Biking Culture Germany The Italian Job

Allo Allo & Mexican Tandem Wave

Tandem and trailer on Rhine Cycle Path
Written by Stuart Wickes

Allo Allo & Mexican Tandem Wave

Stuart Profile SmallThe “Allo Project” has been running for almost a week now, working tirelessly to bring a friendly ‘Allo’ to cyclists we pass, challenging the German norm of passing other cyclists like they were invisible. We just had to investigate whether German cycling culture really has to be so serious.

The Mexican Double Tandem Allo is our latest invention. In this manoeuvre we ride directly behind each other so we occupy about 8m of path. When a target is approached the leading tandem captain starts the sequence by firing a loud “Allo”, quickly followed by “Allo” from their stoker, an “Allo” and honk on her twin horns from Hannah in her buggy and “Allos” from the following tandem and stoker.

Cyclist in Dusseldorf

The “Allo” Project mission: to elicit a response from passing cyclists

A wave of smiles

The passing rider experiences a wave of smiles and Allos that can’t fail to make an impression. Although initial results suggest even this can’t break the concentration of a hardened road racer or break the ice cool pose of bandana man. Perhaps cycling is a more serious business than we thought.

Allo Allo is a simple friendly game.¬† It’s a lot of fun and brings a smile to our day, but not always to others. Reactions vary wildly from looks of shock horror to mild bemusement to wholehearted return Allos or fits of giggles. Of course on a shared path you don’t just have cyclists to work with. But at least some skaters give a wave. Is it just because they don’t have handlebars to hold onto?

To be honest, reactions do vary but there are discernible patterns. So if you’re contemplating giving it a go, here’s what to expect and recommendations on where to focus your efforts for maximum return on investment.

A poor response from the Lycra lot

Lycra wrapped, helmet clad cyclists on shiny bikes seem impermeable to even the most threatening Allo. We’ve tried everything: loud and cheery, quiet with a nod; gruff and manly, but nothing gets a response, barely a flicker of recognition. You’re looking at a 10% response rate here and lucky if you can even make eye contact. Our verdict: don’t waste your energy and Allos on this lot, let them stay focused and miserable.

Cycling through industrial Germany

Come on, we’re cheerful people despite the scenery. Go on, say “Allo”. Dare you.

Making a splash with the locals

Local recreational riders are much more up for it. The trick here is to catch their eye when they’re 10 to 20 metres ahead of you, then fire a firm “Allo” with a friendly nod in their direction, letting them know it’s for them. Response rate? 50% or better, usually bringing a smile, chuckle or “Allo” in return. Our verdict: worth a shot at brightening up their day. The other 50% nearly fall off their bikes into the river so that’s good value too.

Making a splash in the Rhine

Whoops! Was it something we said

Spreading sunshine amongst the tourers

Baggage laden tourists are the most productive. Perhaps it’s because travelling more slowly it takes longer to pass us, making us harder to ignore. Or maybe they’re just in more sociable mood. With this crew maybe 75% or more respond. Exceptions seem to be anyone wearing a bandana, those with exceptionally tight cycle shorts and young single females. Obviously their various circumstances make it more difficult for them to respond. Our verdict: leave the young girls alone but otherwise fire away, you might even make some friends and you’ll have a lot of fun trying to annoy bandana man.

Cycling past sunflowers

Come on people. Spread a little sunshine. Say “Allo”

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

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