Everyone who knows me, knows this.
When I go on bike rides, I like to talk, even when other people don’t.
In two weeks, I will be doing a 5 day consecutive run of the longest bike rides of my entire life as part of Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington.
I am going to be talking a lot. I hope the other riders are ready for this. I also hope everyone who plans on riding behind me knows that I don’t use fenders.
Being the philanthropist that I am, I spent a long time this week thinking of a way to give back even more than I am already giving by committing to ride my bike from Boston to Washington, DC in the middle of March.
Silence. I can give silence.
Like Chris Parlow says to Cheese in Season 5, Episode 4 of The Wire, “It’s a gift. You know, Marlo gives you a gift, then you give Marlo a gift.” In The Wire, Cheese gave his Uncle up to Marlo, inevitably costing his Uncle, Prop Joe, his life. I don’t think we need to go this far, but we can still exchange gifts.
For every $500.00 donated to my PledgeReg Page you will be helping Bikes Belong, bicycle advocacy, and bicycle infrastructure more than you can imagine. And as a “Thank You,” I will give 1 hour of silence on the road.
If you help me meet my initial goal of $2,500, I will spend the majority of the ride from Boston to Hartford on day one in total silence.
Help me raise $5,000, and I will throw the math out the window and I won’t talk on the road from Boston all the way to New York City.
I would rather not think about raising more than $5,000. I gots to talk…
I wonder what the other riders will think of this?
Here’s a little piece I put together from last year’s ride into the Bronx after nearly 140 miles in the saddle. I didn’t make it past New York last year.
Until now, I have reserved updates for the Das Pro und The Rookie Kickstarter/Video project I undertook with Tim Johnson and Todd Prekaski last year to the Supporter List. As time has dragged on, there has been some public discussion about the project, so I found it best to post a public update here.
I will admit to procrastination on the editing of this film. I will also admit to having no flipping idea how much work it really takes to make a documentary film.
Todd and I have told ourselves each of the last six weekends spent at my house, with Todd sleeping with my two dogs on my couch, that “this is the weekend we finish Das Pro.” We weren’t kidding with or lying to one another, we just have had no idea how wrong we were.
Todd has a series of posts called “Rookie Filmmaking” he will be publishing about the many technical aspects (99% of which we had to learn during this process) to making this film that will shed some light on why this process continues to carry on week after week.
What does it all mean, Todd?
As for an update on the anticipated release of this long-awaited DVD, we have had a 100 minute cut in the “Timeline” of Adobe Premiere for the last six weeks, but it is the final, finishing touches that have proven to be the most time-consuming. Having made people wait so long already, we do not want to rush these last steps of editing, since we feel these are going to make this DVD truly unique and special.
Most importantly, I want to make it clear that this project will benefit kids (you have our word on that and you will see how this coming season) and I also want to make it clear that we are deeply appreciative of the companies who supported this project, and all the individuals who spent their hard-earned money to help push this DVD to production. We do not take the contributions lightly and it is because of this we want to make sure we give back the best possible product we can.
So, please accept our apologies, bear with us just a bit longer, and please know we are working on the DVD daily in an effort to deliver what we promised. I would like to say we will finish this weekend, but I think Todd will agree that I probably shouldn’t say that…
Our last night in Tokyo was to be spent back in the hip Shi BOO YAH neighborhood. We were to meet Tim’s Red Bull Athlete Manager in Japan, Arnie Ueno, at the Hachiko Dog statue again and we would be heading to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood.
When we got to the statue we immediately heard Arnie calling for us and he introduced us to his co-worker, Ai, pronounced “Eye.” Or “I,” eye suppose.
As we walked our way through the neighborhood everything seemed all too familiar. We were no more than two blocks away from our late night Ramen establishment.
Something I found interesting about Tokyo was how everything existed on the vertical. On every business sign hanging on every business you would find 1F, 2F, 3F, etc. As you could probably guess, these number/letter combos indicate on which floor you could find your preferred establishment.
The street level of each building rarely housed more than a hallway to an elevator. Into the elevator you would go where you would press the button for your desired floor. Depending on the establishment to which you were patronizing, you would step out of the elevator into a place much more desirable than the street level entrance.
In our case on this evening, we stepped into a small rock garden and then through sliding doors into an ultra-contemporary foyer where customers’ shoes lined the wall.
I hoped my feet didn’t stink.
When we turned the corner, we were greeted by multiple women in what I would guess were Kimono robes. They walked us down a central, dark-stained wooden walkway to a low-laid table. My first thought was, “I can’t sit on the ground for an entire meal. Hips. No. Good.”
Luckily, the seating was actually recessed in the floor. Tim appeared to be sharing similar concerns to me as he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw there was a place for our feet below the seat.
As with every meal in Japan, we were greeted with warm towels to wipe our hands. If you are a man, you can also wipe your face. I did.
