I was back to the beginning. Los Angeles. It had been a while and things have changed. Now it was bicycle. Exploring new routes and trying to see how far I could take it.
This is relocation. After working a year in the San Francisco Bay Area up North I have relocated to Southern California. I was equally shocked when I left Japan and ended up in my hometown.
Cycling had changed my life and now I was on familiar territory in the future of my own wheels. I missed my family as always and that was the biggest sacrifice. There was no other way to stay centered. At least now I was somewhat close to the ocean and night rides where great as were the memories.
In the ocean I always make wish for what I want and how I would want it. That’s what someone told me to do. So every time I go in the waters of the ocean I make a wish but also when I’m out cycling I’m wishing and focusing on what is important to me and how much I appreciate being able to power myself around and the feeling it gives me.
So, for the past 10 months I’ve been commuting by BART in the Bay Area and riding through the East Bay and looking at all the changes that have occurred. I’m still in shock.
I was always talking about moving back home and last year I finally did. I was fortunate enough to get a teaching job and it was back in my home town.
Riding a bicycle transformed my life and with that I’ve been able to meet so many fascinating people and the same was so true when I returned home and started meeting local cyclists and joined a cycling group. Sometimes it was just casual conversations on BART.
Though I was having the time of my life even going so far as to participate in the Five Boros Bike Tour in New York, which was exhilarating and challenging at the same time my bicycle was stolen June 14. Yes, I’m mad and devastated all in one. Because it takes time and especially money to build up a bicycle and almost as important, all the memories that are associated with it.
Litespeed Tuscany – metallic color with no stickers
ENVE black forks – 2.0 Road Bike
Dura Ace 9000 group set
Limited Edition Fulcrum Racing Zero Rims with flat red spokes
FSA Drop Bars with florescent green tape.
Fizik saddle – black
Shimano racing peddles
So, yeah, I’m still morning and I filed police reports and I registered my bicycle with Bikeindex. org . And I’ve scoured social media and made dozens of posts on Facebook and other outlets but my bicycle is gone. Even the mysterious lead I got from some person purporting to know where the bicycle thief lives and that they had seen some guy riding my bicycle at Ashby BART station – the lead dried up. They were looking for a reward but when my dad and my co-worker and fellow cyclist showed up at the place the lead said the thieves live at, the lead disappeared. I even wondering if it was real and more importantly how the hell did they get my number. But I do remember leaving my phone number with some homeless lady and at the pub where my bicycle was stolen.
What can I do? My bicycle is gone, my memories are gone but like always I move forward and start over and I’ve even bought the same exact frame again. It will be a long slow process but I will recover and whom ever is enjoying my bicycle fuck you!
There is a term in Japanese called Ya ku ba ra, which is kind of like, some things have bad spirits associated with them, so when they or it is gone it’s like a cleansing. On a more positive tip, then maybe that is what happened. It was some sort of release of a bad spirit associated with my bicycle has vanished.
If you have a bicycle you care about make sure you register it. Use small strong U-locks. More importantly than anything, never let your bike out of your site when you go some place. Make sure you can see it at all time or leave it at home.
I had two strong U-locks on my bicycle and the thief busted through the first one. I’ll post pictures later.
At the moment, I’m moving forward, saving up to build up my new frame, vacationing in Japan and continuing to enjoy cycling. It feels great. I’ll recover and I’ll be back stronger. If there is a meaning in all of this I guess I’ll find out soon enough but I know one thing I won’t make the same mistake again.
I’ve been back home for about five months. Before that I had lived in Japan for about 9 years. Previously I wrote about what might happen if I came back home but now I’m here and I think I made the right decision.
I got into cycling in Japan and it changed my life. At home it has been more of a challenge. I don’t really know anyone anymore. I have a new job and a cycling friend at work but he’s like Eddy Merckx and dusted me on a climb. I brought my road bike back but it needs some work now and I can’t seem to find a quality bike mechanic like I had in Japan or maybe I was just spoiled.
Now it’s raining like cats and dogs and I can’t rife much but usually I would take BART from my aunt’s house where I’m staying until I can get a place, to work and then ride 19 miles to the last BART station I could reach and need to complete the commute home.
Life has definitely changed here in the Bay Area, and anyone will tell you that but to me it’s more grimyer and now that marijuana is legal, it smells like weed all the time. I’m not complaining but it’s so weird. I had to leave my family back in Japan to make this career move and besides my job of working at a continuation school this has been the greatest challenge. I went home last winter and it was fun but my heart cracked in half when I came home.
