Reality set in fairly quick. Shortly after landing, my husband and I couldn’t help but notice the insanity of drivers. In addition, there were no bike paths along the narrow country roads where we live. After a year in Belgium, I can think of four people I know who have been in traffic accidents (myself included). The combined knowledge of the accidents that exist and my first hand eye-witness accounts of mad drivers and crazy road conditions led me to the realization that having a bike wasn’t going to be quite what my rose colored glasses had envisioned.
Recently, as I was driving in the pouring down rain to pick up my husband from work, I noticed a pale pink bicycle tied to a tree. On the front of the bike hung a lopsided handwritten sign that said, “20Euros”. As quickly as my heart skipped a few beats, reality reared its head. A two wheeling peddling machine just wouldn’t make sense. I drove on, picked up my husband and thought about how lucky the person would be that swiped up such a bike.
The next day, as I drove, once again in the rain to pick up my husband I knew the bike would be gone. I almost went another way, just so I wouldn’t have to be reminded of what wouldn’t be. As I approached the area where the bike was, my eyes grew in disbelief. There she sat, soaked in water. The sign's black ink was smeared and dripping. I knew without hesitation, this bike should be mine! I drove down yet another, narrow street, the kind of street where two cars driving in opposing directions would have to face off and play the game of chicken. I didn’t care. I parked in front of the house and knocked on the door. A frail woman answered the door. I mustered up all the French I knew for this situation,”Velo pour vendre, Je voudre”, or “Bicycle for sale, I would like”. The woman smiled. It was the most beautiful smile I had seen with so few teeth. She said her name was Monique. We both walked together in the rain toward the bicycle. I gave Monique 20Euros and in more broken French told her “J’aime rose velo, pour moi” or “I love rose bicycle, for me”. Monique smiled and helped me load up my new piece of steel on wheels into my trunk.
It’s been months since I purchased my happiness on wheels. It has rained continually since, the road conditions have and will not change. The potholes and narrow streets and crazy drivers will continue to exist. More importantly, so will the little girl in me that will always remember the days of Daisy. I may or may not ride my pink perfection on wheels, but the name on the bike gives me hope that I will, "Triumph".