Cookies   I display ads to cover the expenses. See the privacy policy for more information. You can keep or reject the ads.

Video thumbnail
- I'm standing on the Oosterscheldekering, the largest part of the Dutch Delta Works.
It is a megastructure.
An enormous dam, nine kilometres long
with four kilometres of sluice gates that can be closed
to hold back extreme high tides and stop the Netherlands flooding.
It took a decade to build and it is a rallying cry
of human planning, survival and achievement.
And it is not what I'm here to talk about.
There days ago, a forecast came in.
A storm is going to hit,
winds will gust up 120 km/h on this barrier.
And so a different rallying cry went up.
Three words: "We kriehen sturm".
A storm is coming.
Because today is NK Tegenwindfietsen,
The Dutch headwind cycling championships.
Several hundred Dutch people looked at this weather and said,
"We're going to have a bike race in that".
- The course is eight and a half brutal kilometres.
It's a serious event, with permissions and everything.
We have a limit of 300 participants.
All the bikes are the same. No gears, and just an ordinary brake.
And it's a typical dutch bike.
- Have you done it?
- Yes, two times.
- How difficult is it?
- Very. I do triathlon in my spare time and it's just as hard.
- At high speed, up to 90% of the drag on a cyclist is from air resistance.
And I naively assumed,
because it's been 15 years since I've studied high school physics,
that it'd be an equal action-reaction thing.
Double the wind speed, double the drag.
But that's only true when there's no turbulence.
In a situation like this,
the drag increases with the square of wind speed.
Double the wind speed, quadruple the drag force.
The difference between cycling in a 15 km/h headwind
and a 120 km/h gust is 64 times the added drag.
- Why are you doing this?
- I don't know. [laughs]
I really don't know.
- Do you regularly do bike races and things like this?
- No, just bike for fun.
- How do you think it's going to be?
- Hard! Very hard!
- Succes! - Dank je wel!
- And sure, it's a good, weird human interest story, right?
People are doing a deliberately difficult thing
and hurting themselves just enough that it's interesting.
But this is a good place for it.
Because not only are humans literally pushing against the storm
and saying, "we can beat you",
they are on a physical monument to doing just that.
There's a big rock in the middle of the barrier,
with an inscription that translates as
"Here the tide is ruled by the wind, the moon and us".