Thursday 23 June 2016

I’ve been uploading GoPro videos and processing them, so I’ll get back to them after this post. I have been varying my route home to show some different options, and I’ve renewed my membership to MAPMYRIDE so I will be posting the routes along with the videos soon.

In the meantime…

Cycling In Utrecht

Two years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week in Utrecht in the Netherlands. My office was transitioning across the ocean and I was sent over to help set up the new operation, make sure everything made it over, etc.

I was on Canadian time, so when everyone else went home for the night I was wide awake with nothing to do.

So, natch, I rented a bike and cycled everywhere.

The bikes were, unsurprisingly, “Amsterdam” bikes, one gear, built in wheel brake and chain lock, built in lights and back rack, big wheels and enclosed chain.

This was a “cruiser” bike, I did a lot of coasting around, as the Netherlands is rather flat. I averaged about 4-5 hours a night on the trails, criss-crossing the city and wandering out to the suburbs and the outskirts. And since I was working during the day, this was all done in the evening and during the night.

During the day I rode the bike to work and home and everywhere else, and since the Netherlands has a bike culture rather than a car culture, it was exceedingly safe. No one, and I mean NO ONE, wore a helmet, and no one used mirrors on their bikes. I have NEVER ridden without a helmet here, I rode everywhere there without a helmet.

It was pretty much cycling Nirvana.

There was the new signage:

Bike trails of all different stripes, this one was along a line of trees that lined a divider between the roads in front of my hotel:

There were canals everywhere, and the trails criss crossed them, it was lovely:

As well as brick and cobblestone streets, often long and narrow:

 And a lot of bikes locked up by canals:

The sidewalks were very wide, allowing lots of room for cyclists and pedestrians to get around each other.

And then there were these, massive bike lock ups:

But perhaps my favorite thing, found while wheeling around at 2am one night:

Late night bike repair place, AWESOME!

During the evening I decided to try some video while I was riding. As I rode a one speed cruiser mainly on trails and paved roads I spent a lot of time with either one hand on the handlebars or none. Eventually I decided to take some video with my IPhone 4 camera. All the video is at night and taken while riding and holding the phone in my hand.

Translation: it’s crappy, but it contrasts with the GoPro footage I’ve been taking, and they were fun to make.

These are all fairly short.

Night Riding in Utrecht – Canal Ride Downtown

You can hear the city bells in the background, this is a downtown street by the canal around 10 at night. Lots of shops around, pretty touristy.

Night Riding in Utrecht – Cycling Tunnels

This one is fun, I like how the cycling infrastructure just cuts a swath through the city and everything accommodates it. Note how dark it is before I enter the tunnel…

Night Riding in Utrecht – Highway Trail Part 1 and 2

These are kind of like those gag cards, “Toronto at Night” and it’s a field of black. It got pretty dark in places, and at one point when I heard the crickets chirping and looked around I realized I was miles away from the city and a storm was on the way in. Needless to say I boogied back to town. 

Night Riding in Utrecht – Main Road Part 1

There were several “main drags” in the city where people would accumulate, pubs, restaurants, clubs, etc., outside of the city center. This was one of them, the infrastructure for bikes is literally on every street, here I’m clipping along a bike path beside the main road, it’s fairly late so even the bike traffic is light.

Night Riding in Utrecht – Main Road Part 2

This is probably the best lit video of the lot. One thing I didn’t capture was the mass of people leaving the pubs and clubs and restaurants at night and climbing on to the back of someone’s bike, riding side saddle on the back rack. Everyone did this at night, and surprisingly, despite the high spirits, I didn’t see one collision the entire time I was there.

It was an amazing trip, for a cyclist it was awesome.




  1. That was amazing. your blog is really eye catching and beautiful. thanks for sharing... Bike Shelters Pennsylvania

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      It was an awesome trip, I spent hours on the bike just cycling around the city and surrounding areas. Cycling speed is so much better than car speed for taking in the surroundings and still getting somewhere in a reasonable amount of time.
      It was the bike culture that was the biggest shock for a North American bike rider though, everyone rode a bike, cars deferred to you, and no one wore a helmet and few used mirrors. Actually, a local told me only the German tourists wear helmets. For me it was horrifying for the first while, these people were nuts without helmets on, but as I rode around I understood, everyone was on the lookout for bikes, everyone deferred to them, its bred in their bones over there, in North America the car takes priority, so bike culture did not emerge the same way.