19 October 2006

Leaving the Netherlands

Just up the road from where I live.

Well it’s been a while and I thought I better sit down and do some dribbling (writing) for a change. More like lie down at the moment as I am knackered beyond my normal boundaries, but more on that later. I am recovering from a bad case of CBF disease, for almost two weeks it laid me out. It took me quite by surprise really as I thought that I was in good shape, but the racing season has finally taken it’s toll. For those of you in NZ, CBF seems to be a local name of this condition, but I have since found out that it is spread Worldwide. In the States it goes under the guise of CBB (Can’t Be Bothered). Or the Euro version of the same, NRI (Not Really Interested). Struggling with this dilapidating disease, I managed to drag myself out of bed after the first week. Finally I stumbled on a semi-cure, one I had been looking for, but was right in front of me the whole time. Ride my bike!

A few days in the last of the Dutch sunshine, not to cold, not too warm, just perfect. It was hard on the old body after not riding for the last couple of months (I had great intentions, but work kept on getting in the way, damn it) My knees were creaking while climbing the stairs at night, muscle soreness in the morning and a bit of a sore ass, I almost forgot what it was like being a beginner again. But my head was still in the old cyclists mindset, with the first ride back I clocked up 146km (Holland is flat remember). By the end of the week, I had almost remembered why I like riding so much, the CBF was in control at last, and thoughts of home were creeping in to my head on those long flat straights, (so was roast chicken and kumara, but that never goes away).

The season was over, my job was almost finished for another year. A few small jobs, a few wheels to fix, my truck to empty and clean, and I was done. The girls had all gone, finished with racing for the year, a few of them had the odd race left to run, then they were done as well. The team base was starting to full up with all the bikes and equipment coming back in. It’s amazing to see it all in one place for a change, all the wheels and bikes hanging silently in a row, ready for selling or recommissioning for next year as spares. At the same time that it was sad, I was kind of elated to be finished for the year, no more tyres to glue, no more bikes to wash, tune, stress over, oil, polish, pamper, pump etc. No more early mornings, long transfers to hotels, late nights, strange beds, sleepless nights driving. Oh well, there’s always next year (if they have me back), I am missing it already..

My truck, empty, ready for a little work over winter, ready for the new season.

I had great plans to spend a week or two travelling to some weird and cool places to chill out, before returning back to a busy pre Christmas in the bike shop. But the couch was looking pretty good! I was hesitating booking anything, as I had been travelling around for eight months non-stop, it was time to stop. The last thing that I needed was more travel, more strange beds, more shit food, and another language to try and decipher. The couch was looking very good by now, thank god the CBF got me then and there, otherwise there would have been no rest for another year. I had a few places in Holland to check out still, a few more bike shops to smooze around, and some more riding to be had, it sounded good. It would also enable me to spend what little money I had earnt on cool bike stuff, instead of a few sights, photo’s and memories of yet another country. Eighteen countries is enough for one season.

A nice place to ride, a Dyke, Tilberg, Holland.

I had a week to pack, yep a whole week. I decided to try to change my usual habit of packing an hour before I had to be at the airport, it was going to be interesting. I had a baggage allowance of 20kg, flying over I managed to swindle 42kg on board without paying any excess as usual, I had a feeling on the return, I would be paying dearly for a few extra kilos. After all my years flying with bikes and all the other crap needed to keep your sanity away from home, I have never paid a single cent on excess weight. Most of the time I am pretty consistent, always more than double the allotted weight, as well as oversize (the bike) bags (they really love that one). So here are a few random ideas for (here comes the jinx) you poor suckers that always pay, or have paid so you may never have to pay to take your baby away with you again.

A) Always check in super early, as soon as they open the desk (they are then not so grumpy with all the punters trying to get away without paying).
B) Pick the nicest looking person you can out of the options in front of you. Sorry you PCites out there, but the cutest looking Female, or the Gayest looking male is perfect (talk to them like you are trying to hit on them, don’t stop with the compliments or the conversation as then they may concentrate on the huge numbers flashing on the scales).
C) Apologise profusely before your stuff gets to the scale, admitting to your knowledge of your obese luggage is the first step to refusing to pay for it. The good old, ‘really, I’m overweight?? I would not ever have guessed it’ does not work that often.
D) “Yes it’s bike in there, I made it as small as could for the baggage handlers, their jobs are hard enough as it is without making it worse for them” is a good line to use if you think it’s not going too well.
D2) Unless of course they have a set charge for bikes, then it’s a 1) wheelchair prototype for third world countries (I’ve been looking for funding to supply them free worldwide), 2) some parts, a wheel or two and some bits, but you couldn’t ride it (I wouldn’t let them for a start), 3) A HPV (human powered vehicle) you want to look? 4) I just won the science prize for human powered playstation game for fat kids, wanna go, but you probably don’t need to as you look perfect (see B above).
E) Make sure you put most of your clothes etc in the bike bag, stuff it as full as you can so as to make your other conventional bag look anorexic. “I left most of my clothes at home as the bike is more important to me than looking good” is the perfect backup line here.
F) At this stage you should be getting the idea of what you might be in for, with lines like “there will be a small charge for the excess baggage” you can counteract these with “hang on there’s a few presents for my family that they don’t really need, hang on I will fish them out, maybe you can use them for your boyfriend (use this on both sexes, see B above), saves me throwing them out”.
G) If by now, things are looking bad, pull the old “it’s so refreshing to deal with such a professional airline for a change, I will never change”, will help a bit here.
H) If they insist on you still paying, ask to see the manager, as you were assured there was only an extra $25 charge for the bike, that’s why you choose them over all the other airlines. Lucky all you own is in there, and not your other bag, what a score.
I) Talk this point as long as you can, as the line behind you is getting out of control, for the sake of a few hundred bucks being paid they have to deal with irate punters who have stood in line longer because you have been discussing in length why you don’t want to pay.
J) If all this fails, turn around to the other passengers waiting and ask loudly if anyone with underweight bags and can take some stuff on for ya. They really love this one.
k) My wallet was just stolen, I was too busy looking after my ticket and passport my next stop is security, can you point me in the right direction, maybe then I can pay (look of stress on face helps).

There are many more good examples of the perfect line, and I am sure you can add a few good ones yourself (use comments below). The way I think of it is, there is many other people on the flight that can subsidise my bike, (kind of like carbon credits for nations). What we really need is a total weight for the bags and the person who owns the bags. I am constantly getting seated next to people who, for sure would be only be able to fly with a bag big enough to carry a peanut if the total weight counted. Another line springs to mind “I may have 20kg extra baggage, but see that guy in line, he has an extra 50kgs on his ass, you gunna charge him extra as well”.

Knowing my luck, this next flight will be the one where all my charm, wit, conversation and downright underhandedness will cost me dearly. I can’t wait to see.

Photo page of nothing really just a little bit of Holland here.

1 comment:

Redwoods said...

Yo, be good to see you back in NZ b4 xmas. Your airline baggage stories just get better and better. I thought we were stuffed in Amsterdam when they nailed you and CJ for the bikes...."Look, I have no money to pay you with! We are leaving to go home" And then I get upgraded to Busineess class -what's with that? Rick