September 8, 2014

Bicycle mall in Nijmegen

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 5:27 pm

What do you get when you put several bicycle related companies in one spot? Bigger profits, financial news site Z24 argues.

Earlier this year the Fiets Centrum Nijmegen opened in the old Honig factory (soups, sauces, owned by Heinz), located just outside the city centre behind the central railway station. The shopping centre houses a racing bike store, a design bike store, a recumbent bike store, a bicycle themed gift shop, a bicycle rental, and a coffee house.

Hans van Vugt of Elan Ligfietsen (recumbents) told Z24: “I believe our turnover this year will be 15% to 20% higher than last year’s, and that is without any additional advertising and despite the fact that the demand for incumbents has stayed the same.” He believes the strength of the bicycle mall is that all kinds of related yet non-competing stores can be found in a single place.

Gerard Poels of attended the opening on 10 May 2014 and liked what he saw. “A feast for the bicycle lover”, he called it. He also noted though that the mall could do more to brand itself. “Currently the outside of the building only shows the logos of the individual companies. I believe that is rather unfortunate.”

See also: It almost never rains in the Netherlands

Tags: , , ,

September 7, 2014

Pink refuge islands will keep their colour, Wijchen says

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 2:05 pm


Last week bright pink refuge islands started popping up on Havenweg in the town of Wijchen near Nijmegen.

According to Volkskrant, the civil servant responsible for ordering the paint used the wrong colour code (it should have been a dark red) and the painters never questioned the result, so now Wijchen has its own ‘world famous’ refuge islands.

Realising their mistake, the municipality wanted to have the pink islands painted over but citizens liked the effect, so the striking colour stays. Deputy Mayor Paul Loermans said about the mistakes: “To err is human. Apart from getting the colour wrong, the painters actually did a neat job.”

Omroep Gelderland suspected a marketing stunt because a bike race for women will be passing through Wijchen next week, but everybody involved denies the allegations vehemently. “A lucky mistake”, both the organizers of the race and the municipality told the broadcaster.

This shade of pink is sometimes called ‘zuurstokroze’ in Dutch, ‘candy cane pink’.

(Photo: reconstruction via Google Street View)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

March 30, 2012

Paralysed athlete could walk after all

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 2:49 pm

Last year Monique van der Vorst became an international example of what perseverance can do. Paraplegia cost her the use of her legs at age 13 (or so we reported, and everybody else), but she fought hard and won medals at the 2008 Paralympics in cycling events. Then a car accident allegedly gave her back the use of her legs, and Rabobank hired her for their regular bicycle racing team.

After reporting on Van der Vorst, daily newspaper De Pers was inundated with letters from doctors and handicapped athletes. People asked if the paper believed in fairy tales. Witnesses reported that they had seen Van der Vorst walk after races, stowing away her wheelchair by herself in her car, or showering while standing. Doctors said that she should not be able to control a hand bike if she had paraplegia, because the handicap would also disturb her balance.

De Pers’ reporter Thijs Zonneveld (himself a former professional bicycle racer, and the initiator of the Dutch mountain) asked Van der Vorst what the deal was:

I have only realised myself since yesterday what is going on, when I started digging through my personal archive. […]

Nobody understood me. Doctors diagnosed me with incomplete paraplegia, without explaining what they meant. Others treated me like I was crazy. I really did have some sort of paralysis. Not because of problems in my spine, but because of the way my brain controlled my body. My current physician compares it to a car. My engine wasn’t broken, but I had forgotten how to drive. Sometimes the paralysis would be gone, and then I could stand for a while, or walk, but never for long. […]

I did not lie, but I never found the right words.

The professional racer attributes her mentally induced paralysis to a trauma caused by a difficult birth and the accidents she was in.

Zonneveld concludes: “Maybe we the press should have asked better questions. Van der Vorst gave hundreds of interviews, but nobody managed to unearth the truth. That was her fault, but also our own. We turned her story into a fairy tale. But Monique van der Vorst is no miracle. She is a human being with her own story that is perhaps more complex than we all wanted to believe.”

De Pers probably won’t give Zonneveld another chance to add to that story because the free daily will quit after today. In the past five years it has failed to make a regular profit, and the publisher is no longer willing to operate at a loss.

NOS Nieuws reports that the Rabobank team is still looking into what to do about its recent hire: “We gave her a contract to give her a chance as a professional bicycle racer, and we gave her that contract on the basis of her performances, not because of her history.”

