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Club Cycling in Emerging Economies

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Club Cycling in Emerging Economies

Old 01-19-21, 08:45 AM
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shelbyfv 
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Club Cycling in Emerging Economies

nevermind

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Old 01-19-21, 12:51 PM
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I think that "third world" is more in need of being defined than "club."
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Old 01-19-21, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I think that "third world" is more in need of being defined than "club."
We in the US have not been doing well compared to other nations on a number of metrics. Our technology is not evenly distributed. When you are losing battles I would blame the generals. https://www.americashealthrankings.o...nal-comparison
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Old 01-19-21, 09:47 PM
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I met a few club riders in Mexico when I spent a little time there in the seventies. These were both racing clubs that I encountered. The primary difference that I noticed was that some very strong riders were riding lower quality, less expensive bikes than what we in California considered necessary for racing. Only a few had "all-Campy."
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Old 01-19-21, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Anybody with first hand experience or observations? Use a broad definition of "club" to include informal groups that regularly ride together. It would be interesting to learn of any location specific challenges and adaptations. Different equipment, dangers from wildlife or bandits, whatever. Pics always welcome!
I live and ride in the Philippines, a poor 3rd world country

Group rides here simply avoid places where they can get robbed and get shot and there's plenty of places to avoid.

We have some of the worst quality roads around with the very dangerous chaotic traffic conditions so it would be wise to ride around with at least 32mm wide "bullet-proof" tires of the touring or urban variety so you don't need to swerve around every pothole or a huge bump or even a tree branch.

A lot of roads don't have dedicated bike lanes nor shoulders nor even wide enough to safely travel in with a bicycle.

Many roadies here ride with XC hardtail or FS mountainbikes on long rides in the road with either touring or knobby tires. Don't be surprised given our very bumpy, poor quality roads and don't be surprised either that many XC riders can maintain "Group A" (>21 mph) cruising speeds on knobby tires!

Many "elite" roadies here who only run with road bikes with skinny tires will often commute to the riding site with their car. We have a few provinces where the road infrastructure was originally built by the Americans, decent quality, low crime rate, and will accommodate road bikes with skinny tires without problems and many of our national road races are held there.

Many group riders here don't even carry water bottles on long rides, nor food because there's plenty of convenience stores lining the roads. They tend to make plenty of "snack" stops at the convenience stores even with the "elite" groups. But there are still few places that are sparsely populated, very few road-side stores that you must need to bring your own food and drink.

A few I had seen had a support vehicle in front of the group. The support vehicle can be a car or SUV or even a motorcycle. Given the poor and dangerous bicycle riding conditions here, it can be necessary, at least to reduce the stress level and offer some peace of mind.

Full fenders..... Many group riders here hate the sight of them.....But we have plenty of broken drains and sewers that some of the water flowing over the streets are smelly, sewer water!

Some sort of extra cover over your water bottle straws because when you speed over that sewer water streams, full fenders or not some of that sewer water spray can get to your water bottle straw!!So do make sure to also bring medicines for things like these - accidentally ingesting contaminated water or food poisoning from road-side stores.

Need I remind not to breathe when passing over sewer water streams. Or just don't hesitate to use full fenders and either get to the front of the group or drop yourself way behind when approaching sewer streams! I deal with these things on daily rides that I'm practically immune to the contaminated water or so I think....

On a sad note, you are more likely to encounter domesticated animals on the road or even pet dogs and cats than wildlife. Also watch out for children playing near the road. These can be common in rural areas.

You'll need more than a road bike to safely handle roads like these, best for our road conditions is either gravel bike or XC mountainbike and even with gravel bike with wide tires, a seat suspension is recommended:



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Old 01-20-21, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
^^^ Very informative, thanks. I'd actually been wondering about the use of a support vehicle for group rides, as well as the resupply issue. Bottle contamination sounds like a legit concern as well. I think I'd be inclined to go with a Camelbak.
No problem, I don't remember exactly if the support vehicle is behind or ahead of the group. I think it might be safer if the vehicle is behind.

Also forgot to mention running front and back lights even during the day and wearing bright, accented color apparel. Motorists in many poor countries are not required by law to stop at intersections....They tend to blast intersections at full speed without slowing down and only make very quick glances for anyone crossing so there's a huge chance you may not be seen at intersections as a cyclist.

