Faces of Rotterdam

Rotterdam is all about the bicycle. If I thought I was impressed by Portland bike culture, I was seeing a young, vibrant transplant from older roots. Those roots lie in the rich, fertile earth of the Netherlands and the hearts (and legs) of the Dutch. Here everyone rides a bicycle from the cradle to the grave. The streets teem with them, and it is the bicycle and not the car, at the top of the natural order. Almost without exception Dutch cyclists ride without helmets and yet they navigate their bikes with a stylish confidence in all directions in a constant, thriving urban peloton. It is an amazing sight.

So here are a few of the faces of Rotterdam. All riding, or double riding. You may recognize a few recent transplants at the end of the sequence. Tomorrow our team takes to the streets for our own prologue. I've met about half the boys in the last couple of days and they've welcomed me as part of the team.

Beauty and the Bike Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam Faces of Rotterdam

20 Responses to Faces of Rotterdam

  1. josh says:

    You sure that third picture wasn’t taken in LA? Didn’t know they had a low rider culture in Rotterdam, lol. Great shots as always.

  2. Greg says:

    Fantastic shots Michael, looking forward to seeing what you come up with in the next couple weeks.

  3. Jon Moss says:

    Great shots! Have an amazing time :-)

  4. Tinpot Dictator says:

    Great Shots.
    After WWII the dutch sent and continue to send us here in Canada, hundreds of thousands of tulips in thanks for our part in liberating their country. I wish, for just one year, they could bottle their appreciation for the bicycle as part of their daily life, and send that instead. Enough for us here to truly appreciate how beautiful such a life is.
    Enjoy the tour.

  5. kurt says:

    I was in Amsterdam a month ago. Bicycles everywhere. Plenty of infrastructure to support the bicycle and control the pedestrian. Motor vehicles and velocipedes cruised along with little interuption.

    I rented a “yellow bike” and joined the fun. The geomtery of the bike kept the pace to a minimum. Later the key broke in the lock when I stopped to enjoy a Belgian Blond and so I found myself walking 4 miles back to the shop. No worries, cool place.

    Nice shots as always. Looks like you may be experiencing a little sensory overload.

    Enjoy the Ride.

  6. Malk says:

    Anyone who wears a helmet on a bicycle is deluded.
    There is no evidence whatsoever (other than anecdotal) that wearing a helmet adds anything to safety.

    Why bother? Statistically you are just as likely to sustain a head injury while a pedestrian as as a cyclist.
    Would you wear a helmet walking down the street?…bonkers…none of the pros would wear them if they didn’t have to.

    Here is an unbiased discussion on cycle helmets for anyone who is interested.

  7. BR says:

    So what should we do? Stop wearing helmets? Please tell us so we know what to do! People unfortunately die all the time on bikes and probably – sorry I have no data – it’s due to massive internal injuries. A helmet would not have saved them – nothing would have. Are you assuming that a couple of tweenies in Rotterdam doing 5mph engage in the same circumstances as person descending a Col at 50mph. Can you apply one conclusion to an entire group = all cyclists ?

    In my opinion people don’t wear helmets because of their vanity or they can’t afford one.

    I do know that helmets keep riders cooler in hot weather so taking it off on a climb solves nothing. Myth: Wearing a helmet makes your head hotter than if you didn’t wear one.
    Actual measurements under hard riding conditions with ANSI standard helmets show no consistent temperature difference from helmetless riders. Part of the reason is that helmets provide insulated protection from the sun as well as some airflow around the head. (Les Earnest Les@cs.Stanford.edu) http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/cycling-myths.html

  8. Malk says:

    Thats an interesting piece of research, from personal experience I would agree with the findings, modern helmets are very good at keeping the head cool; in fact that maybe part of the problem.

    Ever heard the expression “my helmet took the brunt”?
    Thats the kind of anecdotal evidence I mentioned, which people use to condone helmet use.
    Of course what they should have said was “my helmet failed catastrophically!”

    ANSI helmet are tested by dropping from head height unto a flat anvil. They’re not tested from the sides or front where they are more likely to recieve an impact. Anyway, whether you agree with the testing methods or not there is still no evidence that a helmet will protect your head from an injury in the real world… and that includes descending a col at 50mph.

    In fact it maybe that wearing a helmet is providing the user with a false sense of security which may increase their risk of injury!

    Don’t you think that it is amazing that after all these years of cyclists wearing helmets that noone has produced any research that wearing a helmet on a bicycle makes you less likely to sustain a head injury…that makes me suspicious.

    So in answer to your question, I would say yes, stop wearing your helmet, and if you really want to protect your head from injury get yourself one of those helmets that motorcyclists and racing drivers wear…see how cool that keeps you.

  9. BR says:

    I have actually ridden, raced, commuted for a long time and yes in fact I have seen “helmets that took the brunt” and the person that crashed was thankful they had a helmet on. I have also seen a rider fail to respect the reality of the road get hauled away with sever neck injuries. He had a helmet on and would, I assume, also had a skull fracture. I think that if you need data to justify a fashion decision you may be a bit deluded yourself? The Rapha website has a lot of slick images that suggest the coolest riders are without helmets OY! It’s called Marketing.

    There is plenty of data on head injuries if you look.


    http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm Scroll down.

  10. Le Matos says:

    Am I kidding myself, reading a bloody comment about wearing or not wearing a helmet? Get over it! Overdone and please stop using google to make any arguments valid like this was 1999… There are plenty of newby forums for this oh so old discussion. Anyone who rides knows exactly when and when not to make the helmet call, get over yourselves. Now you want to come in a crit with me without a helmet ? Good luck to you (other than the fact you won’t be able to group ride or do any sanctioned race. I have an old euro pro friend, he never rides with a helmet, he doesn’t need one cause he is stubburn as shit and his head is an empty rock. I happen to have a friend who required a plate after a pat on the back while he was climbing a 16% grade hill at almost stand still, he fell little more than 3 feet. I don’t wear a helmet all the time but I’m not dumb enough to be militant about it ! I have two cracked helmets and three 21 cm pins in my femoral neck to old my hip together, good thing you can screw a leg back in place…

    Now back to the subject, that first picture is pure bliss, drop dead beauty.

  11. OK… that’s a wrap. No more helmet debate. I’ll try and write something “current” for everyone to focus on.

  12. BR says:

    Ah no debate? but it’s so fun….and did I just get called out to trade elbows at any speed? Loved it…miss it…let’s do it soon Le Matos…and I will even be nice…probably. But you can take the glam shots home for the chicks.

  13. Wonderful faces of Rotterdam Michael, all kinds and all enjoying the ride. Glad you wrapped the helmet debate, I was just going to tell you my story…


  14. lematos says:

    I’m sorry BR, to me, helmet debates like the one you are getting into serve no purpose. Helmets and europe is a completely different world, much like swedish mothers leaving their babies in cribs in the middle of winter in front of coffee houses.

    C’est comme ca en europe mon ami, je comprends que vous trouvez ceci bizarre, mais c’est la vie. We are not talking about beasts in echelon formation at 50 km-h with crazy side winds and street furniture all over the place. This is not riding a dutch bike in a very sophisticated system by riders who have a genetic imprint on how to ride (which was the point of Velodramatic in my view). There are more bikes in the Netherlands than there are people. That removes a lot of Hummer bumpers from my face. Let’s not generalise.

    You know what you should debate about ? The fact it’s harder for you to get a case of beer or a strabuck’s by bike than by car.

    Bycicling in the Netherlands is like driving a car in a flow of traffic:

  15. BR says:

    J’ai beaucoup couru en Europe, je sais la différence, et je suis vraiment pas convaincu que leur est un avantage génétique. Je fais la navette 80-90 miles par semaine et profiter de la qualité de la bière américaine. Ne présumez jamais que vous savez tout. Have a nice day.

  16. le matos says:

    Oui mais tu es l’exception, ne pas savoir le reconnaitre serait de très mauvaise foi. Une navette de 80 mile par semaine ? Un vrai diesel ! Moi, je coure encore et quelque fois mëme en Eurpoe dont la Paris Tours et le Paris Roubaix cyclo et j’ai 4 enfants à faire vivre et je sais très bien quand porter mon casque, j’ai ce jugement, je ne le colporte pas et ce, mais si Bell me sponsore. J’adore rouler sans casque mais je me fou totalement de cette attitude de vieux pro qui se donne un droit à la rectitude politique de son amendement constitutionnel.

    • BR says:

      Vous êtes sage de ne jamais présumer que le gouv sait ce qui est mieux pour vous. circonscription Amusez-vous et heureux. Et pour mémoire, je ne désapprouvent Starbucks et des cas (24) de la bière bon marché. Je préfère une bière locale micro, un ou deux à la fois. J’ai suivi de 1991 Tour de France et beaucoup me suis bien amusé. J’ai deux jeunes garçons, âgés de 6 et 9 ans et nous avons tous plaisir à rouler. Ma femme est grand partisan des Français. Je sed Google Translator d’écrire ce message, je ne ni parler français.

  17. le matos says:

    BTW BR, I realise now, that my original post was not towards your post but the one conveyed by MALK, my apologies because you take in my view a very acceptable stance.
    I guess I’m deluded more often than not.

  18. Malk says:

    I guess it’s time to put this issue to bed.

    To explain my initial comment, my animosity towards helmets has been shaped by my recent stay in Australia where I was forced by law to wear one.

    OK, I admit to being vain, but when you have a head as perfect as mine you don’t want to cover it, also it is a matter of comfort and convenience and the feeling of the wind in the hair.

    The general agreement is that the necessity of a helmet is dependant on the type of riding you engage in. For the record I ride fixed and I ride like a bloody maniac.

    The more traffic and the tighter the streets, the more risks I seem compelled to take. Now that I am back in London I swear I am worse than ever!

  19. BR says:

    Malk! You be safe and keep the cops busy..but not too busy. I know that you are a fixxe rider and took no insult from your post.