I had enough bike rides this summer. Kissena twilight series on every Wednesday, State Championship, R1 NYC to Boston, NACCC, as long as it's dry out I was either racing Alleycat or training... Another bike rides in Japan? Isn't it self-indulgence? Heck, I've been looking forward to it for last couple of years.

09/12/09 KYOTO LOCO 2009

Arrived in Kyoto late afternoon at bucket of rain. At Uno House I saw a messenger alike dashing across the street. The qualifications must have been already started... When I got to the Seibu-kodo, Izuru-san was setting out, double-taking each other howled brief "hi".

Once the inside, lots of hello and hug from mess folks like a lost friends. Then I found unexpected NYCs hanging around. What are they doin' here?? Turned out, couldn't pass out this lifetime opportunity, all made the last minute decision took the flight to Japan. Good god!

Finally built up my bike for the qualifiers but only to find it's been canceled... I had consolation ¥200 beers from the organizers then made an impromptu decision all NYC would go to Sento then to ramen dinner.

My navigation to the Sento failed circled around for blocks. Dan G made fun of me but, hey, the last time I around was the five years ago. When we got there sunddenly all folks became tense and quiet. Becky went "I didn't bring my bathing suit"?? No worries. Once we'er in they got it, baptizing themsleves to the quintiessence of Japanese culture.

We had fantastic ramen dinner at Isshin-doh I even had a dream about the evening like this since the last time. Now we are in the thick of it!


All NYCs were staying at Uno House?? Bikers filled the entire house. Since there's no longer main race, we decided sightseeing temples.

Did you know? Kyoto alone has seventeen World Heritage sites. We decided going to Kiyomizu-dera. I was going to ask manager the direction but met a cute girl who volunteered us leading up there. Tsubasa-chan wasn't crusty messenger but an English major college student, not knowing about Kyoto Loco, just happened to be riding bike from Osaka today. I was in brief culture shock about Uno House (see the video by Kym P.)

We were off to Kiyomizu-dera.

Because I couldn't venture around Kyoto last time, happy to be one of the tourists.

Glad to see Dan G decided coming to Japan.

Tsubasa-chan was collecting seals from all Kyoto temples (¥300, notebook was ¥700). Rebecca was happy having her name in Kanji stroked on her notebook.

"The popular expression 'to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu' was the Japanese equivalent of the expression 'to take the plunge'. This refers to an Edo period tradition that hled as if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, the one's wish would be granted. Two hundred thirty-four jumps were recorded in the Edo period, of those 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited." from Wiki.

Then we decided going to Nijo-jo.

Turned out Tsubasa-chan was third master level ("san-dan") of Kendo.

Nijo-jo was known to foreginer as "Ninja castle" from its squeeking floors designed to alarm intruders (actullay it sounded rather like bird chirplings).

Historically significant where "Taisei Hokan" declared that ended the Edo 'samurai' reign, returned to the Imperial rule in 1867 entering the modern period. The spectacular suite unfortunately forbids photographs.

There's Japanese penguin!

There will be Gozan Okuribi bonfire at the kanji character "dai" on the mountain.

We went Sento afterwords. Tsubasa-chan and Rebecca's loud gigglings were echoing over the ceiling... turned out they were trying 'electric-pulse' bath. The ramen dinner at Isshin-doh in the last evening in Kyoto.

09/14/09 KYOTO --> NAGOYA


The Kyoto-Tokyo epic group ride is about to be commenced. Photo by Kym P.


This is our NYC + LA group. Photo by Harumi-san.

Photo by Harumi-san.

Within a block we had a flat tyre...

We were finally off to Nagoya!

We stayed in group pretty tight until the climbing started. Chaz, Marco, Prentiss, Joshua Robot sprint out like animals out from the cage.

I rode it opposite way 5 years ago -- from East to Suzuka Mt. was steep then gradual long downhills to Kyoto. This time from Kyoto we had tight widing steep downhills. Glad I had a brake on, glad it's over.

Hydration stop around Yokkaichi city. We luck'd out having 90 degrees day.

At the outskirts of Nagoya, I was happy to find the goldfish wholeseller once I stopped-by last time (see the 09-15-05 entry).

These tiny goldfish was size of a coin but groomed like balls of mashmallow. Meanwhile Joshua Robot looked for a goldfish to feed his turtle...

While navigating in Nagoya downtown we merged with Machu-kun group. We arrived the south entrance of Atsuta Jinguu at quarter to three. We've rode about 100 miles in just over five hrs.