Motorists also have a bit of changing lanes without using signal, same for many bike commuters and even group riders. Motorists also have a habit of cutting you off when they are turning right while you are going straight - if you can, take the lane to minimize getting cut off. Getting cut off when you're riding at high speed is dangerous. Always be prepared to brake hard without going endo. If you're a white dude however, motorists and other cyclists might treat you well on the road and I'm not kidding but be prepared anyhow if they don't!

Many clubbies here have dark or even black jerseys.....They have death wish, don't emulate them!

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Old 01-20-21, 07:29 AM
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Where I am in Cambodia there are groups of locals that get together and go out cycling for exercise. They are usually groups of friends. With all the different groups, there are several hundred people. I am not involved in any of the groups, but often see them, and occasionally say hello or talk to them. Most ride regular mountain bikes.

The biggest risk here is being hit by vehicles. Many roads are narrow, and people don't obey road rules.

Another risk here is being bitten by dogs.

I have seen python skins which have been shed in bushland areas, but never live pythons.

I have seen a lot of regular snakes. But it is rare anyone gets bitten.

Robbers are rare in small towns and villages, and farming areas, but they can be there. Robbers never rob groups of people. People are normally only at risk of being robbed when there are no witnesses. There are a huge amount of robberies in the big cities. Bag snatching and phone snatching happens a lot. It is smart to not carry or display anything valuable.

Most of those cycling for exercise stick to the main roads. I often cycle on dirt roads and tracks. In the wet weather there is a lot of mud, and in the dry season there is a lot of dust. I prefer the back tracks than the risk of being hit by a vehicle. I ride a fat bike.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Group rides here simply avoid places where they can get robbed and get shot and there's plenty of places to avoid.
I did some amazing solo rides in parts of South Africa where I should probably not have gone. Closed roads, which meant that no one should be there but also that there would be no one there to help.
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Old 01-20-21, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I've wondered about the dogs. Even here with a state wide "leash law" they are a significant hazard.
If dogs bite people here, nothing is normally done about it, so the dogs can bite the next person. In Australia by comparison, if a dog bites someone, the owner normally has to pay a fine, and the dog is normally killed. There is also no organisation to get rid of stray dogs here, and it is common to see dog fights in the street. I know of many people who have been bitten by dogs, some of them children. So you have to have your own defence. The first line of defence is to try to kick aggressive dogs getting too close, but you really don't want them so close you can kick them. I carry a piece of bamboo on my bike to swing at aggressive dogs. I also put stones in my pocket when going in places with aggressive dogs, to throw at them. Dogs normally keep far enough away to avoid being hit. It is common for local people to throw stones or other things at dogs, so send them away.

To put it in perspective, for every dog that chases people and barks at them, there may only be one in a thousand that will actually bite. But if you get bitten once, that is too often. Many dogs here have rabies and other infections.

I normally ride my bike faster than many local people on bikes. Dogs chase fast moving bikes more than slow moving bikes.

Many people here eat dog meat. There would be even more dogs if people didn't eat them.
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Old 01-20-21, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I've wondered about the dogs. Even here with a state wide "leash law" they are a significant hazard.
I never got chased by a dog for some strange reason and my route often takes me to neighborhoods where dogs are roaming the streets freely.

That said, dogs are still a big hit risk. I noticed they are less likely to get out of the way for an incoming bicycle than compared to cars, trucks, or even motorcycles.

Also, know that quite many dogs or possibly most dogs roaming around poor neighborhoods never got their anti-rabies shots! The local government should be giving shots for free but they very rarely do.

Always be prepared to brake or to swerve for obstacles. Good situational awareness, scanning your sides and back constantly so you can correctly decide whether to brake or to swerve around obstacles.
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Old 01-20-21, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Tycho Brahe View Post
I did some amazing solo rides in parts of South Africa where I should probably not have gone. Closed roads, which meant that no one should be there but also that there would be no one there to help.
I avoid routes that can have sparse population / traffic when riding solo. It's not just street crime I'm worried about but motorists who have bloodlust for cyclists. They are much more likely to harass cyclists if no one is around.

I do much more solo rides than group rides here in the Philippines and have actually disguised my already dirt cheap gravel bike to look old and dirty. Even my cycling clothes have mud splatters on it and getting dark around the edges I didn't bothered to de-stain. I still wash with detergent but I just leave the stains on so even my clothes look old and dirty.

