It’s a grey cool day in the city of Amsterdam. My bike was stolen last night, so I can either walk everywhere and feel bummed out about loosing my almost new mountain bike, or get excited about a new cycle. With every stolen bike comes disappointment; knowing that thirty more euros (on locks and twelve on the bike itself) is about to be spent. Strolling over the Amstel River, the glassy reflections of the tall, leaning houses always puts me at ease. The river is bustling with rondvaarts; the long glass topped tourist boats that speed through the canals, barreling through anything in its path; and local cruisers of all sorts. I can’t look and admire for too long as bikes fly everywhere in Amsterdam. One must be alert at all times.

Only a few blocks now and my excitement is bubbling in my belly. I think I’ll walk through the brick and stone archway leading to the courtyard of the University. This way I can pop out inconspicuously on to the walkway at the bottom of the Achterburgwal. There are quite a few students around, and although most people have done the dirty deed of buying the junky bike, I still feel a bit off. I still feel like I’m buying drugs off the street; that kind of guilty tense feeling. Scanning the area, hmmm, there seems to be no sign of police… or junkies for that matter. Damn, I have to be patient. I’ve bought bikes before when all I have to do is show up, choose, and take it for a test spin. Now I have to find a place where I can survey the scene and watch the bikes cruise by. Junkies ride the bikes slowly and survey the scene also. If I can hold back, I can observe the condition of the bikes without being seen. This way I can observe if the junky looks comfortable ridding, or if the bike has a few glitches. There are no return policies here, so I’d better get it right. “Oh perfect, there’s a dock about fifty meters away that jets out over the canal. The vantage point is perfect” I think to myself.

Amsterdam canal houses are leaning over me with their sculptured arched roof fronts, long windows and creative brick work. The stories these houses could tell, hovering over the oldest canal in the city for five hundred years. And one day they may tell the story  of this Canadian guy who waited to buy the most perfect junky bike of the day.

What bike should I get? Maybe a cruiser, or maybe a mountain bike? I’ll see. Here comes the first one. The bike looks okay, but the junky looks desperate. Man look at this frail guy. Whoever buys this bike is going to support his next hit! Can I do this? Can I be a part of the problem? Sure I can. I’m not the problem, his addiction is, the drug dealers are. I just want an affordable bike to ride.

See that’s what the junkies provide. Clean affordable transportation for everyone. Who am I to change the way of the city! Here he comes. Nope, forget it. I can see him look down at the peddles every so often. That’s a sure sign the bike has some issues. Shit I just got eye contact! Don’t come over here…phew he’s past. La dee da. Man patience just isn’t my thing. I know it’s a beautiful setting, but I want this bike now! Shit, here comes the rain. Lovely… just accept it. It’s always easier to deal with cold and unpleasant weather if you relax and welcome it. Hey, here comes another bike. He looks Moroccan. I’ll watch for a while and see the bike’s condition. He’s circling over the bridge, and it looks quite nice, the color bright orange, a real cruiser. Shit I’d better run up there before anyone else lays claim to the bike.

Alright, get eye contact and give him a nod of the head. Okay, he sees me. Over he comes.

“You looking for a bike man?”

“Yeah, how much?”

“Twenty five.”

Twenty five?  Alright, act cool and talk him down.

“Can I take er’ for a spin?” He’s looking a little suspiciously at me.

“Yes but stay where I can see you.”

This bike is nice! The basket on the front is heavy, but the smoothness of the ride is great.  Very cruiser like.  I can sit upright and relax as I ride, the storage is perfect.

“I’ll take it for twelve?”

“No man, twenty.”

“Come on, I know the cost of a bike like this.  I’ll give you seventeen, and that’s generous.”

He nods yes! Not bad, this new bike is GREAT! I’ll stand out like a sore thumb with the orange color. This is of course what I want. Finding your bike on an Amsterdam bike rack can be daunting if you don’t have any individualism. One last look around for any cops… none.

“Here you go, thanks.”

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the author

Simon Hollows is an experienced traveler and writer of many funny and enlightening anecdotes. His 5 year journey working around the world on visas and a European passport produced many life changing experiences and has made him who he is today. Simon is a true believer that in order to fully understand ones culture and self on humanities stage, one must explore the world for knowledge. Because of travel, Simon has a unique perspective on himself and the awe inspiring nature and cultures that make up our forever entertaining world. Through his writing, Simon aims to entertain and inspire everyone to spread their wings without fear or judgment.

  • Anonymous

    17 euro? Are you sure that’s a good bike?
    I bought a nice big used bike for about 100 odd euro.
    I rode all over the Netherlands for about four and a half months! Good times!
    Money well spent!

  • http://twitter.com/TrendyTripping Trendy Tripping

    Hey, great info. I like your interaction with
    the seller.  My friend have been looking for an old-fashion bike from 
    Amsterdam for the summer; I will pass this article to her. Cheers! Trendytripping

  • Sally Benson

    Hilarious dude, love it :). I hope many travelers find this both informative, enlightening AND entertaining heehee! Love you bro xo

  • http://twitter.com/rebelonamission Deja Dragovic

    Ah, the beauty of the supply-demand value chain.. 17 eur for a ready-to-ride bike!
    Great article, I’ll remember it next time I’m in AMS

  • MeneerPaul

    The way of the city?
    It’s more like the way of tourists, students and junkies corrupting our city, don’t you think?
    Can’t you figger out who stole your mountainbike?
    Sleep well….
    Paul

  • TKM

    Really! … Simon Hollows… you are part of the problem. It takes two to tango and you are just as bad as the junkie when it comes to bikes being stolen… just because you lost yours you think it’s ok to steal someone elses? And yes… you did steal it… you knew perfectly well it was stolen. Why is it you come here thinking that this is how it works… it’s not.

  • marge

    “Through his writing, Simon aims to entertain and inspire everyone to buy stolen
    goods from people who use the money for a lifestyle of doing drugs.
    Yes, Simon aims to entertain and inspire everyone to spread their wings,
    be comfortable, and think no further than their own, immediate
    convenience.”

  • Frank Verbeek