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Dutch customs

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 dike between Ooijpolder and the big river Waal; it seemed right to go barefoot. I didn't want to stop anywhere else, only to go there, meet my girlfriend, 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.

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