September 2, 2015

Man from Utrecht cycles around the world

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:17 am

Inspired by long bike trips his grandfather used to take, Dutch cyclist Rick Creemers from Utrecht is leaving the Dom City today to start a trip around the world.

Creemers will first be heading to Basel, Switzerland so he can practice going up and down mountains, then onto Turkey to get ready to hit the desert on his way to the Himalayas in Southern Asia. The route afterwards involves getting to Australia and flying over to Alaska to then cycle all the way down to Chile. Creemers will eventually make it over to Africa and through Turkey cycle back to Utrecht.

The entire trip should take two years. Creemers, who has recently finished his studies, says it will take him 55,000 kilometres with an average of 75 km a day. He also knows he’ll be cycle through unsafe countries and says he’s good at keeping low key.

I hope he posts to social media, so we can write about him again.

(Link:, Photo by Mike Porcenaluk, some rights reserved)

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December 12, 2014

Boris Johnson insults the Dutch hand that helps him

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 2:28 pm


A bit of a buffoon at home if we believe the media and quick to call Amsterdam ‘sleazy’ as the Mayor of Amsterdam and King Willem-Alexander were visiting London (which was nice), the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has no qualms about calling upon Dutch business expertise from Amersfoort to build proper bike paths so that cycling in London becomes safe for all road users.

London’s bike paths are found on busy roads and are dangerous, as London Cyclist points out and has filmed during a ride. The goal is to build bike paths in London along quieter roads, parks and the likes, a bit like we do in the Netherlands.

Cycling in major Dutch cities feels quite safe to me, but the zooming scooters, mobile using morons and inattentive tourists make it a bit stressful. However, it’s nothing compared to this video that I find difficult to watch.

And Johnson, the biggest tourist nuisance as of late in Amsterdam are British stag and hen parties. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan invited you to check out how your fellow Brits behave in his ‘sleazy’ city, so what’s the hold up?

(Link:, Photo of Kruiskerk, Amstelveen by Drooder Fiets)

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December 6, 2013

Nothing tops Groningen as a cyclist’s paradise

Filed under: Bicycles,History,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am


Groningen, a city in the North of the Netherlands whose slogan is ‘Er gaat niets boven Groningen’ (‘Nothing tops Groningen’) has some 196,000 residents, a quarter of which are students and where half of the population, if not more, gets around by bicycle. The film by Clarence Eckerson Jr., an American who was inspired by what he saw, tells the story of how cycling took over Groningen.

Travel times by car are longer (see screenshot) and cycling is faster because cars need to go around the city center to get from one part of town to another, while bikes can go anywhere. At about 9:00 into the film, you can see that even IKEA, apparently a very big one, has serious accommodations for cyclists. The one downside of this film is that it’s not bright and sunny like that very often, but again, when it is, you have a great excuse to get out on your bike.

Watch the whole film and get a feel for Groningen, always a lovely place to visit and a city we like, too:

Lou Reed’s Perfect Day rings out in Groningen

University of Groningen gaining popularity with Brits

Groningen students build world’s largest touch screen

Watch the film, it’s in English (and some Dunglish):

Groningen: The World’s Cycling City from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

If you want more, there’s always Bicycle anecdotes from Amsterdam, which has a friend of 24oranges nicely waiting for a tram to go by.

(Image: Screenshot of Groningen: The World’s Cycling City)

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March 26, 2013

Dutch still own most bikes per capita in the world

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 10:11 am

With a population of some 16.6 million inhabitants, the Netherlands still topping the list of most bicycles owned is not very surprising. However, when it comes to calculating the actual amount of cyclists, this quirky list has some issues, as not everyone who owns a bike is necessary a cyclist and other leaps of logic.

I also noticed that the picture used to represent Amsterdam was not right, and now I see it is Delft (to the right of the train station is my guess), a major student city.

In the Netherlands 27% of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike. About 1.3 million bicycles were sold in the Netherlands in 2009, at an average price of 713 euro each. Amsterdam, the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world, with 400 km of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes in Amsterdam are done on bike.

And no, we don’t do bike helmets and yes, please get over it. You didn’t point that out about Asian countries now do you? Reads like a major cultural bias to me. The Belgians who cycle a lot as well have to wear bright yellow vests to get around and if you’re ever cycled in Brussels or Antwerp, you’d be wise to do the same, especially considering the constant construction.