Ai, who had reserved this dinner, explained that the meal we were about to have was Yakiniku, meaning, literally, grilled meat. Grilled meat we would have.
Before we got to eat the meat, Tim and I were each greeted by three of the kimono-clad servers who, ever-so-delicately, placed bibs around our necks. For this we said, “Arigato.”
Ai’s reaction to the three-person bib application:
Then came the meat.
There were small cuts of beef.
They became this:
There were large cuts of beef.
I don’t really know what that cut was, but the best Arnie and Ai could do to describe it was as a rib or back strip. Either way, it was the best piece of meat I have ever eaten. When it reached a certain point of cooking, the server would come to the table and use those large scissors leaning against the grill in the photo above to snip it into smaller pieces.
After a few rounds of seemingly standard beef cuts, Ai upped the ante by ordering some beef tongue.
While this wasn’t my favorite, it was worth trying. It was, for lack of better description, chewy.
I should mention that after each selection of meat was grilled and eaten, one of the servers would come to our table with a fresh grill top. There would be no tainting of one meat’s taste by the last. Luckily for me, the used, hot grill top was precariously lifted over Tim and Arnie’s heads each time.
After receiving our fourth fresh grill top, we were then thrown off our game by what appeared to be white meat.
False alarm, this wasn’t white meat. It was the cow’s “first stomach,” Ai had said.
It curled on the grill as it cooked, and was also chewy. Again, not my favorite, but you know what they say, “When in Tokyo…” Right?
We had some vegetables. Arnie said he hated cucumber with a passion, so he had none.
A surprisingly tasty treat was the fried garlic.
We finished off the meat session with some hot soup which, obviously, had beef in it. The broth reminded me, ever so slightly, of the double spice Ramen broth I had drunk on our first night out.
As was customary with every meal we had in Tokyo, we were also offered miso soup and hot green tea.
To compensate for having eaten a bowl full of fried garlic, we were each given a piece of gum.
Filled to the brim with red meat, we all stood from our sunken table and made our way to our shoes we had left in the foyer. With our shoes back on our feet, we stepped back into the rock garden that had first greeted us at the elevator where one of the servers offered to spray us with a glorified Febreeze. They really thought of everything.
I kindly obliged the offer to be rid of grilled meat, tongue and stomach scent, took my small Valentine’s care package they were offering, and I stepped into the elevator with my other no longer smelling of meat friends and headed back into the downtown Tokyo night life.
After an awesome morning spent betting on bikes, we got back in the Cannondale van with Hiro and Ichi.
It was lunch time, and we would be eating on the road.
“McDonald’s or Rice Balls?” Hiro asked.
Tim and I both replied “Rice Balls” without hesitation.
Hiro shook his head and said, “Crazy Americans. They eat squid but not McDonald’s.”
Rice balls are purchased at 7-11 and they are really like rice triangles wrapped in thin seaweed. You can get salmon, sweet plum, or tuna with mayonnaise. They come double wrapped in plastic with special instructions.
First, you pull the plastic from the top of the triangle, straight down, and around the back. This unwraps the seaweed that has been kept separate to stay dry. Then you pull the plastic wrapped around the rice triangle directly to the side, almost like Mr Wizard pulling the tablecloth out from under the dishes on the table.
Mr Wizard. Hated that guy.
What you are left with is a deliciously sweet rice meal wrapped in fresh, paper-thin seaweed. From 7-11.
After lunch, we headed into the Akihabara neighborhood, otherwise known as “Electric Town.” Also known for gifting the world with the current female idol group, AKB48.
Aitakkata, aitakkata, aitakkata, yes!
There are 57 members in the group. They have their own theater in Tokyo where they perform daily, and they have pop-up shops that sell only their merchandise.
Back Street Boys? What Back Street Boys?
In Akihabara, Ichi took us to a shop where he said he would shop, with the types of items he would buy. Tim and I purchased gifts for our wives and I took a picture of a robot.
The shop was located in a cool, little complex that sat beneath the above-ground train.
There was bike parking.
And there were toilets.
There was a store that only sold items made of wood.
I nearly cracked around 6 pm from an already long day. Knowing we had dinner with Red Bull reps in a few hours, and who knew what after dinner, we needed some coffee.
We found good coffee.
Tim and Ichi enjoyed their “coffee of the day.”
And I acted like the weird guy taking pictures of raw coffee beans. By “acted,” I mean, “was.”
I really regret not buying this espresso grinder. Such an idiot.
After a few cups of coffee, Ichi walked Tim and me to the train so we could meet two reps from Red Bull Japan in ShiBOOYAH at the Hachiko Dog again where we would be dining on meat products.
On the train, where no one speaks, I told Ichi I loved him as he walked through the doors for the last time. He did not reciprocate, but I didn’t take it personally.
Red Bull, Red Meat, and Karaoke coming up next…