Back in Brabant (The Netherlands)

An hour or two after we board our flight in Krakow we are back in Holland. It’s still strange to me that you can change countries so easily. In Australia you can be in the same country after a five hour flight but here in Europe counties and cultures change much more quickly.

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Our first stop is Roll-On Mobility because my Duet wheelchair bike is ready for me. The guys have done an amazing job building my ride. They’ve installed an 8-speed rear cassette with larger teeth than the base model comes with because they recognise that Australia isn’t flat like Holland is. They have also programmed the e-system to have a downhill assist where the e-system slows the bike to save me burning my brakes out. And the bike also has a rear pedal brake to assist with downhills so that I don’t have to rely on the brake that operates only on the front wheelchair. The hand brake works well in relatively flat terrain but downhills are another story. They have also installed extra connectors in the e-system cabling so that if something fails I can replace components without having to rewire the whole system. Then there’s all the extra touches like showing me how to remove the wheels (it’s not quick release), throwing in spare brake cables and a few of the tools I need to remove the wheels, making sure I had original documentation for the Heinzman system to make import into Australia easier and, importantly, they are packaging the bike for me so that it will meet the check baggage requirements of Etihad for my flight home (the excess baggage will only cost me $US140 and I can then control my bike’s import into Australia at customs in Sydney – hopefully that’s just a matter of showing the documents and paying the relevant import duty).

How does the bike ride? It’s magic both as a the rider and passenger. It rolls smoothly and the extra cogs on the rear sprocket will save me relying on the e-system except for uphills. As a passenger it feels like you are riding. The seat is comfortable and stable. But most importantly, you can feel the wind in your face.

We return to my uncle and aunt’s house nearby. My uncle has been a total champion helping me with the bike. He negotiated most of the extras, waited patiently for hours at the shop while we organised everything and picked us up from the airport. We had a hotel booked in Delft but it will be too late to get there by the time we’ve made arrangements at the mobility shop so we stay with my uncle and aunt. The night passes jovially with dinner and talking.

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