It might be important when riding in a poor country to make yourself unattractive to thieves, literally make yourself look like a poor person, your bike and clothes dirty, etc. Helps you blend in better as opposed to standing out. Because many bike commuters here do have ugly and dirty bikes, and even dirty manual labor work clothes and ride wearing flip flops. That's one reason why I also ride with flip flops as footwear.

There has been group rides I've seen where everyone is wearing fairly ugly clothes, dirty bikes, and flip flops footwear. Ironically, those are rarer cases. More often, group rides will consist of riders out to show off their kits so naturally, they keep things clean and looking nice and expensive. But they really stand out in the poor backdrop of a poor country. If you can dress down a bit and keep some dirt on the frame and even clothes, it really helps to blend in better. Perhaps, some close-fitting non-cycling apparel, MTB cleats (because they look like regular shoes), etc.

If you may have issues with aerodynamics with "derelict" looks in keeping up with a fast group, you really do need to push harder, adapt!

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Old 01-21-21, 02:15 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I never got chased by a dog for some strange reason and my route often takes me to neighborhoods where dogs are roaming the streets freely.
It would be interesting to know if the dogs are different there, or you are different to me.

How fast do you ride? A dog's natural instinct is to chase an animal that is running away. It seems dogs chase cyclists that ride fast, much more than cyclists that ride slow.

How tall are you? Could you appear like a local to dogs? I am a bit taller than the average European man, and fat challenged. Many children that don't know me, call me a giant. Most of my female friends are between one third and one half of my weight. I also have a beard, which is greying. I clearly stand out as different to dogs. Many dogs are scared of me, and that may be a reason why they chase me.

A bit of trivia. There are some monkeys here, and monkeys are scared of me. I am bigger than the other people they have seen, and have a beard.

Edit: It seems like you are in the city. I am in a small town, and often cycle out to farming areas. Dogs in cities see many more people. That may be a contributing factor.

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Old 01-21-21, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I do much more solo rides than group rides here in the Philippines and have actually disguised my already dirt cheap gravel bike to look old and dirty. Even my cycling clothes have mud splatters on it and getting dark around the edges I didn't bothered to de-stain. I still wash with detergent but I just leave the stains on so even my clothes look old and dirty.

It might be important when riding in a poor country to make yourself unattractive to thieves, literally make yourself look like a poor person, your bike and clothes dirty, etc. Helps you blend in better as opposed to standing out. Because many bike commuters here do have ugly and dirty bikes, and even dirty manual labor work clothes and ride wearing flip flops. That's one reason why I also ride with flip flops as footwear.
I am not so concerned about the clothes, but don't carry anything valuable. I carry enough money for a few days. I don't normally carry a phone or camera, or anything else that might get the attention of potential thieves.
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Old 01-21-21, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Sounds as if it might require an extra measure of commitment for people to participate in club cycling as we know it in the US!
Are you talking about foreigners or locals?

For foreigners, it is just a matter of being aware of the risks and being sensible.

Most locals do a lot less in a day than we would. Many spend a lot of time just lying around doing nothing. A large proportion of people don't want to put in the effort to exercise. But there are some who do.

Most girls wont go very far alone, as bad things may happen to them. So most girls only go cycling in groups. Even girls going to school, go with their friends who live near by. It is not as safe here for girls, compared to Australia.
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Old 01-21-21, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
It would be interesting to know if the dogs are different there, or you are different to me.

How fast do you ride? A dog's natural instinct is to chase an animal that is running away. It seems dogs chase cyclists that ride fast, much more than cyclists that ride slow.
I usually slow down when dogs are present so I can stop or swerve in time to avoid hitting them in they decide to cross my path. From around 35 kph, I slow down to 25 kph.

How tall are you? Could you appear like a local to dogs? I am a bit taller than the average European man, and fat challenged. Many children that don't know me, call me a giant. Most of my female friends are between one third and one half of my weight. I also have a beard, which is greying. I clearly stand out as different to dogs. Many dogs are scared of me, and that may be a reason why they chase me.
5'8" skinny, 125 lbs.
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Old 01-21-21, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
I am not so concerned about the clothes, but don't carry anything valuable. I carry enough money for a few days. I don't normally carry a phone or camera, or anything else that might get the attention of potential thieves.
Dressing down gives me more routing options and I can even repeat the same routes many times a week without catching attention.

