As a courtesy to V, Nigel has offered to take me for a ride around the outskirts of Amsterdam. He says he will have a bike for me. I ride over on my rental, to find Nigel and a handsome woman’s bike waiting for me outside his traditional Dutch apartment house.
The size of the bike is right, but it has footbrakes which I’m no longer used to. With no parking lot to try it out, I’m a little skittish to take it out on city streets right off, and opt to use my rental bike for the ride. It’s a one-speed with smallish tires, but it works well enough. The problem is the saddle. I rode to Haarlem with that saddle and it was such a sadistic experience, I went into a sulk and took the train back. After that, I tried to replace it. I went to the rental place but they only carried what I already had. I rode to a racing bike shop a ways away (getting lost several times), but they were closed. I even tried a place I found on Amazon, but they wouldn’t deliver to my hotel.
Knowing Nigel has a day-trip planned, I’m concerned; there’s no way I can ride more than 20 minutes on this thing, and I already spent those 20 minutes just getting here. I can tell by looking at it, that the saddle on his women’s bike won’t work, but Nigel says he has others upstairs.
The house stairs are steep, the turn-arounds narrow. How, I wonder, does he even get bikes up and down? But before I can ponder that further, we are in the apartment and my eyes grow wide. There are bikes – and the makings of bikes - as far as the eye can see.
On the walls
Nigel has lived in Amsterdam for 30 years (I’m glad to learn that for the first two years, he consistently got lost). He has retained his British accent (a plus in my estimation) in addition to which, any man who loves jazz and lives with this number of bikes and bike parts is clearly impossible. I should just propose now and get it over with.
But onto the subject at hand: saddles. Saddles are personal and not so easily found. Especially if you’re a woman. Because we invariably have to buy them from men, who have no idea what we’re looking for. “You’ll love this!” they exclaim. “Perfect for the sit-bones!” I always have to patiently explain to them that there is more to life than sit bones. “Dude, it’s the 21st Century,” I say, “Don’t you know where the Lady Parts are yet?”
They never get it. Disappointingly, Nigel doesn’t seem to either. In a prior conversation about this, V and I roll our eyes listening to him go on about sit bones and saddle comfort (Note to self: ask V if that confusion is one of the reasons they are no longer an item). So when I tell him my problem, I don’t have high expectations as to what he’s going to suggest.
Sure enough Nigel shows me various saddles he thinks I might like, but I can tell without even trying them, they’re a no-go. They don’t have that special dip in the middle that makes all the difference. Finally he looks at me inquisitively, then looks off into the distance thinking. “Well, I do have one other one,” he says, “But it’s very weird looking. I only keep it to show other bike techs because…well you’ll see. It’s quite strange.” He goes into the next room then returns with --
“That’s my saddle!” I exclaim. The Selle TRK smp. In fact, I have it on all 3 of my bikes:
What are the odds that he would have something so wonderful and rare? Something that's made just for me? About the same as my meeting Nigel in the first place, I guess.
Somewhat taken aback, he affixes his “Collector’s Item” to my bike on the street.
Later, delighted, I tell V the outcome of this fairy tale. But she is more interested in talking about Nigel’s apartment. “What do you think of his bedroom?” she asks. On the one hand, this is a leading question. On the other, I never found one.
“Bedroom?” I reply “Was there a bedroom?”