Since our trip to Amsterdam I’ve been looking for a bike like this.
It’s got to have a big luggage rack that doesn’t need to be removed to accommodate a child seat, an enclosed chain and gears, a stand, a special fixed back wheel lock, mud guards, skirt guards, hand brakes, wheels that don’t puncture very easily, dynamo lights, and a basket or luggage rack on the front.
I would be able to ride in an upright position with a three year old and luggage on the back and a crate holding all my shopping on the front. All my playgroup runs could be completed in record time.
I emailed the hire company in Amsterdam but heard nothing yet.
I went to Halfords. As I mentioned I’m short, not freakishly short, but some of the bikes at Halfords are too big so, as I don’t carry spanners or Allen keys on my person, I needed assistance. I forgot to mention that I hurt my back this morning lifting no 5 out of the car which has given me an ungainly Neanderthal posture and a gait similar to someone who has recently given birth to a hippo.
The first sales assistant I approached was the Halfords Mountain Bike Expert – what a stroke of luck!! Mountain Bike Expert seemed very nice he did say he’d not been trained on non-mountain bikes. I thought he meant in depth knowledge of materials, manufacturing process and technical details. He meant the basics. Never mind. He’d been to Amsterdam five times and had seen the multi-storey bike parks and he knew what a Dutch sit up and beg bike was and that I wanted to go home with a bike and he was keen to help.
There were two types of Dutch bikes at Halfords. Their own brand own brand and a beautiful old fashioned creamy blue bike designed by Victorian Pendleton herself.
Mountain Bike Expert lowered the saddle of the Halfords own brand bike. The fact that he had to check whether this was possible with his supervisor I overlooked. He also consulted his supervisor to see whether the handle bars could be dropped (they clearly could) and whether he was allowed to drop them. I was in so much discomfort from my back that even this knowledge gap did not register with me. Mountain Bike Expert wasn’t authorised to let me test ride the bike and get a freewheeling feel for it in their enormous car park but I could have an in store demo.
I did my best and hopped five metres towards the exit with the bike stuck between my legs like an incompetent smuggler. I was so worried I was going to injure a shopper, damage the display bikes or knock over a stack of screen wash that I wasn’t actually able to place both feet on the pedals at the same time. My test shunt was successful in that I did not crash into anything or anyone but unsuccessful in getting to know the bike.
Mountain Bike Expert spotted that the bike was far too big and I was having problems and suggested I moved on to the Victorian Pendleton bike as it came in two sizes, small and large. There they were on display side by side. Beautiful pale blue and cream with big wicker baskets on the front and big matching luggage racks on the back. I wanted to buy one there and then.
The larger 19″ frame was too big for me to reach the ground from the saddle, even in the lowest position. The smaller 16″ frame had its saddle extended to the very highest possible height towering above the saddle of the larger 19″ framed bike.
With a lot of persuasion from me Mountain Bike Expert asked his supervisor whether it was possible to adjust saddle heights on the Victoria Pendleton bikes. After fiddling around for a long time the saddle failed to budge. Mountain Bike Expert explained that Victoria P had designed the bike with the small frame, all lovely and blue, to have its saddle sticking up in the air on a silver rod higher than the handlebars and higher than the saddle on the larger bike. Victoria had designed the smaller framed bike especially so that the large metal springs in the saddle could jam into the large metal luggage rack and keep that saddle high. Mountain Bike Expert said Victoria was especially keen when she designed the bike that the luggage rack should never be removed. She had moulded it to the frame rather than screwing it on. (I could see four large painted nuts and bolts holding the luggage rack on.) Victoria designed the small bike to have a higher saddle than the big bike.
I pointed out that I’d need to remove the luggage rack to fit the child seat so please could he remove it to lower the saddle so I could see whether it was low enough for me, because if it was I’d buy it. Suddenly Mountain Bike Expert didn’t need to consult his supervisor about anything. He had an intimate knowledge of Victoria’s thoughts and intentions when she designed the bike. Victoria didn’t want child seats messing up her bikes, that’s why the luggage rack was moulded. Victoria didn’t want the seat height to be adjustable, Victoria wanted the small bike to have its seat on the end of a silver prong higher than the big bike.
Most of all Victoria Pendleton had designed her bikes for light people and she did not want lard arse me and my lard arse child to combine our weight on one of her beautiful bikes and crush it with our immense lard arse weight.
Here we are, the lard arse bike crushers.
Mountain Bike Expert missed out on a sale there and I’m still looking for a bike. If anyone can recommend a Dutch bike supplier please let me know.
Now, back to what I should be doing.
There are loads of them in my shop www.buckinghamvintage.co.uk