Japanese cycling jargon ②(サイクリングの専門語②)

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Recently I came across a cycling-related word which I didn’t initially understand:

バイコレーター (baikoreetaa)

Once I looked it up, I realized that I actually have experience with this thing, but I just didn’t know its proper title.  In short, it is another of those portmanteau katakana terms, created from “bike” (baiko-) and “escalator” (-reetaa).  I have also found them referred to as 自転車コンベア (jitensha konbea), from the native Japanese word for “bicycle” (jitensha), added to an abbreviation of the English word “conveyer belt” (konbea).

The image above left is made by a company called 協栄システム (Kyouei System) in Saitama Prefecture.  To use it one places the wheels of his or her bike into the groove on the right, and the conveyer belt begins to move. The rider then walks up the stairs along side, steadying the bike as it rises.  While from a cyclist’s point of view this may seems an unnecessary extravagance, I remember it being wonderfully helpful at late in the afternoon as I headed home on my one-speed mamachari, with a heavy load of groceries in the front basket!

What does in some ways seem to be a complete luxury is the more elaborate system pictured here.  it is made by 横浜特殊船舶株式会社 (Yokohama Tokushuu Sempaku) in Yokohama, and it carries the bike up for you, without any need for help from you, the rider!

日本の女性用サイクルギアの方がかっこういい∙∙∙

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Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

私の出身地の方では典型的なサイクルショップに入って女性の服装を見て回ると、( ̄Д)=3ハア∙∙∙、何と男服をピンク色か紫色に、小さくしただ けというものばかり預かっている∙∙∙ それに選べるものが少ないし、サイズはユニセックス(男女の区別がない)というのが多い∙∙∙すぐ日本に行って女性用の素敵なサイクル服が買えったらどんなにいいたろう!

∙∙∙とは言っても、私なんかの中年のスカンジナビア人の祖先たちから受け継いだたくましい格好がスリムで小柄な日本人向けのプチサイズの服装に入れるはずがないのに∙∙∙

(_ _ )……….o

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Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

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Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

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アームカバー “aamu kabaa” (arm covers)
Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

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Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

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Photo from Sanwa Bicycle, http://cc-sanwa.com/810-10.html

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Photo from amazon.co.jp

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Can I be stylish on my bike?! サイクルで着こなせる?!

I was recently struck by some copy on the cover of abbautumn2010cover Japanese mook called Bicycle Beauty (バイシクル・ビューティー、Baishikuru Byuutii).  It included the word kikonasu (着こなす), which translates as something like “dress stylishly”. This made me consider how I dress when I go out for a ride…

When I go to my local bike shop to shop for cycling clothes, I’m not usually thinking about fashion.  Not, mind you, because I don’t want to.  It’s just that the places local to me have a somewhat intimidating, masculine feel to them, and the options have more to do with function than aesthetics.  “After all”, they seem to imply, “we’re in training for next year’s STP” – or at least we feel we should be – “and we’re too serious to care about what we look like”. It seems the focus is on looking hard-core, rather than “beautiful”…

Whatever clothing is available for women, it is pretty much just pinkified, smaller versions of the men’s clothes.  I don’t ever recall walking into the women’s cycling section and thinking to myself, “That’s so cute!” or “I love that cut!”.  Certainly, I’ve never found any cycling clothes that would make be feel “beautiful”…

Is it just me?  Or does anyone else feel this way?

It is true that there are some places online that offer more stylish things, but they tend to be for for climes that are much warmer and drier than here – things that I could really only consider wearing in August, and even then I’d be slightly cold.  I wish I could find things like this in shops near me…

Where is the really stylish windproof, rainproof jacket in a color other than neon yellow or orange? After all, reflective tape could be integrated creatively into something more stylish, and then we wouldn’t have to look like moving traffic cones… 。^‿^。   And could someone please make some jerseys that have some colors other than hot pink and fuschia? It’s not that I don’t like those colors, but enough already! A lovely pale petal pink would be nice, or something in a soft sage or violet would be even better, for the sake of variety  …And the patterns:  Cycle jerseys always seem to have swishes or bold stripes of color, like we’re all football team wannabes!  What about a soft paisley?  A damask?  Some little flowersBirds?

