There’s nothing like riding a bike around Amsterdam to rekindle a love of cycling. I spent a week there recently, reporting and writing a story for CAA Magazine (for the upcoming summer issue), on seeing the city by bike, like a local.
It was an easy thing to do. I got off the plane, took a short taxi ride to the hotel, dropped off my bags and headed out. For me, part of the appeal of the story was the chance to see a famous city by riding around its streets and also to do some basic, on the ground, experiential reporting. It’s rewarding for me every single time I get to do it.
And while writing stories like this are a small part of my job, they are among the favourite parts of my job. And I know, there are truly worse ways to make a living.
Amsterdam, of course, did not disappoint. Every day the streets were full of bikes and I was on one of them, which meant I was doing something the Canadian winter deterred me from doing; I was getting some exercise and I was revelling in the cobblestone streets, the history and the entire cycling scene. I was one of them, a biking Amsterdammer, for a short time anyway.
For the past few weeks since I’ve been home, I’ve been checking out some Toronto bike shops with an eye to buying a new bike. I haven’t bought one in about 20 years and my Raleigh Matterhorn 12 speed is still going strong. Strong, but heavy, which is why I thought it’s time for a new model. But as enthralled as I am by the shiny, lightweight road, hybrid and mountain bikes I’ve been trying out, I can’t help but think back to all the battered, clanging and often rusted bikes I saw on the streets of Amsterdam. It gives me pause in my purchase process and reminds me that I don’t really need shiny and new if my goal is just to get out there and ride.