When most people think of bike commuters in the Netherlands, they imagine dressed-up people riding upright Dutch bikes rolling short distances along on cyclepaths in compact city centers. While many Dutch commuters do fit this mold, there are others like Frank, whose commute is roughly 20 miles, a distance that’s more typical for suburban America. But his Anything Goes Commute Challenge is hardly American. This is his story.
Since February 19th this year, I’ve started a new job which offered a new commuting challenge, riding 60 km (37 mi) per day instead of 21 km (13 mi). But as cycling is my main hobby, I took on the challenge and started out with at least three or four times per week cycling to work.
My daily trip takes me from the Netherlands to Belgium. As soon as I cross the border a significant change in road maintenance becomes painfully clear. Roads in Belgium are very much in worse state then in the Netherlands, especially the secondary roads. [Editor's note: The well-kept road below must be Dutch.]
Based on this, driving by car would be the most obvious option, but after finding my definitive route I still prefer to take the trip by bike. Not because of the costs or the compensation, but because of these advantages:
- Almost 3,5 hours relaxing work-out, clearing my mind while listening to my favourite music
- I arrive more “mentally fresh” by bike than by car
- The 2,5 km ride through the woods is beautiful in any season and I consider it an extra bonus for my efforts
Another, more medical, reason for commuting by bike is the fact that my doctor suspects I’m narcoleptic, so cycling is a bit safer for me than driving a car.
The disadvantages of doing this commute by bike I find are:
- I start work between 5:30 and 6:00 am, so every day I have to get up at 3:00 am. :-\
- The prevalent wind direction is southwest, so every day on my way home I’ve got to face headwind.
- Depending on the weather conditions, the trip can take up to two hours.
The advantages of driving by car are straightforward. It’s quick and dry. The disadvantages of driving by car are that it’s a boring trip with lots of speed bumps. It’s a longer distance that can be stressful during rush hour.
My personal score card of this commute:
The compensation is a government ruling in Belgium which is paid through my salary. That’s one advantage of working for a Belgian employer. Here in the Netherlands the compensation is much less.
Note that I don’t have to pack clothing due to the nature of my job and I pass three shops along the way and always carry panniers, so (some) shopping is no problem. Also, in the village where our company is located are several options to go for lunch, even in work clothes (it’s easy, people).
Personally, I don’t think my ride time by bicycle is wasted time as I work out and relax. I really found this challenge a very good idea and I liked it lot. Hope you can come up with more of these ideas!
Dutch greetings and safe riding, Frank.
Thanks, Frank, for participating in the Anything Goes Commute Challenge, and for not letting a longer, earlier morning commute with a tough headwind keep you off the bike!