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The Dutch, strangely traditional


Holland is quite traditional, in some ways, and its people conservative — though famously tolerant.

I rode barefoot on a bicycle to a public swimming area. That was a bit funny, to some Dutch people. Some friends, girls, laughed at me when I got there. It was nice. That's funny to me, though, about the Dutch.

You don't see that — riding barefoot. I was on a good, single-speed (non-chain-hopping*) bicycle, and I felt safe. It was a beautiful hot day, full sunshine. Along the Ooijpolder dike between Ooijpolder and the big river Waal; it seemed right to go barefoot in a pair of shorts. I didn't want to stop anywhere else, only to go there, meet my girlfriend K_, and likely ride straight back to Nijmegen (which we did.)

The Dutch would not generally ride barefoot, because the Dutch would not generally ride barefoot.

This, in a country renowned for being progressive and open. And it is. But strangely traditional.

  — August 2004


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* The typical Dutch bicycle has a three-speed gear changer in the rear hub, operated by a tensioned draw-cable switched by a lever on the right-hand thumb.

The quality and condition of the handlebar-mounted gear shifter to hold its position against the spring-drawn tension on the cable determines whether the bicycle will be likely to stay in a gear, or to possibly shift without rider input. This can be hazardous because one's foot can slip off a pedal as the chain pops between gears.


Return to "non-chain-hopping"...