Waiting for My Bike

The missing machine.

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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWlrbtLlQZ8[/youtube]

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.

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101 Replies to “Waiting for My Bike”

  1. That sucks worse than anything has ever sucked before. Here’s to hoping it turns up soon…

  2. “Inanimate objects”.
    What? I thought you were talking about your bike.
    Your bike, like mine, is animated even when standing still.
    Just leaning against that filthy wall in the main pic it looks like it’s averaging at least 35kph.

  3. @Blah
    Ah, I was referring to luggage in general, of course, but the phrasing and context does indeed make it seem as though I’d accused my bicycle of being inanimate, which is completely incorrect and upsetting. For clarification, I have removed that sickly word from the article.

  4. the airlines are just teasing you , building up the pavé excitement , it wouldn’t be fun if the bike was just waiting for you , no story in that

  5. @frank
    Hope you have some good news soon.

    I dropped my bike off this morning at St Pancras station (I could have taken it with me on the day but I would have had to start the day off with a 0550 train due to poxy restrictions on non folding bikes on commuter trains. With the amount of stuff that ended going into the bag, carrying it and another bag was something I wanted to put off until as far down the route as possible). I won’t be entirely comfortable about the whole thing until I have it built back up and ridden in Belgium on Friday evening.

  6. Being animate, as it were, your bike is already on the pave’. It couldn’t wait. It will meet you there.

  7. Man, hope it shows up soon. You’ve made me nervous now. Traveling to France in August and hope I don’t run into the same problems.

  8. I sympathise. I have had my race skis go astray at several US airports over the years on interconnecting flights. Usually when I am running late and so to that end I was in part to blame. I mean if I only just make it on board then it’s no suprise that all my shit didn’t make it. I can tell you though that American airline employees care just as little as European ones. One a bright note they have always turned up in time. Good luck Frank

  9. Not to sound like your mum but it’s also possible it has been kidnapped into some bicycle freak show, in a tent with “World’s Tallest Seatpost” and incredulous yokels paying a buck each to win a prize if they can ride it around the ring but falling off clutching their trashed perineums.

    Or it could turn up at any time ;-)

  10. @Belgian Cobblestones

    the airlines are just teasing you , building up the pavé excitement , it wouldn’t be fun if the bike was just waiting for you , no story in that

    I’m going with this…cosmic forces of the Belgian Pave gods are at work here. They’re just building you up.

    Good luck in getting the bike back, Frank!

  11. Sorry dude. What a colossal pain in the ass! Stay positive, it will work out.worstcase, think about the V u can channel putting together a rocket ship on the fly in the home of the cobbles! Perhaps some of the tour connections can set you up real nice! And then your bike will show.

  12. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    Excellent news!

  13. Perhaps customs are hacksawing the tubes to check for cocaine…

    I mean, your worship of Pantani is not exactly a secret!

    (Praise Merckx, let Frank’s bike show up so that he may roll those sweet Ambrosios through Flanders)

  14. All the work you’ve done in prepping your #1 for this trip immediately sprang into my head as soon as I saw your comment yesterday in the other thread. I’m sure everything will turn out okay, but (to quote another appropos song lyric), “the waiting is the hardest part.”

    p.s. the V-Lion badges for the keepers tour are frakkin’ awesome.

  15. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    Pity. I was just about to ask Jens to set him up with his #2

  16. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    AWESOME. Thank goodness. Now I can stop worrying for Frank, and go back to being sad that I’m not there myself.

  17. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    ‘Turned up’ as in a far-away airport, or actually arrived at its initial intended destination? Hoping/inferring the latter.

  18. @brett
    Glad to hear it. I understand that saddle-to-handlebar drop has to be seen in person to be believed.

  19. Pictures. We want to see pictures of @Frank reunited with his missing love. -insert the background music from the DeBeers ad- A Bicycle Is Forever(tm).

  20. Those lion badges are tits !!! glad to hear the bike is safe and sound

    aeronautical meteo update for saturday, dress accordingly

    VERY CLOUDY WITH TEMPO LIGHT RAIN AND/OR DRIZZLE IN VICINITY OF THE
    COLD FRONT THAT CROSSES DURING FORENOON. DRY IN THE AFTERNOON AND
    BREAKS FROM NW DURING AFTERNOON. REMAINING VERY CLOUDY OVER NE.
    LIGHT W’LY BECMG LIGHT TO MOD NW’LY WIND.
    NIGHTTIME MIN: PS01/PS08
    DAYTIME MAX: PS10/PS14

  21. Never me Frank. Never seen his crazy big bike. But I’m very happy and relieved that it has arrived. I’d have been going pure fucking frantic with nerves and worry if I was in the same situ.

    Looks like Belgium’s going to get the same weather as the Mini WI Cogal on Friday. We’ll be thinking of you lucky boys over there as we slosh around Middleton.

    Not quite on a par with the big event, but I’m giving this a shot: The Cheesehead Roubaix! http://www.wherevent.com/detail/david-l-hanrahan-2012-cheesehead-roubaix

    Should be a fun time.

    Have a great time on the KT and I look forward to torrid tales, exaggerations and new legends being born!

  22. @Skip

    @brett
    Glad to hear it. I understand that saddle-to-handlebar drop has to be seen in person to be believed.

