Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Biking to the gym

One of our favorite parts of day to day life in Rotterdam is our gym. It's our saving grace. It is somewhere we can go to get in a good workout, relieve stress, and even relax and rejuvinate. It is a great facility located right on the Maas river between the Erasmusbrug and Willemsbrug (ironically just across the street from my Maersk office). My favorite part is the Les Mills classes (Body Pump, Body Combat, Body Step, etc).

An interesting added element of our trips involve biking to and from the gym. Of course we don't have cars, nor do we need one to get to the gym, as it's only a few minutes bike ride away. The plus side is that it adds a good 10 minute cardio to the beginning and end of your workout. The downside comes in when the weather does not cooperate.

Always with the wind...

The worst has to be the wind; and, this is Holland, so there is a lot of it. To get to the gym, we bike down a road along the riverfront that has a "flag museum" with a flag from each country in the world. In my 2+ years here, I have almost never seen these flags laying still, as there is always a wind coming from some direction. I didn't realize how much harder biking can be with the wind in your face. Sometimes it feels like it's blowing in our face in both directions (and it probably is... constantly swirling about us).

This is especially hard after a really tough workout. When you are already fatigued and you then have to fight the wind on the way home... let's just say it is not fun.

Rain Rain Go Away...

Biking in the rain is an event. We were not prepared the first couple times, so we would have to take an entire extra set of clothes and shoes, as we'd get soaked on our way to the gym. Now, we are fully equiped. We have water proof rain pants, & a hooded rain jacket. For the heaviest downpours, I also have a pair of waterproof boots. That way, I am covered from head to toe, with only my face that gets soaking wet.

In the winter, though, the rain turns cold. It is typically not cold enough to snow, but it is close, so that freezing rain can really cut to your core. In this case, we'd also have to add layers underneath our water proof gear, plus gloves.

The Perfect Storm

Of course, nothing is more fun than when we are blessed with both a combination of the two: a heavy downpour, and a strong wind. This is truly the ultimate kick in the face from Mother Nature. I think I've even shouted "WHY" into the air before. haha. But ultimately, after we've pushed through and made it home, we feel a great sense of acheivement. Then we dump all of our wet gear in the bathtub, & hang things up to dry, so we can do it all again the next day.

Unusual Snow

A couple times last winter, Holland got an unusually large amount of snow (meaning a couple inches). They are not very good at clearing the roads, because they normally don't need to do it. The major bike baths were initially scraped and salted, but after a couple days of light sprinkling of snow, the couldn't keep up. I tried to bike to work a couple times with this bit of snow on the path, and let me tell you it's not easy. The tire tracks that form in the snow really grab your tire and jerk your handle bars. It's not much easier to walk, though, as they don't touch the sidewalks, and they become icy. Let's just hope that this winter is a mild one!

Yep, really looking forward to that car again...


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