When I found out I was accepted to study abroad in The Netherlands, I had a natural response; I told people. The people who had never been to The Netherlands were excited for me and told me to take pictures and have a nice time. But the people who had been to The Netherlands told me that I would need a bike to get around Maastricht.
This was exciting news, but also slightly scary. It was exciting for two main reasons: buying a bike would cut-down the amount of money I would spend on local transportation, and also because I had not ridden a bike since high school. But the thought of riding a bike was also scary because I had not done so in several years. Despite the cliche saying: “It’s just like riding a bike: once you learn, you never forget,” I was afraid that it wouldn’t be that easy. Put yourself in my position — you walk or drive a car daily, then you’re told that for approximately four months you’re going to be riding a bike in a contained bike lane next to cars that are going over 30 miles per hour; that’s kind of a scary thought.
After arriving in Maastricht and walking twenty minutes one way to school, I thought to myself, “it’s time to buy a bike.” My fear started to disappear after seeing the Dutch riding their bikes. They ride their bikes like pros! For example, I saw several children talking and riding close to each other with only one hand on the bike handles. I thought that was impressive until I saw a young girl sitting calmly in a side-saddle position on the back portion of an older woman’s bike… without holding on. If they could do that, then I could definitely ride a bike next to cars. With that being said, I’m happy to announce that I did indeed buy a bike!
You may be wondering how my biking experience has been going so far. I must admit… I’ve only ridden it twice. The day after I bought it, the majority of the ice had melted and the bike lanes had been cleared, so I decided to ride to school. It was great! It took half the normal time to get there, and generally speaking, it was a nice day for a bike ride. The ride back, however, was not as easy. Although Maastricht does not have hills, there is a slight incline leading from my school to the main road. Let’s just say that I noticed the difference in the incline while I was riding. My body wasn’t used to riding with a book bag, especially up an incline, so I had to walk with my bike, then I finished riding home. The second time I rode my bike was more successful. I went to the store and back and didn’t have any problems! I must say, I was feeling pretty confident and at that moment I knew I wouldn’t have to sell my bike and I wouldn’t be forced to walk everywhere. Until next time, wish me luck on my bike riding endeavor!