10.19.2006

Cycling in Japan II

Some other random thoughts about cycling in Japan...

One of the coolest things about living here is that our kids have learned to play in ways that they never would have back home.

One of the things that Selah has almost mastered is the ichidencha...aka, unicycle. The kids` school has a class set of unicycles that the kids are free to use during their free time. I have tried a few times...they are diffucult to ride. selah seems to have no trouble. You can buy a unicycle in most bike shops. They are even available in our local grocery store for about $50.

One of my enduring memories of Japan will be the cycling team that trains on the dyke. It appears that they are a junior team (15-18 years old?). They all wear the same white jersey and black shorts. No logos. No euro kits. They also wear these massive white helmets. They remind me of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

Bikes here are kinda like station wagons back home. Our neighbour routinely carries both of her children on her bike. One in a kiddie-catapult seat in the back, the other in a seat attached to the top tube. They never wear helmets.

There is a law here against carrying an open umbrella while riding your bike. This law is widely ignored by everyone...especially the grandma`s . Many stores sell clear plastic umbrellas to make it easier to see while you ride in the rain or hot sun holding your umbrella. They also sell an attachment for your bike that will hold your umbrella for you.

Most grandmas have massive pogies on their handlebars, summer and winter.

There is a construction worker near my house that rides to work on a pink bike very similar to my daughter`s.

Another enduring image of cycling in Japan is the high school or college boy with his girlfriend sitting on the rack behind his seat in her school uniform with the skirt hiked way up sending text messages or playing games on her phone, or else fixing her hair or makeup.

Some things you will never see in North America...

5 comments:

sans auto said...

That's how it should be...except the umbrellas, don't they know about aerodynamics? I loved it in France how even 80 somethings were riding around on a bike.

Vertigo said...

apparently they are not concerned about aerodynamics at all. They are going far too slow for there to be too much aerodynamic drag.

Another thing is that for the younger riders (<20), the vast majority of them have their seats WAY too low. At the bottom of their pedal stroke, their knees are at about a 90 degree angle. They aren`t terribly concerned about speed or efficiency.

Rachel Z said...

What's a pogie? And how does a clear umbrella help to protect them from the hot sun?

Vertigo said...

Go here (http://www.icebike.com/Clothing/handprotection.htm) to see a pogie, although the ones on that site are a whole bunch sexier than the ones here. I will try ot post some pics.

Clear umbrellas are for the rain only.

Vertigo said...

(this is Kelly...)
I recently read that the "seats way too low" are because in elementary school the students are taught that, to ride a bike safely, they need to be able to put their feet flat on the ground while still sitting on their bike seat.