Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Oldest Bike Shop in the World

Rinia Fietsen boasts a long history. The shop has been in the same family for five generations since 1893. They have been in the current location since 1905, in Makkum, The Netherlands. Lucky Ramona and Joshua.

We tend to wander into bike shops wherever we are, and sometimes we even need things. During our day in port with the Maybe, we wandered into this shop and got things we needed and things we didn't even know we needed.

My rain jacket was toast. During the week or so that we were in Amsterdam, the sleeves had started to, literally, rot. Tiny dots of mold were appearing at the cuffs of the sleeves and along the bottom hem, and the rubbery coating was cracking. Time for a new one, apparently that one wasn't built to withstand the kinds of days, weeks, I put it through. So I got a fancy, breathable, long enough for cyclists with little tightening thingies wherever you might need them type of jacket here. They also had rain covers for your shoes, which you'll see later on. 

But besides spending a bunch of money here, we met the owners and chatted bicycle stories with them. We told them about the Bicycle Kitchen and the labor of love that it was for us for quite a while. And unlike many mechanics we've interacted with along the way, they didn't have to suppress a cringe when we said we were mechanics. In fact, as soon as we said it it was like we were part of the family, their family being that of bicycle mechanics - clearly we are of the same tribe. They were excited for our trip, and we showed them the blog of course. 

And then they gave us a discount on all that fancy stuff we bought! So nice! They join our friends at Orange20 in LA and Cranky's Bikes in Santa Barbara as trip sponsors, in that way.

We learned a lot about cycling in the Netherlands.  The reason bicycles dominate the Netherlands is because until the 1980s the economy was such that no one could afford cars so the transportation infrastructure was built around bicycles.  We also had an introduction to electric bicycle mechanics.  It turns out that those electric bikes can be plugged into the computer. Can you imagine? Take your bike to the shop so they can plug it in and adjust the electric assist? Unreal. They each have an individual program that makes it so the rider doesn't even notice the help they're getting. We haven't mentioned it before, but we were passed going uphill by greying grandpas and grandmas carrying groceries often enough to recognize the electric assist bicycle. We experienced them in Germany, too. 

We also saw a lot of lovely things that you can really only buy in the Netherlands in great variety. Below you see an array of child seats, and the kind of windscreen that Joshua likes the best.

I like this seat and windscreen combo, available in many colors and patterns:

And the slaaprol. For babies who fall asleep on their faces.

A nifty piece of bicycle history, that Rinia Fietsen, something we might not have found if we'd gone looking for it and people who gave us a bicycle blessing before we were on our way again. Thank you!


Rudolf von Waldenfels said...

We met your mom last night. She came to visit us with Erdmuthe.

Hope you guys are enjoying your trip. Fifteen years ago I did something similar with my wife. We cycled from Germany to India. It was certainly the trip of a lifetime..

If you happen to come south again, do drop by!

Rudolf (von Waldenfels)

Peter said...

Do you remember if Rinia Fietsen built bicycles as well, or just sold them? I'm looking for specialized shops around the world that have been in business for over a 100 years, and am interested in doing a segment on this shop.

marks moody said...

Do you mean assemble or actually building frames? They certainly have the know-how to assemble custom bicycles but I don't think they're making wheels and frames at this point. Perhaps in the past. I do recommend getting in touch with them directly, either way it will be interesting... Thanks!