Douwe Osinga's Blog: Four bikes in America

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I took my bike from Amsterdam when I went to the US. It makes a surprising amount of sense to have a bycicle in Silicon Valley; distances are too large to walk in general, but not that large that you definitely need a car. There are also a lot of bike paths, some of them very nice and not used a lot. Quite some people come by bike to Google, though far more come by car - even if it would only take them 10 minutes to bike.

Arguably, bringing my bike to the US made less sense. It served me well for years even after I crashed it into a tree, but it was kinda old. Also, I'm not sure what the airlines do to bikes, but it must be similar to what they do to coffee. The wheels on the bike where not as wheel-shaped as they were before and the nice box KLM made me buy to put it in for 20 euro was torn, upside down and sitting in the middle unattended. Long story short, when I got a flat tire and saw that WallMart had bikes from $68.68, I decided to make my Amsterdam bike my spair (unrepaired).

So I got me a nice and shiny Chinese build mountain bike for 90 something. The cheaper bikes were not available and this one was slightly larger than the other ones. Still too small, really, but you can't expect that much for so little money.

After a month or so, I returned from a trip on Saturday and my bike was gone. Oh no. But so was the bike of my neighbor and that is always suspiscious. So I went to the receptiondesk when it reopened on Monday and asked if they knew anything about it.
'Yes, we've put your bike in storage.'
'There was a flooding, it might have gotten wet.'
'Ah, that could hurt a bike. Could you not have left me a note about this?'
'We did. It is right on the bike.'
'The bike in the storage?'
'Yes. In the storage.'
The next day I asked my neighbor if he thought his bike was gone. 'No', he said, 'I parked it at work.'

Now having established that Mountain View is actually a safe place for bikes, I left it overnight at the local friendly coffee shop and it was promptly stolen. Yes, I locked it, no, not to anything. Back to WalMart, this time got the 68 dollar one, which turned out to be cheap for a reason. It sucked. The breaks didn't work very well, it made all kind of sounds and it was too small. Ok, the last thing I could have found out in the shop (and maybe the first two too).

Luckily enough the 90 days return policy took care of that and now I am again a proud bike owner with a lock that locks bikes to things. And the key of my lock has a clock, though no obvious way of changing the time. Let's see how this bike survives the trip back to Europe.