Sunday, June 26, 2011
For the average cycling-inclined American, traveling to Amsterdam for a bike seminar is like going to Mecca. The sea of dutch bikes greeting you out of Amsterdam Centraal gives you one final reminder (as if you even need one) about what lies ahead. But as I found out, this pilgrimage features a rather steep learning curve.
Back in Eugene, I feel like I can maneuver through traffic effortlessly. I get to where I need to go in as much time as I want my trip to take me, and (for the most part) I don't mess with the flow of traffic to any serious degree. Not to say I don't break rules, that's exactly what I do so well. While staying on bike boulevards, and posted bike routes is usually in the best interest, I've got no problem cutting a few corners with either speed, or recreation in mind. I generally know where cars are and how to avoid them. In short, I feel like a 'Senior' cyclist. I've been around long enough to know what rules I can bend and what rules I can break.
Riding for the first day or two in Amsterdam, I felt much like I did after I graduated from high school. Back to being a freshman. This time I didn't waste an hour at Oregon Hall, or pay full price for my textbooks, instead I spent the last few days making every other Dutch road-users life a little more difficult. All of a sudden, the tricks I learned in Eugene, don't just not work, they lead you to the middle of intersection with a tram coming in one direction and a sea of cyclists cursing you from another. It's not particular fun, at first. Here I am two days in, and I feel like, well still a freshman, but a seasoned freshman. I know enough (i.e. follow the rules) to at least begin to enjoy the time on my bike.
And if college has taught me anything, senior year will come all to fast.