Cycle Like The Dutch – Pockets and Awkward Objects

No one can deny that the Dutch are skilled cyclists. It is a part of their everyday life so it is understandable that they are very good at it. It’s probably because of this that the Dutch are capable of displaying some every day cycling skills that seem completely insane to the rest of us. I’d like to talk about two of those crazy skills today.

Cycling With Their Hands in Their Pockets

Have you ever seen a Dutch person cycling with their hands in their pockets? It is not a rare sight. It’s all about Dutch confidence and a casual attitude towards gravity. Most of us would probably not be able to take our hands off the handle bars without instantly crashing into the nearest wall. However, the Dutch do it with ease and without incident. When it comes time to turn a corner they will simply take a single hand out of their pocket and casually make the required steering adjustment. If I tried that my hand would probably get stuck in my pocket and I’d sail straight into the canal directly in front of me.

Transporting Large/Awkward Objects

When faced with the challenge of moving a large awkward object from one location to another most of us would use a car or a van. Not the Dutch. They will happily grab all manner of cumbersome inanimate objects, strap them to their bike and simply start cycling. It does not matter how large or how awkward the object might be, to the Dutch the bicycle is a multipurpose transport vehicle.

Need to transport two bikes? No problem. Ride one, grab the other by the handlebars and pull it along with you.

Three crates of beer? Simple. Stack them on the back and use a single hand to steady them (just don’t drink too many of them first).

Six bags of shopping? Easy. Hang two off each handle bar, strap one to the back and cycle one handed with the last bag in your free hand. If you have saddle bags you can manage eight bags or more.

Three children? Childs play. Sit one on the handle bars, one on the back and sit the last one on your shoulders (crash helmets are optional).

Ikea furniture? Don’t even flat pack it. Just carry it one handed over your back and cycle harder. Wind resistance is not the boss of you.

Need to transport two bikes, three crates of beer, six to eight bags of shopping, three children and some Ikea furniture all at the same time? The Dutch will find a way.

I would not be surprised to see a Dutch person moving apartments using their bicycle alone. They probably would not be visible under the collection of house plants, lamp shades, bed sheets and moving boxes but they would still be upright and mobile.

What crazy displays of Dutch cycling skills have you seen? What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a Dutch person carrying on their bike?

Check out more stories of my bike related stories in: Cycling In Holland

20 responses to “Cycle Like The Dutch – Pockets and Awkward Objects”

  1. Dwarsligger says:

    “When it comes time to turn a corner they will simply take a single hand out of their pocket and casually make the required steering adjustment.”
    Uhh, no. Handlebars are only needed when braking or taking of. For steering, adjust the balance of the bike ever so slightly and it will corner ever so smootly :)

    • Stuart says:

      Haha. Then the Dutch are more skilled cyclists than I thought :)

      • Shizzle Mcfly says:

        When cornering it is very advisable to keep at least one hand at least somewhere in the vicinity of the handlebars for quick corrections, a small unexpected bump is all you need to tip you past the point of no return.
        This might be why you see people moving their hands towards their handlebars when cornering, especially since other traffic might suddenly appear near corners/junctions. Steering by balance isn’t very fast (braking by balance is near instantaneous, but has some rather unfortunate side-effects).

        Biking without hands is a skill that must be relearned with every new bike, since balance is almost always different, but is very useful on long, relatively straight provincial bikepaths: You can untangle your earbuds, turn on the music on your phone, unsling your backpack to one shoulder, take your reusable water bottle out for a drink and put it back, all whilst approaching your destination!

  2. Sizuka says:

    I saw once , a guy transport a washing machine in a small cargo bike . I still wondering how the hell he put it in and how he pull it up again . If it was a platform , I can understand , but cargo its a box ….

  3. Lauren says:

    I have been living back in the UK since 2011 (after spending the previous 3 years in Amsterdam), and this post has really made me chuckle! I couldn’t even ride one-handed when I was making my way around the City, let alone hands in pockets and transporting object – heaven help any child that needed a lift from me!

