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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Dutch Police bike training day 2009

On Thursday 17th September 2009 I flew to Schipol Airport in The Netherlands where I was met by my friend Tommy Hammelink, a bike patrol officer from Den Haag (The Hague). For the next two nights I stayed with him at his old fisherman’s house in Scheveningen, a coastal suburb of Den Haag. The area Tommy has settled in is really pleasant, his house being situated off a quite car free cul de sac. Thursday evening Tommy decided a tour of his manor was in order so he broke out his Montague 'Paratrooper' folding bike which he has converted into a marked Politie bike and his pride and joy, a Surly Pugsley snow bike with balloon tyres. He let me enjoy the Surly for the evening and it was great, rumbling around the streets of Den Haag with folk doing double takes at the bike! It was a fun bike to ride.
He showed me around the Police Station he worked at and also the local HQ where the Embassy security teams work from. We then made our way to a city centre restaurant for a dose of steak and chips. Lovely grub.

The next morning we put his patrol bike and the Paratrooper in his car and drove to Amsterdam Police HQ and training centre where we joined close to 250 other like minded officers, most from around The Netherlands but also including at least 4 officers from Belgium and 3 from Germany. The day was spent around the training centre and Amsterdam City centre streets where, in groups of 8 to 10 bikers, we descended on waiting instructors and 'suspects'. At each Town centre location, we were briefed about an 'incident' involving our suspect who we then had to deal with. I don't think the suspect came quietly on any occasion. One of the stands was to deal with an aggressive drunk who was sitting on a town square bench. This suspect seemed to be the strongest of all that we dealt with and he put up a good fight. This stand was being keenly studied by the local 'celebrities' who were by that time, reasonably well into their jars. They gave a good critique of the way officers dealt with the suspect- probably from a professional background! I think quite a few visitors to Amsterdam came away with photo's and video of massed bike patrols dealing with bad guys and girls in the city. I had a really good day and learned a lot about how the Dutch do their thing.

The day finished with a BBQ at the HQ after which Tommy and I returned to his house, changed and took a walk to a beachfront bar for a relaxing drink.
On Saturday morning, Tommy broke the Surly out again and we took it for a ride on the beach. This is about the only bike I think I could make progress with on soft sand. Going was hard but possible. The transition form softy to packed sand was very noticeable and, when I rode off of the beach and onto the concrete slipway, that change was like lighting the afterburner on a supersonic jet!

Thanks for a great couple of days Tommy!

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