In Sweden you do a lot of biking. Especially when you don’t have a Swedish driver’s license. Initially I thought having a bike would be a lot simpler than having a car. But it turns out you have to also maintain a bike. Especially one that lives outside. The outside life is a hard one. For this reason I occasionally schedule a bike fix it day, in order to keep my bike running smoothly.
Since I moved to Sweden I have had two different bikes. Both of them have been bought used, and both of them were bought in Linköping. Older bikes hold up. The bikes made back in the day were good quality bikes.
My first bike had like a million gears. Or, more accurately, 10. The poor baby broke when the gears broke off of the frame and got wrapped around the pedal. Bad day. I took it to a bike shop and ended up trading it in for another used bike. This bike has been with me for almost three years now. Ol’ reliable.
But, like I said, bikes require some maintenance. I’ve replaced the saddle, replaced the break wire, re-strung the gears (multiple times, and I will need to do this again….maybe I should ask someone to do it for me next time…) I’ve also added a basket and front & back lights. In Sweden you will be fined $100 per missing light if you are stopped by a police officer without a front or back light. Front lights have to be white and back lights have to be red.
Admittedly, I am not an expert biker. Biking in the winter is not for me, and I’ve fallen off three times since moving to Sweden. If you think I was cushioned by a nice fluffy snow bank, you would be wrong. It was more accurately a skidding-across-ice-break-my-laptop fall, later followed by a bike-falling-out-from-under-me-in-public event, and even later followed by a face-plant-into-ice incident. I was less than impressed, but thankfully (mostly) uninjured.
This winter I needed to replace the inner tube and tire on my front wheel, after it exploded with small pieces ricocheting onto Evelina – my bad. I accomplished this task with lots of help from Evelina and Ryan. Yes, the project was completed during Ryan’s visit! Now my bike looks even spiffier with a front grey tire. It was the only tire in the correct dimensions available at the bike shop, plus it looks ballin’.
I will inevitably need to do more maintenance on ol’ reliable in the future. But I’m okay with it. It’s worth it. Despite the occasional mishap, I really do enjoy biking. It’s good exercise, good for the environment, doesn’t require gas, and is in general rather low-cost. Luckily the cities of Sweden are teeming with well-lit bike paths.
See you on the streets!