Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Brake-ing News

More bike news today as am slightly anxious to report my rear brakes spontaneously, err, broke on the way home from work. The mistake I made was obviously applying the brake in the first place, too much for the brake line which split from the brake handle and started waving around like a snake on hot coals in my line of sight. Most frustrating, as I was counting on my bike to get about tomorrow as we've got a day off - Queen's day. So I will have to celebrate in an un-Dutch style, on foot not on bicycle.

Not my broken brake but one like it. I'd be embarrassed to have such a rusty classic Dutch bike

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Extended Easter

I hardly feel like I've been at work this week, having had both Easter Monday and also an extra 1.5 days of leave off. This was for good reason, as I had a visitor come from Hong Kong to entertain! Highlights included cycling round Amsterdam in balmy 22 degree sunshine, stopping only for a refreshing beer or cake; and a trip to Haarlem to see a 5800-pipe organ that both Mozart and Handel had made pilgrimages to play. After all that sightseeing it was a relief to get back to work on Friday for a rest.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sparta out, Union in

Rumours of my bicycle's demise have, in the past, been greatly exaggerated. Sadly, I must report and confirm its end. On Tuesday evening, following evasive manoeuvres to avoid a car interrupting the bicycle path and a subsequent collision with a bollard, I hurriedly wheeled the Sparta Windsor (Know among connoisseurs as the Aston Martin DB5 of Dutch classic Bikes) to a reputable bodyshop. The outlook was by no means dire - broken front brakes, bent handlebars - but its vintage was to be its downfall. No spare parts were to be found anywhere in Zuid Holland. In an irrepairable state, my trusty steed was written off.

Dispirited, but not broken, I trawled the classic bike dealers in the neighbourhood - What Classic Dutch Bike? in hand - looking for a new set of wheels; but could anything come close to the sleek lines and classic performance of the Windsor? After prolonged enquiries and searching, something glinting in the sunlight caught my eye: I couldn't believe it, and speedily flicked through my guide to check, but there was a near mint condition Union Extra standing in the forecourt.

A quick test-drive confirmed it would be the bike for me. The gear changes are far smoother than the Sparta's ever were, and its taller driving position thanks to the larger wheels mean it has a more commanding driving position. Much more of a cruiser than the nippy Windsor, it'll be faster off the mark too, but I'm not looking forward to encountering any of the notorious local crosswinds.

Extended road-tests to follow.

A Union Extra, lovingly photographed against a beautiful tarp by its owner (courtesy Dutch Classic Bike Concours Club)