt that it would become such a fun event. The riders come from Holland, Germany, Denmark, England, North-Amerika, Canada and probably several other countries. They all have their own accents but we all speak one common language, We Love Velomobiles. We love it so much that we put up with a gaziljon questions literally every moment we stop. We often have conversations at traffic lights from people hanging out of their carwindows, pedestrians forgetting to cross the street and cyclists that almost fall of their bike, eventhough they have a foot on the ground, waiting as we are for the light to go green. We are determined to leave no question unanswered though I must admit that when the green light comes quickly, my answers are accordingly shorter.

It probably makes a big difference that we started in Portland, since this really is a very bike-minded city. You can see a lot of people clearly being alternative to such an extent that it becomes normal: this is Portland. Biking is an enormous culture here and that's a great difference with the country I come from. In the Netherlands, cycling is so accepted as a transportation tool that we think nothing of it. It is different in Portland, cyclists are clearly proud of their cycles and this is reflected in their bikeshops and pubs. For me as a Dutchman it is amazing to see that there are special pubs for cyclists. And a LOT of them. We wouldn't dream of calling a pub a bike-pub. Commuters, racers, weekend warriors, bike-messengers and utility cyclist alike come together in the evening in these pubs, put their bikes behind it and enjoy a beer and an extensive meal.

Cycling may be a bit too normal in Holland. But what is too normal? I mean, in Holland elderly people keep cycling and this is exactly what I miss in Portland. People who are a bit timid or not confident that they can join in traffic will soon stop cycling here: you need to be a bit of a warrior. The reason is quite obvious, there are almost no cyclepaths, so cyclists must find their way between the cars. Now I must say that traffic here is VERY friendly. Unfortunately cars are very big and massively overpowered here, so they look very intimidating.

We velomobilists have been finding our way through Portland these days very well. We are kind of used to using the streets, because we can sort of keep up with the flow of traffic. The enormous amount of crossings without clear priority and all the traffic lights were sometimes annoying. We had to do a lot of slowing down and accelerating again on Vancouver street. The Interstate is crowded with cars but was easier to keep going at speed. Of course Myrtle the Turtle (that's an electro-assiste bike BTW) was always there with us to show us around town. Thank you Sylvia, you made our rides a whole lot easier.

Well enough for now, better go to sleep, because tomorrow is the big DAY. Send-off at the Fountain at 12 o' clock Downtown. The start of ROAM. Keep track of us......

1 opmerking:

  1. Harry, I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying yourselves. Good luck with the ride.

    However, there certainly are "special pubs for cyclists" in the Netherlands, which provide special facilities such as free places to fill up bidons, free electric bike charging facilities, cycle repair kits etc.

    They're spread quite widely, not confined to a city, and I've been to them myself. There are quite a few in Zeeland and also about 200 in Brabant. I don't think they're confined to just those two provinces, but they're the first search results I found. Tool boxes on cafes can also be found quite near Assen, though I'm not sure this cafe calls itself a fietscafe.

    They're not quite the same, as they're not identifying with a minority group, and this changes things somewhat.