The Lost Bike

“On the bright side, at least this means I am finally fully integrated.” I said cheerfully.

My wife did not seem to share my enthusiasm.

We were standing in front of an empty bike rack. However, it was not supposed to be empty. It was supposed to contain a bike. My bike. But it did not.

We were house sitting for friends in Amsterdam while they were on holiday and it was the bike rack outside their house which I had been using during our stay.

The reason I was so bizarrely happy about having my bike stolen was not because I didn’t care. I did care. But I knew that no expat could call themselves fully integrated in to Dutch society until they had had their first bike stolen, no matter what size of clogs they wore or how much stampot they eat. Having a bike stolen in Holland is all part of the Dutch experience. It’s a rite of passage. I was finally fully Dutch (apart from being able to speak the language and all that stuff)!

“Are you sure you cycled back here last night?” My wife asked.

It seemed like a reasonable question. I’m not saying I normally forget these kind of things but the night before had involved quite a lot of alcohol and as a result I did not actually remember leaving the bar and arriving back at our temporary home. However, I took the fact that I woke up in bed the next morning and not on a pool table as a good indication that I had.

“Yes. I think so. I mean I have a vague memory of cycling back… Yes. I definitely. I definitely remember falling off my bike.” I said with a smile.

“Ouch. Are you sure?”

“Yes and that explains this bruise.” I said far more excited about a bruise then any man should ever get about a bruise.

“Well are you sure you locked it up here?”

“Yes.” I said unconfidently.

I sort of remembered ‘trying’ to lock my bike to a bike rack. In fact, I remembered trying to lock my bike for some time. I remembered it being quite confusing and troublesome. I remembered…

“Oh!”

“What is it?” My wife asked.

“I think I might have left my bike unlocked.” I confessed.

“Why would you do that?”

“I don’t know. I was drunk. The lock confused me. I could not remember how locks worked. I was getting cold… At least I think that’s what happened.”

There was no way for me to be sure. I did not know if I was remembering a drunk memory or if it was my imagination simply filling in the gap of what it thought might have happened (although when my imagination is involved there are usually more robots). Either way I had to accept the fact that my bike was gone. Lost forever. Suddenly I felt a lot less alright about it. It did not matter that I was finally integrated into Dutch culture and society. My bike was gone. I started to feel quite upset. In fact I started to go through some kind of bike grieving process; Cheeriness, Depression, Anger, Denial…

Two days passed. We were walking back to our temporary home again from a day out, taking a different route than we had the previous days. I was still grieving the loss of my bike. I’d had it for ten years. We had so many memories together like the first time I took it out for a spin and suddenly realized it had no hand brakes. I’d never experienced a back peddle brake until then and I’d almost crashed trying to stop myself. And so many crashes into tourists that were not looking. So many good memories. How could I ever replace my bright red bike? I couldn’t. Sure, I could buy another bike but it would never be the same. I lifted my head, sighed and then something caught my eye. Something across the street. It couldn’t be!

I ran across the street, leaving my confused wife behind. I had to get closer to be certain. Could it be? I covered the ground quickly, getting closer and closer until I was there, looking at it. It seemed imposable but there it was, right in front of me. I cheered and started pointing enthusiastically to it to my confused wife. I had found my bike.

In my drunkenness I must have cycled to the wrong street and locked my bike up two streets away from where we were staying. I could still operate a lock while drunk after all. It was just my sense of navigation that was rubbish. The rediscovery of my bike did raise another question as well. If I had parked it in the wrong street how on earth had I found the right house? How many wrong doors had I knocked on before finding the right one and was let in by my wife?

I didn’t care. I had my bike back.

During my celebration I suddenly noticed that I had locked it through the wheel of the bike next to it so I quickly unlocked it and left with my wife before an angry Dutch man who had been unable to use his bike for the last two days suddenly showed up.

As I walked home with my wife on one side and my bike on the other I smiled. Everything was right with the world again. I was reunited with my bike. I did not have to find a replacement. My bike had not been stolen. My bike was…

I suddenly stopped and the smile fell from my face as I realized something.

“On the down side,” I told my wife, “this means I am not fully integrated at all.”

25 responses to “The Lost Bike”

  1. I’m assuming that wondering around Amsterdam in the dark while completely drunk and still being able to find your own house (eventually) is not a Dutch rite of passage which is a great pity.

  2. Breigh says:

    Haha oh how I would love to see a drunk stu! I can steal your bike some night if you leave it unlocked! I will sell it and add it to my new laptop fund!

  3. Invader Stu says:

    Unexpected Traveller – Maybe it is but it is certainly a English rite of passage… Actully, i think just getting drunk and passing out is an English rite of passage.

