Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holland is Bike Crazy!

If you have never been to Holland you would not believe how much people there bike! We drove up from Germany about 5 hours to visit my cousins who live near Utrecht which is about 40 km from Amsterdam. When we got there my uncle took us on a walk in downtown and there were people on bikes everywhere. People carry babies and dogs in baskets on the bikes. Young, old, rich or poor everyone rides bikes there. They do a lot of their shopping and short trips on bikes. Holland is a bike transportation advocates dream. In the country side they have side roads next to the other roads especially for bikes. They have their own stop lights and everything. My sister and I went to the local bar with my 19 year old cousin and we rode bikes. There must have been over 100 bikes outside the bar!!! You wouldn’t believe it. Also in Holland and a lot of Europe the drinking age is 16 and as it turns out the bar we went too was full of kids in high school!! I never thought at 21 I would be the oldest customer at a bar but I am pretty sure I was at this one. It was very fun though. The Dutch almost all speak English well and are very friendly and outgoing especially compared to the Germans who tend to be quiet and don’t usually talk to people they don’t know. My dad has 4 cousins who live in Holland and we visited all of them and their kids. We went to the sea one day too and saw a bunch of people biking on the sand on mountain bikes. There were an amazing number of people out walking on the beach for the fact that it was just above freezing. When you go to Holland it is easy to see why they are skinny and we are fat even though their diet isn’t much different from our own except they eat fattier meats and more cheese!!
Sunday we went to was the International Veldrijden (cyclocross in Dutch). It was great we saw Bart Wellens, Richard Groendaal, Thisj Al, Ben Berden and many of my other cyclocross heros duke it out. It was a nice course and it had a bunch of twisty single track in it too. Lots of people came out to watch but they don’t really cheer very much. I felt kind of dumb clapping for everyone and yelling things at even a few of the racers. I think each person there usually only cheers for one person and many of them are in fan clubs for the racers complete with custom jackets. We ate French fries and Mayo at the race too which is a Euro favorite. This was definitely the best organized cyclocross I have ever seen they had specific crossings for the course with volunteers working at each one.

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