Met Gishi-san from Daisy Messnger soon after. About an hour later Andy Zalan and his crew arrived then my cell started ringing off the hook. Becky were at Nagoya Station, others were lost completely somehwere outskirts of the city. Another one was from forest road somewhere still in Suzuka Mt!! Apparently some unfotunate folks trusted Lucas Brunelle's GPS with his navigation skill ended up in the middle of forest. They wanted me to pass-on their message they were alive and "OK". The organizer was horrified.

It became obvious it'd take a while rounding up everyone. We were dirty, tired and bit cranky. Defuse the situation like this? Invite everyone to Sento! We competely occupied the tiny place. Covered by sweat and dust everyone appreciated the Japanese bathhouse culture and loved it. Andy Zalan asked me if there was any community denomination about Sento. I replied "yeah, like the barbar shop." He got it right away.

With Makoto-san from Circles. Lucas Brunelle group still hadn't arrived. I heard they arrived in 11pm were out on the road over thirteen hrs. Sorry for Conti-san who volunteered the sweep of the group. He confessed me the following day "I pointed the right way but Lucas insisted other route..."

Then we'er at Tsurumai park waiting for supporting ban which had our luggage, and clean cloth! It became obvious that the group-ride participants were way too larger than the organizer planned for. We had to manage ourselves...

Kym, Chaz, Mike and me sneaked in a tiny single room. Chaz and me removed cabinets and bed base to the hallway securing our floor space, Kym even staffed stinky shoes to fridge... Goodnight!

09/15/09 NAGOYA --> OMAEZAKI

None of hotel staff knew who was guest or not. Taking that opportunity we had good breakfast. The forecast today was rain. Many decided to take a train close to camp site in Omaezaki.

As soon as we set out from Nagoya, Lucas, Kai and Chaz went wild moves all around the traffic. Those innocent Japanese drivers never been encountered such barbarians. Soon we found a cop waiving at us said he's having too many calls about us. The cop was more or so annoyed by the calls than giving us a sermon. Another cop car was waiting for us in a few blocks ahead...

Traffic was pretty bad that day adding to the wet condition consumed our nerves, not covering mileage as we like. It's 2:30pm, we've been riding 4.5hrs but we haven't hit Toyohashi-city yet. Wet and cold, we have only another few more hours of daylight. I didn't like the idea riding in the heavy traffic in dark. We took a vote at Udon lunch break. Chaz wanted keep going but rest agreed to forgo rest of the ride..., meanwhile I saw Doug, Melissa, Yeti and Beckey kept riding up the Route 1...

We were at Toyohashi station in 3:30pm. Watada-san's iPhone helped us a lot.

Bike shouldn't be exposed in Japanese train, needed to be bagged.

We had quite a party in the train. Conductor once stuck out his head to our cabine. When we got off the station the conductor informed me we were not welcome anymore...

We got the camp site around 8pm. Me and Watada-san rode to Onsen ("hot-spa") near-by. On the way we bumped into Doug's group. Hats off to them rode it through to Omaezaki!


09/16/09 OMAEZAKI --> IZU

5am, buzzing sounds woke me up if it was like every morning in NYC by the helicopter commuter noises. It turned out 20 ~ 30 fisherman boats sailing out towards the dawn. Called up everyone to catch it.

Chaz, being from West Coast, never seen a sunrise from the ocean.

Now he became a man.

On the other side of the bay, young souls were having a dip.

Impressed with Doug group, in additon to we didn't feel like ripping the traffic anymore, me and Pretiss merged with their group.

This picture shows what it's like riding traffic in Japan. But drivers here were far more trained and have passed stringent driving test. Plus if they hit someone, regardless whose fault, the license would be revoked.

We were at Numazu city.

We should have turned that white bridge...

Taking wrong road met kids practicing for their school festival.

Tokaidoh roads were often motif of Hokusai. Beautiful passage. We all loved it.

The problem with Shizuoka was Highway was right next to reguklar road but all road signs were made for car traffic. We missed the road entrance ended up on the highway that ran above the ocean for 10 miles. Eighteen wheelers were zipping one after another. Beckey went "Is that Mt. Fuji, Izumi??" God damin it, focus Beckey!! Did you realize we're getting squashed in any moment. Luckily we didn't get caught by highway patrol either. But it was hairy 30 minutes.

Entering to Numazu city there was Senbon-matsubara it means thousands of pine trees. Actually threre's over 300, 000 pine trees along the road. Beautiful but same scenary consumed lots of energy from us.

Arrived Izu Cycle Sports center.



See their faces were all elated?


We were visiting Japan Keirin School. We were instructed to be quiet, not to disturb their training.

Juniors were also trained for the official duties.

See the junior were coached on their every moves.

Some of the racers didn't come out properly were chewed out loud by their coach.

This is a 400m track. Compared to Kissena in NYC, the Keirin velodrome has short steight with large curve but actually the banks were steeper than it looks.

This school had 400, 333, and 250. We were allowed to see the 250m track.

Keirin doesn't race on 250. This is a training track for the World, only the 250m track in Japan.

These crew did awesome job day and night, organzing the ride and camping. Thank you! Photo by Hiromi-san.

I had a hose shower froze my ass. Guys had bonfire and karaoke outside. I cawled up in my bike travel-bag as a sleeping bag. But in the middle of mountain, the night went extremely cold made me woke up. Thanks for Joshua Robot let me his long sleeve.

09/18/09 IZU --> YOKOHAMA

We were kind of folks feel home at the view of ocean.

Through the tunnel we're at Atami.

Shonan city was the domain of surfers, stupid housewives and spoiled kids. No thanks.

Prentiss made wild move because...


... made sure they were not seagulls but surfers.

Arrived in Yokohama. Kym complained her "pockey". They were meticulously foil-packaged with tiny four pieces in it. I think we nibbled a piece each. Tired and hungry we went Sento nearby. Young people no longer goes to Sento but I saw super hot lady came in that evening. Japan still gotto a bright future. Conveniently there was a ramen joint right across the Sento. We had very nice gyoza, ramen and copious amount of beer. That ramen place had to re-open later at that night because the bike messnegers kept coming. Photo by Kym P.

But I had no time to relax, had to go to Hiroshima overnight.


By the way if you are traveling Japan, best to get JR pass. Paying it for a week to three, allows you for unlimited ride on all JR transportations (train, bus, ferry, reserve seat on Shinkansen.)

If you are happened to be traveling by bicycle use this very informative Japan Cycling Navigator site.






I had free time left by the end of the day so I took jet ferry crossing to Shikoku island.

then rode a tain aimlessly going to west.

... at random station.

Stayed in lodge out of nowhere.

had a shrine right next to it.

09/20/09 KAGAWA --> TOKYO

stayed in the lodge really out of nowhere.

Going back to Tokyo. Thanks to JR pass, I have no worry for the cost on this long distance excursion. Crossing the Seto-ohashi bridge to mainland.


The train I rode was the 'manga' train. When it arrived in Okayama, many camera kids waited for it taking snapshots.

Arrived Shibuya at late night.

CMWC welcome party was in full swing.

Up to this point, my trip had been flawless. But I have to find a place to stay that night. Many offered me to sneak into their stay but my bike was still in transit, couldn't follow them to their hostels. In the end I walked 4 ~ 5 miles to the camp site in Wakasu from Shinkiba station!

Note to messengers. We could ride bike 100 miles everyday but 'walking' was definitely not our forté, especially with a heavy bag on your back. My foot and ankle were in pain, soared like a grapefruit.

09/21/09 TOKYO

Tokyo is huge -- each borough was the size of Manhattan with its density. There were twenty three of them.

The building with the gold foam motif on top is the HQ for ASAHI BEER.

I liked Asakusa/ Ueno area. Compared to loud and glitzy Shinjuku/ Shibuya, it still had old downtown courners with lots of shine and temples.

I stayed in Khaosan Original. Unlike their Annex it's small, quite and cozy. Bad news -- I caught a bad cold. Damn'it!

Harricane #17 was approaching but veered to Pacific at the last minute. Once again the psychic friend of mine did a favor on me. Unbelievable!

09/22 & 23 CMWC TOKYO 2009

My memory is hazy due to my cold with soared foot. I didn't fare it welll, didn't stay out too much either. Bummer. The event place was huge with security guards on courners. Impressive number of volunteers who were all articurate and attentive. TKBMA did it right.

Miniture size of Izuru-san and his papa.

I met Tomity-san, talked about Keiokaku keirin velodrome. He gave me this excellent brochure with translation in English, Korean and Chinese. This is the Rosetta Stone of Keirin. You must print them out.


Checked out Keirin Scheude found only the Omiya had races that day. So there we were.

After all it's a gambling place. Ladies greeted us.

Keirin Schedule of the day with each racers' profile. See the following translation how to read it...

The translation: How to read the racers' profile.

