I\u2019ve been here two weeks now, so I suppose I should file a report, even though I haven\u2019t had much time to look for interesting bikes or shops. I\u2019ve spent most of my time getting over jet lag and a cold; a little bug I picked up in Mexico a couple weeks ago, I think.
I\u2019d like to tell you that I\u2019ve found all kinds of wonderful old, elegant Crescents and Monarks. There are certainly a lot of Crescents and Monarks here, the great majority of them quite old. "Elegant," however, doesn\u2019t quite describe them; "dilapidated" is probably a better adjective. This is the Land of the Utilitarian (euphemism for rusty) Bicycle. If you think that bicycling in Sweden is exemplified by that old ad with the hot, blonde Swedish babe on the Crescent 10-speed (http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Sweden/crescent_ad_70%27s.htm), I\u2019m afraid that it just ain\u2019t that way any more, if indeed it ever was. The bad news is that most Swedish women don\u2019t look anything like her; the good news is that some do. Still, the woman in that ad is probably in her sixties by now, seventy pounds heavier, with her previously unfettered boobs hanging down to her navel. The bike she was riding is somewhere on the streets of Göteborg, I imagine, in metaphorically the same condition. Maybe worse.
In a week, I\u2019ve seen only one interesting bike, a pretty, light-blue Crescent 10-speed with Shimano Arabesque and Suntour components. Unfortunately, I didn\u2019t get a picture of it, as it was in the control of its owner, and I just didn\u2019t want to intrude. Bikes similar to those on the Sweden section of the CR website (http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Sweden/Crescent.htm) are everywhere, although a good notch lower in component quality and generally carrying more rust than paint.
For some reason, there exists in the Göteborg psyche no inflated-tire imperative; I suspect that there may be some kind of environmental hazard in pumping up tires. Perhaps, since it rains so much, it\u2019s difficult to filter air from the rain, and of course no one wants to ride around with tires half full of water. Still, on these cobblestones, you probably could fill your tires with lead and never feel the difference. Whatever the reason, tires here are rarely more than half full of air.
I\u2019m getting around town on a bike that I brought with me, my Dahon folder. It\u2019s easy to travel with, and it can carry all the stuff I have to schlepp back and forth to work. Its gearing is good enough to get me up the substantial hills here. The bike is unusual for this part of the world and gets some surprised looks. My fellow geeks in the engineering school at Chalmers University seem to admire it, though. I\u2019m looking forward to getting out of town, especially to explore the coastline and archipelago to the north. We\u2019ll see how it goes.
Anyway, a few bike pictures near the start of my album at