I have this bloggy friend who is completely obsessed with her Bakfiets. The uninitiated among you will be unfamiliar with the thing of beauty that is a Bakfiets, but allow me to assure you that it is the Cadillac of bicycles. Well, actually, it is the Honda Odyssey of bicycles. While other bikes carry one, maybe two people, this little beauty has the capacity to tote around three kids, not to mention groceries and – as my blog buddy discovered – a Christmas tree. Unlike bike trailers in the back, it is designed for regular commuting because it is very stable and the kids are up front where the grown-up can see them.
When we decided to move to this town, I declared to my husband my secret passion for this particular mode of transportation. I had known about the Bakfiets for years, as a it is more common in Europe, but reading about Sara’s adventures in bicycling has created a deep desire to try out one of these puppies. Unfortunately, it’s not like test-driving a Saab Saturn Subaru– there aren’t dealerships on every corner. In fact, when I contacted Sara to learn more about her Wonder Bike, she told me she had heard rumors of someone with one about an hour away in New Jersey. Or I could come to her house, a few hours away, and test-drive it.
Fantastic. The whole point of getting this puppy would be to cut down on my driving, and here I was, contemplating long carbon-spewing road trips to try out a bike.
A cargo bike, you must understand, is perfectly suited to this town. The distances are just far enough that one cannot always walk, but they are easily bikable. Even the grocery, just outside of town, is close enough to bike to. But, with three kids and Lots of Stuff, I can’t exactly hop on the old Schwinn. So, I find myself strapping children into carseats for the two-mile trip to the grocery.
Which is where I was headed – in my gas-guzzling Honda Odyssey – on Wednesday. I was just about to turn into the parking lot when, what to my wond’ring eyes did appear, a man turned out of the parking lot. Riding on a Bakfiets.
I was seized by anxiety. How could I get to him, make him stop, before he and his Wonder Bike vanished from my life completely? I switched off my blinker, inched forward to where he was headed, and honked at him, gesticulating rather insanely – I am afraid – for him to pull over. Then I moved ahead, as cars behind and in front of me wondered what the fuck was wrong with me, and turned into a parking lot about 100 feet ahead of where this bike was headed. I jammed the car into park, and – heedless of the toddler in the backseat – jumped out, completely blocking the entrance to the parking lot. I ran up the sidewalk towards him, shouting something incredibly eloquent like, “Can I see your bike?”
Fortunately, the man decided I wasn’t completely batty. He let me fondle his bike and even pulled into the parking lot for me when a rather impatient Toyota insisted I move the van that was blocking the bank parking lot. I kept panting, “I’ve never seen one in real life.” It’s probably a good thing I had that toddler sitting in the back, or he might have thought that this was the Weirdest Come-on Ever.
It turns out he is friends with the mother of one of Zach’s classmates. He carts his 20 month old triplets around in that Bakfiets. He offered to let me ride it, but there wasn’t much room in the lot, so I took his name and number. He lives just one town over, and he said I can come over and ride his bike.
He is going to let me ride his bike. He is going to let me ride his bike! Once upon a time, it took the prospect of fancy vacations or gourmet meals to make me quiver with excitement, but clearly I have returned to a simpler time.
All it takes to get me all hot and bothered these days is some boy who offers to let me ride his bike.