How to enjoy your bike ride during the Dutch summer(less) weather?

I’ve been in the Netherlands (The Hague) for almost two years (I arrived on August 30th 2011), I don’t know if I am going to stay here for ever, but for now I am. When Dutch friends and acquainted ask me where I am from and I answer “Venezuela” then they ask me “What the hell are you doing in the Netherlands? Venezuela is so warm, and sunny and the beaches and… yara, yara, yara”… and my answer is “I know how Venezuela is, you don’t have to describe it to me. Venezuela is super unsafe…”, and then I tell why and how. Then, they seemed to get it, but still don’t understand why would someone leave the Caribbean “paradise” for the Netherlands. Well, it is simple: you just don’t think about it.

Can you see the Netherlands? Me neither;  but it is there, somewhere among the clouds...

Can you see the Netherlands? Me neither; but it is there, somewhere among the clouds…

I like it here (yes, I do). There are, of course, things that aren’t cool, but I generally like it here. The weather is one of the things I dislike, and I know I am not being very original, but when riding my bike to work it was raining and cold, and it is July already. Exactly! That’s my point. I don’t mind the cold nor the rain, nor the wind, but when the three things combine it gets into me in a very unpleasant way. So, yes, today was one of those days where I had no money in my OV-chipkart and I had to take my daredevil bike Mephisto (short for Mephistopheles) to work. I was really hoping for no rain during the 20 minutes ride, but I was unlucky. So I faced my fate, and the said to myself things like “my plants will get greener and more beautiful than ever before, and that the rain cleans the air, or that everything will get fresher…”, among other stuff that you don’t wanna hear but that are still true.

Anyways, I have learned how to keep up with this Dutch [lack of| summer, and I will let you know how. May be it will work for you, or maybe not, and if not you my friend will have to find your way to keep up with it, without getting depressed trying.

This will not happen to you, but if it does, it will be very funny and unfortunate...

This will not happen to you, but if it does, it will be very funny and unfortunate…

1. Download all the best summer classics to your iPhone, iPod or smartphone. This sets me in the mood very quickly, mostly when I start to listen to the best Merengue and Salsa classics. My playlist includes:

  • Addicted to love – Robert Palmer
  • Fireworks – The whitest boy alive
  • La Flaca – Jarabe de Palo
  • The Passenger and Lust for life- Iggy Pop
  • Walk of life and The Sultans of swing – Dire Straits
  • Call me – Blondie
  • De Musica Ligera and Persiana americana – Soda Stereo
  • Sweet home Alabama – Lynard Skynard
  • Rock you like a Hurricane – Scorpions
  • Tierra Tiembla and Alla Cayo – Desorden Publico
  • Mother – Danzig
  • Dancing with myself – Billy idol
  • Don’t you (forget about me) – Simple minds
  • Walking on sunshine – Katrina and the waves
  • Ojala que llueva cafe en el campo – Juan Luis Guerra
  • Mi gente – Hector Lavoe
  • Haven’t met you yet – Michael Buble

Well, among others… As you can see, I enjoy all kinds of music, and I consider this to be part of my summer-bike ride-repertoire.

2. If you are girl and you have a long-wild-rebel hair like me, and you don’t want any single drop of rain touches your hair (if not you might look like you just had an electric shock, it happens to me all the time) then I suggest you use a hat, yes. I use my little black beret, for example. And if you are guys, I don’t think you care much about hair…

3. If you live in the Netherlands having a rain coat is crucial. It is actually one of the first things you MUST buy as soon as you arrive – aside from the bike. I didn’t have a rain coat because in Venezuela you don’t need one. Now I have one and it goes with me pretty much everywhere, and it’s bright blue which contrasts with the usual black and grey colors.

This is how we look here, pretty much!

This is how we look here, pretty much!

4. I don’t suggest to buy an umbrella, unless it is a super-mega-almighty-unbreakable umbrella, if you live in the coast like The Hague or Friesland, where is annoyingly windy. I have bought two umbrellas, and after the second one broke I quit. Even the most expensive one breaks, so don’t waste neither your money nor your time. Your are better off with a raincoat.

5. Name you bike, you will feel that “someone” is riding with you, and going through your rainy misery. I called mine Mephis 😀

6. Enjoy the ride. Really, enjoy it! That’s the best things you can do. Sing the music you’re listening to. Laugh of the people that is stuck in the traffic jam. Think that you’re exercising, burning calories and commuting in an environmentally friendly way. It might sound like crap, but it is not. I came to realize that the Netherlands doesn’t have a summer season, but summer days spread between June and September, with a bunch of rainy weeks in between those days.

So, I took a chill pill and started to enjoy my bike rides to work, singing in the rain along with my Summer “hits” in the quiet company of Mephis. Just a last thing, now I enjoy the sunny and warm days more than ever. I took the sun and warm for granted before, but not anymore… Maybe you should try it, and let me know how it went 😀

Good luck!