Japan in AutumnJan Heine
I just returned from Japan. It was an amazing trip of talking to Compass Bicycles’ suppliers and of collecting material for future Bicycle Quarterly stories. Most of all, it was great fun!
We got to see old friends and acquaintances, and meet new ones. We rode bikes with some, went to Onsen baths with others, enjoyed great meals, and appreciated wonderful company.
We rode on the wonderful roads that criss-cross the Japanese mountains. They often are just a single lane wide, and the climbs (and descents) seem to go on forever. We love hairpin turns… and we got to do them continuously for over an hour during the descent of Shirabiso Pass – under a full moon! Japan was a great place to do the last pre-sale testing of our new Compass centerpull brakes.
We practiced our skills at Rinko. It is very satisfying to ride up to the train station, and 15 minutes later, our bikes are packed in relatively small bags that we can carry on our shoulders, even on crowded Tokyo subway trains. At the other end, it takes ten minutes to reassemble the bikes into full randonneur bikes with fenders, racks and lights. I had known about Rinko for years, but it took first-hand experience to understand the beauty of it.
Now that we know people, we aren’t treated as visitors as much, so we can actually see people at work. For an upcoming feature of TOEI, we were able to watch these legendary builders at work.
At the Poly Japon bike meeting, we admired some of the most beautiful bikes in Japan. (Not to mention the awesome ride into the mountains straight from the hotel. It was so good that I got up early the next morning to have another run at it.)
We savored the food and truly had a wonderful time. Thank you to all our Japanese friends who made this trip such a success!