Total Pageviews

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sixteenth letter: Extreme sports and Kenny Loggin

I’ve noticed since we’ve been living in the Nederlands, how fit the Nederlanders (is that the right word?) are. I suppose this is probably due to the fact they all bicycle everywhere, not just the sporty generation, but everyone. Here, toddlers and grandmothers hop onto their bikes with skill and grace only achieved by semi-professional cyclists in the UK. It sounds extreme I know, but let me give you a couple of examples:

  • Last week I spotted an elegant lady, who must have been at least in her 70’s cycling down the Boschstraat (a street near us) wearing a skirt, snug fitted jacket, court shoes and scarf trailing behind her. Fairly impressive? Actually no, not so impressive, it’s a common scene here. What was impressive was the way she used one hand to hold her skirt, preventing it riding up and keeping her dignity intact, while keeping an umbrella tucked under her arm, talking on her mobile and steering with her knees.
  • I thought I’d never be able to top that as an extreme cyclist, but Andy did. A few weeks ago he came home and announced he’d just seen a man cycling past him, with one arm reaching out, tapping an extendable white stick on the cobbles. Now that is extreme cycling.

All this extreme activity seems to be infesting my life recently. My intellectual, once quiet, shy sister became a Salsa dancer within the last year, and spends several evenings every week, whirling around a vibrating dance floor to pulsating Cuban rhythms. And my brother, who has always been into extreme sports, spent several days in Stoke Mandeville hospital waiting for a five hour operation to repair his body after a fall from a young horse.
The strangest feeling has started coming over me, it feels a bit like envy. Could I really be envious of my siblings in the UK? Perhaps, just a little. Even though I don’t possess the right ingredients to become a Salsa dancer; size eight feet, no rhythm, or understanding of left and right, and an inability to stay awake beyond ten pm, rule me out. Yet I envy the effect it’s has, I bet my sister never even glances at the outsized rails in H & M.
Why should I envy my brother’s broken bones? Well obviously I don’t, but I envy the fact he can ski at seventy miles an hour and actually enjoy it, and I envy the life time of amazing memories he has from decades of competitive show jumping. I had the opportunity once, when I was younger, but the only talent I achieved in show jumping was the ability to avoid competing whenever possible, and produce steam from my ears when avoidance techniques failed. Not for me, was the life of getting up at four in the morning, driving half way across the country to gallop around a ring, jumping six foot fences perched on half a ton of horse with nothing more than your own precarious balance to keep you safe. I still don’t understand how my brother can do something so dangerous and potentially painful and call it fun, but still, I envy his memories.

Rather than wallow in self-pity, I’ve been trying ways to increase my own activity. I’ve joined a gym, not actually been, but I have joined. More effective has been the addition of music to my iPod shuffle. I’ve been using the iPod to listen to another Dutch language course while walking Alfie around Breda, just occasionally the Dutch gets a little too much and I need a break. That break comes in the form of Sammy Davis Jr. singing Mr Bojangles and Kenny Loggins with Footloose. I defy anyone while listening to Mr Bojangles, even the tone deaf like me, not give in to the urge to give a little hop on the pavement or a restrained one legged tap dance at the traffic lights. Yet, when Kenny Loggins starts singing Footloose it all changes and its necessary to check for the absence of other humans as restraint goes out of the window when I break into extreme skipping.

Enough talking, time to scour the OU forums.
Trace xx
Btw.. I forgot to mention one very annoying result of living here, I keep buying conditioner when I want shampoo. Last night I had to wash my hair bubble bath, again.


  1. Hi Tracey,
    It seems the whole world is fitter sometimes... I still dare to have a look at the shops for size 16 (whatever it is in Europe).I was also thinking about joining a gym, but just need a bit more confidence in my German.
    I thought about getting a bike too... but at the moment I have nowhere to go hehe ;)
    Milene xxx

  2. If you don't ride a bike here, you'd the odd one out. I keep trying, but I also keep falling off ;-)


Thank you for commenting :-)