Since forum members are located all around the world, I thought it might be interesting to share what we consider to be the distinctive features (positive or negative) of riding in the places where we live. Comparing notes might even generate some good ideas. I live in Japan. Here goes:
1. Lots of hills, some with very steep grades.
2. Vending machines everywhere (usually selling sports drinks, “Pocari Sweat” being the most famous). When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, even remote mountain roads.
3. Public urination widely practiced; there are public facilities, and every convenience store makes its toilets available. But in a pinch it’s good to know that this practice is not only not a crime, it is custom.
4. Mirrors: roads here are often too narrow to allow two-way traffic. Mirrors are placed at most curves so that you can see on-coming vehicles.
5. Banners and flags: There are dozens of banners outside nearly every store, gas station, pachinko parlor, etc., making it easy to gauge wind direction and intensity.
6. Metric system: Sometimes it sounds better to say you rode for 40 km as opposed to 25 miles. (But then 800 meters climb doesn’t sound as impressive as 2,600 feet when describing a climb.)
7. No one ever gives the finger: First of all, if someone were to flip the bird, you really couldn’t be sure that he knew what it meant. But drivers are generally less hostile toward cyclists, probably because more people ride bikes to go to school, work, grocery shopping…
8. Cable channel shows repeats of major races
9. Poseurs galore. If you’re into dressing the part, you’ll have lots of company. USPostal was extremely popular; now it’s Discovery (Beppu Fumi effect?)
10. Dogs don’t chase. While this happens regularly to me back home, I’ve never been chased by a Japanese dog (running or cycling). They just don’t do it.