Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rocking the Red...Bike. In Gent.

For my last few days here in Belgium, I've rented a bike through the local b&b. It's an Oxford, for 'damen'. A girly-bike with a step-through for those evenings out when heels and skirts are called for. It's surprisingly light compared to my Gazelle at home, but then again, it doesn't protect me from the vibrations--or the jolts from cobblestones the way the Gazelle does.

Cars here cut it pretty close to cyclists but in a way that suggests not hostility, but the belief that because you're a cyclist, you can handle yourself. I don't think I'm projecting here. I see the difference between the speeding jerk who can't wait to get ahead of you, and the driver who just takes for granted you've got the space you need to keep gliding by. And many riders do just that; glide serenely through traffic, buses, trucks and trams effortlessly--even when carrying out-sized packages or taking the kids to daycare, etc.

My one fear is getting a tire struck in the tram tracks...one hazard I've been warned about time and again.

Head games: I spotted a guy in a helmet just now, a Nutcase, and well, some here would say he is one. It's not common to see people with helmets unless they're doing a hard-core workout (decked out in lycra for a ride with the boys) and I've seen only a very few women wearing helmets and most of those in Brussels where the traffic rivals DC's.

I am only skimming the surface, but seeing very few women ride as sport. When you see cyclists on road/racing/cyclocross bikes, it's almost exclusively male. I will say back home in DC, it seems that the guys who ride for sport also outnumber the women, but at least on weekends, I note a fair number of women along with the guys. Any comments on that?

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