High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

The Dutch Art of Uitwaaien
© Eneco NK Tegenwindfietsen
© Eneco NK Tegenwindfietsen © Eneco NK Tegenwindfietsen
The L-Spot

The Dutch Art of Uitwaaien

Oosterscheldekering, Zeeland

The Dutch are famous for their culture of cycling. They do it everywhere, always and in any weather. Even when they have to battle against gale-force winds. Uitwaaien might be a lifestyle trend.

A recent transport study compared the behaviour of Dutch and German cyclists. It found that Germans stopped using their bicycles in winter whereas the Dutch carried on cycling throughout the year.

The Dutch have a word that might explain their behaviour. They talk about uitwaaien, which means going out when the wind is blowing hard, as a way of reducing stress.

In a 2022 article, the Washington Post saw it as an emerging lifestyle trend. Something to join hygge, the Danish art of being comfortable, or friluftsliv, the Norwegian love of outdoor living.

For an extreme example of uitwaaien, you just need to follow the NK Tegenwindfietsen, or Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships. Held every year on the Oosterscheldekering, a concrete sea barrier on the North Sea, the competition is organised in autumn or winter. The date is decided when a strong storm is expected.

The riders battle against gale-force winds on single-speed bikes. They get blown off course and sometimes fall off their bikes. ‘It’s not a piece of cake,’ observed one exhausted cyclist.

It’s a lot harder than hygge, tougher than friluftsliv. Extreme uitwaaien, you might call it.

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