If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


4 JUNE 2017

Gezellige Along the Schie

DELFT - The town is easy to get to from big freeways and Rotterdam is not far. It has one of Holland's best Harley Davidson dealers and where I regularly store my motorcycle during winter. I am playing a game with myself: 'I am not nervous on Dutch roads' which is a little like 'every day in every way I am getting better and better'.

My motorcycle, Manu, returned home from storage on Friday. It was delivered exactly as promised; they cleaned it and took it out for a run. It arrived and rolled out of the van smoothly, started right up, and purred down the street to my shed. I was too excited to be coherent, but my partner is used to that in me. Still awake at 1 o'clock, I was laying in bed, thinking about tomorrow and the excitement of riding.


"This photo is of a couple sitting together and feeding the geese and ducks. It is a popular pastime for folks who save their old bread and come to feed the birds that live at the bend in the Schie canal. It is a perfectly clear day, the temperature is in the mid 20's (about 75 degrees Fahrenheit); a gezellige (cozy, relaxed) time of year."

First, I pushed Manu back from the street and into the shed then went to the house to call the service guys at Rotterdam Harley Davidson. They sent a man out the next day, the same one who had delivered it the day before. Of course, the motorcycle started right up, with no problems. As I watched him, it was suddenly, painfully obvious where the problem was: with the rider - me.

He was good about that and remarked that this was not the first time he went out to a customer and found a similar situation. Harleys are made in Wisconsin, a cold place, and they require the choke be fully out to start. I know this but was so caught up in my ride that I forgot that basic. It was stupid and I felt foolish. However, it is not the only time I've gone dumb and likely not the last.

Early the next day, which started round half six at this time of year, I was up and eager. A wholesome breakfast, a few wobbly exercises and I was soon searching for my gear. I was pleased at fitting into my old riding jacket.

I was on the street by 9 and opened the shed. Every second of this was sweet anticipation. There were images of suited-up me dashing along quaint country roads, leaning into curves and skillfully acing the round-abouts.

In the months of winter, I had forgotten how the 'bike' works, but was confident that would come back. It is heavy too; I was glad I spent time in regular exercise. Once out on to the street, I donned helmet and gloves.

I inserted the key, and cranked. Click, click, click. A cool breeze, a Delft-blue sky and bright sunshine. Temperature an ideal 70F (20C). There I sat, all dressed up and unable to go. I tried it again, then again.

I am probably like most people in that I have a preferred opinion of myself, which does not resemble what I actually do day to day. I told my partner about this, and she flat out laughed at my silliness and chagrin.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen