Cycling Not Just For Transport

Now that I have lived here for 6 years I feel like I am allowed to turn into a road bike fanatic. The Netherlands is a great place for road biking due to the safe bike paths and the lack of hills. After stalking many Marktplaats sellers (Dutch version of Ebay) I was lucky to find one that was the right size and price range. So it’s now official! I have bought my first ever road bike, in a new-ish condition all shiny and red.

Learning all aspects of cycling on a road bike sure is a learning curve, such as what all the different components are as well as the ‘do’s and dont’s‘. A Dutch book that I still need to read is ‘Vrouw & Fiets’ written by Nynke de Jong and Marijn de Vries, which has been recommended to me by at least 3 people this week.

As well as buying the bike this week, I bought some gloves and cycling glasses at the Decathlon and researched into what size clip-in shoes I needed. I also scored a new helmet via Marktplaats and ordered some sexy cushion-padded shorts to protect my butt and a cycling shirt with pockets at the back.

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For my first route I decided to take it easy, cycling only 11km around the Kralingse Bos park in Rotterdam. Within 10 minutes I felt so hungry and realised the unhealthy lunch probably wasn’t the best idea before some fitness. As a gym junkie that I am (minimum 3 days a week at the gym + home workouts sessions) I should of known better! However overall happy that my average speed was faster than my city bike as well as being able to pratice the gear changing and the overall feel of the bike. P.S I didn’t have my ordered cushion-padded shorts in time for this route either so it was a bumpy experience!

I’ve started using the app Strava, perfect for tracking your route with GPS. Gives you information about your speed, elevation, estimated calories and more importantly the time and distance. What I also love is once you do the same route more than once, you can challenge yourself to beat your old time and make some personal bests!

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For my second route this week it was right after fuelling up with some pasta, also prepared with my cushion-padded shorts and the correct gear. The plan was to do another small route for practicing, but with a beautiful sun setting it was too good to end it to quickly. I cycled with my partner exactly 32km, and even at the end I felt like I could of gone further but it was dark and we had no lights!

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For my third and last route this week, we decided to travel to the De Biesbosch National Park. Based on the western wind, we cycled all the way there with the wind. The plan was to do a few laps around the national park but I was rather tired once we reached 60km, and knew I still had to cycle atleast 10km back towards to the boat to take me back to Rotterdam. We stopped at the De Brabantse Biesbosch for a delicious pancake and a cola, as my partner needed some energy as he cycled all the way back!

But WOW, so proud that within a week I managed to do a long trip of 67km in one go! A lot faster than I ever imagined too within only 3 hours!

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The total this week I cycled is 116km (including a short 10km I forgot to record). I couldn’t of done it without those padded shorts thats for sure!

I still need lots of practice until I can call myself a real road bike fanatic, but I’m making a good start!

My wish list of things to get (and need) to feel like a complete road bike user:

  • New matching water bottles and holders
  • A bell
  • Clip-in SPD Shoes
  • Spare inside tyres
  • A multitool kit
  • A bike computer/sensor to measure and see my speed, distance and time
  • (and whatever else I need that I don’t know about yet!)

Any tips & tricks, related books or apps, or even decent shops or websites to buy gear would all be appreciated!!

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Feyenoord Champions Once More!!

More than 18 years ago, on the 25th April 1999, the Rotterdam team Feyenoord won the Eredivisie Championships. Today, they have made history again by becoming the 2017 Champions!

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The Champions Festival of Feyenoord on the Coolsingel on 25 april 1999
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Another photo from 25th April 1999

Since the last two weeks there has already been preparations for the celebrations, such as a 500-600kg flag hung up at Hofplein, projecting the logo against the 5th tallest building in the Netherlands, cakes with the logo and Rotterdam harbour workers making the letter F for Feyenoord with red and white containers. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention even cheese!!

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account

Match One

Last Sunday was the first chance to become champions, with their match against Excelsior. Since the morning from 10am there were already cars tooting past the house, flags hanging out the windows. Fireworks heard going off all around the city and everywhere you look there were people in red and white.

The city was prepared for the match, with big screens and public areas completely filling up ready to watch! Containers were put around the city in place for security measures but most people used them to see the big screens!

DSC_3683DSC_3680The match started at 14:30 against Excelsior in their home stadium, but not that far from De Kuip, home stadium of Feyenoord.

The first half wasn’t the best, making a few tries but nothing really special. By half time they were 0-0 so it wasn’t looking too good for them. The 2nd half caught them even more off guard as Excelsior scored 3 goals within 9 minutes of each other. Unfortunately Feyenoord didn’t make a single goal and lost the match 0-3 to Excelsior.

It sure was disappointing feeling walking back through the city full of supporters, who were ultimately starting riots against the police with so much alcohol in their system. The riot police were already ready for the rioters.

DSC_3727Match Two

This match was the deciding factor of whether Feyenoord would be champions of not. The pressure was on them even more, but there was a sense of confidence throughout the fans as Feyenoord would be playing at home, in De Kuip.

This time they were against Heracles starting at the same time of 14:30.

More regulations were set this weekend in the city, such as tickets needed now for certain open areas and all supermarkets within the center were banned to sell alcohol during a specific time limit. But that didn’t stop the supporters, bringing alcohol with them obviously bought the day before.

Well what a way to start a match! 40 seconds into the start was the first goal scored by Dirk Kuyt, followed by the second before half time. The last goal was scored also by him in the second half, making it a perfect hat-trick. Heracles managed to score a goal in the second half but with a strong defence the championships were already won. Finishing the game with 3-1 to Feyenoord!

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Kuyt Celebrating in De Kuip! Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

Once the match was ended, the whole city was crazy!! Now I’m not really a big football fan, but to experience this was unbelievable!! So much energy and excitement from EVERYONE. The one place all supporters go to visit is Hofplein, the fountain shown in the third photo. It is a well known spot to celebrate victories!!

DSC_3786DSC_3805DSC_3794DSC_3800As you can see below, you actually cannot see the fountain any more!!

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account from Bart Luters

DSC_3837Tomorrow supporters and the team will celebrate on the Coolsingel for the champions ceremony, just like in the first photo 18 years ago.

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Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

Kings Day Celebrations 2016

Since moving to the Netherlands, Queens Day was one of my favourite public holidays. A day to dress up in orange and go shopping for second hand items is something I love! Two years ago Queens Day changed to Kings Day for the first time, celebrated now on the April 27th as it marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander.

What I love about Kings Day is that most shops are closed and the city becomes more alive than usual with people wanting to make money from selling their belongings or people wanting to buy! I also love that the Royal family visit a different village each year where they see local talent from schools, art displays and games that they join in on. They get so close and personal with everyone who attends that village to see them and get involved with trying the local cheese or dancing to a performance.

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Back in 2011 my mum and little sister were visiting me in Rotterdam and they got to experience how much the Dutch love celebrating in orange! Lots of stores start selling orange coloured clothes, accessories and food three weeks before the official date, with a favourite treat being an orange coloured tompouce! (a Dutch pastry cake with cream filling).

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My little sister also loved the day, pictured below with my partner’s mum. It was so fun for her to dress up in orange and spend her money on random stuff she liked, that would also fit in her suitcase back to the UK.

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I’m a big fan of recycling and shopping for second hand items for the house or my closet. A week before the holiday I start getting excited and checking out the weather hoping for the sun. I also start thinking of all the things I want to find or plan on looking for, with hope that I will succeed with as little money as possible!

People who decide to sell their belongings start setting up their stall/area in the city from as early at 6am, with the latecomers joining around 10am. By 9am I am normally already looking at peoples stalls to see if I can buy some great stuff before other buyers do!

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Since running 10km for the Rotterdam Marathon I have been extremely motivated to reach my fitness goals and invest in new active clothes. So the main thing on my list for 2016 is to find anything related to fitness! Clothes, weights, accessories etc.

Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for. Hopefully the weather will be dry and sunny for tomorrows Kings Day, because today the Netherlands has had rain, hail and even places of snow! If your joining in with the celebrations, don’t forget to wear orange!

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