Cycling keeps me whole mentally and fit but I’m struggling socially but maybe that is just something I will have to endure. I miss Japan a lot. It was home for 9 years and now I’m back where it all started in my hometown in Northern California. Of all the places to go back to I came back here and there are other coincidences as well but for now I’m praying for a good cycling mechanic but I’m sure something will turn out. Without the bike Jedi it has been hard but sooner or later things will change.
I recently combined an Ultegra and Dura Ace cassette.
The Dura Ace was free from the Jedi because a previous owner said that something was wrong with it. I tested it for a while and it was fine but it kept getting out of index and a careful inspection showed that it was flexing. It was &'(( up. I didn’t want to give up the cogs that were good and I like thy durability of the Ultra cassette so we made Gumbo.
It works, though it is a little sensitive and I have two 17 cogs and it’s only 11 speed with the last cog being a 12 from Dura Ace. Its weird and it works like me on my crazy bicycle. I like titanium bikes because I’m a little rough and I need something that can take more punishment than carbon. I like to take risks and I ride in a lot of extreme conditions.
So far and so good but now the Jedi is asking if I would like to participate in the Fuji Hill Climb. I’ve never been in a professional race but I’ve done a lot of street racing and well maybe its time. I’m really a sprinter but I don’t mind hills, well there is only one way to find out and just do it.
My present contract with my current employer is coming to an end. I was a bit of loaner, most cyclist are and that maybe because I cycled to work and I was older than a lot of my co-workers and I don’t watch Netflix series. I’m not saying it’s bad I just don’t or on HBO too. I hung my bicycle in my classroom. There is a group that likes to play ping pong but I like to shred. I’m not saying I’m anti social or like to make small talk but at times I felt like De Niro in the Deer Hunter. Now all this stuff doesn’t matter because in a few days I’ll be gone again on my bike.
I’m considering going full-time in my business which I have never done and well maybe it’s about time. After nine years of living in Japan and working in the English teaching industry I need more certification. I had it easy when I started out but now that I’m back in the job market I finally realized how easy I had it before. My business is freedom, it’s not easy but I don’t have to take any crap from anyone and it has always protected me in a way. Now I’m really going to find out and well if I get another job I’ll just make adjustments. Its better than going bak home and separating from my family. That’s why I came here to Japan to be with them and out of necessity I discovered cycling and changed my life for the better. Now if I can only get my Japanese my drivers license.
Once again I’m changing jobs but the constant in my life is cycling. This latest offer may mean less riding than I’ve grown accustomed too but that it will make cycling all the more precious to me. It seems that anything is possible.
My road bike is in the shop because my fulcrum rear tire is being rebuilt with a steel free hub instead of the aluminum. Apparently my wheel was previously built with errors but I didn’t ask so many questions. I love the wheels and I’m patient.
For now I ride the commuter to work and everywhere else and things seem to be going fine. Facing this moment of uncertainty there is not much else I can do. Changing jobs can be tough but lately I’ve been feeling upbeat. After working at one school for 7 years and leaving, it was a major break, then I got a new job and
politically it was more than I bargained for and so I move forward as always on two wheels. Anxiously I wait for my road bike to be repaired so that I can take it out but it seems to be taking so much time but so has everything else in my life.
Like a lot of people, I came to cycling late in life but once it grabbed me I embraced it and I’ve never felt better in my life. I’ve never felt more confident. I’m glad that it happened and I’ll never be the same again. I can wonder why I didn’t do this type of cycling before but that would only create more problems in my mind and I already over analyze things too much. I love cycling and it has helped me out so much. I only wish teaching gave me as much pleasure sometimes but it could always be worse and it could definitely always be better. At the end of the day or the beginning the only things there is to do is ride. It is where you find out so much about yourself.
I cant ride my bike. Influenza Type B has morphed into a cold from hell. It is nice to have a break from my job but work is piling up. It’s cold outside, rainy and looking out the window it is snowing again. I’ve reached this state of uncertainty. It seems or feels that success has eluded me. I’m fortunate to have two great kids and a nice place to live and a skeptical wife. Here in Japan I have become Ellison’s invisible man and my runny, stuffy nose would make Gogol happy. Despair has met me this winter. Hope has returned in the motivation to write, sitting here in the attic of my house. Words beckon me. What is my purpose in this life? The answer always turns again to writing. When will the masterpiece appear to free me from this storm? Winter, earlier was fun, back home on holiday, but back here in Japan I feel some dread. No matter, I have to keep writing. In the end only my words may remain. I miss the open road. I miss peddaling through the streets. It was freedom but it may not return again as I once knew it. Only a great opportunity could keep me here. My marriage has turned into the Grand Canyon. We are so distant. Now I feel I could walk away and not feel sadness. Holding it in for so long like I was playing a song over and over. Words. Some how our conversation turns into such a confusing mess, why did we even try to communicate? Maybe it’s better this way. I’m not sure it just feels like it. Is this some cruel joke she is playing, it feels like the end new user spam flooding my inbox from my WordPress blog. When will they leave me alone? When will she love me again?
