Getting the Christmas Tree Home via Bike: 2018 Edition

Transporting home our Christmas tree has become an annual tradition of ours since moving to Europe. And this year we continued it after our move from Paris to Amsterdam. Except, you know…a bigger bike equals a bigger tree. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

In case you’ve missed previous years, you can find them all here (click on a picture to go to that year):

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The tradition is simple though – pick out a tree, stick it in a bike, and peddle home. Albeit, usually with a few photos along the way, and often a bit more of a scenic route than the most direct one (in Paris, the one-way streets ended up necessitating a more circuitous route than is necessary in the hyper-bike friendly Amsterdam).

First though, picking out the tree! We headed down to a tree/flower vendor maybe 1KM away. Not too far, the 2nd closest one, since the one directly across the street from our front door wasn’t open that night.

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Unlike picking out trees in America where you have like 98 choices per size of tree and it takes you four hours to choose a tree, the number of trees available in our desired size were roughly three. So, the process was quick.  Though, not quick enough for the kiddos waiting in ‘the minivan’, so they had a snack:

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Meanwhile, our appointed lumberjack helped us narrow it down from three trees to one tree.

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At which point it was time to pay and then stuff the tree into the ‘bucket’. The bucket being our cargo bike. Of course, there were already two small Peanuts in there. Lucy, the dog, didn’t get to partake on this adventure. Mostly because she would have likely tried to jump-ship mid-way through.

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I don’t think either child was terribly clear on why they had to share their bucket with the giant piece of timber. Which is a fair assertation.

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And with that, off we went. In theory, we could have taken a direct route up the street…but what’s the fun in that? After all, these kids wanted an adventure – even if they didn’t know it.

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We headed over to Vondelpark for a short stint there, but turns out that was waaaaay too dark for photos.  In fact, even the most brightly lit spots near us required significant help brightening the photos. I suppose Amsterdam isn’t exactly called the City of Lights.

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It’s most fun at a red light in front of a dozen other cyclists. As always, it’s a bit of a drag race, but frankly, nobody wants to be in front of a Christmas tree anyway. One wrong move on their part and they’ll find themselves the angel atop our tree.

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Thankfully Amsterdam is a relatively flat city – and by ‘relatively flat’, I mean ‘totally flat’. However, the little canal crossings can be a beast if you’re not in the right gear upon a 90 degree turn into them. While I’m well practiced with most of the bridges near us, adding a 2 meter Christmas tree out the bow does require additional consideration.

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The other consideration is providing a bit more clearance on turns. Having ‘driven’ this bike now for about 8 months, I’m pretty good at accounting for the elongated front end. But this puts a whole new spin on it. Thankfully the bike lanes make this super easy here, and they’re everywhere.  Except when someone decides to park their car in a lane and go to the bank machine. At least it made for a pretty photo.

Plus, it was a heck of a lot easier than holding a tree in the basket of the Velib bike where I couldn’t really see what was in front of me anyway.

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And as for the kids? After they got acquainted with their new friend, they were having a blast and singing songs the entire time (even if their noses were a wee bit chilly that night).

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Once we unloaded the kiddos and the bike we got the tree all set up and ready for Santa.

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While we have a wide assortment of swim/bike/run related ornaments, and even a windmill one, we definitely need to find ourselves a cargo bike one.

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Oh, and of course I recorded the ride. If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

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With that – we hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and thanks for reading!

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10 Comments

  1. Niels Thijssen

    Great story and what a beautiful photo’s of the Peanuts sharing a ride with the Christmas tree! Merry Christmas!!

  2. Andrea

    Merry Christmas for you and your family’s.

  3. Pascal Bocherel

    Ray & girls
    Nice pictures of Paris during Xmas time and great stories riding with each year tree. No doubt that 2018 is best one with your children onboard this well thought cargo bike. Merry Christmas to all!

  4. MattB

    Happy Christmas Ray & Bobbie, Peanuts, and Lucy!

  5. Azryder

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. Love your posts and The Girl’s emails each week. Thank you both for all you do. I am very excited to see you at the Sea Otter Classic and hope to be able to say hello and thanks in person.

  6. Gonzalo

    Feliz Navidad

  7. kevan

    Impressive. Perhaps next year you could step it up a notch and include some tree lights. Happy Christmas and thanks for the many helpful reviews and articles over the year.

  8. Tim Grose

    Very good! I am struggling to see how you took the pics of you riding. Glamorous assistant or place camera on time delay and hope nobody nicks it in the interim?