Is it finally time to (really) break out the sun wear? To roll up our sleeves? Leave the heavy coats at home? Wait, wait–maybe even gloves too?!? These Amsterdammers think so. I was convinced spring was never going to come, but with this sunny, 20-degree weather, I think it’s finally here. It’s definitely time to celebrate with a breezy bike ride through my favorite cycling city!
So get out those sexy sunglasses, I think there’s more sun in store…
Over the long weekend, I headed to Spain for some much-needed R&R. I found some super chic folks using Barcelona’s Bicing bike-share system. Then over in San Sebastian, great weather allowed for some smiling riders. What a fantastic city with cycle paths that rival Amsterdam’s for sure!
Please meet Vitor, a Portuguese bike fanatic who owns and runs Recycled Bicycles here in Amsterdam. He grew up in Lisbon and has been BMX riding since he could pedal a bike. I meet him at his workshop on Spuistraat one rainy day to chat about his shop and his passion for bikes.
How did you end up here in Amsterdam?
I came here for a visit in the early 90s and loved the cycling culture. In ’96 a friend of mine was living here, so I crashed at his place for a month and really got to know the city. I moved here shortly after.
When did you start up Recycled Bicycles?
In around 2002, I was sick of the menial jobs I was doing at the time, tired of working for someone else too. Since I’m a BMX rider I’ve always been around bikes–I love fixing up my own bike and I was already helping out friends too. So I started up the shop to build bikes in 2003. We’ll be celebrating 10 years next month!
Where do get all the parts of the bikes?
When I opened the shop, I built all the bikes from abandoned parts on the streets.But one day, the police came knocking on my door and told me I couldn’t use the abandoned parts from the street or in the trash–that it’s illegal to go through the trash and take home parts of bikes. So now I have to buy the bikes from the Gemeente, like everyone else. I wish they had a better system for the small businesses like mine; I’m competing with so many larger businesses that have much more money.
What is the bike culture like in Lisbon?
Different from Amsterdam, but growing every day. There are many more people on bikes now–not just for exercise, they are going from A to B. One day we’ll see some fietspad in Lisbon…
Do you have other hobbies besides BMX and building bikes?
I also play bike polo. It’s a tight-knit sport right now, just a small group of us here in Amsterdam play, but it’s gaining momentum. I also want to get more into long-distance riding. I did a ride from Paris to Lisbon, and it was an epic journey. I want to do it again, but on a fixed gear bike this time.
Thank you Vitor! Keep on building those bikes.
I’m always super impressed by what Amsterdammers carry while peddling a human-powered machine. Weaving through cars, alongside trams, riding with one (or no hands!), talking on their phones, listening to music–and schlepping all kinds of stuff with them at the same time, too. In the past few months we’ve seen people on their bikes carrying planks of wood, sleds, Christmas trees, and of course their babies. And despite the terrible weather, they all make it look so easy breezy.
There are all types of baskets out there. You’ve got the classic crate in wood or plastic. The Albert Heijn winkelmandje is always a nice one to see (how do you steal a shopping basket?!). There’s the removable baskets, too. I’ve seen some nice vintage wire baskets. And the huge wicker baskets that have a handy lid, those are fantastic.
The widespread use of the bike basket, to me, is yet another reminder of how utilitarian the bicycle is for Dutch society, and really for any society. It’s not only a means of transportation; it’s a way of life. It’s so ingrained into daily life that of course (!) we use our bike to get groceries, purchase planks of wood, take our kids sledding, buy Christmas trees, and for anything else we have planned for the day. In fact, it makes no sense to do it any other way.
Do you have a great photo of a bike basket, with something crazy in it? Post it to our Facebook page, we’d love to see it!
Today our blog is 1 year old! Let’s celebrate it and choose the best picture of the year…all 4 of us (Joni, Else, Meredith and Aude) picked our 2 favorite pictures. Now it is your turn to choose your favorite one among our selection and enter the contest:
Have you made your choice? Please let us know (comment below) or on facebook.
You may be the lucky one winning this saddle cover! There are 3 saddle covers to win, we will pick randomly 3 people who shared their choice with us..so don’t miss it, you have until Friday 21st december!
Did you see those blue skies today? I guess it got people in the mood to wear some yellow.
I love sunny days like this–even though it’s chilly out. I sat outside Coffee Company on Ceintuurbaan, closed my eyes and felt the warmth. Where were you?
Oh hello there, Mr. Sunday! Where are you pedaling off to with those goodies from de Bijenkorf and AH? Looking super chic in those yellow pants and that 5 o’clock shadow (not too bad for Movember).
One thing the Dutch love to talk about is the weather. I hear these conversations all day long. Such a lovely time of year in this city. The leaves of course are the highlight. All the oranges and yellows. Bring your layers though and get out your gloves: this is the time of year the weather can’t decide on anything.
I joined a local yoga studio and in one of the classes, the instructor spoke about the fall; that it’s a time to reflect inward and, like the trees, change your inner color, express yourself in a different way, and maybe think about shedding something you’ve been holding on to for a while. I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit because I can’t seem to pin something down. What could I let go of? Maybe I should be vegan again. Become a tea drinker. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just think about it more and get back to you.
For now, I just looooove riding my bike in this city…
The most original bike gadget seen in Amsterdam’s streets is definitely the Hotelfietsbel (Hotel Bike Bell). It is the famous hotel bell, but then on a bicycle. It is stylish, shiny and makes a great sound.
The Hotel bike bell is an invention of Anton Frima. He makes the bells himself at home. He already sold more than a hundred and not only in The Netherlands, he also ships them to other countries. We got to know this bike bell by this great video made by Amsterdam artist Aart Taminiau. Watch it and learn more about the history of the hotel bike bell!
Anton came up with the idea when he was buying a bicycle bell in a Dutch warehouse and saw the ‘Hotel Bell’. “Why can’t I put that bell on my bike? It makes a loud enough sound, looks good and is something different”, he thought. So he decided to investigate everything about Hotel bells. He bought many different ones, on flee markets and on the internet, to find the perfect hotel bell for on a bicycle. He also came up with a way to assemble the Hotel bell to a bike and has been working on perfectionising the bell since March 2011.
Anton was born and raised in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. He lives in Amsterdam since 2009. Anton works full time at Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans frontières) and in his spare time he is making the bike bells and cycles his Dutch bike or races on his racing bike. He delivers the bells for free in Amsterdam and even assembles them to your bike!