This is Gerald. Gerald is kind, patient, polite, gentle, sort of slow, a little squeaky, makes funny noises every once in a while, but such a loyal friend. From the minute I met Gerald, I knew we were going to be pals. He was an orphan, flat-willed, battered, desperate for acceptance. He seemed lonely and in need of a friend. At that time, my heart was longing for a friend just like Gerald. He fit the mold. I took Gerald in with open arms and could not have been more excited. And, besides, I had waited far too long to get a bike.
No, Gerald is not the sweet old man in the background of this picture. Yes, Gerald is the beautiful little bike in the foreground.
I was so excited to get a bike. Everyone in Copenhagen rides bikes. Seriously! The rumors are true. It makes life so much easier; everything is more accessible, you get places quicker (especially with the Metro construction going on right now), and you feel like a local.
I tried ordering a bike from Copenhagen Bicycles the first week I was in Cope -- because that's where I heard most of the DIS kids were getting their bikes -- but, because of the high demand and excellent student discounts, the company emailed me saying they had no bikes left in inventory. So, I took my gosh dang business elsewhere. I didn't have much of a game plan. I was just determined to find a bike. And oh boy did I!!!
I got to the city a little early yesterday, to give myself some time to do work at a coffee shop before my 10:00 class. I felt a smile creep up my face as I exited the Metro station and looked up at the beautiful blue bird sky. It was a glorious day. When I craned my neck back downward, my line of vision landed on the same sight it did every morning: a monstrous sea of bikes at Nørreport station. Without even thinking about it, I decided right then and there that I was going to get my bike. Not really knowing where to rent a bike, how much it would cost, how I would pay, what types of agreements it would require, if I would need a helmet or a light or a lock; all these questions were up in the air.
I had to start somewhere! So, I walked into the first bike shop I saw outside of the train station: Rosenborg Cykler. I waltzed in, still smiling, and began talking to the kind lady at the counter, Monica. I told her about my situation and that I really, really wanted a bike. We discussed how long I would need it for, student discounts, and she walked me through the option for what I could get. Then, I mentioned I was a DIS student, and she said they offered discounts! But, since I was a little late to the party, she said the student registration period had ended.
Then, then, then -- I said it was a glorious day, didn't I?? Well, then, Monica peered over her shoulder at the sorry looking bike hanging from the ceiling with a flat back tire, looked back at me, and back again at Gerald. She told me that someone had just come in that morning and dropped off a bike with a flat tire that they no longer needed, and she asked me if I would be willing to wait a day to get that one. Barely letting her finish her sentence, I said YES OF COURSE; she could tell I was excited. Then, purely out of the kindness of her heart, she said she would give me a discount just because I seemed so enthusiastic about getting a bike. Monica is so wonderful!
The next day, I went back to Rosenborg Cykler to pick up my new bike and best companion: Gerald. He was good as new with a fresh tire! I picked him up, took him outside, and the rest is history.
I love Gerald, and I can honestly say that having a bike has improved my emotional wellbeing while living in a foreign city. Though the Metro is so unbelievably clean, and accessible, and my emotional health wasn't bad, just the sheer smell of crisp cope air in the morning on the way to school, and the wind in the afternoon (even when the bridge over the canal turns into a wind tunnel and Gerald and I look like we're on a treadmill) makes my mood sky rocket. Plus, riding with the locals brings the biggest smile to my face every time I get in the bike lane. They have stopping at lights down to a science. I mean, it's like watching someone perform surgery it's so smooth and careful. They perfectly place one foot on the ground, while keeping the other one propped up on the peddle, ready to push immediately when the light turns yellow (yes, yellow -- they do it before red AND green), so that they're ready to go and never hold up the line. It's like one swift motion. I'm practicing.
Believe in the fact that being outside in the fresh air and being your own function for transportation improves your quality of life because it really does.