The Dutchest thing ever: cycling in the rain

An open letter to the Dutch
Subject: Cycling in the rain

To the people of the Netherlands,

Let me begin by saying how much I love living in your wonderful country. I love the beer, the friendly people, the way of life and I especially love the famous cycling culture. Having not ridden a bike since childhood, I’ve embraced the local customs and zip around town feeling all smug about how Dutch I look. However, I feel like we need to talk about the downsides of biking…

I think we can all agree that the Dutch weather sucks. The non-stop rain that hits you from every direction and seems to fall even when there are no clouds in the sky, the way it can be dry and sunny and a second later you’re in the midst of a torrential downpour…not fun! And yet we Brits are the ones with the reputation for bad weather at least our rain is a continual, grey drizzle…

britain-rain
Pictured: Britain

Cycling in the rain sucks

Anyway, I digress. But seriously, in a country where it rains so much it surprises me that the bike is such a popular mode of transport. I get that the flatness of the landscape makes biking an easy choice but it also means that large puddles of water gather without draining away. During a particularly heavy rainfall it can seem as though the entire country is submerged under an inch of water. And no good can come of a large puddle of water and an exposed cyclist. Whether it’s by the splashback from your own tyres or the huge spray generated by a mean-spirited motorist, you’re going to get wet.

Wetter than you already are, that is, because no matter how big you rain poncho is it will not cover you sufficiently to stop your bottom half getting wet. In fact, often coats, macs, jackets and the like contribute to the problem as the water runs off and gathers in a nice soggy pool in your lap.

Who can cycle with an umbrella anyways?

Unfortunately, not all of us have been born with the uniquely Dutch superpower of being able to cycle with an umbrella (no matter how long I live here, I will always be impressed by that) which is why I’m writing this letter. Whilst on my way to a meeting, to which I would once again be showing up soaking wet, mascara running down my cheeks and with shoes so drenched that they squeak at every step, I had an idea.

The Dutch have a long, successful track record of genius innovation to problems that other nations would deem impossible especially when it comes to controlling water. Big inland sea causing problems, fill it in. Unusable land, drain it with windmills. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to all of the Dutch inventions — seriously if you have a few spare hours it’s a fascinating read. You guys came up with all sorts including the orange carrot (yes, really!), the atlas and Wi-Fi. What a list! So, why hasn’t anybody come up with a way in which to make cycling in the rain a more pleasant experience?

Winning with cycling in the rain

Here are some ideas I had for inspiration. Perhaps some sort of a giant pod that covers the whole bike or an umbrella that clips onto the frame of the bike or maybe covered cycle lanes or some sort of forcefield that repels rain… Okay maybe not, but I’m not the expert. I’m not really sure if what I’m asking for is possible but I do know that if anyone can solve this cycling in the rain problem it’ll be the Dutch.

So, people of the Netherlands, get your thinking caps on! Rise to the challenge! Let me know what you come up with and we can go halves in our new business venture (I deserve all the credit for inspiring the idea). Let’s revolutionise cycling and continue the legacy of Dutch innovation.

Sincerely,

A Brit

What’s your secret for biking through the rain? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Free-Photos/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: this article was originally published in November 2016, but was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emily Hine
Emily is originally from the UK. She moved to Groningen over a year ago to study for her Master's degree and is struggling to leave. She is really enjoying learning about and embracing Dutch culture.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. There are umbrella holders for bicycles available on the market. But I guess they are meant for people biking with a bag of groceries in one hand. Because, as you’ve said, Dutch people just bike around with an umbrella in their hand 😉

  2. […] Be honest, just seeing things and doing nothing can get boring at times. I could say that this only applies to the little-uns, but most of us are big kids that find pushing buttons with awesome consequenses enormously satisfying. Madurodam is certainly no static affair and plenty of models have some form of interactivity going on! Added bonus is that all of these activities are as Dutch as cycling in the rain. […]

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