A week later then planned, but here is my story about New Year's Eve and what happened next. It was a busy weekend with a afternoon of rowing on Saturday. First I rowed from 11 AM to 1 PM and after that I coached a ladies team from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. Everything went well and the weather played nicely. Afterwards we drank a cup of tea in the club house and then I climbed into my bike to go to my youngest brother and his wife in Stadskanaal. I've cycled the route before so I could almost do it blindfolded. And that's a good thing as it gets dark very early in the day. After around 14 kilometers I arrived in Hoogezand where I noticed I had a flat tire. Put the bike on the side of the street, removed my right front tire and what do you think? The inner tube had moved a couple of centimeters and caused the valve to get stuck in the rim. Consequence: one less inner tube. My last leak was some two months and 1.000 kilometers ago, also the right front tire.

Broken valve (crooked)

After the inner tube was replaced I had to cycle some 30 kilometers trough the dark. Let's hope I don't have another flat, because then I won't be able to make it before 6 PM to join them for dinner.

Fortunately everything went well and I arrived at my destination where I showered, ate and then sat on the couch. There I gave my little nephew Joas a bottle of milk. We enjoyed some typical Dutch / Gronings food while the rest of the family arrived. At exactly midnight we opened the champagne and went outside to look at the fireworks. Just like the years before I didn't spend my money on the black powder. Why should I? If you look around, you can enjoy the fireworks of other people... for free!

I didn't stay up that late. Around 1 AM I went to bed. Yes, I have to because this crazy guy had to be at the rowing club the next day at 3 PM. So after I ate the homemade bread of my sister in law, it was time to go. On my way home I stopped by my parents house for a cup of tea. But before I arrived there I was honked at by two car drivers and one time I was 'directed' to the cycle path by another guy. Of course I had it all on tape for evidence.

Because the first overtake scared the shit out of me I decided to go by the police station. Turns out that the police can't do anything about it, even with video evidence. First I have to have some kind of damage to my bike (of myself) before they can help me. Apparently you can drive around as a total maniac as long as nothing happens.

After I cooled down a bit I arrived at the rowing club. I parked my bike and wanted to lock it up, and... yes, another flat tire. This time it's the rear wheel. So, I ended the year with a flat tire and it starts with one. That bodes well.

Fortunately there are also nice things, like more typical Dutch / Gronings treats. After our outing there was some food for the New Year's reception of our rowing club. Shake hands and have a drink. Afterwards I showered and went to my regular cafe to do one more drink before I head to De Oosterpoort for the New Year's reception of the municipality of Groningen.

Because I was riding my velomobile and I don't want to leave it outside between all the other bikes I decided to go underneath the gates and park my bike in the parking garage. It's nice and dry and relatively safe.

The New Year's reception was quite nice actually. The only downside was that I could not get back in to the big hall for the concert of the NNO (Northern Netherlands Orchestra). The man at the door was ruthless. He stood his ground and didn't let me in. But in other parts of the building there was plenty of other things to do, so I still had a good time.

It's now a week later and this morning I cycled to the rowing club. The last couple of days there was a lot of wind and rain. That caused the water in the canals around the city of Groningen to rise quite a lot. I was wondering if we could still row and fortunately we could because last night the drained a lot of water. Two days ago the water was almost as high as the bridge. And you can't row underneath it.

Meerwegbrug (water level)
Photo: Dagmar Hansen

When I finished steering and rowing it was time to go home. A arrive at my bike and... another flat. I'm geting a bit tired of it, but okay. Tonight I'll sped a hour or so patching a pile of inner tubes.

A pile of flat inner tubes