I’m from Melbourne Australia, but currently living in Leiden in the Netherlands for the next four months, and EU for six. I’ve been riding bikes for most of my life. I’ve ridden BMX, 24/26 MTB, a Reid Single Speed (which was stolen - not sure whether to be happy about this or not). After that I bought a Boardman SLR 9.0L which has been a delight to ride. A friend of mine rides fixed and road as well, so I’ve always wanted to give it a go. I was going to build something like a Cinelli Mash when I came back home, but I thought I would engage with the local bike culture here which is nothing short of amazing. The entire place is flat (a lot of the Netherlands is actually below sea level) and there is a bike network that spans the entire country. To give you an idea, here about 1/5th of the bicycle parking space at the local train station in a small town.
Last week, I actually bought an old 80s Batavus road bike to commute on, but I got in touch with a local Dutch guy who really inspired me to start riding fixed. He has 5 bikes, including two Ridleys and a Colnago. Here’s a shot I took in his basement:
The same guy suggested I look at a website called Markplaats which is their local buy/sell platform, something akin to Gumtree. There was a GER bike listed. I had never heard of them before, but apparently they are quite famous in the Netherlands - handcrafted aluminium track frames made in Amsterdam. I took the train to Utrecht this morning and pulled the trigger for an absolute steal (though my finances are still reeling). The previous owner just got a sponsorship with Giant.
Here is my new pride and joy, Chloë, named after her first owner:
Wheels: Miche Pista
Saddle: Selle Italia
Bars: Shimano Pro
Funnily enough, I’ve never ridden fixed, and never brakeless, so this was a baptism of fire. I made it through the whole day riding and have even learned how to skid a little bit! It’s very exciting and what they say about connection to the bike is totally true. It’s very light, though I haven’t managed to put it on scales yet. My Dutch friend and I will be riding in an Alleycat later this month (if I can become proficient enough at riding fixed) which should be a whole lot of fun. As an added bonus, I’m flying home with Singapore Airlines, and they let people check in bikes as ‘sporting goods,’ so I should even be able to bring my new baby home.
Thanks for reading - I hope to meet a lot of you when I come back to Melbourne!