Anything Goes Challenge: Frank Crosses the Border

20 May

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.]

Cycle Path

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

Tree Path

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.

Driving to Work

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:

Anything Goes Frank

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!

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All photos in this post are courtesy of Frank and are used with his permission.


Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Anything Goes


6 responses to “Anything Goes Challenge: Frank Crosses the Border

  1. Andrew Hsu

    May 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Yikes! No, not the commute distance of 60k (I do about 100 each day for mine), but having to wake up at 3 am. That is truly being a toughman!

    • frank8265

      May 21, 2013 at 6:31 am

      After being a truckdriver for a couple of years and working in industrial cleaning, waking up early has become a (bad) habit unfortunately. It’s the evenings that are tough, after 20:30 it’s hard to keep my eyes open and my mind awake. 😐

      • ladyfleur

        May 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

        Is your current job physically demanding, Frank? If so, is it tough to combine with the long bike commute?

  2. frank8265

    May 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Although it’s about 85% of the time being on my feet, I don’t find it very demanding compared to one of my previous jobs as a roadworker. In fact, the long commute gives me change to clear my head and leave my work on the job site in stead of taking it home (mentally that is).

  3. Margaret

    May 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Nice commute, Frank.

    Another way you know you have left the Netherlands for Belgium: utility poles suddenly appear along the poorly maintained roads.

    • frank8265

      May 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Absolutely right! That’s another “eye catcher” in Belgium. πŸ˜€


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