Author Archives: laurha

trade in

I just traded in my old peugeot 205 for a bicycle one month ago.

It was somehow sad as I have literally spent thousands of hours inside of that car, about 2 hours in Madrid everyday and also during the holidays. It was my first and only one car for 14 years, a lot of memories!

I also had a bicycle in Madrid, I bought it to exercise but I used it 2 times in 4 years, not so many memories from that.

Then I moved from Madrid to Copenhagen, to start a new life. I did not know what to do with the car and the bicycle. I would not get that much money for any of them, so I decided to drive to Copenhagen and take the bicycle with me inside the car. The taxes for changing the plates are insane and I did not pretend to use the car in the “bicycle city”, so the plan was to get rid of the car once I hit Copenhagen. That would be its last trip.

So I did that, I drove for 3000 km in 12 days with all my stuff in my tiny car, jumping from country to country. I used the bicycle to move in every town I stopped by. It was great, the best way to get into towns from the nearby camp sites I used to sleep.

I started collecting memories from the new two-wheels version of my car.

There is a gradient across Europe and you can feel it when you travel like this. The gradient also affects the way people move in a town, so I was feeling more and more comfortable riding the bicycle as I got into France, Belgium, Germany and finally Denmark.

Now I am in Copenhagen. I ride the “spanish bicycle”everyday to go to work, as I used to drive the car in Madrid. The car is eventually gone. I do not miss it. I feel happy that the bicycle is now alive, and takes me everywhere in a silent, fast and stressless way. I simply could not do that in Madrid. Few people bike to move in the town there, they are lucky persons that live quite close to work and they have a lot of problems with the bicycle anyway. The air is so polluted that you don’t want to breath too deep in the middle of the cars.

Now I have to cross the lakes in Copenhagen with the bicycle everyday. They are beautiful and the feeling is great. I often stop to spend a few minutes on my way back home, breathing the cold air, admiring the sight. I cannot do that with the car when I cross my favorite spot: heading Gran Vía from Cibeles at sunset. I cannot just stop at the side, open the windows to breathe and relax. Someone would honk and jell at me if I stop for more than a second.

The difference is simply this one: your way to work and back home can be a stressful waste of time that makes you be mad during the rest of the day, or can be one of the best moments everyday. It is a huge difference.


2 months riding (instead of driving)

After exactly 2 months, my bike has become my best friend in Copenhagen, and I’ve completely forgotten my car, parked in Spain.

Despite of the cold and the wind (sometimes it’s really hard to ride), I was so happy this morning looking at the lovely autumn from the bike-level while crossing the town to get the university.

This is the beginning of the route:

my daily way to the lab, early in the morning...

This other one is taken a little bit further, crossing the only one “hill” (actually it’s a bridge) I have to climb:

The Bridge

You never reach this perspective from a car.

About the time I spend to get there, I’ve reduced it from 25 minutes to only 15 as I’m becoming an expert rider and I’ve found the fastest path (the green bike lane you can see in the pictures). My legs are getting used to the exercise, and I don’t have to think too much about “how to ride through the town” anymore.

In addition, I don’t feel lazy to go to the downtown to have a drink on weekends as I used to. There’s no need to wait for public transportation, I don’t have to spend a long time looking for a place where to leave my vehicle, and I’m not afraid about loosing my driving license for driving with 2 beers.

I’ll tell you what’s up with the snow, ice, and the freezing cold in December. Hopefully I wont change my mind.


Changing balance: from legs to wheels

Today has been the first day in my life riding my own bicycle through a “bicycle-city” like Copenhagen, not for fun but for my new daily routine. It sounds easy: ride from home to the university, then go to the downtown to get some food, and come back home.

It’s not been so easy for a beginner like me, but it´s been a really good experience. Although I own a bicycle in my hometown (Madrid, Spain), I only had ridden twice in 2 years and I really haven’t used a bicycle since I was a child. So, how can I manage to ride a bike through a city with lots of people moving in different ways?

I still don’t know the streets and I can’t look at the map when riding. I don’t know the rules for bicycles. I don’t even know how to ride without falling or creating a big mess around me. The hardest thing has been starting again every time I stop at a traffic light. I really missed my childish training wheels because the seat was so high. Actually, it’s where it’s supposed to be, but too high for my inexperienced legs who were complaining a bit about this completely surprising hard work.

Anyway, everything has been improving as I go. My body is getting used to the new balance and my eyes to the new way of moving. It’s like a mix between walking and driving, with advantages from both. More than that, I was happy riding, even a bit proud of myself. Somehow, I’m feeling closer to the people living in this town.

me & my bicycle at Københavns Universitet (Science)

Downtown, I found a reparation shop where I could borrow a “key” to tight some nuts and put up the handle a bit higher to make it more comfortable.

I had to take the bicycle there and it was downstairs, but I noticed a trail for bikes close to the stairs. It’s something simple but useful and I’ve never seen it before. Sometimes we are used to see big problems where there’s an easy solution, we just need to think a bit!

simple solution

The next problem was how to carry the food back home, because I still don’t have a basket. But it was easy to put everything in a backpack and find my bicycle again among the bunch of bikes parked at the station! This was a hard job for someone who used to forget the place where she left her car the day before. I will have to pay more attention next time.

Once on the bike again, just a pair of stops to check the map (the name of the Danish streets are still impossible for me), and I was at home in a few minutes, parking the bicycle in the courtyard.  Definitely, it was worth it.

It’s been pretty good for the first time. I’m sure it will get easier and easier over time!