Try to look like the locals. I dress myself down and my bike to look like min wage commuters because they consist of the majority of riders here in our roads. Thieves don't bother with them and I don't like to take any chances even if the chances are fairly low.
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Old 01-21-21, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Dressing down gives me more routing options and I can even repeat the same routes many times a week without catching attention.

Try to look like the locals. I dress myself down and my bike to look like min wage commuters because they consist of the majority of riders here in our roads. Thieves don't bother with them and I don't like to take any chances even if the chances are fairly low.
I can't look like a local. I am taller, and more than double your weight. The children call me a giant. Locals don't grow this big.

You would not break bikes as much as I do.

There are also advantages. I am bigger than any would be thieves. One sane Asian would not take me on, because of my size. That doesn't rule out large gangs, or people on drugs.

Are you in the city? I think the city is different from small towns and rural areas.
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Old 01-21-21, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
I can't look like a local. I am taller, and more than double your weight. The children call me a giant. Locals don't grow this big.

You would not break bikes as much as I do.

There are also advantages. I am bigger than any would be thieves. One sane Asian would not take me on, because of my size. That doesn't rule out large gangs, or people on drugs.

Are you in the city? I think the city is different from small towns and rural areas.
If you're going to get robbed in your face, you can expect to meet a gang.

I get out of the city every weekend and still don't trust small towns.

I think you mentioned earlier that you don't bring a phone with you. You really should bring a phone and mount it on your handlebar or anywhere you can see. Not a good idea to put in your jersey pocket as someone can just pick it up when you're stopped at intersections. The phone is quite useful for emergencies or calling home if expecting delays for any reason in long rides even if you already brought tools and puncture kit.

Obviously, the phone you bring should be cheap and also looks cheap (not like the many cheap phones that look almost like an expensive iphone at a glance)

I can't look like a local. I am taller, and more than double your weight.
You can at least try with clothing! But your weight means you cannot ride cheap bikes. Not really a deal breaker with the right routes and riding with a large group!
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Old 01-21-21, 08:14 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I was wondering more about the local population, if there were groups that rode together for respectable distances on what we'd consider normal equipment.
It may not be a problem if the group is big enough. Just fit the widest puncture resistant tires your frame can take. Far away from the big cities and into rural places close to forests and mountains, the worst you can run into this country are the armed rebel factions or even Islamic terrorist factions.

Your best option is simply join old clubs as they will surely know which places are safe.

If riding solo, avoid standing out as much as possible and do try to blend in with the locals as much as you can tolerate.


Maybe MTB is more popular? At least you wouldn't have to ride through raw sewerage.
MTB (single track) is as popular as road cycling here. There's plenty of tracks in the mountains and no rebels!

Sewer water flowing over the road isn't that very common anyway. Just slow down if it's unavoidable and buy one of those bags where you also put your water bottle in to keep it clean or even put the water bottle in the handlebar.

There's also roadie groups that do long rides on paved roads with XC MTBs, some of them are really fast and can maintain >20 mph cruising speed on 29ers with 2" wide knobby tires.

If you're going to do lots of long rides over paved roads, use a bike that can fit at least 32mm wide tires and do switch to 32mm or wider puncture resistant road tires. It doesn't have to be a gravel bike. A road or endurance bike will suffice if it accepts at least 32mm wide tires and will also fit knobby tread tires.

Oh and Carbon Bikes are seem rare even for middle class riders. Or maybe I'm just confusing some of the actual carbon frame as smooth-welded alloy frames (because they look a lot like each other). Alloy bikes are the vast majority here even for club riders.
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Old 01-22-21, 05:44 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I was wondering more about the local population, if there were groups that rode together for respectable distances on what we'd consider normal equipment. Sounds as if that might be a challenge, at least in the places you two guys live. Maybe MTB is more popular? At least you wouldn't have to ride through raw sewerage.
Where I am, there are a lot of groups go out at about 4 pm, after work, and come back at maybe 6 pm. Some groups have fitter riders than others. Some groups might do 40, 50, or 60 km in an evening. Obviously less fit riders do not go as far.

Over 99% of bikes used for exercise are normal mountain bikes. Most regular bikes for just getting around, are ladies bikes, mostly imported second hand from Japan.

