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April 30, 2012

The hostel has been busy this weekend with a charming crowd from the Netherlands -a parish group from Doorn near Utrecht. Happily, the sun shone for them and Iona was looking its best. They sang a lot which was a good sign.

Most noticeably,  all twenty three turned up with their bicycles (they are cycling back from here, via Arran, to Newcastle). Dutch bikes lift my heart !  Big, elegant and upright (Gazelle’s, Koga’s and Batavus’s) everyone looks their best on them: posture is good, they look relaxed and able to enjoy the view and it all seems so effortless. We Brits still persist in hunching over like troglodites on our wee misshapen mountain bikes. A few have ‘hybrid’s’ but they don’t tend to be bonny either.  (Why do you get so few bikes in nice colours any more ? Why no bikes in Cobalt, or Magenta, or Prussion Blue -they all seem to be grey or silver.)  Old fashioned racers I can understand. I remember as a teenager lusting after a ‘Flying Scot’ and a couple turned up at the hostel last year on them. Simply gorgeous. The Hostel seems to be a destination for various, older, cycling groups, and we get more than our fair share of beautiful classic bikes. And classic folk for that matter…

The truth is, of course, that it doesn’t terribly matter what the bike is -it’s the cyclist that counts -and some of these old boys on their 1960 racers will knock the spots off many a glittering and zillion geared new thing.

Not to mention Lycra. It is simply shocking and an affront to any attempt at style. Middle aged men (like me) particularly should steer clear. (I know you’re reading this, D !) And it doesn’t make you go faster…  I promise. I used to wear a 1927 pair of plus-fours and a tweed jacket when going on bike rides.  I might have looked like a bit-part on Downton Abbey but it was extremely comfortable, warm and pretty well waterproof, and I still could happily do my hundred miles a day (well, sort of…).  And the pleasure was that the pressure was off ! I didn’t feel obliged to go fast and furious because of any serious and zippy gear and could have as easily been pootering down to the shop for a newspaper. The lesson is that you don’t actually have to look like you’re doing the Tour de France to go for a pleasant day out or jaunt around the countryside.

Thankyou, dear Dutch people, for reminding me of this. 

(Thanks for the photo’s, Tammas !)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2012 3:59 am

    A couple years ago I did a bike tour in Northern Holland and I fell in LOVE with the Dutch people and their bikes! Brought back a set of panniers and the spirit to ride more as a family-and that we do! But now…I want to ride on over to Iona!! 🙂

  2. October 8, 2012 11:23 am

    What great blogs. Thankyou. You obviously know Iona….. If you are ever back come and say hello.
    John.

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