I’ve realized as I’ve begun to ride more often, that I feel better about gearing up to go out when I like what I’m wearing, and in all the gear I have, there are really only a couple of cute things.  I can only wonder, how much more often would I ride, if I was excited about my gear?!

Some day when I retire I’m going to learn how to sew, and then I’ll be able to create some things I actually want to wear and feel beautiful in… Until then, I’m still searching for that great shop that has to be out there…

NHK TV Program Aimed at Cyclists

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A cycling-themed program appeared in September 2013 on the Japanese public TV station NHK-BS1.  Based on a special shown in May 2013, the title of the show is チャリダー★ (Charidaa), or “cycling enthusiast”.  The term charidaa is created from two words: ちゃりんこ (charinko, a casual term for a bicycle) and ライダー (raidaa, from the English “rider”).  Unfortunately, I do not have access to Japanese cable TV so I have not had a chance to watch, but I’d be curious to hear from people who have.  In particular, I’m wondering if/how woman riders are portrayed.  The images on the home page for the program are all of men, with the exception of the actress and model Takehashi Maryjun, who is listed appearing as the 新米アシスタント (shinmai ashisutanto), or “greenhorn assistant”. There are a few short videos posted on the site, after watching which makes me think it could be another in that genre of themed travelogues on Japanese TV that I remember enjoying so much.

Anyone out there who has seen the show and can give us a review?

(NHK-BS1の「チャリダー★」という番組を見たことがありますか。批評をお願いします。特に女性の代表者について興味があります。日本語でもいいですよ!)

Japanese cycling jargon ① (サイクリングの専門語①)

Rental bike, Takamatsu

Rental bike, Takamatsu. Photo © site author.

In the US, according to a poll conducted by ACTFL (revealingly, no national statistics are kept), just 18.5% of K-12 students are enrolled in a foreign language course.  In contrast, nearly all Japanese students study English over several years of their academic career.  As a result, English vocabulary is comfortably incorporated into much of day-to-day Japanese.  For example, the term for someone who commutes to work by bicycle is 自転車ツーキニスト (jitensha tsuukinisuto), from 自転車(jitensha, bicycle) + 通勤(tsuukin, commute)+ the English-language suffix “-ist”.  Even the basic term for the sport of cycling, サイクリング (saikuringu), comes from English.

When I lived in Japan one of the most indispensable items of my daily life was a bicycle similar to that pictured above.  In the 1980s, when I first arrived there, bikes like these were not used by adults in the US.  As a matter of fact, when I returned to the US and sought out something similar for sale, I couldn’t find anything even close.  The one bike shop guy I encountered who actually understood what I was looking for had lived in Asia as well, and he said my only option was to but one in Japan and bring it back with me.  Nowadays, at least in the Pacific Northwest, it is not hard to find something like this, as a quick online search through outdoor outfitters such as REI (see example here) will attest.

But returning to Japan and cycling language, bikes like these – which in my experience are owned by nearly every person – are called ママチャリ (mamachari) or, more recently, シティサイクル (shiti saikuru)Mamachari is a rather endearing word, created by the union of ママ (mama, mother) and ちゃりん (charin), the lovely old-fashioned sound of the bells commonly mounted on the handlebars.  This name evokes a quiant image of a mother riding along, small child in a seat on back and groceries in the basket in front.  A little less lovely on the ears but more up-to-date, shiti saikuru (which sounds to American ears a lot like “shitty cycle”), is made from two English words, “city” and “cycle”.

Though my current housing situation allows me the option of just one bike – and I have chosen this to be a hibrid as the ultimate compromise between speed and function – I hope that someday I can again enjoy the daily pleasure of hopping – in whatever I happen to be wearing – onto my ready-to-go mamachari and heading out to do errands.