Hoodwinked into cycling across the Netherlands, indifferent cyclist Kati Auld quickly realized how a bicycle changes the experience of travel.
Here are some facts about bicycles: It is fun to go fast, on wheels; it is terrible to push a bike up a hill; falling off a bike tends to hurt a lot. If you had asked me six months ago, that is probably the most complicated assessment of cycling I could have given you. My physical ability is made up of equal parts enthusiasm and clumsiness; I tend to fall off things.
I feel the same way about bikes as you might about, say, a kitchen mandoline: Useful for some specific tasks—but at the risk of slicing the tips of your fingers off. I can feel a grudging admiration for the lycra-sheathed bodies that pass at ridiculous speeds (either much too fast down hills, or much too slowly up them), but in general I don’t really understand what’s driving them, other than a vague lack of self-respect.
So why, exactly, am I fixing a slipped chain in a forest, alone, in the Netherlands?
Naturally, I was hoodwinked by a cyclist.