    Yeah, whichever baggage handler who was trying to filch it opened up the bag, took one look at the bike, and said “I’ll never be able to hock this crazy fuckin’ thing,” and tossed it right back onto the plane.

    Glad to hear that the bike’s been found. Here’s hoping it arrives in working order and ready to lay down The V on the cobbles.

  23. THANK MERCKX the bike arrived. However, without details, I’m still a little worried.

    Oh, and I do mean this in the nicest of all possible ways, but fuck everyone of you with the attendee badge. I am sooooo green with envy. Bastards.

  24. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    That’s outstanding news. You guys have a great ride!

  25. Oh boy, very good news. I wouldn’t want to ride anything but my own bike on the cobbles. And with those new wheels it would have been a serious downer to not have the bike show up.

    Wait, Frank, your mother lives in the Netherlands? I didn’t realize this.

    As for cramming people onto a plane and going off without a hitch…not so when I’m involved. A few years ago a lady was yelling into a mobile phone right behind me as we were boarding the plane and kept getting closer, despite my actions to demonstrate she was too close for comfort. She finally got so close that her eyeglasses, tethered about her corpulent neck by a granny chain, got caught in my backpack. I’d had enough and kindly let her know. She didn’t really like what I had to say, but it needed to be said.

    A few minutes later I was escorted back off the plane by a very agitated female attendant. I then met the captain who inquired about the interaction. While the woman and two female attendants started yelling at me the male captain asserted his authority, calmed the nerves, and simply asked me, “Do I have your word that you will have no further interaction with this woman at all?” Sure.

    It’s funny to me how yelling into a small plastic box in a confined space is now a social norm, for some, while a few carefully worded sentences can throw that same person into a fit.

  26. @Ron
    And that is why I hate flying. I actually love being on a plane, and usually the anticipation of where I’m traveling to. But until I win Powerball this weekend (1/2 a billion dollars!) and can afford my own private jet, I loathe most people that I’m cramped up with.
    It’s also in the front of my mind with a new job I’m pursuing; I’d be flying at least twice a week, sometimes more. Gack………..

  27. @The Oracle

    @Skip

    @brett
    Glad to hear it. I understand that saddle-to-handlebar drop has to be seen in person to be believed.

    Yeah, whichever baggage handler who was trying to filch it opened up the bag, took one look at the bike, and said “I’ll never be able to hock this crazy fuckin’ thing,” and tossed it right back onto the plane.

    Glad to hear that the bike’s been found. Here’s hoping it arrives in working order and ready to lay down The V on the cobbles.

    Yup, that’s one thing Frank’s bike’s got going for it – the sheer massive size of that bike. Not gonna fit 99.9999% of the population and kinda hard to flog down the pub.

    Why are airlines so bad at handling stuff? Thank Merckx a rewrite of this wasn’t necessary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  28. @brett

    Oh, and I just heard from Gianni (who I’ve just met) that Frank’s bike has turned up.

    Not breathing easy until we see pics of said bike fully intact and undamaged upon cobbles…

  29. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    THANK MERCKX the bike arrived. However, without details, I’m still a little worried.

    Oh, and I do mean this in the nicest of all possible ways, but fuck everyone of you with the attendee badge. I am sooooo green with envy. Bastards.

    +1

  30. That’s pretty awesome to picture a handler saying, “Mate, look at this fucking bike! Let’s nick it!” His friend: “What are you mental?! Only a Dutch fucking Monkey could ride that thing.”

    scaler – I’m actually a pretty calm flyer, most of the time, and done some long ones – Australia from east coast U.S. twice, Vietnam, Japan. But, that lady was over the top. I did my best to non-verbally convey her behavior was unacceptable, but it didn’t work.

    Oh well, a funny story to tell, though now that I’m a few years down the line I think/hope I’d just let it roll off my back today.

  31. @frank
    You mean you didn’t have the Neederaap waiting in the wings as a backup? I’m crushed.

    Glad to hear that you got #1 in your hands now.

  32. One of my instructors is a former FAA inspector. Our class usually kicks off each day with plane crash/cracks/damage update each morning. But paranoia aside flying is pretty safe at the moment.

  33. @ChrisO

    Not to sound like your mum but it’s also possible it has been kidnapped into some bicycle freak show, in a tent with “World’s Tallest Seatpost” and incredulous yokels paying a buck each to win a prize if they can ride it around the ring but falling off clutching their trashed perineums.

    Or it could turn up at any time ;-)

    That really made me laugh. Solid gold!

  34. @frank

    @ChrisO

    Not to sound like your mum but it’s also possible it has been kidnapped into some bicycle freak show, in a tent with “World’s Tallest Seatpost” and incredulous yokels paying a buck each to win a prize if they can ride it around the ring but falling off clutching their trashed perineums.

    Or it could turn up at any time ;-)

    That really made me laugh. Solid gold!

    Well, @Frank, which was it? Merckxdammit, is The Ride intact, in your possession, with the Golden Tickets properly affixed and ready for Hell(tm)?

  35. @frank
    Guess I should have gone all the way to the bottom of the thread. Glad you got your bike fit for a gorilla back! Enjoy the ride, you lucky bastards!

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