Ever since I have become a Cargo Bike mum, I have experienced “The Look”. When I purchased my Babboe Bakfiets in Hasselt, Belgium. When I took that bike with me to London and now, cycling my Dutch Utility Bike from Harry and Kristina. But, I have never experienced The Look as much as I have experienced it today.
London is under a little frozen spell at the moment. A lovely -3°C when we got up today. I got up slightly earlier this morning, as I had left my bike outside on purpose. I wanted to know whether it would buckle under the cold. Last year my babboe did. The brake cables froze and had to be replaced in the end. So, up earlier, boiling kettle at hand to defrost the locks (which in the end wasn’t necessary, brute force and ignorance worked a charm), we set off on the schoolrun.
Henry and I were dressed for the occassion as well. I had stockings on, under my corduroy trousers, T-shirt, hoody, fleece cardi and my winter jacket. Hat, scarf and gloves of course too. Henry had his school uniform on, so as we couldn’t change that (his uniform is not made for winter temperatures), I had to become a bit inventive with thermal undies, knee lenght socks and an extra tshirt.
The first thing I did, when we left, was testing the bike if it was ok to go. Brakes: check! Gears: check. Saddle: OMG MY BOTTOM IS FROZEN!!!! Even Henry’s bottom got a pinch, as the cushion he sat on in the back had a thin layer of ice. However, everything was good to go, so we made a dash for it.
When I left my street, I already got the first “look”. A mum, I see regularly on my schoolrun threw me a sidewards glance. I could just see what she was thinking. “Is this woman slightly off her nut”?? “It is -3 out today and she is what, CYLING”??? More people threw me the exact same look on my way to school. The English already look at cyclists in a “what the hell are you on about” kind of way, but when it turns frosty they start thinking you are positively insane.
Henry and I arrived at school, toasty warm. The bike was totally fine too. Not one hitch or glitch. Mummies at the school gate were complaining about the cold. “What cold”?? One of my friends, who is by all means very very English and lovely, took the bus to school, because of it. It gave me a right inner chuckle. The fabric of society here is crumbling because the temperature drops a few degrees and I can’t help but think: “what would you lot do in Scandinavia”?? #vikingbiking there is a “thing”. People don’t throw you “The Look” for taking your bike out in snowy conditions. They embrace nature as it comes, frosty temperatures and all and just harden up. Perhaps we can take a page out of their book! (Pictures below curtesy of @copenhagenize’s Mikael Anderson)