Last Saturday I donned my special pants, threw my lights on my bike and rode towards downtown Makuhari to try and find a group of people playing Bike Polo. I had heard about the Bike Polo group from Seiya at The Depot, and I was excited to give this intriguing sport a try. I spent about an hour in what turned out to be a massive waterfront park looking for people on 2 wheels. I figured they couldn't be too hard to spot, but the park was a labyrinth of dark deserted lots and beach. I had all but given up and was on my way home (very disappointed I must confess), when I took a chance on a small side road and cleared the trees into a small paved court with perhaps a dozen people with bikes, beer and polo mallets lounging around. I was immediately introduced to the group and Seiya had even e-mailed ahead warning them I might be coming by. After a quick explanation of the rules (aided by another American) we were off! Here's how it works: -2 teams of 3 -If your foot touches the ground, you must leave play and touch a side post before reentering -You can use any part of the mallet to move the ball, but can only shoot by striking with the end. -If you decide to drag the ball by trapping it between the mallet and the ground, you must pass before it can be shot on goal. -First team to 5 points wins!
Unfortunately is was dark and I was only able to snap a few poor photos and a few videos which you can see here on vimeo. (more on the way)
I had a blast, and we played till after midnight. The game varies in tempo from slow delicate maneuvers to fast skidding dashes, as well as awkward entanglements and crashes. It was difficult at first to connect the mallet and the ball (I made many drive by's where the ball didn't move at all) but soon I started understanding how to pull the ball, push it, not block my own shots with my wheels, get the ball from my left side to my right, etc Interestingly enough, there is some semblance to polo played on horses, as you cannot easily turn on the spot, and you really end up dominant on one side. The game left me excited to make my own mallet, play as much as I can and find people to play with when I get back to the US of A. (I know both Portland and Salt Lake City have people who play) By the way, Mallets are often made from old ski poles and PVC heads attached to them. The ball is a hard plastic, like a street hockey ball.
It was wonderful to connect with such great guys here in the Chiba area who cycle together. Many of their events are posted here.
If you're in a big city, chances are there are people who participate in the craziness that is Bike Polo, and if they're anything like the guys here, they'd love to teach you how to play. (check out more photos here)
Have fun riding this week! (don't wimp out just because it's getting cold! Wear a hat!) cheers,
My route and some photos from my ride on Saturday. I biked from the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka into Tokyo to Tokyo Wheels Shop, then down to Hibuya Station for dinner with a friend, and back to Tokyo Station to hop on the train home.
Google tells me the total distance is about 26 km. Add a few for me getting lost a couple times. All in all it was a great trip. I also stopped by Yasukuni Shrine. Bike Parking at the Studio Ghibli MuseumI hope you can enjoy riding, even if you're in traffic like I was!
Another great bike shop find, this time a bit closer to home. I hopped on my bike Monday morning (not Columbus day, but sports day here) and worked my way along Chiba Highway towards Ichikawa City. Biking on the roads here can be crazy. Rarely is there a shoulder, but at least the people driving are usually very considerate and used to navigating with cyclists around them. I covered the 12.5 Kilometers in good time with only an occasional stop to consult the map. I also saw an old man and his amazing bike get up, and found a small bouldering gym, which caused the latent climber in me to awaken and get excited.The Depot is a bike shop that I first heard of at Nuts!Fes and again in Blue Lug earlier that weekend, and I wanted to check it out. I found the small shop easily and was thrilled to strike up a conversation with Seya, the shops owner, which lasted on and off for more than an hour as I browsed, asked bike questions, got some good advice for my own bike, and learned some new things about cotterless cranks! (my almost exclusive experience with vintage Schwinns gives me rather out of date mechanical experience) Perhaps best of all, I found out when and where a local bike polo group plays! Seya sent an e-mail to one of the guys who now knows to look out for a lost white guy next Saturday. (and bring an extra mallet) I also picked up a copy of COG magazine, and some fixed gear tensioners that are often used on BMX bikes. I haven't seen them on fixed bikes in America, but I probably just haven't seen enough fixies. (these little beauties will save me from constant straddling of the tire and using a wrench as a lever to tighten the chain)The shop was small, but very personal, helpful and well stocked with local gear (including Depot Bikes) and some high end racing parts as well. I will definitely be back, and when time comes to pack up my Osso and head back to the U.S. of A. I will be back to get the right tools. I hope you all have a great bike shop nearby where you can get a good conversation and advice is free and generously given. If you aren't sure, find a bikeshop near you here! Also an interesting article about how we refer to people by how they get around: www.humanstransit.org happy riding,
