Monday, June 28, 2010

How to spot a cycle tourist

Our ongoing ‘How To’ series which to date has helped readers travel from Gyeongju to Busan by train and to stealth camp in Mongolia, now turns to cycle tourist identification.

Why would you want to spot a cycle tourist?
If you yourself are a cycle tourist, especially one in a more remote setting, the prospect of meeting another of your ilk is ever-so appealing. If not a bike traveler, you may yearn for these skills in order to welcome in passing riders, fend off would-be stealth campers from your plot or avoid a prolonged tedious conversation in your broken native tongue. If you are a South Korean ticket inspector working on the Gyeongju to Busan train it goes without saying why this talent would be beneficial.

On-bike characteristics
This should be pretty evident. However, if unfamiliar with these creatures, the give aways are:
• a heavily laden bicycle with a fullness of bags completely out-of-proportion to the claims of ‘travelling light’
• an abundance of water-proof and technical gear out-of proportion to the actual climatic and geographic conditions

• a look of bewilderment at an intersection inversely proportional to detail of foreign map before them (note: this is the cyclist at their most vulnerable, help them now and their heart is yours forever)

Off-bike characteristics
• A distinctive pattern of tan markings: demarcation at upper arm, wrist and fingers (in a fingerless glove and t-shirt pattern) similar upper thigh and shin markings on the lower legs, a sunglasses tan across the face with optional scalp spots corresponding with helmet vents. This is not to be mistaken with the equally distinctive, yet temporary ‘dust-tan’ which will vanish rapidly following their infrequent washes
• An odour which combines wet merino, damp lycra, sunscreen, insect repellant and up to 500km worth of sock smell
• A look of longing directed at any passing cyclist, as they hope for recognition from other members of their species. This may be confused with the universal sideways glance of admiration of another cyclists’ steed
• The characteristic off-bike swagger, a product of grossly overdeveloped quadriceps relative to other muscles required for ambulation, a now atrophied torso unable to accommodate said large upper legs and a red raw set of inner thighs.
• An enormous, seemingly unsustainable appetite or supermarket shop not in keeping with the group size, nor circumference of torso. Carbohydrates will feature prominently.
• Inability to stay awake past 10pm once 1.5units of alcohol have been consumed
• A collection of wounds secondary to mosquitoes, ticks, leeches, low-lying branches, chain rings and tent guy ropes

Country specific tips. How to spot a cycle tourist in….
South Korea
• Take out your smart phone. Log on ‘naver’ the Korean equivalent to google. Search ‘where is the closest cycle tourist and what are their characteristics?’. Trust us. Korea is very, very web friendly.

• Take out your monocular with one hand while clasping the reins with the remaining hand. Scan horizon periodically for a slow moving set of brightly coloured panniers vibrating as a result of underlying coarse corrugations.

• Take out your local babushka to the roadside. Watch for passers-by who are overly excited by your dementing grandmother. If they repeated pronounce ‘hello’ (zdrastvuyte) incorrectly or look as if they have created a ‘punch-babushka’ equivalent of punch-buggy you have at least identified some foreigners and use the tips above to narrow the field.


Stephen said...

Shit VMs, all scalloped out...

andrew said...

I was flexing when she snapped that pic. They are not real relaxed VMs, there I admit it!

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