A snow storm hit last week.
Going to work was fine but on the way back the snow started pouring down. Luckily I didn’t have to go to my second job. I took my usual route down the river and things were going fine until I ran into some dog that was a little to genki – happy to see me. The owner called it back but didn’t lease it and then it came at me again and after pointing at the dog in frustration to the owner the husband I presume came and collared him but that was not after their son or daughter was crying. I checked my bike and kept on trucking towards home. Why didn’t they do it the first time and well I survived being attacked by Sasquatch/fluffy and I felt relieved.
Near home it was useless to try and ride my bike. I had to carry it through the snow to my house. Now the snow has subsided but the roads have black ice and there are no city snowplows here so snow is piled up on the sides of the roads. It’s treacherous. Just ventured out a few days ago to go to the bike shop and I found out that my right shifter was broken. Good thing I did because it would have been a long ride home.
Last year during the fall, I was in a hurry and I ran into some old man on the river levee. I tried to avoid him but it was too late. I think he realized that too and he braced for the impact by putting his shoulder into me like a linebacker and I flew off my bike, again lucky to land on grass and when I came too I turned around and he was standing in the middle of the road. I picked up my bike looked at him wondering if it was going to be a samurai showdown but he just smiled at me and said thank you in Japanese and turned around and walked away. He was listing to his iPhone and maybe the music was just too good and I was going just a little too fast. I was a little pissed but I didn’t have time to dwell on the moment too long and so I headed towards work. It was dark, I ride fast. I felt it later but that’s the life of a commuter in Japan besides almost getting hit by drivers making left hand turns.
I can’t wait for the bike Jedi to fix my bike, he’s my bicycle mechanic. I miss the summer when I could fly down the streets like a maniac and race people on the street but I’ll just have to take it slow for now and just worry about getting to work on time. I went home for a months in the summer and I didn’t ride. When I came back I was so out of shape. Then I realized how much cycling had become a part of my life, thanks to living in Japan and not being able to get a drivers license. Maybe that was a good thing. There is always more. For now I have to survive the winter commuting or being on the trains which are good but I don’t like and dreaming of spring when I can put the pedal to the metal on the streets.
I may have to move back home. I’m sort of dreading it. I like it here in Japan and I would hate to separate from my family. My job sucks again and after confronting some corruption, I got canned. I have my own business but it just supplements my income. Maybe I could do more. I have to reach deep inside of myself, especially now. I know there is a school that will appreciate what I have to offer, where I can be myself and give back like I always do but that may take some time or maybe I’ll have to just make my own way and put myself on. Usually that is the case. No matter what happens, I’ll never stop riding my bike and I’ll alway be myself. A bright side to it all is that I finished a novel and I finally submitted it to a publisher that will review it and hopefully publish it. I hope so because it would be vindication for all the crap I’ve been through. It’s a long process but I’m patient and I’m grateful for all that I have. Like having met a lot of cool people here in Japan, a great family, a lot of support, the cycling community at my local bicycle shop and the Jedi who make my bike a reality.
Actually, I’m not doing too bad but I could use a decent job preferably writing but it’s hard here in Japan because I don’t speak the language and I didn’t come here for my career I came her to save my marriage but after eight years things have changed. My kids are older, they’re riding bikes and my health is better but maybe it is time to go home. Who knows? I just have to keep peddling forward like I always have and hope for the best and prepare for the worst on the road.
No matter what keep cycling.
I wasn’t looking for Kurtz but just trying to commute to work along the river. On the road along the river you know never know what to expect. Things could change at any minute.
One week I found a turtle. I stopped, picked up and tossed it into the Arakawa River. It surfaced after a while and looked at me and went under and disappeared. Last week, which was the last week of school I saw a dead body in some grass underneath an underpass. There were cops all around. It’s a spot just before the public golf course. It seemed like he was dead because I thought by that time they would have been trying to help him up and he’d be put into an ambulance or something like that. He wasn’t moving and more police and people were coming. At that moment I had the urge to take a picture but I was late for work. To make time I kept going but it maybe think about my life and how important time is. I should have taken a picture. Stay on the road and keep going.
