Monday, March 23, 2009

How to legally buy a cheap bike in Groningen

*Updated the dates for 2016, unfortunately the next one is not until the 7th of February*

Having a bike in Groningen is essential. You don't really want to do too much driving by car in the city centre, the buses are overcrowded and bikes are fairly cheap.

The problem is, I live 10-15 minutes away from the city centre which means I make alot of miles, which in turn means my bike suffers. My last bike set me back about 70€ and at the end of februari (I bought it 2nd hand a year ago) my right brake, my gears, the chain and more random stuff were broken. And a month earlier I had my tire fixed for 13€. After the damage mentioned above, my bike just wasn't worth repairing.

So I had to get a new one..
Getting one cheap in Groningen leaves you with a couple of options:
1) talking to the first junkie you see offering a bike for 5-10€ (which will be stolen of course)
2) stealing one yourself
3) buying second (or third/fourth whatever) hand from a store
4) Going to the depot which sells bikes at a very good discount every first friday of the month.

1 and 2 are just plain stealing and me being oh so holy just won't make this step because it's really irritating if its your bike that get's stolen next time (and next to that the police are checking better lately which leaves you with a fine of 350€ and a criminal record!).

3: did this last time, set me back 70€, not cheap enough.
4: bikes which are left around in the city in the wrong places (outside parking zones in certain parts of the city, bikes get collected by cityworkers) or which are collected because they're wreckages get a fix up and are sold once a month for really good prices!

So if you want to buy a góod bike for a cheap price this is how it works:
It's half past 6 in the morning, it rains, it's cold and the people travelling through the city are grumpy. You take a place in the fastly growing row of bike-less people. An hour later you get to draw a number (first come first served). There were around 45 bikes this time and they gave numbers to around 60 people in case some people didn't want to buy the bikes that were left (not liking the bikes or those that were left might be more expensive than what someone wants to spend).

At 8.45 am the first couple (7 in our case of which me and my brother were 2) of people were let in to choose a bike. I think prices started at around 20-25€. I got a bike for 35€ which had: good brakes, working lights and 7 gears! Mind you, they also had bikes in categories around 180€ but those were really really good, you won't be able to buy a 2nd hand bike in a store of that quality in any store.

The dates for the sale in 2016 are:

5 and 19 February;
4 and 18 March;
1,  15 and 29th of April;
13 and 27 May
10 and 24 June
8 July
26 August
9 en 23 September
7 and 21 October
4 and 18 November
2 and 16 December

Dates should be updated regulary here.

If you're buying one via other ways (e.g. the For sale in Groningen facebook page: or you might want to ask for the framenumber and check if it's stolen on
Unfortanely, the sites (dates and stopheling) are in Dutch, but it shouldn't be to big of a problem, otherwise ask :).

Another tip if you live in or close to the Vinkhuizen neighbourhood:
call this guy:
Great service and your bike gets fixed way faster then practically anywhere else for a decent price.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

push-& sit-up challenge

Ok so this wasn't the planned update but I hope to make decent updates soon.
In the meanwhile Lee got me started doing bóth the push-up ánd the sit-up challenge and I'm also running before each of those tasks.

Why not do just one thing? Because first of all I don't have enough patience and second of all there's this test called the
apft test(army physical fitness test) which is about running 2 miles (3,2km), x number of sit-ups and x number of push-ups. There's a minimum you have to score within the age group you fit in.
In my case, I have to run 2 miles in 16,36min, do 50 sit-ups and 40 push-ups to be qualified as an active duty soldier. I'm not going to enlist, but I do want to get to this fitness level.

I started this week with a 1,5km run, week 3 (of 6) for the sit-ups and week 1 (of 6) for push-ups. The distance because I haven't run a decent distance for a while and I want to build it up gradually. The sit-ups, because my base was enough to start in week 3 and my push-up base was week 1. I was a bit disappointed by the latter, but I guess the running and sitting up was hard enough.

The separate challenges should only take you 10 minutes a day on 3 days a week, I suggest you do it before hitting the showers, or you can go at it again. In my case, it takes me about 30 minutes a day, but that's the cost of wanting to do everything.

The strength of these training schedule's is that even when you're not that fit, you should be able to be much and much and múch fitter after 6 weeks without going over the top. Now have a go at it (either one or if you're an idiot like me, all).