Ponchos or umbrellas?
It’s pouring, and you’ve no protection. Most other bikers wear ponchos. Then, from nowhere, you spot Femke riding her bike with a brolly! She’s mad! As an international, you are unsure whether to wear a poncho or carry an umbrella whilst biking to university, and so you often reject both. What the flash flood should you use on a rainy day??
Many internationals are surprised at the lack of umbrellas they see around town, particularly the British, who are used to packing umbrellas to school in July! Most claim that the Dutch like to go nude in the rain: as in, choose to forgo the poncho and umbrella experience on bikes. Perhaps Dutch people don’t mind sitting in puddles during lectures; some kakkers do seem to like the “wet” (slimy) look with their hair ‘n’ all. Every time it rains, The Netherlands could be lost forever, so maybe the Dutch would rather go with dignity than whilst wearing plastic bags over their heads.
To help you un-deciders, here are some pros and cons for using ponchos and umbrellas in The Netherlands according to experienced Dutchies (Femke):
Pros: Ponchos = mobile Dutch Ovens (keep you warm!)
Cons: Poncho hoods always fly-off your head and become parachute-strangleholds: the faster you bike, the stronger the strangle.
Ponchos are bad for the environment… aesthetically.
If you wear a poncho, you will most certainly be called a ‘poncho-wearing pisvlek’… this will stick with you for the next two years… trust me…
Ponchos can get caught in bike pegs and pedals very easily. There’s no graceful way of falling off your bike when the bag covering your entire head and body is trapped in the chain.
Similarly, umbrellas are incredibly dangerous on bikes if used normally. If, however, you place them on the front of your bike (almost like a big windshield) it’s pretty safe (!), and you may stop the rain carried by the head wind from slapping your face. You’ll also be able to use both of your hands, as you could rest the umbrella within your bike’s handlebar-cleavage.
The only downside to this is that you’ll be slower, essentially blind, get pretty wet anyway, and look like slightly insane (or, as a bike-riding international to Dutch people, more insane).
You could, however, manage to use an umbrella normally on your bike if you had footbrakes, but definitely not handbrakes; just make sure your pilot’s licence is still in-date before you set off in the morning.
My advice: forget umbrellas and ponchos. Go fully Dutch and buy a bike seat cover. Once you come out of class to get your bike, take off your bike seat cover and put it on your head. Now you have a dry bottom, and a shower-cap ready to protect those carefully crafted, slickened strands for the stormy ride home.
Or buy a car.