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#WeStayLearning Issue #017: Cycling in Amsterdam

#WeStayLearning Issue #017: Cycling in Amsterdam
I visited Amsterdam last weekend, and one of the major things on my to-do list was riding a bicycle around the city. I enjoy cycling but do not do it enough to be very confident, yet everyone says Amsterdam is the city to explore on a bike, so I was going to do a short ride anyway.
 I had assumed I’d use a shared bike service like Lime or Dott, but after walking for 26 minutes on my first morning there, I couldn’t find a bike nearby. So I texted my friend who used to live in Amsterdam, and he said my best bet was to search for a bike rental shop on Google maps and just rent it for a day.
I found one 10 minutes away, walked there and hear this; I rented for three days instead of renting for a day. So I figured I might as well ride throughout my stay. This turned out to be both a good and bad decision.
Bad because, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t cycle much, so I got tired early in my ride. More, I was scared for the entirety of my first-day trip. I cycled for hours – from the bike shop to a cafe, to the park, randomly round the city, then back to my hotel – but I’d have to stop to look at Google maps every few minutes. Also, I’d stop at a crossing, get down on my bike and walk with it to cross. I was just scared. What was worse was that I could not return the bike or drop it anywhere like I’d be able to do if it was a Lime or Dott bike. So no matter how hard it was, I cycled until I got home.
But it was also good because I was able to experience the city. Amsterdam is the city where everyone cycles. The roads are built for cyclers, and I have never experienced something like that before, anywhere.
Here’s where it got more interesting: The next day, I got my bike and headed into the city. Five minutes in, I realized I was riding much better than the first day. Somehow, I had figured out how to ride with maps without stopping to check my next turn. I didn’t get anxious when I heard another rider or car behind me or when I was turning into another street or crossing. It was smoother, easier, and more fun. I was able to take in the views much better as well.
So as I rode on that day, I reminded myself of these life lessons, and well, #WeStayLearning so I decided to share with you:
  • Practice makes you better: You can become great at anything as long as (a) you are interested in it enough and (b) you’re consistent for long enough. No matter how hard it is, and even if you have to get injured a few times. A week before my trip, I rode with friends in London and fell and hurt my legs. My legs still hurt from it. But guess what, I didn’t have an accident in Amsterdam. So yes, you’d get better even if you fall or fail several times.
  • Stay on your lane, and the world will adjust: Before, whenever I rode, I’d get very anxious once I heard another rider or a car behind me, but then at some point, I thought, if I ensured to be on the right lane and I maintain my lane, I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If I used the bell whenever I was going to turn into another street, or there was a passerby at my front, I’d be safe. If I stayed focused and maintained my lane without looking at what others were doing, where they were, or if they were about to pass me, I’d do good. If I remain focused on my journey, the world will adjust. Anyone who sees me unbothered on my lane will mind their business and adapt if they want to overtake me.
  • Look forward: Get the directions you need to head the right way, stay focused, and look forward. You won’t enjoy the trip if you keep looking backwards or downwards. For example, I had much more fun on the second day I rode around the city because I spent more time looking forward and around me than at my phone checking Google maps. I even noticed that it was easier to make turns because I could anticipate the bend ahead and plan how to navigate it better since I was looking forward.
I hope this reminds you of how much better life is when you stay in your lane, look forward and practise. If it does, let me know in the comments.


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