Saturday, June 26, 2010

My secret life: dreaming in Dutch

I'm a practical girl who's prone to flights of fancy.

I have two point five bikes. They're very functional and durable and have served me very well. My more than 15- year-old (Who's counting?) Jamis Durango is now my commuter bike. It helps me bring Monkey Boy and his Trail-A-Bike around town, and I don't have to worry about scratches and dirt. It's a workhorse. My other bike is a Felt Z40 women's specific road bike, which is light, fast and fits me beautifully. It's my ticket to freedom. I also share a Motobecane mountain bike with my husband.

Reality: I live two miles out of town, with a couple of decent-sized hills. I'm a mom with three young boys. Any bike I own should be bomb-proof and have more than three gears. Bike-wise, I have all I need.

But I still dream of a beautiful Dutch bike with a step-through frame and an elegant basket. I ride it through town wearing chic heels and a skirt, carrying flowers and wind blowing through my hair. I don't have to be anywhere in a hurry, especially when I'm pedaling to the coffee shop. (See Amsterdamize to see this in action.)

The good news is that whenever I feel like I need to check in with this fantasy, I'm only a bike shop away. Chalet Sports, my favorite local bike shop, stocks beautiful Electra bikes like this Alexander Girard "Tree of Life" number. And they let me test ride them. For free.

I'm not going to give you a real review of this bike. I can tell you that it has a steel frame, a 3-speed internal hub, coaster brakes with a backup hand brake, simple rubber pedals, a rear rack with an elastic strap, and a halogen headlight with generator. The steel frame is hefty, and it's not as if the chain and skirt guards say "speed." The shifting and turning are very smooth, and I just love riding it through town.

It's the details that really steal my heart on this baby. Check out the beautiful skirt guard and seat. See the design on the bell and hand grips? It's just a stunner from one end to the other. I'm sure there those who would take a pass on it because it's too frilly, but given the level of testosterone in my house, I find I need some pretty things.

For now, I'll stick with what I have, since I am at heart a practical girl. But when my dreams take flight, look out. I'll be the one with the flowers.


  1. Some would say that bike is over-the-top. For me, it would be a guilty pleasure.

    If I were to get a bike like it, I'd have to keep it in my house. There's no way I could park it on the streets of New York. Then again, I don't park my Mercians on the street.

    Trust me, I understand your need for an "antidote to testosterone": I grew up with three brothers. So did my mother. And my father was an only child.

  2. That's a lot of flowery bike and I love it! :) I'm glad you tried out a Dutch-style bike. This weekend I have to go try out a drop-bar bike (yikes).

  3. Justine--
    I admire you for biking in NYC. I don't know if I would have the energy to be constantly vigilant about the traffic and the possibility of bike theft. I'd love to try it sometime, though. My sister used to live in Greenpoint, and we loved visiting her.

    Dottie--You can totally do drop bars. The key is to ride in an area where you're not doing a lot of stopping and starting. I noticed that I was far more nervous riding in the drops in an urban area, which is the place for upright handlebars. Breathe, pick a spot where you're not distracted by a bunch of pedestrians and traffic, and go for it.

  4. Wish I could have went on that test ride with you. It had to be fun, riding such a pretty bike!

  5. I have a neighbor, a college girl with long hair (and apparently no helmet), who rides her bike with high heels. My jaw always drops in envy. I just can't pull that off.

    But I still want a girly bike, just like you :)

  6. I chickened out on the drop bars! Maybe next time. I'll keep your advice in mind.

  7. Minor--I'm working on the heels and skirt. I'll be scheduling a couple of women's summer cocktail rides soon, and I hope people dress up a bit -- for Bozeman!

  8. Ah yes, I'm dreaming of dutch bikes too.. trying to buy one at the moment - it's actually a practical route for me living and biking in a flat city like Chicago! I love my sturdy old steel-frame mountain bike, but my wrists are asking for a break - all the leaning forward is hard on them. You certainly picked a pretty bike- I've not seen that Electra model. Good luck with your summer cocktail ride - I'd come along if I were in Bozeman!