I had to laugh when a good friend from Canada suggested that cycling was a great way to meet new people and that I should do it to. I told her that would be like her driving a car to work to meet people. We had a good laugh.


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June 9, 2012

Retro Dutch cycling jerseys

Filed under: Bicycles,Fashion,Sports by Orangemaster @ 8:51 pm

A website that specialises in vintage racing bikes from the Netherlands is about to produce a small collection of retro cycling jerseys, based on the coat of arms of Amsterdam and Utrecht as well as the one of the province of North Brabant. The three XXX (Saint Andrew’s Crosses) are part of the coat of arms of Amsterdam and have nothing to do with the modern, fake film rating of XXX, denoting porno films. Oh and 020 is Amsterdam’s phone area code, often used in conversation as a synonym for Amsterdam.

The designers wanted to have nice classic looking racing jerseys, but not those heavy wool ones you usually find in second hand shops with sponsoring of companies that you couldn’t care less about. Instead they opted for comfort and “being able to be proud of where you come from.” I know I’d love a Friesland or Limburg one.

For € 59,95 they’ll be making a limited batch of these jerseys if enough people want one. Send them an e-mail (klassiekeracefiets (at) or .com) and get a nicely designed bike shirt with Amsterdam, Utrecht or Noord Brabant.


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April 16, 2011

Slo-mo video of Paris-Roubaix bike race for Holland Sport TV

Filed under: Shows,Sports by Branko Collin @ 2:06 pm

A program like Holland Sport is something you’ll never see on commercial television channels, which is what makes it a pity the publicly funded programme will stop after 8 successful years. Holland Sport was a show that mixed interviews of athletes with silly game elements, in which members of the audience got to pit their skills against the show’s guests.

Although the interviews were not as deep as they could have been (the show was, after all, intended as light entertainment), they did provide an alternative view into the lives of top athletes.

As an example of the sort of things a programme like Holland Sports could afford to do, here is a video poem Rob Hodselmans made for the show last week, covering the cobblestone-filled Paris – Roubaix bicycle road race.

Between 2003 and 2008 the show was hosted by presenter Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and comedian Wilfried de Jong. When Van Nieuwkerk quit due to other obligations, De Jong carried on solo for a couple of years.

(Video: YouTube / Rob Hodselmans)

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January 15, 2011

Pays Bas Cycle Chic, life from the slow lane

Filed under: Bicycles,Fashion by Branko Collin @ 2:40 pm

You’ve got your -izes on the one hand, and your Chics on the other. The former are websites that showcase how cities become liveable by making cycling easier, and the latter are websites that just show how good people can look on bicycles. The point seems moot—but there are countries where cycling is equated with danger, exertion, and an almost criminal lack of fashion sense, and their inhabitants crave a constant stream of examples of the good life.

So now there is a Dutch Cycle Chic—Pays-Bas Cycle Chic to be precise, because things just sound so much more ooh-la-la if you write them at least partially in French. Run by a lady called Marleen (now that name just sounds two-clogs-in-the-mud Dutch again—I suggest: Marlène), the blog started showing fashion on bikes in the Netherlands in October last year.

The -izes and the Chics started with Danish film maker Mikael Colville-Andersen who is running Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. A local -ize is produced by Amsterdam-based Internet strategist Marc van Woudenberg, Amsterdamize.

(Photo: Pays Bas Cycle Chic/Marleen.)


July 23, 2009

The day the grown men cried

Filed under: Bicycles,History,Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:50 am

The Tour de France is drawing to a close, and Dutch cyclists and teams have so far failed to put their mark on the great race. Local sports writers have started to look elsewhere for heroic stories, and one of those places is the past. And the one story inevitably to be rediscovered is … dun! dun! … The Day the Grown Men Cried.

A story “from the old box”, as we say. On 5 June 1988, the Giro d’Italia was to climb the Passo di Gavia in the Italian Alps. A somewhat ordinary looking stage on paper, but when the cyclists woke that morning, they heard snow had covered the road at the top.

Dutch cyclist Johan van der Velde broke away from the pack at the start of the climb and was the first to cross the pass. But he paid a price! Just before his breakaway he had given his raincoat and sleaves to a surprised team-mate. Rain had already plagued the cyclists, but now, a few kilometres before the top, a blizzard hit the mountain.

