Tillie & Coco are delighted to present a special guest post from Imke in Holland about winter cycling. Imke is studying at the world’s only university dedicated to museum studies in Amsterdam. She is shortly moving to London to complete a second UK internship.
Dear Tillie & Coco,
Although the snow is already long gone, I am finally getting around to writing a blog post for you (on Tillie’s invitation, thanks – I’m honored!) about The Netherlands, snow and most importantly, cycling.
When the first snow fell around here, I claimed to love snow cycling. This was back when almost all the cycling lanes were clear of snow and the streets weren’t shiny and glittery yet because of slipperiness – it was actually fun to be cycling around town with a lovely white view of snow-covered bushes, trees and parks.
Occasionally I had to go through crackling snow, but I just thought that was fun (I like the sounds of crackling snow). These loving thoughts about snow cycling lasted until the second week of snow.
Then, the snow just kept on coming, which resulted in messy cycle lanes with mud-like snow which was harder to get through. It seemed like the streets and cycle lanes would never be properly clean again and the snow would just stick around. The problem here is that you can never trust whether your route to work or school will be clean from snow. By taking your cycle, you immediately challenge yourself, because the cleaning of cycle lanes and other roads seems to be done totally randomly. You’ll be cycling on this nice clean cycle lane one moment, and the next you will be struggling your way through a slippery road. And the worst thing is that it seems to change by the day. One day I think I have found a really nice snow-free lane that will take me all the way to work, but the next day it will be covered in snowy mess.
The worst is, of course, when everything gets slippery and you basically end up walking about 50% of your journey with your cycle in hand, just so you won’t fall on the slippery streets. I think everyone falls off their bike in the Netherlands at least once a winter. The main conversation topic at work was where bruises from your most recent fall off the bike were. Luckily, I only fell off once this year, without bruises (yay!), but it did cause my chain to detach and I had no way to fix it quickly myself because of my enclosed chain-guard (yay for my dad, who fixed it!).
Cycling around Holland is inevitable – even during winter and snow – and I would love to have clean cycling lanes, roads and nice tours around idealistic looking snow-covered places, with no fear of falling off or being surprised to find my usual cycle lane all covered in snow. I would like to be able to enjoy the short sections of crackling snow while I am cycling along on a nice, sunny winter’s day. Cycling in winter times should simply be as beautiful as that – all of the fun, none of the trouble.
P.S. Every morning my bike looked like a little snowman-bike, because I don’t keep it in the shed. Although every morning I thought ‘this will look good in a picture’, I never actually photographed it.