In 2007 Rabobank fired its Tour de France race leader Michael Rasmussen on the spot over unproven doping allegations. The Dane successfully took the bank to court and won 700,000 euro in damages for unlawful dismissal.

Tags: , , , ,

December 5, 2011

Paralysed bicycle racer gets in accident, regains use of her legs

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 12:27 am

Monique van der Vorst (27) from Gouda was offered a contract with the Rabobank women’s bicycle racing team two weeks ago. The news was remarkable because in 1998 Van der Vorst had lost the use of her legs at the age of 13.

She became a hand cyclist and won two silvers medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Her athletic career seemed to be over in 2010 when she was hit during practice by another cyclist. But after three months in the hospital something happened, Velonation reports in a long interview:

One night, I was lying there frustrated because I could only move one hand. It was the middle of the night and I started to make a fist to train that hand; then suddenly I felt tingling in my feet. I could not imagine it was happening – it was crazy! We did all kinds of testing but there was no function yet.

Three months later I started to recover, my upper body started to work better. I trained really, really hard. And then suddenly I could move my leg a little bit to the side, and from then on I trained with everything I could get more function.

Tags: ,

May 9, 2010

First Giro stage in Amsterdam

Filed under: Bicycles,Sports by Branko Collin @ 12:01 pm

The first ever stage of one of the biggest bicycle racing events in the world, the Giro d’Italia, took place in Amsterdam yesterday. We already reported on the preliminaries.

The first stage was a time trial. According to one of the Dutch organisers in a television interview, the Italian organisers had first wanted to take the stage past all the sights of Amsterdam, including the Anne Frank house, but could be dissuaded (the stage would have completely locked down the city).

Observers thought this would be a good day for David Millar because other time trial specialists have their sights also set on winning the entire, three week-long race. The cobblestones and tram tracks especially would scare them off. Riders like Bradley Wiggins and Alexander Vinokourov weren’t too shy on the Amsterdam streets however, and managed to finish first and fourth respectively, with Millar only coming in at sixth place. The main favourite to win the race now that the real champions are all saving their energy for the Tour de France, Cadel Evans, finished second, BBC reports.

According to De Volkskrant, 150,000 people showed up to watch the race. There wasn’t a spot along the course though where you couldn’t watch, as the rows were only one person deep.

Photo: ‘Vino’ really wants it, but in the end was six seconds shy of the top spot.

Photo: this is how the Amsterdam cyclist crossed the road. In several spots bridges had been erected across the course.

Photo: there were also chartered ferries to take you underneath bridges.

Photo: a family on the posh Apollolaan opened its windows to passers-by so that they could follow the results on TV.

Photo: after the race a wacky bicycle parade had been planned on the official course. Initially the few remaining onlookers were being drip-fed bicyclists.

Photo: at the end of the ride was a larger group though, led by ‘living art work’ Fabiola, and consisting of among others a marching band on bakfietsen and beauty queens on bikes.

I will post further photos to our Flickr account (see sidebar). For more photos see also this report in AD.

Today, another Giro stage will start in Amsterdam, and will take a 200+ kilometre detour to Utrecht. Amsterdam is also the starting point for this year’s third Giro stage, which will lead with atypical tailwind to Middelburg in Zeeland.

Tags: ,

May 8, 2010

Giro about to start in Amsterdam

Filed under: Bicycles,Sports by Branko Collin @ 11:40 am

In two and a half hours, one of the biggest bicycle races in the world, the Giro d’Italia, will start in Amsterdam, and the action is all taking place at a stone’s throw from my house.

As you may imagine, I will use the opportunity to walk around with my camera to soak up the mood and give you a report later. With luck there will be room to watch. I have good hope, because as you can see in the photos, the weather is quite dreary here. Also, let’s be honest, this is not the Tour de France—which will start in Rotterdam later this year—so interest is likely to be lower. (Two out of three Grand Tours, though, not bad.)

There is also a garbage collectors strike going on, so the stalls selling Giro paraphernalia are standing anthropomorphised shoulder to anthropomorphised shoulder with piles of trash.

The riders seen in this photo are members of team Milram out for a leisurely reconnaissance of the parcours on the Olympiaweg, 800 900 metres from the finish.

See also:

Tags: ,