As I started scheduling out the next few weeks of my life I realized I'd completely missed a bike show I really wanted to go to last weekend! I was feeling pretty down, but then remembered that the end of this month the 10th Anniversary of the Bicycle Film Festival will be in Tokyo! (facebook page here) I looked up some info and watched the trailers, most of which look really interesting. Riding the Lone White Cloud (about skaters on a bike tour across New Zealand) and Bicycle Dreams (documentary of the insane bike race across America) both look really interesting, and the others I think will be entertaining as well. (click to watch trailers, or see them all HERE!) Bicycle Films are a pretty small chunk of the film world, so I'm really interested to see what is there, and how filmmakers decide that cycling is the subject matter they want to work with. I'm also interested in film as a way to make cycling more accessible to everyone.
I will of course post again after the event, but I was too excited to wait until October 29-31st. Spencer
I indulged in my first pair of bike pants this weekend. I spotted this pair on Blue Lug's website and decided to drop by on Saturday. The shop was great! There was such a huge selection of bike clothing/accessories from so many brands, local or otherwise, that it was almost overwhelming. I deliberated for a long time, examining everything that caught my eye and viciously comparing prices (as I am wont to do) I asked an employee if they shipped internationally. Negative. This kind of sealed the deal for me and I went for the pants. The Capri length was also tempting, but I figure this way I can roll up the legs and still have the option of going 'undercover'. I also threw in a headlight (I've been riding only rear-lit) some rad socks (rasta toe socks!) and a very cool blue lug bandanna with a gear ratio chart printed on it. :-) At the counter I was told that the bandanna was a gift! Very friendly of them.Tonight I donned my nifty new pants (very very comfortable) slipped on my socks, strapped on my new light and hopped on my bike. The night was perfect, cool and still damp from yesterday's rain. I rode down to the water by the Stadium in Chiba, riding mostly on the road and then on paths to the water. I left my phone, bag, and camera at home and rode light. My lock fit snugly and comfortably (a first!) in my back pocket, and the re-enforced seat/stretchy material was comfortable and smooth feeling.
I'm really happy with these pants and recommend them for anyone who has ever experienced jeans.
Hopefully Blue Lug will ship to America so in the future I can still buy their rad gear. This whole experience of actually buying bike clothing is very unlike me, but I've never felt more like a new person than when I'm wearing a new pair of pants! Have fun riding, and now I can tell you to ride with both lights at night!
Here's a collection of sketches all done in the many many hours I've spent on trains in Japan. Each was done in about 15 minutes or less. The Japanese keep pretty much to themselves while commuting. They read, text, play games, etc, which makes it really easy to draw them, as nobody looks at anyone else! More will be forthcoming as well,
Hello, just a quick link I found today. www.bikescore.com You may be familiar with walkscore, a website that rates the 'walk-ability' of your area factoring in all sorts of great things and creating a useful interactive map. They have decided to create a similar site but for bikes and they're in the planning stages and need our input! Let them know what you think is important when figuring out how bike-able an area really is! you get 10 votes, so use them wisely! Thanks! Ride safe,
Just thought I'd share my most recent messenger bag load. Some people like to talk about how much they can fit on their xtra-cycles or cargo bikes, I like to talk about Timbuk2's Extra Large Classic Messenger. Yes, that's a rice cooker. :-)
And a rainy evening with friends in Shibuya yielded this great view.(click for a closer look)
The Japanese love umbrellas almost as much as liberal college students love Frisbees. Living in the rainy North West, I always found it odd how few you see (umbrellas, not liberal college students) People just prefer a jacket and stiff upper lip I suppose.