Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Drents Fietsvierdaagse

We're now part way through the Drentse fietsvierdaagse. It's one of the largest cycling events in the Netherlands. Approximately 11000 people sign up to cycle four days in a row. It's not a race. Most people choose the shorter distances (40 km is the most popular distance) and it's about having a nice time, not about speed or covering huge distances.

The local TV station covers each day as it occurs. Here's their coverage of today's 40 km ride, which went North-West from Assen. You'll see the varied demographic of the riders, from very young to no longer quite so young but certainly still active, people with disabilities as well as the able bodied, sporty types (they tend to wear helmets and ride the 80 km, 100 km or the mountain bike route) as well as those who are just out to have a nice time. The footage includes people involved with the excellent organisation of the fietsvierdaagse. There are many, of course, and they work very hard. I know it's in Dutch and difficult to understand, but I think it's still worth watching:

The riders pass many villages, farms, churches, galleries and other places. Many of these places have something going on for the riders. Some of the places in the second video may look familiar to people who've been on our cycling holidays as we send people to some of the same destinations.

About one in 1450 Dutch people take part in the Drentse fietsvierdaagse. However, it is just one of over 60 such three or four day events around the country each summer. The rate at which people take part in mass cycling events in this country is one of the things that still amazes me.

Here's a film showing the opening yesterday. This includes the band which cycled around the centre of Assen to open the event:


Alan Selk said...

I loved the pace of the ride. So unlike the gonzo type rides we have in the states. Also quite amazing to see so many older folks (I'm moving into that category). They look fit and happy.

This is the best advertisement out there to show what a positive effect a strong bike culture can have.

Frits B said...

The majority of participants are clearly older people, probably as the youngsters are at work during the day. That or there has been some selective editing ...

The president of I think Fietsberaad recently pleaded for more events of this kind, so as to make more use of the cycling infrastructure. I suppose he meant well, but to me it sounded like someone wishing people to take the car more often because those empty stretches of road look so vacant.

David Hembrow said...

Frits: This year we're planning to take part just one day, but we've done the Fietsvierdaagse before.

The age of the riders shown in the video is pretty much as in real life. There are a lot of older people. Probably the majority.

I think it's a challenge for the event as clearly is has an aging demographic. More younger riders are needed, and I'm not sure that teenagers see it as "cool". I think the inclusion of the sportier / longer rides is part of trying to widen the demographic, but of course this also in a sense narrows it to just those interested in sporty riding.

Personally I think it's a lot of fun to take part in things like this.