    Breigh – Now I will have to make sure you are not trying to spike my drink next time we play ticket to ride :p

  4. Efrutik says:

    How is it humanly possible to bike while drunk ? I would be falling asleep!!!! That’s me after drinking and getting a ride, not even driving. Haha Congrats Stu, I’m sure Holland still conciders you fully Dutch :)

  5. mub says:

    Oh gosh I laughed so hard at this. I think if you ever get hit by a car that can count as integration too. I sorta did that already so now I don’t need to have my bike stolen!

  6. Invader Stu says:

    Mub – I’ve been lightly tapped by a car. It just braked in time. It didn’t hurt but it scared the life out of me. He was not paying attention to the red light and I did not see him because of the bus he was coming alongside that had stopped.

    Efruik – I don’t know if I would call what I did cycling… more like falling down while on a bike.

  7. Wezz6400 says:

    Wait… not having your bike stolen means you’re not really Dutch? But… I… never… NO! This nonsense will not stand! I will retaliate! By.. errrr…. ooh! By parking a draaimolen outside your house and leaving it on 24/7! ;-)

    As for biking while drink, the sidewalk next to my window is used as a cycling path, despite the bumps to prevent that. Those bumps are often overlooked by drunk people in the middle of the night. During the summer when I have the windows open (other, proper summers) I can usually hear them fall. It’s kind of funny in a sadistic way.

  8. Heidi says:

    Better to leave a bike parked in an unknown location than car!

  9. Dave2 says:

    Locks are confusing when you’re sober too! At least they are to me.

    But most things are confusing to me now-a-days.

  10. Invader Stu says:

    Wezz6400 – I don’t know if that would count. then it would only be your bike being stolen outside my house. It would only make you more Dutch. I don’t know if becoming Dutch by proxy works :p

    You could create youtube videos of drunk people falling off bike :p

    Hedid – Better to cycle drunk then drive drunk too

    Dave2 – I’m with you on that one

  11. Anneke says:

    If it cheers you up, my first bike was stolen only two weeks ago… So I wasn’t fully Dutch for the first 25 years of my life.

  12. Invader_Stu says:

    Anneke – Does it feel any different after your bike has been stolen and you become Dutch?

  13. French Bean says:

    LOL!!!

    I once had bought a very nice (read: pricey) umbrella in the South of France and was over the moon using it. Then, one day, I absentmindedly lost it in Dijon. I was VERY upset at myself for having lost that brolly because I paid an arm and a leg for it, too.

    Even though I went back to the South of France and bought a second umbrella, it just wasn’t the same at all…it wasn’t THAT umbrella.

    Be happy you’ve been reunited with your bike, Stu. I’d say your integration into Dutch society is 99% complete. :-D

  14. ElegantAndrogyne says:

    Oh, looks like you’ve experienced something like PeeWee’s Big Adventure and Planescape: Torment at the same time! :)

  15. Bart says:

    I think Geert Wilders would be interested in your definition of ‘integration’.

  16. Maya Bercinta says:

    Bart said: I think Geert Wilders would be interested in your definition of ‘integration’. I think, I agree this

  17. Invader Stu says:

    French Bean – Next time I am in Dijon I will keep an eye out for a very pricey umbrella ;)

    ElegantAndrogyne – That about sums up my life :p

    Bart & Maya Bercinta – I think if I ever got the chance to explain it to him in person I would end up hitting him.

  18. Anneke says:

    Oh I feel totally different now. My passport may have said Dutch, but I knew in my heart that I wasn’t really. Now that I am, Geert can no longer throw me out! :P

  19. Iooryz says:

    Maybe I (and you as well) should leave my bike unlocked to get it stolen. I think it’s cheaper then an immigration course. Besides, my bike hasn’t been stolen ever, and I’m a student for 5 years now.

  20. Invader Stu says:

    Anneke – It’s good to be official isn’t it :p

    Iooryz – Yes, we must take steps right now before we get kicked out of the country.

  21. VallyP says:

    You really must stop doing this, Stu! How many times is it now that you’ve locked your bike up in the wrong street in Amsterdam..just as well you don’t live there all the time! And yes, how *do* you manage to find your way home from ‘parking’ it in the wrong place???

  22. Vietnam Cambodia Travel says:

    Haha oh how I would love to see a drunk stu! I can steal your bike some night if you leave it unlocked! I will sell it and add it to my new laptop fund think if I ever got the chance to explain it to him in person I would end up hitting him.

  23. Bike Share for Locals and Travelers says:

    […] Invader Stu – Among his posts about being an Englishman incidentally in a Netherlands, Invader Stu describes how carrying a bike stolen means we are entirely integrated. […]

  24. 1883 cc morgan silver dollar says:

    Nice work. Askin’ for a sequel… :-)

  25. The Dutch Circle Party Guide and Win a T-Shirt | International Almere says:

    […] is a light-hearted look into life in the Nether­lands with hilar­i­ous anec­dotes about hav­ing your bike stolen, an addic­tion to Specu­loos and signs to look out for that you might be becom­ing […]

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