Cultural Immersion

Baggage check.
Baggage check.

I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling in my life. As a family, we travelled all over Europe when I was just a lad, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to visit more exotic places like India and Hawaii. What I’ve learned from my travels is that the key to a great experience is to leave your predispositions on the airplane and commit completely to the culture; eat like the locals eat, travel like the locals travel, and – provided you’re skiing in France – wear a fart bag.

One of the things I learned very quickly is how much people appreciate travelers who make a genuine effort. Americans get a bad wrap by Parisians for bustling about in their “Born in the USA” leather jackets by Wilsons and asking random people where the nearest McDonalds is and, when they find one, spending an inordinate amount of time holding up the line while trying to order a Quarter Pounder. To be fair, these people should get a bad wrap anywhere including back here in the US of Fuckin’ A. While every culture is different, I find that by and large, if you simply make an effort and show a some respect for the local culture, people will be very accepting of you.

But everywhere you go is different, of course. In Europe, they like it when you speak the language or admire the beauty of the country. In India, they love it when you show enthusiasm for how batshit crazy the place is. This particular anecdote will ring louder for the software developers in the audience, but one afternoon while I was in India, I was chatting with a manager at my old company and remarked how amazing it was that given the hierarchical structure of their culture, that the traffic is so chaotic. “In most things, we use the Waterfall method. In driving, we use the Agile method.”

On the other hand, the Dutch just like to prove that they know something you don’t, so all you have to do in the Netherlands is ask questions. Don’t overdo it, though; the Dutch don’t suffer fools lightly. For example; I am fluent in Dutch but don’t spend enough time there to understand the rail system the way they do. So, I rarely ask for help with the trains in Dutch; if I do, they treat me like I’m one step left of an amoeba. If I ask in English, I’ll be politely guided through every step of the process. After all, it would be impossible for an American to understand that intricacies of their highly sophisticated system.

The French, I’ve come to understand, only resent people who don’t try to speak French. You don’t have to speak much of it or speak it very well; just make an effort, and they will be fine. I’ve never had a single experience with the “disdainful French”; in fact, I’ve had more than a few discussions with wait staff at restaurants who insist on speaking (a very broken) English to me, and I insist on speaking (a very broken) French in response. This particular case is more polite than it is effective.

French is perhaps the most glorious sounding language on the planet; I’d love to speak it fluently, but am only conversant at infant-level French. Nevertheless, I find it very important to familiarize myself with the most important phrases I’ll need when travelling there. In an effort to lend some assistance to those in the community who are joining us in Lille for Keepers Tour 2013 this year, I offer the following Quick Start Guide. And, always remember Rule #89.

A general expression of surprise:

Qu’esque c’est le fuck avec ça?

An acknowledgement of someone’s not inconsiderable skill on the bike:

Pas bad.

You can close down a misunderstanding with a simple phrase like,

C’est la meme chose thing.

Being amenable with a choice,

Je suis OK avec that.

Asking a mate how s/he is doing:

Qu’esque c’est up?

When intimidating your riding mates:

Laisse tomber le hammer.

Finally, when referring to whomever wins Roubaix this year,

Il est une homme bad ass, n’est pas?

See you on the flip side in France. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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131 Replies to “Cultural Immersion”

  1. @Chris

    given Frank was pretty much on the parcours himself, with that flag last year, the only advance is to get the full team out there

    I’m sure you could all find a suitable time to slip out there, I suggest a feedzone, but give the Leotard Schleck crew a bit of space….

  2. @The Oracle

    @frank

    The Café Roubaix Arenbergs survived the first test on the Cobbles. Happy to have spent the afternoon riding with Bretto like a couple of regular mates, which almost never happens on account of us living on different sides of Earth.

    Damn, it feels good to be on these roads again.

    Rule #26, fer fuck’s sake.

    You are referring to the position of the wheels, I’m sure. There is no excuse, except to say we set it up perfectly but then rolled it forward and forgot to re-set them.

  3. @frank

    @The Oracle

    @frank

    The Café Roubaix Arenbergs survived the first test on the Cobbles. Happy to have spent the afternoon riding with Bretto like a couple of regular mates, which almost never happens on account of us living on different sides of Earth.

    Damn, it feels good to be on these roads again.

    Rule #26, fer fuck’s sake.

    You are referring to the position of the wheels, I’m sure. There is no excuse, except to say we set it up perfectly but then rolled it forward and forgot to re-set them.

    I’m guessing he was referring to the bidon in the cage, but I think the dumpster perched on your saddle is the true tragedy of what would otherwise have been a glorious portrait suitable for framing.

  4. @Spun Up

    @frank

    @The Oracle

    @frank

    The Café Roubaix Arenbergs survived the first test on the Cobbles. Happy to have spent the afternoon riding with Bretto like a couple of regular mates, which almost never happens on account of us living on different sides of Earth.

    Damn, it feels good to be on these roads again.

    Rule #26, fer fuck’s sake.

    You are referring to the position of the wheels, I’m sure. There is no excuse, except to say we set it up perfectly but then rolled it forward and forgot to re-set them.

