Friday, June 21, 2013

Meeting the 92-year-old bike girl

These days, I like to bike down to the riverside of the Danube, find a nice and quiet spot next to the water and sit down with a book to read for an hour or two, as long as I feel like it. Just me and a book and nothing to disturb our quality time together.
Today, as I was sitting there, an old woman came past. She was slowly strolling along the riverside with her rollator, on her face the sincerest, happiest smile that you can imagine. I thought "WOW! She is really enjoying just walking and feeling the sunshine on her skin. This is awesome." And a part of her smile passed onto me.

When I was done reading and started packing my stuff, the old woman came back. She stopped next to me and we started chatting about the flood, about getting old, and about sports.
As we are standing there, she tells me that she is 92 years old and pretty much has been doing sports all her life, and always enjoyed it. She tells me she used to bike a lot, until her 80s - then her children, two sons, took the bike away because they deemed it too dangerous. She tells me how great that bike was, taking her place she would never have been able to go otherwise.
And before my eyes, the 92-year-old woman transforms into a lively bike girl with more than 70 years of bike experience under her skin.
And now, she tells me, her power is slowly decreasing, at 90+. She tried swimming, but the last time it didn't work that well anymore. She thinks it's because she has not enough power left in her arms.
But still, she tells me, even if swimming doesn't work, she walks down the Danube every day. Up and down between the two bridges that cross the river, watching what the flood has destroyed and enjoying the sun. She wears a shirt with short sleeves. Her shoulders and arms are bare. "It doesn't look that nice anymore", she tells me and points at her upper arms. "But I don't care anymore about that." She smiles.

We say goodbye. I remember her smile, this wonderful, radiant smile as she passed me in the sunlight.

Tonight, for summer solstice, I raise my glass to you, 92-year-old bike girl, and wish you many more strolls and smiles along the Danube river.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biking in Winter

My bike is in my cellar. It is waning away in a drab life between flowerpots and nails (I hope the nails stay away from the tires). Come spring, it will awaken again to new glory.

I'm looking forward to it.

Or should it awaken earlier? Today, I saw a cyclist driving down my hill on a snowy road. I'm not driving
- under 7 degrees celsius
- when it rains
- on snow.

Or so I thought. Who knows what might be in the winter to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who loves cyclists?

There are odd, cyclist-hating people running around these days.

Yesterday, I was cycling home from work, taking a different route to stop at a small organic market. Part of that route involved a one-way-road going ... not my way. So I used the walkway for about 20m. No living human being was using the walkway. There was just one bored waitress standing next to it, near the tables of the cafe she's apparently working in. Doing nothing. Just as I approached her, she started to move ... sloooowly, across the walkway, got a menu, and moved back ... sloooowly ... which was just the moment I had reached her. At which point she stopped, looked at me - I looked back, smiled - and she told me to get off the bike, because I'm not allowed to drive my bike on the walkway.
I continued driving without having said anything. I had no heart for a discussion, since she didn't seem like a person with whom discussing makes much sense.

Of course, she's right. But granted that there was no one using the street, I wasn't running over or endangering anybody, and granted that I share the bike lanes with:
- cars
- lorries
- pedestrians
- joggers
- roller skaters
- skateboarders and
- wheelchair users
I'm inclined to see certain roads as shared space and not privately owned by certain types of roadusers.
And, let's be honest, this whole thinking of "This is my stuff and this is your stuff and don't touch my stuff or I'll be angry" has made this world a somewhat annoying place to live in already.

But that was yesterday. Today is a different story.

A story I still don't understand...
I was cycling to work. Fully legally on a small road that is used by pedestrians, dog owners (yes, they are their own category), cyclists and - very occasionally and in a restricted way - cars. So I was cycling, and at some point I noticed a man somewhat ahead of me. First he was walking, then he stopped. I came closer. He turned around. Still I came closer. Then he lifted his fist in a quite menacing way, as if he wanted to punch me or throw a stone at me.
"Hm", I thought, giving him the benefit of the doubt. "I'll just try and see if I get hit by a stone."
I didn't get hit, neither by a stone nor by a fist. But as I drove past him, he yelled "Drive nicely!!!"
Nope, I wasn't going particularly fast. I'm not a speed biker, I'm a pleasure biker. A pleasure biker who has no clue what's up with people these days...

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Hellfire reloaded

And here they came. I knew there was something wrong with not sweating like hell at 30 degrees on a bike. Today, the last 500 metres, I was dripping. The last 500 metres is basically 5 minutes up a hill. The reason why is because today there was a carrotmob in Linz in 7 shops. So I bought two pairs of linen trousers for my vacation in Japan (30 degrees will be heaven over there), some foodstuff and borrowed, ahem, 10 books from the library. Thus I had some additional weight on me. Nevertheless, I was full of endorphines from the nice carrotmob-shops (and the books!). They all offered free carrot cake :D