Cycling Is for Winners

Last week, we told you about real scientific evidence that cycling can make more attractive. This week, we’re here to share with you how cycling can make you a winner.

… Or, at least, how cycling is attributed to helping the Dutch win gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Check out the title of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: Sochi 2014: The Dutch Key to Cycling is Getting on the Bike.

speed skating 2014 winter olympics sochi duch team netherlands


This article was published after the Dutch won seven out of nine possible medals, including three gold, in three long-track events – a feat for any nation and especially so for the tiny nation like the Netherlands.

The Dutch are known for including cycling as part of their way of life. “Dutch bikes” are gaining more popularity here in the U.S., as more cities try to embrace and encourage commuting by bike.

Sven Kramer, who set an Olympic record on his way to gold in the 5,000 meters last week said, “We grow up with it.. and it’s one of the keys for the longer distances for sure.”

Dutch distance specialist Yvonne Nauta said, “It’s part of our culture… Where other people take the car or the bus to school, we always cycled.”


It turns out all that cycling is a fantastic cross-training tool for the Dutch speed-skating team. The Wall Street journal article suggests that part of their success at the 2014 Olympics is attributed to their cycling  year-round:

As the Dutch dominate the long track in Sochi, the secret of their training has nothing to do with ice and blades. The secret is in cycling.


The Dutch began using cycling as a cross-training tool for two reasons. First was the lack of availability of ice during the summer months. But now, even with training facilities available year-round, the demanding nature of the sport – the amount of pressure the unnatural position puts on skaters’ hips and and back – necessitates a break according to Gerard Kemkers, the Dutch national coach.

Evanston Speed Skating Club ESSC Danny GrantPedaling on a bike allows the athletes to continue to use a lot of the same muscles in a sport that is non-weight-bearing. While the Dutch team escapes the ice temporarily in the summer, Kemkers said, “The bike is a year-round element of the training.”

According to Kemkers, cycling is mostly used for endurance training. During its pair of two-week summer training camps, the Dutch team does bike rides that last up to six hours, “right on par with a Tour de France stage,” according to the Wall Street Journal article.

During the winter months, cycling becomes a valuable recovery tool. With grueling training sessions in the morning both on and off the ice, afternoons are spent on the bike. Winter trainer rides can be over three hours long. “Forty-five minutes of easy cycling on a roller, for example, really flushes your legs out and gives you a chance to recover from what you’ve done in the morning,” according to Kemkers.


The Dutch skating team incorporates cycling into their training more than any other country. As a team, they also (except for the few who also compete in in-line skating) opt out of in-line skating as part of their cross-training, giving their body a much needed break from the demands of speed skating.

Is cycling the reason behind the Dutch teams’ success in the 2014 Olympics? Does the Dutch way of life – cycling, instead of driving – make them more well-rounded athletes? This Wall Street Journal article has us thinking about cycling as cross-training and commuting. How about you?




Check out what Higher Gear customer Danny Grant has to say about the cycling/speed skating combo.


Ever considered giving speed skating a try as a break from cycling during the long winter months? Check out Evanston Speed Skating Club, ESSC, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Robert Crown Center. That’s where Olympian Shani Davis’ speed skating career began. Or Northbrook Speed Skating Club welcomes newcomers to its Tuesday and Thursday evening practices. Both clubs have demo skates available. If you are interested in trying it, Danny Grant advices, “Because speed skating is so unnatural, you’ve got to commit to going a few times to really to start to get a feel for it.”


Need a break from cycling, but head-to-toe lycra’s not your thing?


Have you made it a goal to bike to work in 2014?


Want to train indoors this winter?


Meet Higher Gear customers who take a break from cycling during the winter months with sports of the Winter Olympics sports in Bringing Home the Gold.

Check out the Wall Street Journal article, Sochi 2014: The Dutch Key to Cycling is Getting on the Bike.


Oh, and if you’re unsure about the whole Dutch/Netherlands/Holland thing, here’s a little history lesson for you. (It’s worth the four minutes.)




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