Sunday, June 27, 2010

The cycling Egg

Tama5 (Tamago)

The Circles Bike shop is fast becoming a way station for touring cyclists passing through Nagoya City. Over the last few months I've met several there, and today I had the pleasure of bumping into Tama5 (pronounced "Tamago" which means "egg" in Japanese). He kicked off his two month tour a few days ago in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and plans to cycle down to Osaka, around the Kyushu island, up the coast of the Sea of Japan until he reaches Toyama prefecture before making his way down to Matsumoto then over to Tokyo. Quite an impressive task when you consider that's he's doing it on a fixed gear bike. He's outfitted his Surly Steamroller with a touring trailer where he hauls his essential, tent and a supply of bike stickers bearing his unusual logo which looks like a guy with his head up his ass. See for yourself.

His logo...Don't ask

Tama5 seemed like a fun and easygoing character. He represents what I consider to be a trend in cycling and lifestyle in Japan. More young people are opting to work and save many to allow them time off for these types of excursions. This is a positive development and I welcome it. No cross-country cycling tour would be complete without a blog, and Tama5 has got one too. If you're in any of the cities on his itinerary, be sure to give him a hearty welcome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My fashion shoot

For all my readers who think I'm a sell-out and just another over-rated bearded bike blogger, here is the confirmation you've been waiting for. Yours truly is currently featured in Simple Bicycle Style #4. (a popular Japanese cycling fashion magazine for people who insist on making the iron donkey a fashion statement) You can see me demonstrating the awesomeness of my BBQ bike as well as modeling my stained cycling hood. Look out for my nude spread in the next issue of Saddle Sore Quarterly.

Everybody Vogue

Friday, June 11, 2010

Japan Coast2Coast: A new beginning

The Three Amigos

Last Tuesday afternoon, myself, Lowell and Mark, packed our bikes into our portable carry bags, gave a last glance at the gray blue palette of Itoigawa city and sat quietly waiting for our train back to Nagoya City. The week-long trek through the majestic Alps of Japan was now just a series of images captured in our cameras, blips of memories in our minds and a collection of bruises, stains and tall-tales which the three of us will no doubt reflect on over the coming months. As I recount the distance we traveled and the mountains we scaled, I am beginning to think that this trip was the oddest display of a mid-life crisis if ever there was one. I can only hope I have many more "crisis" in the years to come.

One theme that underscored the whole trip was WATER. Wherever we cycled, you could hear the presence of rushing streams and rivers. It reminded me how blessed Japan is with this very basic human necessity. Whether it was a trickling brook, a crashing waterfall or a supine glacial river cutting a swath through a valley, water served as a reminder of why I really undertook this trip; to raise money for the construction of water wells in poor Cambodian villages. To that end, the three of us were able to raise over ¥600,000. This is enough to help about 20 families obtain needed water for their crops and living. In doing so, we also help them become self-sufficient. Damn, that feels good.

So, what now? It doesn't end here. If you would like to donate there is still plenty of time to do so. Just drop me an email and let me know. We're already planning a Short version of the Japan Coast to Coast this fall. Most likely the route will start in Nagoya bay and end in Tsuruga bay about 120 kilometers away. We're planning to make it a short two-day trip with open registration. So if you're interested in joining us let me know. The big Coast2Coast across the Alps will likely happen again in September 2011. We're thinking of forming corporate teams and so far one company has already committed a team.

Things are shaping up. What started as a simple challenge/tour is slowly turning into a platform for the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, a way to discover Japan and most importantly a vehicle to help our friends in need of a better life.

The end? Not Likely.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why I alway pack extra rubber

Woke up in Kamikochi today to a flat tire. Actually it was only flat
on the bottom. Luckily I brought a spare innertube. 15 minutes later
we were on our way to Hakuba. Rubber rules.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 5 of Japan Coast 2 Coast

Picture pefect morning in the highlands of Norikura Japan. A popular
ski resort in Nagano. It's off season so we had the whole lodge to
ourselves. After. Hearty breakfast we'll set pedals for Kamikochi in
time for their annual Walter Weston Festival.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3 of japan Coast 2 Coast

Just completed a 103km ride to yabuhara in Nagano. Arrived wet and
friggin tired at a small minshuku run by a little old lady. She had a
hot bath and a tastey Japanese home cooked meal waiting. Tomorrow we
head up to Norikura.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The wind down

After a few tough climbs today we stop at a traditional Japanese inn
for a hot bath and a meal. Tomorrow we plan a 100km ride to Kiso-
fukushima. May the gods smile down on us.

Damn! That's some dam.

Day two of the Japan Coast to Coast tour. Behold. The Sakuma dam
Shizuoka prefecture.