If you heard me speaking Japanese, you’d think I’d just stepped off the boat but no, this week marks a year since Kaz and I arrived here. Much has happened, but I won’t bore you with the details. That’s what the archive on the right hand side there is for. I had a quick look through them though and all I can say is it may have taken me a while to find a job but I managed to get my hands on a bicycle very quickly indeed.
Things have been quiet lately and on top of that, I’ve gone and given my students lots of writing to do. It’s nice to watch them suffer while they are writing but then I’m left with 90-odd essays to mark. If I spend five minutes marking each one, it still takes a short lifetime and none of them have done me the favour of making any inspiringly hilarious grammatical errors.
But on top of marking essays, there was a bit of bicycle business last weekend. First, on Saturday, we had lunch with Kazuko’s sister’s family and then went shopping for a new bicycle for my brother-in-law Kii-chan. He wants to ride to work and back. We went to a few bike shops but he had trouble making his mind up. I think part of the problem was that he had set himself a budget lower than the amount he spends on drinks on a good night out. I tried to pressure him to get the very cool Bianchi Milano in the picture below:
But I don’t think he even believed me when I told him he would look very cool on it. Maybe it was because he also didn’t believe me when I told him not to worry about its only having three gears when the hospital he works at is up a hill. He didn’t seem to care that he would still look cool pushing it uphill. Kazuko and I did manage to point him toward the more versatile Bianchi Primavera but in a rare moment of practicality, he pointed out that if he decided to go drinking (did I say if, I meant when) with his colleagues, he would have to leave it locked to a rail overnight and there was a greater chance of a nice-looking bicycle like that begin stolen. So we were after something cheap with enough gears to get up a hill and a little shabby-looking so as not to attract thieves. He managed to work his way though all of the shop assistants and we still went home empty-handed. Meanwhile I spent a little time supervising our niece Sakurako, whose only criteria for a bicycle is that it have a cute cartoon character on it.
Not that she needs a new bike. She has one and we took the training wheels off it so I got to enjoy pushing her up and down the footpath in front of the bike shop while Kii-chan was still deciding.
On Sunday, Kazuko and I decided not to go on the Team Attic ride but instead to go on a shorter ride up Teineyama. Disappointingly, I was unable to beat my record from last year whereas Kazuko got to the top without stopping – just the second time she’s done that – and managed to shave five minutes off her previous time. It was a warm day, though and here she is looking a little tired near the top:
Also near the top was a group of people who were keeping themselves busy shovelling the last of the snow about. Each to his own.
They made some quite nice steps anyway. At the top there were some people with mini-velos. Kaz reckoned they didn’t pass her on the way up, so I can only assume they drove half-way up and rode from there.
The weather has been just dandy since last weekend and it is finally feeling as if the warm weather is here to stay. That probably means it’ll start raining again next week but for now, it’s very nice indeed. It’s particularly nice near the river that flows through Sapporo as you can see from the photo below:
Note the shirtless man enjoying a quiet moment next to the river. He was drinking something, I like to hope it was beer. Also, the good weather brings the park golfers out. Park golf is like putt-putts but played with a field hockey sized ball. Don’t let the hats and silly clothes fool you, I’m told the pensioners are fiercely competitive and all the rules are strictly enforced.
That’s all for now but I’m getting very excited in deed because this Saturday is the next blueberry brevet ride. 300km which will include about 4000m of climbing. At first I was a bit worried about the length of it but now I’m chafing at the bit to go for the ride. I was initially going to do it on the Trucker but with all that climbing, I think the light weight of the carbon Mono-q might be the better choice. Expect a full report next week some time. Meanwhile, here’s a map of the course: