Truth be told, the wedding hadn’t even been on my radar. Bike riding in Bremen had been pretty much since I booked my flight. I was done work Friday but flying home on Saturday rather than Sunday, no matter which way I tried to do it, cost $1500 more. It’s not my personal money, sure, but I’m extra frugal when it’s university money/tax payer money that I’m spending. I didn’t watch the wedding but I’m sure the royal couple feel the same way. Given the government spending cuts and austerity measures in their country I’m sure it was an inexpensive, low key affair.
Upshot: I had a Saturday free to spend on my own in Bremen.
Yes, I was in the right time zone for the wedding. I didn’t need to set a 4 am alarm. But at heart I’m a serious person with political views about the monarchy and there are things I can’t set aside those politics to do. I know lots of you can. That’s fine. I haven’t watched a single royal wedding, not even Charles and Diana’s. I can’t enjoy Las Vegas or Disney ironically either. It’s just who I am. I’m with this columnist, if it’s a guilty pleasure I’m after there’s Netflix.
On a more positive note, I’m also someone who has been enviously watching people ride bikes in Bremen all week, getting more and more excited about Saturday. Each morning I walk by the hotel’s rack of loaner bikes and think about getting to take one for a spin. I’m here with other people though and they’re enjoying the walk to the university and so I just watched and waited for Saturday. I’ve been walking a lot here! 16,000 steps yesterday. My knee is tired and I’m ready to ride a bike instead.
Some observations about riding here:
Most everybody rides a bike. The word “cyclist” as an identity term just doesn’t make sense. It’s not a special thing that some people do. It’s just how people get around. Old people, young people, people in fancy clothes and heels, people in their athletic wear, professors, politicians, plumbers, and students.
There are great bike paths, separated from cars and from pedestrians. The bike routes are well mapped. They’re also well used and busy. While Cate is riding in one of the wilder places on the planet I’m riding in the land of super organized bike infrastructure.
Today I was out on a Saturday morning joined by families on bikes running errands, lots of older people going about their day, and mobs of children riding around with friends.
People have great bike skills that at home only experienced “cyclists” have . On a cold day I laughed to see most people riding no-handedly with hands stuffed in coat pockets. Today it was warmer and sunny and I saw how they acquired those skills, using their phones while riding. Again, I think if you’ve been riding a bike since you were a toddler you get good at this.
Ditto the skills for riding in large groups of people. Most everyone seemed good about passing, shoulder checking, traffic light etiquette, etc. It was a bit hard for me at first to trust kids on their bikes but they knew how to do this.
Friends who walk here say to watch out for the bikes. On some sections of the bike path, it runs besides the walking path and you need to stay where you belong. Don’t accidentally walk on the bike bit, I’m told. Prepare to be yelled at in German.
Helmet use seems to be on the rise. I’d say about 1 in 10 people were wearing helmets. Mostly they were people who had lots of stuff and looked to be on bike tours or they were road cyclists, in kit, on fast looking bikes.
The bikes all look very sensible, with step through frames, chain guards, internal shifting, baskets etc. My hotel bike had both regular brakes and coaster brakes. It came with a rear carrying basket and a big lock. The seat height was easy to adjust. Fun and easy to ride around town.
Here’s some photos from my ride. Enjoy!