    I’m guessing he was referring to the bidon in the cage, but I think the dumpster perched on your saddle is the true tragedy of what would otherwise have been a glorious portrait suitable for framing.

    At art school I had a tutor who collected pictures of people with trees and other things growing out of their heads – he was going to publish it as a book but alas he never did.

    A picture of a bike with a tree growing out of the saddle would have made it in to that collection in a heartbeat.

  5. @Spun Up

    @frank

    @The Oracle

    @frank

    The Café Roubaix Arenbergs survived the first test on the Cobbles. Happy to have spent the afternoon riding with Bretto like a couple of regular mates, which almost never happens on account of us living on different sides of Earth.

    Damn, it feels good to be on these roads again.

    Rule #26, fer fuck’s sake.

    You are referring to the position of the wheels, I’m sure. There is no excuse, except to say we set it up perfectly but then rolled it forward and forgot to re-set them.

    I’m guessing he was referring to the bidon in the cage, but I think the dumpster perched on your saddle is the true tragedy of what would otherwise have been a glorious portrait suitable for framing.

    I was referring to both the bidon and the wheels, as well as to the position of the crank, although I understand that that is a bit more controversial.  I hadn’t noticed the dumpster, but now that’s all I can see.

    Just keeping you on your toes, Frank!

  6. @torrefie

    Looks ok to me

    Everyone should have their no.1 photographed in that exact spot. Awesome. I love the Invisible Man holding the back still for the photo.

  7. @torrefie

    Looks ok to me

    Holy shitsnacks.  That’s some fine photo-finagling.  You fixed Fronk’s egregious violations AND zapped away all signs of civilization.

  8. @Tobin

    @frank Is the sissy bar UCI legal?

    I swear to Merckx, some of you guys have scary photoshop skillz.Is this Pozzato’s bike? Sure looks like his – something comfy that he can cruise around in everyone else’s slipsteam.

  9. @wiscot I was going to put the Richters on it but decided to go riding instead.  As a side note, sprinted off against a guy on a skidoo today…can’t say I have ever done that before…gotta love Canada!

  10. @The Oracle

    @PeakInTwoYears I can’t think of a snappy comeback because I’m mesmerized by your ability to put the accent mark into “Cervelo.”

    Hold down the “e” key. There ya go, that’ll be $20 or a couple IPA’s.

  11. @scaler911

    @The Oracle

    @PeakInTwoYears I can’t think of a snappy comeback because I’m mesmerized by your ability to put the accent mark into “Cervelo.”

    Hold down the “e” key. There ya go, that’ll be $20 or a couple IPA’s.

    è é ê ë ē ė ę

  12. Great article. When I went to see PR a few years ago my French was non-existent beyond a few phrases, but my broken Spanish can get me through situations. So between failed French, a French-English dictionary, a well marked map of the region to “chase the race,” and horrendous Spanish, I always found someone willing to test out their English on me. And we had fun doing it. Why? Because we all spoke the language known as Rapid Roubaix Fan.

  13. @Tobin for not putting the Richters on it! The last thing I need is Pozzato running my wheels!

    @Frank. The photo looks great. I may borrow it for our FB or blog.

    Just throwing out to the crowd (dare I say crowd-sourcing?). But Frank has been recommending monikers for my wheels. The 24mm seem to have been proudly labeled Haelakalas, and now these seem to be on the way to being called Arenbergs. So, since branding, logoing, and paint are all still in the development stage, I like getting the feedback. Tobin has visited the studio and has seen the “Cafe Roubaix” line up in person.  We have been using Cafe Roubaix to maintain solidarity with the studio ever since the use of my last name caused some confusion with Ritchey. I plan on keeping Cafe Roubaix, but would adding the moniker to the rim be advantageous? I have been pondering this for some time. Comments?

  14. @Dan_R I would do it for sure, not only do you get more options for marketing (see the auto industry for prime example), the monikers are just plain awesome…Cafe Roubaix Haelakalas, Cafe Roubaix Arenburgs..they just sound badass!

  15. @Dan_R Also as a side note, if I ever get any done I would like them to be called Fat Bastards…just throwing my vote out there early.

  16. @Dan_R

    @Tobin for not putting the Richters on it! The last thing I need is Pozzato running my wheels!

    @Frank. The photo looks great. I may borrow it for our FB or blog.

    Just throwing out to the crowd (dare I say crowd-sourcing?). But Frank has been recommending monikers for my wheels. The 24mm seem to have been proudly labeled Haelakalas, and now these seem to be on the way to being called Arenbergs. So, since branding, logoing, and paint are all still in the development stage, I like getting the feedback. Tobin has visited the studio and has seen the “Cafe Roubaix” line up in person. We have been using Cafe Roubaix to maintain solidarity with the studio ever since the use of my last name caused some confusion with Ritchey. I plan on keeping Cafe Roubaix, but would adding the moniker to the rim be advantageous? I have been pondering this for some time. Comments?

    Yes

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