Friday, February 4, 2011


I learned to ride a bike in Balikpapan, Indonesia shortly after WWII was over and my father returned from POW camp in Japan.  We lived a block away from the waterfront (not a pretty beach).  At that time there were hardly any cars to speak of and I had the road that ran alongside the water all to myself. No training wheels -- Karto, one of our staff (at the time they were called servants), ran beside me until I learned to balance myself.  From then on, I had a passion for riding bikes.  I soon learned to ride without hands - what a thrill! - until sometime around age 10, whizzing down a hill, I lost control and crashed big time. I was lucky.  No big injuries, just scrapes.  Now we would shudder at kids riding bikes without helmets.

My friend Kris got me started taking pictures of bikes and it got me thinking about all the different bikes I've ridden, the daily rides to and from school (seemingly always against the wind), vacation trips, and other bike adventures.  I'm sure that some day they'll find a way to creep into a story.  For right now, here are pictures of the bikes parked around our street.  Think of the wheels as holy mandalas, prayer wheels, spreading blessings as they go around and around.

 Bicycle with a surfboard rack

Bicycles in Leiden, The Netherlands.  
Wish I had a picture of the masses of bicycles parked in front of the Amsterdam Central Train Station.


  1. The last time I rode a bike, I crashed into the side of a parked car a block from where I live now. No damage to me or the car or the bike.

    My younger daughter has had bad luck with her bikes. The 1st one she bought for $650 was stolen at Hamilton Library. All that remained on the ground was her lock and cut chain.

    The 2nd one she bought for $150 had flat tires, unbeknownst to her.

    I guess she will stick to driving her Nissan Altima instead.

  2. Brain fog, so couldn't figure out how to post a photo here. Put it up over at your FB instead. Some pretty bikes shown; thanks for sharing.

  3. Dear Elsha, loved your story! I will be able to provide a pic of the bicycles stored in front of the Amsterdam Central station, but it might take awhile. First I need to get back on my feet again! I have my grandmother's old bike (it's around 80 years old!) and still cycling with it in Amsterdam. Imagine how many adventures that bike already had (and the people riding on it!). Hope you are well. Love, Piety