Bicycle = Fiets

I think a lot of people, who are not from the Netherlands, do not understand nor can they comprehend how much feelings we have towards bicycles. 
I would have never in my life thought I was going to be the one writing about how much I miss having a bicycle and cycling in general. So let me just start at the beginning.

Growing up, one of your biggest achievements as a Dutchy is learning how to ride a bike. It’s a whole ordeal. But before you can actually ride a bike, or you are to little to actually go somewhere with your bike, your mom will have found a child seat, and if you have siblings, that is no problemo!

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Dutch mom with 3 kids on bike {Picture: frankrijk.blog.nl

Literally every Dutch kid will start with a tiny cute bike including side support wheels attached to it, for girls there is pink ones, for boys they are blue or red. Your family will be so excited and it makes you so proud, because you also want to cycle, like everyone does!

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Our prime minister on a bike with side wheels, just for lolz. {Picture:  Dumpert.nl}

Once you got the hang of this, they will eventually detach your support and you are on your own. It is scary and it comes paired with a lot of falling and getting back up, but you will get there, and then you can practice riding longer distances.

Eventually when you are about 4/5 years old, you and your mom or/and dad will all cycle to school every morning and back home after school or maybe you have lunch at home and they will pick you up for lunch too. Cycling is so much fun! All the kids cycle to school, and it’s so much fun when you meet other kids from your class along the way. You get cool bells to go on your bike, and little beads to put around your spokes so that they make a nice sound when you cycle. You even get a little basket on your bike so that when you and mom go grocery shopping you can help transport the groceries home.

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Little girls bicycle, including the little beads. {Picture: marktplaats.nl}

Eventually when you are around 9 years old you would be able to cycle to school by yourself with your friends. I always waited on the corner of our block for my friends so that we could all cycle to school together. There are special bike lanes so traffic really is safe, bicycle riders have their own traffic lights and signs, and remember those moms and dads that bring their kids to school? Well they are still out there, they may not be your parents, but other parents will still keep an eye out for the older kids.

In school you also have to get your “Bicycle Exam”. It’s a little test that teaches you all the road signs and basic safety rules for riding your bicycle. We did it in the form of a “fox hunt”  where there would be parents along the road that you were cycling in funny outfits and they would give you stickers or a drink or snack and tell you where you had to go next. It was a lot of fun!

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Cycling to school. {Picture: flythekite.eu}

When you go to the next school, at the age of around 11/12, you will still cycle to school, but this school is usually a little bit further away and a lot bigger. It’s scary finding a spot for your bike and hoping you remember where you put it sometimes, but it usually all works out. At this point I had a “Grandma bike” {Oma fiets} and I {The filthy gothic that I was} spray painted it bright green and red, with tons of Vans stickers on it. I used to put Cradle of Filth in my walkman, and just cycle the %$^ out of myself. I was at school within 10 minutes though!

Also when I ran a little late, I just deflated my tires and told the janitor that I had flat tires and had to walk.. It worked 2 times, and then they caught onto me.

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Grandma bike / Oma fiets. {Picture: bicyclerepairmen.nl}

At this point I also went “shopping” with my friends after school, and we always had to put our bikes into the bike garage when you enter the city center to go further by foot.
As you can imagine, since everyone’s primarily transport is bicycles, there is a lot of bikes getting stolen, and resold by some junkies in the park for 5 Euros.
The bike garage was one of my favorite things, I was so fascinated by it. I have no idea why but I just was.

Later on in life, I took my bike to the city center over my car for a whole other reason: Getting drunk! Drunk cycling is the best, and the worst at the same time. I think the best times about going out to the bars of Breda must have been the times me and my friends rode our bikes home trying to ride them in a straight line and all ending up on the ground or in the bushes. Great times! haha.

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Bicycle garage / Fietsenstalling, Utrecht.

Cycling a lot, means also going everywhere when it rains, when it snows, when the wind almost knocks you off your bike. Living in a country where it rains like 90% of the time, it wasn’t always fun. Actually, I hated it so much when I was a teenager. But then again, I hated everything when I was a teenager. 😉 I wish, looking back, that I would have appreciated it more.

When I was 18 I got a scooter for my graduation present, and I gave up on cycling until I was 21, then I bought a new bike to have along side my car. It is difficult to find parking spaces or going anywhere with a car sometimes, so having a bike really came in handy, plus it is so much cheaper.
I’m glad I got to enjoy riding a bike a little more before I moved here. Now it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve ridden a bike, and I miss it so much.
I want to get a bike, with a little child seat so that me and Delilah can go out on bike rides together. I want her to grow up riding bikes, so I am so happy my mom and ‘dad’ bought her a little tricycle for her birthday. I plan on riding her to school on the bike when it’s nice weather and I hope she is going to like it. I hope the roads here also allow it. We don’t live in a crazy town, but some roads are a little scary.

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My daughter on her tricycle.

All and all, cycling to me comes paired with so many emotions. I hated it so much, I loved it at the same time, but now, I mostly miss it.

I can’t wait to cycle again, but this time only when the weather allows it!

Thank you for reading! I hope you liked it.
I also hope I could shine some light on these crazy Dutch people and their obsessions with bikes.

I would love to hear your opinions or comments about this story, don’t be afraid to comment on this post!

xxx Anouschka

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Bicycle = Fiets

  1. Hiiiii, never thought about it the way it went for you. And now you miss it. Yes it is a very Dutch habit. You only miss it when it is difficult to do it in your country. I hope you will enjoy the feeling of cycling in Pensylvania:…. Lots of hills thow…….

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  2. Leuke blog! Ik snap heel goed dat je het fietsen mist. Dat gaat meteen als het niet meer zo vanzelfsprekend wordt om even de fiets te pakken. Of, zoals vaak in Amerika, dat het gewoon niet eens altijd veilig of mogelijk. Ik was eens in Orlando en moest naar de supermarkt aan de overkant van de weg. Het was gewoon het veiligst om de auto te pakken. Zelfs lopen was niet handig! En daar baal ik dan van, omdat het belachelijk is om voor de overkant van de weg in een auto te moeten stappen. En toen ik om de wereld reisde, mistte ik het heel erg. Dus ik snap je punt zeker.

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    1. Ja precies!! Hier is dat ook op sommige stukken dat je echt de auto moet pakken om veilig naar de overkant te kunnen komen. Eigenlijk gewoon belachelijk. Ook bijvoorbeeld als een winkel 4 winkels verderop is pakken mensen vaak de auto om die ervoor te kunnen parkeren. Ik wandel liever. Haha. Het is waarschijnlijk ook meer de gewoonte die ik mis inderdaad. Hopenlijk dit jaar kan ik een fiets scoren 🙂

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