If anyone needs any proof that I am an incurable romantic, they needn’t look any further than my Dutch City Bike, Omafiets, which just means Grandma bike. So naturally I named mine Oma.
Oma is just that, a bike that Grandmother would ride to collect rose cuttings on her way to a tea, or being the romantic that I am, a young lady in a spring frock, riding with a bottle of wine in the basket to meet her lover in war-torn Amsterdam. Either way the bike is a relic from the past. The design is the same found in the old black and white World War Two movies. The bike lasts forever, ends up in Dutch Canals, or parked in front of houses on cobbled streets. The ride is old-fashioned, comfortable and smooth. No one is going to break records with this bike. It is not a speedster or a nimble goat climbing up hills, but Oma plods steadily along, not bothered by cars in the city, or ducks waddling by in a city park. It’s a bike you can ride wearing red high heels or Hunter boots.
I rode Oma on a bike path along the beach. The beach is not a true beach (an ocean beach with crashing waves) rather it is a man-made beach in the sound; but still, there are seagulls, and eagles and on occasion, otters play in the water.
Bikes are wonderful things. They free you. I learned how to get my balance in life on one. In Sheerness Kent, at the back of my grandfather’s yard, there was an alleyway, just wide enough that if you were to fall with one arm stretched out, you could tip yourself back up again. There I went from side to side, until I could ride through the alley upright and out onto the streets.
Riding a bike once learnt is never forgotten. Funny how our brains remember things like that and let us down when it comes to remembering where the house keys were put just five minutes ago.
Learning how to ride a bike as an adult is hard. I think it’s because we know how dangerous it is to fall. Broken arms, bits, skull bashed, are all things we have learned to avoid, but when we are young, we are young gods flying through alleyways on two wheels.
When I got my first bike, a rust coloured Raleigh, I rode the bike everywhere, without helmets, gloves and other bits of safety equipment. Oddly, I had a flashlight in the leather saddlebag. Why? I have no idea other than I held desperate ambitions to be like Emma Peel, the gorgeous Diana Riggs, in the Avengers. Perhaps I thought a good mystery was around the corner. I never rode the bike at night, but never mind, a good flashlight can always be put to good use. I was heartbroken when I got up one summer morning to find it gone. Not even it’s shadow remained. I remember looking down the street hoping to get a glimpse of the red bike, waiting, but nothing was on the street.
I have another bike, which is roaming around Oxford right now. It is a Pashley, a Pashley Princess Sovereign no less, with ding-dong bell, and large wicker basket. For some odd reason, it fits me better. I am fickle in my romances, and love it more than Oma. My daughter has the bike for now. She is the image of a beautiful young lady setting out on an adventure, whilst I on the other hand plod about very much like Jessica Fletcher in “Murder She Wrote.”
The image below a Wiki Image
My old Oma sits in the garden shed with a flat tyre, waiting for me to forget about my new love, my Pashley Princess. Oma hopes to get out again, dreaming that I will remember that she was once strong and proud, and I can ride her to Starbucks and check my email. It’s a perfect balance of the old and new. Oma, like all Oma’s, know that I will return one day, and she will forgive me for the spiders and cobwebs found on her wheels.