The Baroudeurs are passionate about helping people ride, learn and grow.
We believe this is especially important in a transient city like London. Empowering members to grow even when they move onto new beginnings.
This is a conversation with one of our very own Baroudeurs, Michael aka, ‘Maverick’. He has since moved from London to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. We catch up with Michael to discuss how he has made the ‘Dam’ his home and how it has changed his life. If you’re looking to do the same, we hope this conversation inspires you to take the plunge.
Tell us about the cycling culture in Amsterdam:
Cycling culture in Amsterdam is a little bit different to the UK. Many of the clubs have a rich history and often over 100 years old they can come across as a bit of a closed ecosystem particularly if you don’t speak the language.
For many getting into cycling their first experience with group rides are on bunch rides organised by local bike shops. For example here in Amsterdam we have Maats which is unique in the fact that they are purely cycling fashion boutique but organise fantastic events for cyclists in Amsterdam and Utrecht.
The other thing that is really different to the UK and Australia (where I also lived for a few years) is that rides start much later. Weekend rides will start at 10.30am and often people will ride after work particularly in the summer to take advantage of the long evenings.
The other model…
There are a few alternative options though. RCC have a chapter in Amsterdam however even their weekday rides start at 9am so doesn’t work for most with full time jobs. I wanted to find a group that was happy to start early, rode at a challenging pace but also enjoyed a coffee stop afterwards.
What’s out there?
The ‘No Breakfast Club.cc‘ are in Amsterdam and Utrecht with rides starting at 6.30am Tuesdays and Fridays. Their Amsterdam ride is a 35km fast ride with a 14km pace line effort on the famous “Rondehoep”. On the ‘hoep the pace will average approximately 45km/h and it’s a drop ride often with the dropped riders banding together to complete the ride back to Amsterdam.
There’s also ‘Roll Call‘. A smaller more social ride than NBCC and provides a great opportunity to explore different routes out of the city on Friday mornings at 6.30am.
“The majority of people are Dutch, but they use the English language.”
Six months after I arrived in Amsterdam the Kaptein Cycling Club (KCC) was launched. The ethos is very similar to a lot of UK clubs with a combination of competitive riding but also a strong social element. The club has quickly doubled in size in the first 12 months and shows the appetite for this sort of club in a city like Amsterdam. It’s deliberately open and inclusive with all the communication in English.
What was your first ride experience like with KCC?
It was definitely an experience and really highlighted to me the importance of riding with a like minded bunch that the Baroudeurs cultivate through the 3 month probation period. There is a real range of experience levels which is great but the thing I really appreciate is the introduction to racing and development side which becomes easier in a large club.
What’s it like riding in NL?
It’s very different to the UK. Rarely do you have people calling out potholes and the majority of the time you are riding on segregated bike paths so no road furniture but it can be challenging in a big group. The most important thing, is how cyclists are treated compared to other road users. Vehicles will often give way at crossings and I think they have greater empathy as the majority of car drivers will be cyclists themselves.
What’s the riding style like?
Well to start with there are no hills. We do have the “dutch hills” i.e., the wind, which can be brutal. Learning how to ride in the wind becomes super important in order to maintain energy and make the most of the tailwinds/“dutch descents”.
“The Rondje Zuiderzee. At about 386km, it can take up to 12hrs or more to ride, and you can burn up to 8,000 calories.”
What are your favourite events?
In the Netherlands you are lucky to be no more than a 2-3 hour train ride from Flanders and the Ardennes so you can take advantage of sportives which often run the day before the Classics. Ronde de Vlaandaren and Amstel Gold both offer the chance to ride on some iconic climbs the day before the pro’s with excellent feed stops. The Netherlands and Belgium are also quite unique that a lot of companies will run corporate hospitality events in partnership with the big races, so next week I will go to Amstel Gold as a guest of a law firm.
Later on in the year I’ll be riding the Ronde Zuiderzee (Afsluitdijk)with members of KCC. It is a 385km ride around the IJsselmeer and you ride along one of the longest dykes in the world that is scheduled to open for only two days in 2023.
I’ll also be travelling to L’Etape in France/Switzerland to ride with my fellow Baroudeurs in July.
:: The London Baroudeurs believe in empowering people who seek to join a team of cyclists and together will ‘ride, learn and grow’. Get in touch if you’d like to know more mailto:[email protected] ::