Van der Velde managed to get over the top, but two kilometres into the descent his cold body started shaking uncontrollably and he had to stop for fear of falling off his bike. He never finished the descent on his bike, instead he drove in his team manager’s car to a point three kilometres off the finish, where he got back on and cycled the last bit. Van der Velde eventually lost 47 minutes to the winner, but wasn’t disqualified—the jury understood.

The conditions were so harsh that many cyclists had to stop for cognac, hot tea and massages. It was so cold that two of the former Giro winners cried in pain. The snow froze the cyclists’ hands and clogged up their brakes, turning the descent into a dangerous undertaking.

Only two of the cyclists in front finished the descent without stopping and without help. Andy Hampsten of the USA and Erik Breukink of the Netherlands raced off the mountain as fast as they could towards the finish line in Bormio. A couple of kilometres before the end, Breukink sped past Hampsten (PDF) and won the race by 15 seconds. Hampsten however won the pink jersey, the mark of the race leader, and he wouldn’t let go of it until the end, competing a fierce battle with second place Breukink in the remaining stages. Hampsten became the first American to win the second most prestigious bicycle race in the world.

Breukink admitted that it was only the thought of being in contention (Dutch, Real Media) that kept him on his bike during that brutal descent. Until then, he had had the reputation of being a bit of a softy, but the Gavia Pass win rid him of that moniker forever.

Through some miraculous stroke of luck, none of the cyclists died that day, although Hampsten’s team-mate and countryman Bob Roll suffered from hypothermia and an extremely low heart rate of 27 bpm.

There are very few TV images I can show you of this stage. Like today, the major bicycle races then had extensive TV coverage, shot by cameramen on motorcycles often taking even more risks in slippery descents than the cyclists themselves. The images were supplemented by video shot from helicopters that doubled as flying relay stations. The signal from a motor camera will not travel through mountains, and on that day it was discovered that blizzards have the same effect. The only moving images made of this climb were those of a solitary land-locked camera at the top of the pass.

Watching that video made me realise that in those days you could play another game of Spot the Dutchman. French team La Vie Claire (Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond) wore jerseys inspired by Piet Mondriaan’s paintings.

(Photo of the Passo di Gavia by Marco Mayer, some rights reserved.)

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July 18, 2009

Amsterdam more affordable, except for parking

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 9:23 am

Amsterdam slid from 25th most expensive city in the world to 29th, according to a recent Mercer study, as Dutch News reports. The one cost with which Amsterdam tops every other major city in the world is parking.

Other Dutch cities did not even make it into the top 50, with Berlin being a ‘cheap’ European capital at 49—is East Berlin dragging that number down? The top three of the Cost of Living list this year are Tokyo, Osaka and Moscow, in that order.

Car owning visitors to Amsterdam* are out of luck though. According to Parool (Dutch), quoting a study by Colliers International, Amsterdam proudly leads the list of most expensive cities in the world when it comes to parking, with a daily rate of 70 USD. The second city on that list, London, only charges around 55 USD a day.


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April 2, 2009

Zeeland to give free bicycle helmets to kids

Filed under: Bicycles,General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 8:35 am

Everytime I see parents with unprotected small children on their bikes, sometimes two, or when I see small children riding hard and recklessly in traffic without helmets, I cringe. And everytime single time I have brought this up at parties, the Dutch tell me to shut up because they know better and that no one gets hurt since they were all born on bikes.

If that really was the fantasy world we lived in, then handing out 35,000 free helmets to children in Zeeland would be a total waste of money, right? Over the next five years, the Zeeuws Coördinatiepunt Fiets (ZCF) in the province of Zeeland will be doing just that, handing out free bicycle helmets to stop children from getting injured or killed.

Last year, the emergency wards in Zeeland treated 4,000 children up to age 17 for head injuries. On an annual basis, 10 to 15 children under age 13 die in traffic riding bikes. About 20,000 children between age 0 and 12 get treated in hospitals as a result of a traffic acccident.

Imagine your cute kid dying because you think no one gets hurt on bikes. Blame all the cars? Write off Zeeland as a ‘different’ part of the country?

And then, the best argument of them all: snowboarders and mountainbikers use cool, hip helmets, what’s wrong with doing so on your bike? It’s not ‘tradition’? The statistics are wrong? Kids just don’t really get hurt?

Bravo Zeeland!

(Link:, Photo:

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