Bikes and Europe

I was thinking today about my move to Europe and what that has meant to me. After having a very heartfelt talk with my girlfriend yesterday about the changes we've made in our lives just to manage in this part of the world, I keep having glimpses of the hysterical situations I have found myself in. Not always hysterical as in hahahaha, but looking back I can see the funny side. Still, moving here has been hard. Really hard. And it continues to be difficult as the years pass me by. It's so easy to slip into hermit mode and forget about the outside world where you can't be yourself, and don't really even know who that is anymore. Moving to a new country and trying to accept the cultural changes you must accept as part of your life, without having the history to support it and understand it, can quite literally make you crazy. This morning, I had one of those moments. Yeah, the crazy ones.

My son's bike has a flat tire. I fixed it once, my husband fixed it once, and yet, it's still (well, was) flat. This morning I got out all the bike repair supplies to fix the thing for once and for all. I took off the wheel, pushed the 'wheel taker offer' in and ran it around the rim, pulled out the tube and found the hole after airing it up and spitting on it to see the bubbles. Yep, that's what I did. And then, I started laughing. These huge, goofy laughs that made it hard to breathe. I was remembering back to the conversation I had yesterday with my friend, and then even further back to 7 years ago when I had not a clue even HOW to fix a flat bike tire...yet here I was, spitting on a tube to find the hole and ready with sandpaper, glue, and rubber to fix it. After my laughter subsided, I did fix that bike tire...I aired it up good, put it all back together, and know what? It is still fixed, ready to take out on the road and ride!!!

Why did this hit me as so funny? Well, it's just one more thing I have learned since moving to Europe. It was one of the first things my husband taught me to do when I moved here and got my first bike in years; it was my only mode of transportation and if I got stuck someplace, I'd be able to get back home. I can't tell you how many times I have fixed a tire in the 6 1/2 years Europe has been my home. But, it's been enough to know that fixing a bike tire is a tool I need to have, and one which I have conquered. I can do it! I have proof that I have excelled...just ask my son who is excited to have his bike ready for a ride later this afternoon.

I won't tell you right now about the time all the groceries fell off the special made little crate that fit on the back of my bike and broke in pieces and I still managed to make it home with the groceries. I won't talk about the time we moved from the center of town to the "suburbs" and did 75% of the move per bike, nor will I talk about the time my shoelace got caught in the chain or the time my pants leg wrapped around the pedal, nor the time my husband and I carried home a roll of linoleum for our downstairs floor each grasping an end trying to ride in unison, my son behind me on his special bike seat. I won't talk about it right now, because I am laughing far too hard. It's been quite a journey, and my bike has been a big part of my experiences here in Europe. Seeing that I can only manage about 40km/day on a really strong day, I'd say I've still got a ways to go, and I'm sure there will be much, much more to overcome in that time. Yes, overcome! I'm going to make it, and make it proudly!

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