I see a lot of things along the river. People practicing Tai Chi underneath bridges with Chinese Swords, old men with golf clubs too cheap to pay for time at the public course, people shadow boxing, homeless men screaming at some imaginary person, joggers, fathers practicing baseball or soccer with their sons, power walkers, junior or high school students practicing dance routines, dog walkers and other cyclists. Sometimes I race other cyclists and sometimes they never come back. I had to stay focused. Sometimes people or dogs or kids or something get in the way. Maybe I’ll have a flat but I have to get back on the road and keep going. I don’t know what is ahead or in the tall grass along the edges of the road but I just had to keep pedaling. It was hard, sometimes you want to stop or give up.
I wasn’t expecting to see a dead body just like I don’t expect to see some old man peeing on the side of the road along the river but it’s the river. It’s where people go to get away or get to imaginary place or space. It’s how I get to work. It’s where we all expect to be free from the city, our jobs, friends or problems. I’m glad I can ride my bicycle to work. I hate the train and I can’t get a Japanese drivers license. I tried three times and the situation transformed me into a cyclist. Now I’m at the Dura Ace level. I never thought I would make it but it feels good just like it feel good to be alive and cycling along the river.
Its best to stay on the road.
I’m was obsessed with sounds on my bike.
I usually ride listening to music but occasionally I turn off my sounds and listen. Recently a sound was driving me nuts, even my bicycle mechanic. It took a while to finally learn that it was coming from my pedals but that was after my mechanic tore my bike apart trying to understand what the hell was wrong with me. I don’t think I’m the only one like this but whoever you are and what ever you like to do with your life you probably have something you really enjoy and you always want it to be perfect.
While all of this was going on my tooth that has been slightly cracked not to long ago, finally exploded into a super nova of pain but not after being repaired by new dentist. Now I have a brand new silver cap on one of my bottom teeth and happily the sound that was driving me mad is gone and my tooth ache.
Better yet is the fact that I have a new job and for the first time in a long time I’m enjoying what I’m doing and look forward to going to work like some crazy idiot but I wonder if I’m really losing it now. Things do and can get better but to get to that state of mind sometimes you have to take big risks and stick to your guns even though everyone around you things you’re a giant crack rock.
After seven years at the same job I’m gone. I told a co-worker who came into my classroom unexpectedly during break time to fuck off. For some reason he thought he could slither into my classroom and eyeball me like he wanted some trouble. Honestly he looks and talks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
I don’t know what he wanted because I had been trying to teach my students about voting for three months, because in Japan, now, if you are 18 years old you can vote. So, I was using the last shitty election in the United States as an example of how to become an informed voter and the differences between the parliamentary system in Japan and the direct democracy styled of the United States. I think I was successful but no matter where you go in this world somebody will hate on you. Well, I’m not one to hold back what I feel and after questioning why he came into my classroom and telling him about his own problems, with his students he told me to shut up and I told him,”fuck you!”
It was pretty much the beginning of the end but not because they, an administrator and others wanted it that way but because I went to the head master and told him, “I want to leave. I can’t work like this,” and so I resigned. I’ve been looking for other work but it has been difficult but I always stick to my guns or my pedals. Lately some job prospect has come up, thanks to my Australian educational consultant. So, like Jonah I jumped into the sea and swallowed by a giant fish that but we say was a whale. George Orwell wrote an essay about it too.
The best part was riding to work and looking at all of the people, beautiful women, exotic cars, accidents, school girls skirts blowing up in the wind. It felt good. As I became a better rider, I built better bikes to compensate for the changes, but this would not have been possible without my cycling mechanic Jedi master. Whatever vision I had in mind, he could make it work and add more if necessary. It was wild, riding too Mitaka-ku was like going through Lego City. Everything wasn’t fantastic but I had fun almost getting hit by cyclist going the wrong way on the street, which is common, racing other riders on street like two vagabonds from Two Lane Blacktop.
Cycling is addicting. Once you get on the road you want to ride more and so you go through a metamorphosis like in some Kafka novel and as you change so does your bike if you can afford it. This is what happened to me. It was gradual at first but then the change was complete.
Like Jonah in the whale I survived but at times I feel like I’m still stuck in some giant fish protected from the outside world because I’m stuck in the fishes belly. So for now while I can, I keep cycling, and though my new job prospect may not allow me to ride again through Tokyo, I’ll become a weekend rider but I’ll never stop being a crazy cyclist.