  4. It is a genetic anomaly .. Dutch genes have an extra long D strand

  5. PapaVanTwee says:

    I grew up in small town in the US. I was biking before I was 5, and only had one serious fall (I woke up on the couch). I used to be able to cycle no handed and go around some corners without hand input.We didn’t have phones or anything, I would just let my arms hang, or cross them because I was too lazy to put my hands up on the handlebars.

    Once I hit 16, however, and got a license and car, I never rode a bike again. So fast forward to when I’m 30 and visiting the Netherlands for the first time… it was so bad I got called a Brit because I was losing my balance and passed someone on the left.

    I don’t know if rural US towns still have their kids out riding their bikes all the time, but I know that once we hit 16-18, we have no need anymore.

    • Stuart says:

      It’s so true. I used to cycle and skate board everywhere until I hit my mid teenage years. Until I came to the Netherlands I had not cycled in years.

  6. Irene says:

    I did actually move a great part of my apartment using a bakfiets when i moved in to my boyfriends house. Bakfietsen are awesome for accumulating many moving boxes, transporting several adults at the same time, and moving IKEA billy bookcases while assembled.

    • Stuart says:

      Oh. I should have mentioned the bakfiets. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. I’ve never used one but they look amazing. I guess they must be a bit harder the cycle though.

  7. vallypee says:

    I’ve also moved house using my bike. But the ones that amaze me are the people who go to the hardware stores and cycle away with lengths of pipe, coils of copper, sheets of plywood and packs of 2×2 — all together on one bike!! But I also admire the ones who keep an umbrella up when cycling. How they keep them from turning inside out is amazing…I can’t even manage that when I’m walking!

    • Stuart says:

      Or how they do it with out taking off :)

      I’ve not cycled with anything as long as piping but I did cycle with a new mop I had bought once. I felt like I was going to accidentally joust anyone who got in the way.

  8. iooryz says:

    I transported 40 crates of beer regularly by bakfiets, you can fit 10 in a layer, and 4 layers is doable if you have to paddle back. Although I did need a housemate on top of it to guide me, as I couldn’t see over them. I’ve only broken 6 bottles in 4 trips, because 1 time, sombody started loading the bike in the front, instead of the back, where the third weel is, and it flipped over.

    Besides that, I’ve taken suitcases, swords, piping and large boxes with me on my bike, just watch where you’re going, and it’s ok.

  9. georgeoeser says:

    I lived in Tilburg for 3 years and never adapted to cycling. One reason for this was the fact that I lived in the center and it was easier to walk to most of the places I needed to go instead of cycling. The other reason was the gentleman I saw riding his bike through Stadhuisplein a few days after I first arrived in Tilburg. He was pedaling his bike with one foot while resting his other foot on the handlebars so he could tie his shoe laces which, of course, took both hands to do. I then realized I would never be able to reach the required skill level needed to cycle in the Netherlands and so I promptly gave up.

  10. Dwarsligger says:

    I admit, I also sometimes take my hands out of my pockets when cornering, if only to reassure other road users that I’m not gonna fall over or make any unexpected movements in their direction.
    On roundabouts I have to have my hands on the handlebars. Not for steering, but for breaking, other road users can be so unpredictable / blind.
    It’s true, you have to get acquainted with every new bike you get. But since I drove my current one for about 15.000 kilometers, it acts more as an extension of my physical being, then as a separate entity. So I can ride it without using hands even with the ever varying distribution of weight in the cycling bags on the back.

  11. Dwarsligger says:

    That was reply to “Shizzle Mcfly says:
    May 10, 2017 at 10:21 pm”, it seems it ended up in the wrong place…
    Apparently leaving replies in the correct place is more difficult than cycling

  12. UĞUR DERIN says:

    The problem is that, when you start living in the Netherlands, you think you can be Dutchy, even though you are not.
    Having been living here for more than 1,5 year, I have so far transported a two-drawer nightstand, a relatively big mirror, a vacuum cleaner with its long stick and a Jedi-lightsaber on my bike Lucie. Each time, I felt really scared that I would either drop them or simply fall of the bike while trying to hold them with one hand and control the steer with the other. And every time I do sth like this, I say: Never again!

Leave a Reply

Tags: , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: