Waiting for My Bike

Waiting for My Bike

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Points of complication are usually both surprising and completely predictable. Take, for instance, international travel. We don’t really have trouble cramming a few hundred people who don’t know each other in a small, confined space and chucking in the air at 9,000 meteres to a destination several thousand kilometers away. That bit, apparently, is simple and is generally goes off without a hitch.

The complicated bit, evidently, is the bit where you arrive with all the same objects that you left with. My bicycle comes to mind as one such item that I would have liked to have arrive with me in Amsterdam, as it is an item that bears some relevance to this trip. And which, of course, didn’t make it onto the plane with me.

Thankfully, I’ve done enough travel to have some degree of familiarity with this particular routine. I’ve also learned that in America, we become very occupied with the idea that we might predict with some certainty when the missing items could arrive, or where they should be at any given moment. This gives us a degree of comfort that we might at some point regain possession of our beloved items.

Europeans don’t share this occupation with us. I recall my first trip to France with(out) bicycle. We arrived, naturally, in Toulouse san le velo. Throughout our workings with the airline as to determine where our bicycles might be, they treated us the the customary French ridicule that we should be so concerned with the whereabouts of the bicycles; they weren’t lost, after all. They just didn’t know where they were. But on that occasion, we were phoned within an hour or so that they would arrive on the next plane and that we should pick them up in a few hours.

My arrival in Amsterdam, without my bicycle, distinguished itself from our arrival in France in the respect that they had absolutely no idea where the bicycle was, and since I’d had a layover in San Francisco wherein the bicycle changed hands between airlines, there was also some question as to precisely at which airport it might have been left, whose fault it was (probably mine), and whether it hadn’t accidentally boarded a plane to New Delhi or some such exotic location. Thankfully, it also distinguished itself in the respect that I can speak the language well enough and can easily switch between English and Dutch as it suits my needs (the Dutch are often more tolerant of your ignorance if they don’t know you’re Dutch and should thusly know better, so if I’m clueless about something I tend to revert back into English to demonstrate my idiocy and invoke their sense of sympathy for my predicament.)

If you find routine comforting, as many of us do, then you would find it comforting to know that the baggage handlers in Amsterdam held the same degree of interest as the French did as to whether or not I found the situation I was in either inconvenient or distressing. That is to say, they had none; they were much more interested in getting me to stop talking than finding any kind of resolution.

Having experienced all this before, I left the airport not terribly distressed. But then the questions started to creep in, often raised by other. What should I if my bike didn’t arrive? I’m perhaps the most finicky person when it comes to my bicycle and position as anyone could be, so borrowing a bike is a very unappealing idea. Not to mention that I began curating my wheels in November, and had only twice ridden on the tires I had specially handmade for my ride over the cobblestones. To return to Seattle without having had these wheels so much as grace the pavé seems very incomplete, somehow.

I went to sleep last night with no updates, despite several calls to Schiphol in pursuit of some information that might put me at my ease. I awoke an hour later needing to use the loo, so I got up and made my way upstairs where I ran into my mother who had just gotten off the phone with my dad. She informed me of his heartfelt condolences, and that he was concerned that some handler with sticky fingers had perhaps stolen the bike as it came off the plane. This seemed almost completely impossible, but just possible enough to worry me to my core. I fell asleep with visions of never again laying eyes upon my irreplaceable Bike #1.


I start the day today in the waning hope of receiving my bicycle before we jump on the train for Lille tomorrow. I also find Lou Reed’s lyrics running through my mind.

I’m waiting for my bike,

With $26 in my hand.

So sick and dirty, more dead than alive,

I’m waiting for my bike.

// Accessories and Gear // Cyclotourism // Keepers Tour

  1. Whinge, Whinge whinge. I packed up my bikes – ALL of them – on the Fifth of February. Still fucken waiting for them to bob their way across the tasman on the slowest fucken ship ever. And Im not even in Belgium.

    Just to preempt the inevitable:


  2. @Mikael Liddy
    Great story and the coincidences are too much! Also a member of the Resistance! Is it just me or does the bloke holding the bike seem out of proportion to the riders?

  3. @minion

    Whinge, Whinge whinge. I packed up my bikes – ALL of them – on the Fifth of February. Still fucken waiting for them to bob their way across the tasman on the slowest fucken ship ever. And Im not even in Belgium.

    Just to preempt the inevitable:


    You can never go wrong with Monty Python.

  4. this is the scariest sequence of events I have read in the blogosphere in my life!

    I cannot imagine having the patience you do frank, so chapeau, you got the gold star on that one.
    glad the package arrive’ at the families. Given our bikes are like loves or children, I woulda been in customs demanding my child/first love be relinquished back into my custody…pronto…else I would be sending Big Eddy in. glad it all worked out, enjoy the phenomenal trip, hope to make one in my life

  5. So for a Christmas present I got six months of coaching from Kai Applequist of Team Exergy. The other day his front wheel somehow came off (and his forks had “lawyer’s tab” on them) of his bikes during a 70+ kph descent. He crashed face first. He doesn’t want me to post any pictures of his face – he lost eight teeth – but he said I could post a picture of his helmet. The helmet probably saved his live.

    His face is pretty burgered up but the docs say there will be no lasting damage. Pray (if you’re the praying type) that he would heal up quickly.


  6. @Cyclops

    Wow! Glad to hear he will be OK.

    Now if you really want to ruffle some feathers, go post that same picture in the “Unsafe Headgear” thread…

    Also, as your coaching comes to a close in a few months I’d be very interesting in reading an article about your experiences with that, and how you think it has changed you as a cyclist.

  7. holy mackrel!
    that could have been real bad, that helmet saved his life
    glad he’s only lost 8 teeth, you can replace teeth, you can’t replace life

  8. Best wishes to your coach/pal, cyclops!

    Jeez, I have long had the fear that my wheel would just suddenly come off at some point. Very scary indeed.

  9. @Ron
    It won’t come off unless you don’t fasten it properly.

  10. As we wait for Sunday to roll around…came across a pretty cool set of photos here:


    From the RVV 2011 edition. Enjoy!

  11. @Ron
    Thanks, Ron. That is an awesome photoset.

  12. @The Oracle

    Thanks, Ron. That is an awesome photoset.

    Completely agree. That is a great set of photos.

  13. @Cyclops
    Holy crap! Glad he’s gonna be OK. It’s stories like that that make it REALLY hard for me not to over to That Other Post and create further need for more Assos girl pictures.

  14. @Oli
    Depends, my mother had her rear DT Swiss RWS develop a creak. When she removed it and checked, it turned out the insides were worn out and could’ve failed any moment. Love the RWS concept and the amount of torque it allows you to apply, but I’m sticking to classic, closed-cam Shimano quick-releases.

  15. @Cyclops
    Will pray for Kai Applequist

  16. @Mikael Liddy
    Great story. They just don’t happen like that any more

    Glad he’s ok. We need pix like hat everyonce in a while to remind us why helmets are valuable

    I love it that your Mom has such awesome equipment.

  17. @il ciclista medio @wiscot Yeah was pretty cool, I went from hoping she’d stop talking so I could get on the bike to crazy interested in the blink of an eye.

    @Cyclops Fuck me that sounds like a shocker…hoping he recovers well. Unlikely to change anyone’s mind on either side of the argument but he must be very thankful for having a lid on!

  18. @Calmante


    Great to hear #1 arrived at correct destination! Phew!
    I bet you feel like this kid, with #1 reunited and the cobbles a few moments away!

    And all KT riders, have a great ride!

    That kid’s balls had barely descended… and right back up from where they came from.

    I think the kid turned out ok…

  19. @jimmy
    Axel did, but I don’t think that’s Axel in that pic – doesn’t look like the shots or film I’ve seen of him as a child.

  20. @Oli
    Nonsense. That’s Eddy’s kid. Santa came through my chimney last Christmas and the Easter Bunny is gonna leave treats in my yard come Easter.

  21. @Cyclops
    Damn! Glad it wasn’t worse and that he was wearing the brain bucket.

  22. @frank
    Whilst in Amsterdam, is this beast still kicking around?

  23. @all
    The bike came together fine – no damage or anything. Bretto wasn’t so luck and lost one of his back wheels. But not to worry, we got a back wheel lined up for him.

    @Oli, you’re gonna have your hands full getting this repaired, and its bent at a weird point in the rim, like something sat on it at 2/3 of the way down the rim.

    @Oli, @jimmy

    Axel did, but I don’t think that’s Axel in that pic – doesn’t look like the shots or film I’ve seen of him as a child.

    Yeah…no….not Axel.

  24. @frank
    Oh, no! That’s pretty shit luck. Fucking airlines.

  25. @sthilzy
    That beast is indeed still kicking around! It was there last month, I didn’t have time for a ride though which is a great shame.

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