Dutch Quirk #74: Become exhausted when cycling over a bridge

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #74: Become exhausted when cycling over a bridge

The Dutch are famously great bikers. That is, until there is even the slightest incline — then the struggling Nederlanders miss their flat land.

You’d think all that cycling would make the Dutch super-fit, but the lack of hills in the landscape means they get exhausted pretty easily. 

What is it?

Everyone bikes in the Netherlands, that’s just the way life has been for decades, if not centuries.

But the Dutch are not used to biking uphill, making them totally unprepared for any terrain that’s not smooth, flat and horizontal.

Even though the lowlands are extremely flat themselves, there are A LOT of bridges to deal with.

READ MORE | How the Netherlands became a cycling country

You can expect the Dutchies to graciously float around the flat Dutch countryside but clumsily pant their way over the thousands of bridges in this watery land.

Why do they do it?

How exactly do the masters of cycling get stumped by a minor bump in the road?

Well, we’ve already mentioned the extreme lack of hills in the Netherlands.

And by hills, we mean literally any inclination whatsoever. Dutchies find comfort in their pancake-like landscape, using it to their advantage in most aspects of life. 

READ MORE | 19 things the Dutch did to make cycling easy and attractive

But the general flatness of the Netherlands might have caused more harm than good. The Dutch are best friends with first gear and first gear only.

Also, let’s talk about the amount of cheese Dutchies consume. Some might say it’s calcium-fuelled pedal power, but maybe it’s just weighing — um, slowing — Dutch bikers down.

Why is it quirky? 

Biking in most other countries is just a healthy hobby. In the Netherlands, it’s a way of life that you can’t avoid.

People of all shapes and sizes have to bike, which means they have to struggle over bridges, simply because the Netherlands is designed that way.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #2: Bike with an umbrella

Come rain or shine, Dutchies’ main mode of transport is their bike: it’s part of their casual, easygoing lifestyle.

What struck me the most when I moved here is how easy life feels. Everyone speaks English, everything is designed to be efficient and productive, and everything is either a bike ride or a train ride away.

Should you join in? 

You might find yourself struggling on the Dutch bridges, and don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

@dutchreview It takes a while… 🤕 #dutchlife #thenetherlands #cycling #dutchmemes #expatlife #expatsinthenetherlands #learndutch #dutchreview #meme #memecut ♬ son original – Caroline #prendresoindesoi

But it might be a nice fitness goal to aim for an exhaustion-free bike ride in the long term. 

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.
  1. Could the bridge struggle be because many Dutch bikes tend to be single speeders? When I visited I brought single speed folding DaHon that worked nicely on the flat terrain. Back in the USA I was pushing that bike up hills which never happened in NL.


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