Why cyclists love sign language

There’s no need for a group diagnosis. We already know we’re addicted to cycling. Yet as I type this, having woken this morning to yet another social media avalanche from friends currently pedalling their way across the most famous towns, bergs and cols in European cycling, it occurred to me there’s something we’re perhaps becoming even more collectively obsessed with: posing alongside road signs.

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In fact, based on recent experiences I’d go so far as to suggest it’s bordering on some kind of weird 21st Century cyclist fetish that’s fast reaching epidemic proportions. For it seems the only thing we love more than travelling the globe with our passports and carbon steeds is to record our glorious journeys by having our photos taken standing next to signs, typically on top of famous mountains or alongside shitty cobbled goat tracks.

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Sometimes they’re little more than humble selfies. On others they’re far more choreographed affairs involving accomplices. But however they’ve been captured, captured they most certainly are. Then shared relentlessly.

Like Lance Armstrong titles in second hand book stores, these lycra-infused incarnations of Hansel and Gretel are everywhere nowadays – Google, Facebook and Twitter are truly awash with them – spectacular pictorial trails documenting our two-wheeled triumphs for the entire world to see and, in my case this Australian winter, drool over from afar.

Following a recent coffee ride in (boring old) Sydney one rider suggested with a wry smile the European summit photograph has become more important than the ascent itself. He was only partially joking. But as I said to him at the time, like a tree falling in the forest that no-one sees, surely if you don’t take a photo of your vertical conquest the question can be forever asked ‘did it ever really happen?’ He wasn’t convinced.

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Now granted some signs are considerably more interesting and impressive than others. And if I was standing atop Alpe d’Huez right now I’m sure I’d be smiling for the paparazzi too. But I do have one little request: how about we get a bit more creative about it? After all, if we really want to see road signs, well, we merely need to step out the front door. My suburb alone has thousands of the things; no doubt yours does too.

And let’s face it, just because you have a photo at the top of some 27km 18.4% average gradient dormant super volcano doesn’t necessarily mean you rode up there anyway, does it?

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How do we know you didn’t hitch a ride up in the tour bus? Or jump in front a studio backdrop next to the local village pub before necking a few Kronenbergs or Duvels? Heck, you may have simply retouched the whole thing in your pyjamas and ugg-boots from the lounge room for all we know.

Which come to think of it isn’t a bad idea. Particularly given I’m anchored here at home for the foreseeable future, turning a greener shade of envy with every passing day.

Anyone fancy teaching me how to use Photoshop?

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5 thoughts on “Why cyclists love sign language

  1. I was hoping you’d talk about the sort of signs you signal with, such as the one you give to arrogant 4WD users, which can be translated as “STOP THE $#@% NEGLIGENTLY DRIFTING ALL OVER THE ROAD AND NEARLY CRUSHING ME UNDER YOUR OVERSIZE CODPIECE, YOU %$#@* *&%$STAIN!!”, or some such. Maybe next time. Mostly good with the blog entry, tho I do detect a bit of disguised envy there.

      1. Validation, especially online, is such a tricky business these days. Gone are the days when unique souvenirs, postmarked postcards, bits of rock or dirt, or dated polaroids were accepted as testaments by friends, acquaintances and other sceptics!

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