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Culture Clash

Classic Dutch beauty

The basket looks like it weighs more than the road bike I was ogling this morning.

Since then I’ve been suffering a bad case of culture clash. Let me explain.

In 8 days in the Netherlands last week I saw 10,000 bikes, but only 3 road bikes and no carbon fiber beauties like the one I was hefting at 10am this morning at the mid point of the Pre-Thanksgiving Ride. John lured us into Out-Spoke-N in Sunset Beach; I went of my own free will. The siren song of the carbon fiber bikes we found there, well, if the bike itself didn’t move your soul, Derek might’ve when he mentioned his Black Friday deal: 25% off, no sales tax either. Get me out of here.

I start rationalizing, “Five bikes is already too many to maintain; I’ve got to trim the herd.” No one is convinced; we’d all love one of those skinny tire beauties.

But I’m a poor candidate for a fancy carbon fiber road bike; for one, I’m riding with a broken neck and the drop handlebars are out of the question. But I’m squirming for other reasons, like my recent observations of the Dutch – they ride utility bikes, practical, lead-heavy, with fenders and tires so fat and wide that I can imagine a comfortable, if slow ride. They sit upright, as God intended and they run errands on these bikes.

Contrast this with what we do. Most of us ride skinny tires on ultralight bikes; we ride long distances, for recreation, for exercise. We run errands with the car, in part because our carbon fiber bikes won’t accommodate a bike rack or panniers.

That’s a big cultural difference.

Everyone rides upright in Rotterdam

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