You don't normally have raw sewage here. But in the wet season, it floods a in many places, and you can only imagine what is in the water.
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Old 01-22-21, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
the worst you can run into this country are the armed rebel factions or even Islamic terrorist factions.
There are no terrorists or warring groups here. There are probably a higher proportion of Muslims here, but they are nice people, living in peace and harmony.

The worst here are robbers and drug users.

In the cities, there are a lot of robberies. In most rural areas, there are much less robberies. There are certain parts of the country where it is less safe.
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Old 01-22-21, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
Where I am, there are a lot of groups go out at about 4 pm, after work, and come back at maybe 6 pm. Some groups have fitter riders than others. Some groups might do 40, 50, or 60 km in an evening. Obviously less fit riders do not go as far.

Over 99% of bikes used for exercise are normal mountain bikes. Most regular bikes for just getting around, are ladies bikes, mostly imported second hand from Japan.

You don't normally have raw sewage here. But in the wet season, it floods a in many places, and you can only imagine what is in the water.
Try very early mornings like heading out between 5 to 6am and you'll find even more and bigger groups!

It's usually better to head out very early morning as the weather and traffic conditions are far better and you can cover way more distance in the same amount of time.
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Old 01-30-21, 08:58 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I avoid routes that can have sparse population / traffic when riding solo. It's not just street crime I'm worried about but motorists who have bloodlust for cyclists. They are much more likely to harass cyclists if no one is around.

I do much more solo rides than group rides here in the Philippines and have actually disguised my already dirt cheap gravel bike to look old and dirty. Even my cycling clothes have mud splatters on it and getting dark around the edges I didn't bothered to de-stain. I still wash with detergent but I just leave the stains on so even my clothes look old and dirty.

It might be important when riding in a poor country to make yourself unattractive to thieves, literally make yourself look like a poor person, your bike and clothes dirty, etc. Helps you blend in better as opposed to standing out. Because many bike commuters here do have ugly and dirty bikes, and even dirty manual labor work clothes and ride wearing flip flops. That's one reason why I also ride with flip flops as footwear.

There has been group rides I've seen where everyone is wearing fairly ugly clothes, dirty bikes, and flip flops footwear. Ironically, those are rarer cases. More often, group rides will consist of riders out to show off their kits so naturally, they keep things clean and looking nice and expensive. But they really stand out in the poor backdrop of a poor country. If you can dress down a bit and keep some dirt on the frame and even clothes, it really helps to blend in better. Perhaps, some close-fitting non-cycling apparel, MTB cleats (because they look like regular shoes), etc.

If you may have issues with aerodynamics with "derelict" looks in keeping up with a fast group, you really do need to push harder, adapt!
Oh boy. Are you Filipino, or an expat living here? Where do you ride? I ask because you exaggerate so much it's funny. We are a poor country, granted, and a lot of things are crappy, but you make it sound like going out to ride here is like stepping out into no-man's land in a war zone.

Yeah, you have to deal with traffic but roads here in Manila and its outskirts are generally good. (that massive pothole in your photo is a rare exception and surely is on a badly neglected rural side road?) You just need to stick to your line and look before you change direction: motorcycles passing you are your biggest enemy. You are right though about the lack of cycling lanes, but that has somewhat changed since the pandemic started.

As for crime- I have heard stories of cyclists getting mugged, but it's rare; I have been cycling solo for over 5 years and frequently traverse sparsely-populated areas, but I have never ran into trouble. I ride a CAAD8 in complete and proper road cycling gear (clean- no stains - that would just be fugly), maybe would-be thieves know mine is not a super-expensive bike or maybe I'm just lucky? Besides, I see a lot of solo Rapha and Sidi-clad Mamils on titanium and Colnagos; if they were so afraid for their bikes and lives, they wouldn't be going out, would they? Is is safer to be out with a group? Yes. But riding solo is not the death wish you make it out to be.

I think that this is my first post on BF. I felt compelled to challenge your posts with what I actually see on the road as a cyclist. And what I see is fine, with cycling in all its forms vibrant and growing. There's a lot of room for improvement, yes, but it is nowhere near the beyond-all-hope dystopian landscape you describe.
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Old 01-30-21, 09:03 AM
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Old 01-30-21, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by iterax View Post
I ask because you exaggerate so much it's funny.
We assumed. Thank you for your confirmation on that point and on the additional input!
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