Biking in Amsterdam

I’m working on a theory that the Dutch, after many generations, have developed bone and muscle tissue so dense it is of super-human toughness right around their pubic area. I say this because after three straight days of biking, sitting down was an activity that had to be handled with extreme caution.

Somehow the common knowledge that biking is huge in Holland eluded me. I was not aware of this until I stepped out into the city for the first time and saw it. By the second day, I stopped even noticing all the 6-foot blonde Dutch women in sunglasses, casually holding onto their bike with one hand while texting with the other. I suspect this is the biggest reason it’s so much quieter here.

Everywhere you look, there is a huge pile of bicycles.

It would have been a crime to not get around by bike a little while here, and the program had covered rental fees for the Bicycle Hotel’s selection of bikes. We all got matching yellow bikes, which was as cute as it was a giant sign that we were tourists. Ultimately we didn’t mind because it made each other much easier to spot. None of our bikes had multiple gears, but this didn’t matter because hills don’t seem to exist here.

Since I have no plans to bike more and didn’t die already, I guess I’ll also publicly admit that I did not wear a helmet (sorry mom!). I wasn’t given one when I rented the bike, and of the thousands of bikers I had been seeing everyday, none wore a helmet. I could have easily gotten one, but the abundance of bike lanes seemed to make things pretty safe. And besides, when in Rome…

My first ride was from the Bicycle Hotel to the big public city library in Amsterdam, which was about a 20 minute ride. I guess it wouldn’t have been so memorable if it wasn’t so intense. Because there are so many people around going everywhere, riding through the city is very stop and go, which happens to be the most difficult part. Overall, the ride went smoothly, but there were a few instances of people being cut off, or not-too-near collisions.

We went on a much longer bike ride to Ouderkerk, but that was outside of the city. It was a beautiful ride so I tried to capture some footage while I was riding. Take a look:

Of course, we couldn’t get through the woods without one incident. I was just hanging out in the lobby of the Bicycle when Dominic walked in with a great deal of gauze and bandages on his elbow and informed us that he had hit the curb hard and had a bad fall. His bike was a little damaged, and he didn’t feel like riding much after that. On a brighter note, he broke his personal record for longest pavement skid.

Unfortunately, our bike setup here in Rotterdam isn’t nearly as convenient as it was in Amsterdam. It seems the best option is to buy a bike and sell it back at a loss when you’re done. I don’t feel like dealing with the complexity of that, so I’ll be sticking to the metro and good old fashioned walking for the remainder of my trip.


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