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Old 07-06-06, 03:41 PM   #1
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Cycling the universal language

Just got back from a very interesting ride. I passed a guy on the side of the road working on a flat tire. I yelled out, "Got what you need?" He nodded, and I rode on. 30 minutes later, I'm passing the same spot on a loop back home, and he's still there. Turns out he's from Peru and speaks very little English, which is the only language I speak. Despite this language barrier we had a very nice conversation using hand getures, facial expressions and a lot of pointing. Turns out he's 47, wears reading glasses, which he needs to find the puncture hole (and he didn't have them with him). He thinks my bike is "hot". I told him I thought his Colnago C50 was very sweet and fast. He indicated that the bike might be fast, but that he wasn't. I pointed to my excess weight around my waist and indicated that I wasn't very fast either. He rides Campy, but was interested in the Ultergra brake/shift levers... and on it went for a full 20 minutes. What an unexpected and wonderful experience. I'm sure that our mutual passion for cycling was a bridge to what would have been an otherwise cumbersome exchange. After his wheel was back on his bike, we shook hands and gave each other a pat on the back and rode off in different directions; me riding the rest of the way home with a big grin on my face.
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

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Old 07-06-06, 05:50 PM   #2
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What a great experience, cycling bridges the communications gap! I had a similar experience Tues. We were on the East Bay Path which was very crowded because everyone uses it to cycle to the Bristol 4th of July parade. On the way back I got slogged up in a real traffic jam, just no way to get around people. I pulled up along side a gentleman I'm guessing in his mid-sixties and said something like "No space to turn it up here huh". He said "Not today, but I ride this every morning and just fly along pretty much alone".
I replied "Must be nice".

He said "Doesn't matter, 8mph or 18mph, it's all good"
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Old 07-06-06, 06:46 PM   #3
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I've been in Taiwan for almost all of the last 2 1/2 years. I spent 1 1/2 in Tainan and the last year in Taichung. I didn't take a bike with me, so after being in Tainan for a couple of months I bought a bright yellow Giant TCR-2. There is only one shop in Tainan that sells medium to high end road bikes and it's owned by a nice guy who is also a very good mechanic. His Although his english name is Cadel, his nickname is Cow Boy (his spelling).

One Sunday afternoon I was coming back from a ride. I like to ride fast, which seems really odd to the natives as the few that ride for transporation are quite slow. Anyway, while waiting for a traffic light, a Taiwanese guy stops nearby and we acknowledge each other with a wave and a nod. His bike was a bit old, but he was wearing riding shorts (uncommon sight). The light changed. I moved away and cruised at about 30kph. The Taiwanese guy goes flying by me and I don't see him again until we are both waiting for the next light. Same scenario: I move away and cruise at about 30kph. Pretty soon he goes flying by me again. We meet at the next light. It was finally clear to me that he wanted to see what I had. The light changed and I moved away, only this time when I got to 30, I kept accelerating. I was still accelerating when the computer passed 40. May guess is that I settled in at about 45kph or so for a few blocks and never saw the Taiwanese guy again.

Cow Boy was always trying to get me to ride with his group on Sunday mornings. I eventually did and it was the day that there was a "Car Free" demonstration in some of the major cities in Taiwan. This is a day when not using your car is encouraged. The group ride was shortened as the riders wanted to return to the city in time for a mass public ride around the city as part of the demonstration. The group ride was a trip as folks took smoke breaks at the rest points. There was also one guy who rode in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, even though the temperature was about 95deg F. After a few speeches, the folks gathered for the mass public ride and we left. It was a very unique experience as there were all sorts of people: young, old, parents with children, along with us semi-hardcore riders. The prescribed route through Tainan was perhaps 10 miles. At some intermediate point I stopped for a traffic light. As I looked around me, who should I see but the Taiwanese guy! He was with a friend and he kept jabbing at his friend and pointing at me. My Chinese is all of about a dozen words. Even so, I think I knew what he was saying!.

At the end of the ride, I saw them again. The Taiwanese guy didn't speak much english, but his buddy said "My friend say he saw you before and you ride VERY fast!". I said that I remembered him from before and that I was happy to see him again. We talked for a few minutes and they invited me ride with them in another group. After much laughter and many smiles, we shook hands and ride home.
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