Dutch Language Blog

A new sport: Tegenwindfietsen! Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Culture

We kriehen sturm!

That the Dutch are crazy, you probably already know. However, that they invent a totally insane new sport from one day to another might still surprise you. Last year for the first time, and yesterday for the second time, the Dutch NK Tegenwindfietsen (Dutch Championship of cycling against the wind) was held. That thing that everybody hates when cycling, that stops you right there in the middle of the road, no matter how much you try to move forward… EXACTLY THAT has been used as the fundament of this new sport. And around 200 people embraced the challenge again this year.

The challenge seems easy: reach the other end of the Oosterscheldekering, one of the best known Delta Works facing the North Sea, first and you win. Though the “short” 9 kilometers  (around 5.6 miles) is very tough against a Beaufort wind force 8. Additionally, specialized race bikes, gears, and handbrakes were all not allowed. The traditional omafiets – one gear, only a back-pedal brake, good old thick tires and the great design – is perfect for this race! This year was the first time a ploegentijdrit (team time trial) was also held, where you can fight the wind with 3 others in a team.

This combination of things – the wind, the competition, and of course the traditional bicycle – makes it a much greater challenge. The wind can grow so strong that you basically stand still. But you have to keep going, even if it is so hard to get the chain around: You cannot change gears!

For this reason, the Dutch wind is sometimes also called the Dutch mountain. The Netherlands is very flat, and thus there is no real elevation that could pose a challenge – but there is a mighty wind!

Tegen de wind! Winner of 2013, Bart Brentjens (Image by NK Tegenwindfietsen at Facebook.com)

What’s the record?

Last year, the record was set at 17 minutes and 51 seconds by Bart Brentjens. That was impossible this year, as the wind was even stronger now. This year’s winner, Wouter Mesker finished with a time of 18 minutes and 6 seconds, which is still very fast! For the female participants, the  best time was set by Nathalie Simoens at 22 minutes and 34 seconds. The best team in the ploegentijdrit was Gefeliciteerd!

Het goede doel

The profit made from the event is used for a good cause – the Jeugdsportfonds (Youth Sport Fund). Last year, 5000 euro was accumulated. Great event with a great cause, one could say!

See an interview with the initatior of Tegenwindfietsen in the video here.

Also check out the rules for the race. They are hilarious!


Would you try yourself in this challenge? Why (not)?

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Bill:

    ” This year, the new record was set by Wouter Mesker, with a time of 18 minutes and 6 seconds, which is still very fast. ”

    I take it you mean, “Wouter Mesker was this year’s winner. He had a time of 18 minutes and 6 seconds, which is still very fast.”. Your sentence above makes him the new record holder, even though his time is slower than last year.

    I have ridden bikes in the Netherlands, but all in the Twente area (with a little in Germany). Never had much issue with the wind there. This seems like an interesting race, however. And the riders would have to have legs as big as elephants. Now I feel out of shape.

    • Sten:

      @Bill Updated! Thank you for pointing it out. Keep up that alertness! 🙂

      I am from the Twente area myself, and you are right – the wind there is a small breeze compared to the storms in areas at the coast…