Yesterday, I got on a bike. This is significant only because I have successfully managed to eschew bike-riding the entire time I have been here and I lived in Germany’s bike capital for 18 months. Yes my friends, I didn’t own a bike in Münster. I lived in the city where there are like five bikes for every citizen, where bike-theft is the most reported crime, where people ride their bikes without hands, in the snow, eating a brötchen and wearing a pashmina with panache, simultaneously, without a bike. OUTRAGEOUS. My German Brother (boyfriend of my previous, marvellous flatmate) and I used to frequently come to blows about it. He just couldn’t fathom my aversion to bikes. I tried to explain I loved them in theory and quite often envisioned myself on a bike with a baguette in the front basket, free wheeling down cobbled lanes, my hair flying out behind me. But I didn’t like them in reality. I didn’t want to arrive somewhere, sweating beneath some enormous coat, my hair a tangled bird’s nest atop my flushed, clammy face, then have to park and lock the damn thing, when I could easily stroll somewhere – my apartment being ten minutes from the city centre – or catch a clean, punctual bus should I need to hit the burbs of Münster for work. I like walking, a lot. I loved trundling into the city for coffee, or the bracing stroll home after a night out (perfect for sobering up). And I like catching the bus. The bus is me time. I hop on, I read, I hop off, I go to work. No sweat, no bike rage. Full stop, the end.
Anyway, where was I. Ah yes. So yesterday, I got on a bike. SG and his pal wanted to sort out a route for their impending Vatertag celebration, a day on which they celebrate themselves instead of their fathers, by wheeling a customised beer trolley around a pre-determined path, getting progressively drunker in, as the Germans say, ‘the nature.’ Don’t ask. It’s better you don’t. To map out the path, SG organised two bikes for us and I promptly put on leggings for maximum comfort and dragged out a pair of biker-esque boots for added steadiness.
The bike ride was precisely as I have often envisioned, except I didn’t have a baguette in my basket and I was far less elegant on the bike than a pashmina-clad Münsteranian. But there were dandelion riddled fields, clear streams, densely wooded hills and even a little village in the middle of absolutely nowhere, that comprised of about 4 houses. It was absolutely-Sound-of-Music-style-only-possible-in-picture-books beautiful and the kind of bike ride I’d be happy to have a crack at again. No other bikers, no traffic, no rain, no snow. Just sunshine, fields and wide open spaces.
But I still like walking.