Alternative Olympic Bicycle Sports

Trajectum Fietsen
While watching some of the indoor cycling the other night — which we don’t always understand, but still enjoy — we started joking about what the sports would be if the Dutch had started the Olympics.

We decided that the velodrome bike sports would be a competition to see not only how fast you can go around, but how many people you can fit on one bike while racing. Children would be used, of course, in order to make the most of the multiple child seats. There would also be bakfiets racing.

Other competitions would involve carrying large, awkward items on a bike. Sort of like weightlifting, you’d gradually work your way from surfboards and multiple bags of groceries, up to small trees and small sofas.

There could be a dressage competition for the most interestingly decorated bicycles.

Finally, there could be a competition to “park” a bike in the highest and most difficult to reach position possible. Such as far-reaching branches of a tree over a canal.

What would be a funny Olympic sport representing your country?

Judo Champions, Mars, and Flamingos

Sunning
Here’s a quick news roundup for you all.

The flamingos at the Amersfoort Zoo here in the Utrecht region have laid four eggs. This is the first time the birds have bred in ten years! The eggs hatch around 28 days, so we should have some more flamingos in the region by the end of the month.

Last night, right before the men’s 100m race, some idiot threw a bottle down onto the track behind the runners. Fortunately, the runners weren’t hit or truly distracted. Fortunately — for everyone who hates that kind of idiocy and poor sportsmanship — Edith Bosch, one of the Dutch women who won an Olympic medal in judo this year, was sitting right behind the idiot. Horrified by what he had done, she gave him a hard smack on the back with the flat of her hand. Somehow, I suspect the hit of a judo champion might have a bit more force and power behind it! Good for her! Too bad she missed the actual race.

Finally, it was exciting to wake up to the news this morning of Curiosity’s landing on Mars. It turns out that a scientist at Utrecht University played a role in the project. Inge Loes ten Kate worked for five years on one of the instruments that is aboard the Mars rover. The instrument will be analysing soil and gas samples. She’ll continue to be involved in the project over the next two years.

Olympic Inburgering

The 2010 edition of the Winter Olympics is now finished. What on earth will we watch in the evenings? I’ve seen more ski jumping and cross-country skating that I ever have before. Watching the Eurosport channel’s coverage of the Olympics is much different from watching the NBC coverage in the US. You get to see whole competitions instead of just a few bits and pieces. On the other hand, sometimes you end up missing whole sports. One thing that they didn’t seem to focus on quite as much was speed skating. You have to understand that for the Dutch, not focusing on speed skating is like not focusing on hockey in Canada. Skating is huge here!

Even if you’re not Dutch, you probably heard about poor Sven Kramer’s disaster in one of the races when his coach pointed him into the wrong lane. Poor Sven! A nation was heart-broken! Even I felt bad for the guy. And yes, I did know who he was before the Olympics. That’s how famous he is here. I like to think of that as another step in my unofficial inburgering (integration).

Friday night, at the Potdeksel, the tv came on for the speed skating and snowboarding events in which the Dutch were taking place. Everyone stopped to watch. Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom, giving the Dutch their 100th winter Olympic medal! Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the men’s team pursuit skating event. Worst of all, it came down to the Netherlands vs USA to see who would go to the finals. I was actually cheering for the Dutch team against the US team, even though it was the US team that eventually won the challenge. Surely, I must truly be integrating.

To be honest, I found myself somewhat removed from cheering for the US athletes in general. To be fair, that was the only time I was cheering against them, and there were plenty of times I wanted them to win. But I just didn’t feel a strong connection this time around. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the coverage I was watching was fairly neutral and not the big USA love-fest that I grew up watching. Perhaps it’s also because I’m trying to make my home here now. I’m not saying that we’ll never move back to the States, but it’s also not something that we’re honestly planning for the future, either.

Do I feel guilty for not feeling more patriotic? A bit. Mainly, I prefer to be multi-patriotic.