Although Lund is an idyllic and charming Scandinavian city, until a few days ago I was totally unable to appreciate the niceness of the place due to the lack of a bicycle. Without a bike here you are a third-class citizen, having to use your sluggish human legs to slowly plod around the pavements whilst all the locals whizz past you on bikes. It’s a bit like the Tour de France, but without all the performance-enhancing drugs.
Getting a bike, therefore, was a top priority. However, the prices of second-hand bikes are extortionate during the arrival period of international students. The naivety of newly arrived international students in regards to the fair cost of a second-hand bicycle is mercilessly exploited by greedy bell-ends in a festival of price gouging.
I therefore decided to bite the bullet and purchase a shiny new bike. This turned out to be a very painful decision indeed. Firstly, I had to walk 40 minutes with my slowly plodding legs to an industrial park in the south of the city. The shop I went to was at the end of what I think is the most boring street I’ve ever walked down, it was so boring that I took a picture of it. I’m considering sending this photo to psychologists who deal with hyper-active kids; I’m sure that just a few minutes of looking at this scene is enough to bore even the most noisy and energetic children into a comatose like state. In fact just looking at the picture now is bringing back vivid memories of standing on that terribly ugly street thinking something along the lines of “The horror, the horror!”.
After slowly trudging down this dreadful road the Biltema store came into view in the gloomy distance. Once inside I enquired where I could buy a an assembled bike. The shop-assistant gave me an incredibly scornful look and pointed to a very large box; “They come like that, or it’s 250 SEK to get them assembled here”. I went over and picked it up- it was incredibly heavy and awkwardly large. “Oh it’s not too heavy” I said to the shop-assistant, smiling meekly. Although I was lying, at least I can now sleep with the comforting knowledge that a middle aged Biltema employee thinks I can carry heavy boxes with relative ease.
Even by the time I had reached the tills in the shop, I was sweating profusely and my arms were beginning to protest at this incipient arduous task by sending out strong feelings of pain to my brain. When I reached the edge of the Biltema car park they felt like they were about to fall off. I then had to walk back down the world’s most boring street, this time with rain. The street looked even more dour than before. It took me 50 minutes to carry the box around 400 metres. After every 50 metres of waddling along with the monstrous piece of cardboard, I would pause for around 5 minutes to despair at my life choices and wait until my arms stopped feeling numb. As the rainfall increased and the pain in my arms became chronic, I realised what Jesus must have felt like when he was nailed to the cross; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”.
Apparently, the man sitting in the clouds recognised my plight and sent one of Sweden’s exorbitantly expensive taxis to the petrol station that I was crucified next to. Apparently the Lord doth expect payment if he has to help a lowly agnostic out. Begrudgingly I wondered over and asked if he could transport me, my arms (which had fallen off by now) and a gigantic soaking wet box. He agreed and drove me the rest of the way back (<3 minutes), which came to 100SEK (~£8). I thanked him (although I really do think taxi drivers here should thank their passengers and the vast sums of money they pay), dragged the box to my house and then set about assembling the foul beast. This took me around 3 hours complete. However, upon completion I realised that the bike wasn’t really finished, as I had made some major errors during the bikes assembly. I fetched my German housemate to help. It took him about 30 minutes to undo what I had done and then do what was actually required. Finally, the bike was finished (apart from the fact that the tyres were flat; I then spent two hours wandering around town (in the rain) looking for a pump which would fit a schrader valve)). Fun times.