Chugga chugga choo choo….the train plugs along at the speed of a bicycle through Baluchistan province, Pakistan. A part of the world in which blending in and passing by unnoticed is a really good idea. What the hell am I doing in this desert? I am thoroughly informed by everyone, guest house owners, other over-landers and military police, that cycling the road from Pakistan into Iran is not possible but is passable in a military convoy with mandatory armed escorts. Convoys at times stop and wait for hours or nights for an organized safe passing of the area. The advice by all is to keep a low profile, “take the train, avoid confrontations with the military and the convoys, you will get there easier, safer and faster”
Long Sleeve Shirt from “The Cycle Tourists That Don’t Meet Terrorists Clothing Line”, $6USD, available at the tailor next to the Regal Internet Inn in Lahore Pakistan
I figure in order to prepare for such a stealth occasion, that new concealment clothes are in order. I went to visit a tailor, a man who studied clothing design in Toronto and London, then returned home to open a men’s tailoring shop in Pakistan. He is a funny, highly dramatic, artistic type who loves designing clothes. We chat about shirts for some time and come up with the perfect cycling shirt. The “cycle tourists that don’t meet terrorists” clothing line for women cyclists in Baluchistan, an up and coming market, I am sure of it or at least Pandemic The Magic Bicycle and I think so.
Sharif, a men’s tailor seems delighted with the girly girl gear challenge. He sent me out shopping for material with his trusted man Oman. I pick out brown cotton, brown being my all time favorite color because, it is far easier to keep clean outdoors if you just dress the color of dirt to begin with. So what should we wear for bicycle touring in Muslim countries?
Girly Girl Gear For Cycling In Muslim Countries
Pakistani Your Fanny Cover that bum with a long shirt, either a man’s shirt or any xxx-L shirt will do. Kind of like maternity wear even though you may not be pregnant.
Cleavage…How Low Can You Go- Similar to voluminous bosoms popping out in the western world, ankles in Muslim countries are considered to be oh la la sexy, sort of like ankle cleavage. Keep the shorts and ¾ length pants tucked away in the back of the drawer. Adorning yourself with long pants that cover your ankles is a legal must in Iran and highly suggested for Pakistan and recommended for India Kashmir, Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pro-tip: Try not to distract other drivers with your sexy ankles because causing motorcycle collisions while cycling can be hazardous.
Head Bang’in In Your Headscarf-Covering your head is legally necessary in Iran and highly recommended in many areas of Pakistan. I would of never imagined that pedaling in Muslim countries listening to the Beastie Boys rapping on full volume while wearing a headscarf could be so much fun. Also, choosing cycling routes in cooler climates such as high mountains helps keep me to a sane temperature while cycling in a headscarf.
Pro-tip: listening to the Beastie Boys while cycling in the summertime with a winter scarf wrapped around your head can be fun
3 piece suit, cufflinks, bowtie and a top hat. Just kidding, however, men should dress conservatively. The most respectful way to dress is to wear long or ¾ length shorts instead of daisy duke short ones, cover the spandex and wear t-shirt. The traditional shalwar kamiz worn locally is also appropriate and helps you blend in. However, whatever you normally wear is most likely acceptable as well.
Special note: The internet firewall here has my website and others sites blocked. Therefore communication will be limited. I used a special trick to check my e-mail, post this, and update FB and Twitter. I am not sure how many more tricks I have up my sleeve. Thanks for understanding, check back frequently for new news.