Meet Gracie, my new (to me) bike. She arrived at my cottage on Monday and today was our first outing. I think we will be very happy together.
Gracie is from the Netherlands but has been living in a friend’s garage in Glasgow for the last 10 years. So when I told my friend I was thinking of getting a little run-around bike, she offered her “Dutch bike”, which her husband delivered on Monday.
The bike is a “Miss Grace” (hence the name) from the Royal Dutch Gazelle bike company. I am really excited about her, but she will take some getting used to. That’s because she is quite heavy compared to Sarafina (my bike back home in America) and has a very wide turn – possibly because of the substantial rack and basket in the front.
With just three gears and her overall weight, I won’t be able to do loads of hills (so, this isn’t a bike for the Pentlands). But once I get used to the way she handles (and once my cycling legs are strong enough) I might be able to cycle to work on occasion – assuming I get the visa and the job starts!
Anyhow, I needed to go to the post office today, so decided it was a great opportunity for a test run. And I’m glad I did because I learned a few things.
Like, the bike is a touch too big for me and that means I must fully dismount when stopping. I can’t lower the seat any further so I might see if there is a way to modify the frame. And I am not 100% sure what the arm signals are in the UK (or when/where to use them).
I also realised that this is the first time I’ve ridden a bike in the UK. Thankfully, I live in a rural enough area that it’s not too big of a deal, but I think I need to find a cycling safety course so that I can learn how to properly navigate roundabouts. I also need to brush up on the cycling rules so that I know what my rights and responsibilities are.
Importantly, I also realised that I need a way to strap down groceries in the basket. I purchased a few things at the co-op and placed my (reusable) shopping bag in the basket then rode along an old railway line for a bit before heading home. I travelled over several bumps in the 6+ post-shop miles, and each time I did so, I could see the bag jumping about (quite violently on a couple of occasions). At the time, I thought to myself that carrying eggs won’t be a wise move (which I almost bought at the co-op). I also decided that I will need to find/create a strapping or webbing system that will hold everything down so that things don’t jump about.
When I got home and grabbed the bag from the basket, it was quite wet – because the strawberries had turned to absolute mush. So, I cut the stems off and put the remains of the fruit in the freezer. (More on that in a day or two!)
Anyhow, I am looking forward to a bit of cycling in the future. Whilst Gracie won’t be practical for getting me into the Pentlands, I will be able to cycle into Penicuik for more walks around the estate. I will also be able to get into the village faster (15 minutes vs 40 minutes to walk) and eventually, I’ll be able to cycle to work if the weather is nice.
With the ongoing visa anxiety and the general isolation of life in a COVID19 world, I have been very unhappy lately. So, Gracie has come into my life just at the right time and has brought a bit of joy with her.
I expect that Gracie will make cameos in future blog posts, but here are some photos for anyone that wants a closer look. She is a very fancy lady and her makers were sure to add plenty of little details to make sure everyone knows how fabulous she is! (Three separate people complimented the bike today, and I have a feeling Gracie will get compliments quite a lot.)