Do you know how to fill it? See the Keirin Rosettastone from Tomity-san.

Once we were inside, a kind security taught us how to fill the betting form.

Also the security warmed us about petty thiefs. Keep the belongings tight.

Sorry for the crappy snapshots because Keirin forbids camera or video once you are inside.

Portraits of Keirin racers from Saitama prefecture.

Post-race video result gawkers. We equally enjoyed in the shuttle (free) to train station, witnessed a peculiar compartment of society -- lost their money on gambling. Some were moaning, some gazed straight into void with deep furrow.

But our gambling spree still continued, went pachinko! This oji-chan just hit a jackpot, told me the balls of tray was about ¥3,000.


09/25/09 KOKUGIKAN

Tiny downtown shine in Asakusa.

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo Station

Then we went to watch Sumo at Kokugikan.

These banners were sponsors. Of cause there was no Nike or Coke.

There are six tournaments in a season, fifteen days each. Kokugikan is the Rose Bowl Garden of Sumo.

Souvenir bags for VIP box seats.

The match schedule of the day

There was commentator near the entrance with retired wrestler. He graciously autographed my uchiwa.

Takamisakari vs Homasho

Wrestlers faces three-times before the fight. The wrestlers stare each other down, crouch repeatedly, perform the ritual salt-throwing, trying to gain a psychological advantages. Sometime the wrestlers are allowed to fight even before the final third facing-off if their tension ticked.

Kotooshu vs Asashoryu

These banners were sponsors for this particular match. I believe each banners certificates a ¥100,000 stake of the match. The winner takes all to his gym as his swag then the wrestler gets commissions.

The bow-twirling ceremony performed by a designated wrestler at the end of day.

There were stunning ladies in kimono. Back in the old day, established men didn't bring wives, only mistresses - did not allow bringing their mundane lives in class. Was it also the global cultures in the horse race or casino?

The entertainment of the night didn't end there. I explained to Jumbo the smoke might be a bug repeller... Wrong! It was indeed fire!!


 09/26/09 KEIOKAKU

We are at Keiokaku.

On December 30th holds the Grand Prix to decide who is the most winning earning of the year. This is the Rose Bowl Garden of Keirin velodrome.

I was still recuperating from cold... But brought tubular wheels just for this, didn't I? I gotta give it all out.



Luckily I made it to the final six. Unlike the qualifiers, we wore official Keirin colored outfits! See Taku-san behind us taking a shot of pavement??

Some random dude brought his press for his souvenir shot.

I made a plan with Matsudo-san., offered myself to sacrifice for him. He followed Andy White prematurely lining up next to the derny. I finished in fourth place after Alex, Jumbo and Brooke.

TKBMA did awesome job once again. More than 30 volunteers supported us. Everyone knew their assignment exactly what to do.

09/27/09 ATAMI

The last day in Japan, walked around in Akihabara.

But what I was doing here in the zoo of people? My JR pass expires today, I wanted the most of it... It's already late in the afternoon but hopped on Shinkansen to...

... Atami. Click here for background music.

Atami station was at the top of mountain but there were many things to entertain the long walk down to the beach.

The kidneys alike were gills of tuna. A delicacy.

Atami was THE resort place famous in Japan. Many films, literatures were staged. Once the vacation season is over it turns back to quiet charming place.

Walk down along with Itogawa river...

Tide ran into the river with intimate sound.

then to pier.

There was unbelievable couple right out from Ozu film.

Atami's resort season is over, their guests were sparse. I was able to hop on great Onsen looking over the ocean.

Right next to it was tiny bistro only four seats at the counter.

Served me the best seasonal stuff he had. This was conch sashimi.

Move over vegans. They were fresh sea urchin and grilled conch in shell. Delicacies.

Master and madam recommended me super fresh salmon roe.

Turned out one of their regular was a head of Sumo gym. Master had every tournaments' ranking sheet since 1973!

Master goes "Isn't Atami, great? Rivers, verdant mountains and ocean..."

If you are visiting Japan should visit Atami. Atami-ya tel: 0557-81-2272.


09/28/09 NARITA

NYC were inseparable, boarding on the same flight. We couldn't even get started without a beer...

It took a time adjusting myself back to normal work schedules. First time in a long time I didn't ride a bike for over a week. One morning I got out, crossing George Washington Bridge in fog. I had a funny feeling if I was drafting with Chaz or Kai ripping through the traffic. But it wasn't the strange traveling road in Japan. The heat wave when I left was long gone. The leaves were ready to fall found myself back in home.