Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet Cleo, my new Stålhästen

Y'all, I did something I've been thinking about doing for a while, but never could in NYC.
(And no, sadly it's not getting a dog).

But! I got a horse! A "steel horse", that is. More specifically, a white ladies Stålhästen with cognac-colored leather details. Isn't she beautiful? Her name is Cleo and we're already best friends.

Cleo, my new white Stålhästen bike  |  Meet Cleo on afeathery*nest  |
Growing up I had a shiny turquoise bike for neighborhood romps to friend's houses or to the pool or library, but I've never had a bike as an adult, much less ridden one on city streets. I never even considered it in New York. Jay-walking with abandon is one thing...trusting American drivers to be aware of non-drivers alongside them and sharing their road is another thing entirely.

All that changed last week when I saw a beautiful Stålhästen on the street and decided I had to have one. We had been talking about getting bikes anyway, since Stockholm has such a great bike culture, there are tons of green spaces and bike paths that actually function to get you from point A to point B, I like moving around on my own (as you know), and public transit (while pretty and clean) is pretty expensive, so an alternative isn't a bad idea.

So, we took an hour-long walk from home to Södermalm last week, where Stålhästen, "a Swedish bicycle company offering elegant bicycles for an affordable price" has a summer pop-up store. Perfect description, no? In fact, when I saw my first one on the street and looked it up online I was shocked at just how affordable it was. I completely expected some absurd price, but while we went just to look, for a (very) few hundred dollars, I came home with a new bike and accessories (front and back rack, lights, locks, helmet, etc.). The only thing I'm on the lookout for now is a wooden crate for the front and leather panniers for the back. I can make do for without either at the moment, so I'm waiting until I find exactly what I have in mind before buying.

Since coming home with her just a few days ago we've already done quite a lot together, most impressively (to myself, having never ridden a bike on a marked road before) a round-trip 13km (8 mile) city-street ride to Djurgården to meet a new friend (more on that soon!) for a walk and lunch in a rose garden.

From Hammabry Sjöstad to Södermalm by white Stålhästen bike  |  Meet Cleo on afeathery*nest  |
Stadsgårdsleden on Södermlam by white Stålhästen bike  |  Meet Cleo on afeathery*nest  |
View of Strändvägen by white Stålhästen bike  |  Meet Cleo on afeathery*nest  |
There were bike paths the entire way there and I only had a minor freakout when I was on a bridge from one island to another and my lane ended for a few feet at the same time a hop-on hop-off bus pulled up next to me. I braked and skittered about for a second, but then all was okay. Apart from that, a very sore rear end from being a little too enthusiastic the first few days, and a bruise on my calf when I smacked a pedal into myself while walking her out of the park, we've been doing okay so far.

I never realized what a rush and a sense of freedom you have riding a bike for both pleasure and efficiency. I can pop over to the bigger (more economical) grocery store in 9 minutes, can take much more scenic routes to go to school or visit my mother-in-law (I would get there in about the same time by tram and subway), and just meander about on my own strength but with the ability to carry much more with me than I would by foot.

Plus, once R got a look at Cleo(patra), his desire for a bike ramped up and within two days he had found his new bike, appropriately named Caesar.

One year ago: Me, then, again


  1. Congrats! Watch out for American tourists on the bike paths. Crazy Americans.

    1. Thanks, Joel! And yes, seriously! Now that I'm officially a cycling European lady, have become one of those people thoroughly annoyed with Americans that can't stick to their pedestrian lane! :)


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