Category: Strine Sports

Brommies More Than Just a Mere Bike

Several years ago now, I was very fortunate to stumble into buying a Brompton folding bicycle that has fundamentally changed my life and continues to have countless unimaginable effects.

I’d already shown signs of developing into an avid cyclist and was using a Dahon foldup bike to slice my then two-hour each way commute into thirds when a Brompton-riding co-worker inspired me to get a Brommie of my own.

I didn’t realize that I should be caring for it and putting effort into maintenance, which is really dumb and naïve, but totally on brand.

So, after finally getting gainful, permanent employment for the first time in the better part of a decade, I forked out hundreds of thousands of yen (about 250,000 yen to be a little more precise) to get a Brompton, my reasoning being that if an 8,000 yen mamachari never broke down, something costing 20 times that just had to be more durable.

Well, it has been enduring in more ways than one, but not so durable. I have had to have numerous repairs carried out, and now carry out most of my own repairs and refurbishments because the cost of using a bike shop is so prohibitive.

But having outlaid such a princely sum for a bicycle (it seemed unthinkable at the time, but now seems like an entry level outlay), I was determined to get my yen’s worth.

So, I rode and rode and rode. And rode. The Brompton loved being ridden. And when I didn’t ride, I’d fold her up, chuck her on the train and ride that until it was time to ride the bike again. Then, knowing that I was capable of riding, I got into more serious cycling.

This enabled me to make the discovery that cycling somehow had a therapeutic effect for addiction recovery. I don’t know what it is: the repetition, consistency, or maybe just the dopamine it generates? Whatever, I’ve noticed a lot of recovering addicts cycle. The late Robin Williams is a case in point. My regular AA meeting before the pandemic used to be packed with cyclists, too.

Anyway, I digress.

The Brompton seems to have it’s own little world. Even though I am not really a sociable type, my bike attracts others who love Brommies and drags me out of my shell.

After owning a Brommie for a few years, I got into racing. My very last race on Sodegaura Forest Raceway saw me finish 17th of 650, which was a pretty fair effort (doubly so considering I was in a tiger-striped suit!)

I also got to attend clubs, like Brompton in Palace, where Brompton owners get together and exchange information and other pleasantries.

My Brompton has made me friends from all over the world and it’s an ice-breaker.

On my final day working in an office so far, I even managed to find a Brompton being thrown out in the trash and I rescued it and gave it to my step-daughter, bringing her and her husband into the Brommie fold, too.

Yesterday, blessed by amazing weather, I was delighted to make another new friend via the Brommie, when a beautiful woman who had been taking photos of her bike asked me if we could take a shot of our bikes together. I was absolutely delighted and we got on like a house on fire. Our Brommies will meet again at a Brompton in Palace club meeting next month.

We met at the Hamura Tulip Festival, which was simply stunning. There were dozens of fields filled with colorful tulips, creating a spectacular display of hues under a blue spring sky.


Fate smiled broadly on me today as I finally dragged myself out on the recumbent (or the rikonbento as we’ve come to call it), and was rewarded by getting a meeting I had yearned for years.

Following yesterday’s glorious weather and my most recent viewing of a weather forecast showing us to be in store for more of the same, I woke with high expectations.

I was shattered, then, to see it had rained overnight and it was cool, overcast and bleak.

We’d transplanted the carefully cultivated seedlings yesterday based on the weather reports only to go out and have a sweltering sun pound down on them and then followed close by with rain and other unfavorable phenomena.

Normally, I wake in the morning, then get out on my bike before I can talk myself out of it.

But on weekends, I take time and find ways not to go.

With wet roads and a fear of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of rim brakes, I had to ride a bike with disc brakes, which meant the hybrid or the recumbent.

Mrs. Kangaeroo hates the recumbent because of its potential dangers and lack of safety, so we have been jokingly calling it the rikonbent, a portmanteau of rikon, Japanese word for divorce, and bent, a frequent nickname for recumbent bicycles.

I finally dragged the bike out, pumped up the tires and headed off. I traveled slowly and a little sadly as the cherry blossoms have now passed their peak.

I was heading into the home straight and bumped into someone I have long wanted to meet.

I first learned of him through a massive ride he made through Tasmania several years ago.

Later, I learned he is also a proactive contributor to the Tokyo cycling community through his central contribution to the Positivo Espresso cycling blog.

He is also a recumbent rider, getting on a carbon-framed Pelso that was just an absolute beauty, and a really durable and skillful cyclist, so he has long been an inspiration for me.

I was delighted to stop and have a chat. I know he is a very prominent person, but he was extremely humble, kind and friendly.

Suddenly, I got to come home feeling very upbeat.

And felt even better because I was able to storm past a couple of roadies who had disdainfully overtaken me on the cumbersome turns of the Tamagawa Cycling Road.

Coming home and posting my ride on Strava, another good friend made lots of comments, so it turned out to be a pretty decent day in some ways.

Let There Be Light

This morning I got an entire ride in the light for the first time this year.

I still had lights on my bike, but they were the flashing type that enabled me to be seen instead of the high-lumen shiners that all me to see.

It was lovely to be able to see the faces of people using the Tamagawa Cycling Road at the same time.

We’ve only been silhouettes to each other for an interminably long time until now.

There’s a chance to smile and greet instead of furtive glances while trying to stay safe in the dark.

Today was noticeably lighter because it was my first morning ride in about a week.

A series of events had kept me off the bike.

First, there was the lousy weather.

It started raining last Thursday and barely stopped.

I’m scared to ride in the rain after losing my nerve in a crash last year that broke my leg.

That fear was exacerbated by by plagued by punctures.

I’m not a great bike mechanic, but can handle basic field repairs.

Unfortunately, I got too much practice in the past week or so.

I couldn’t find the source of the puncture, with the tires and inner rims coming up clean and each tube seemingly leaking from a different place.

But I went through six tubes last week.

I finally found the culprit, which was a tiny stone that had torn a hole in the tire.

The tires were old, so I replaced them with the more durable Gatorskins that I had put on Belladonna before her untimely demise last spring.

The tires felt shaky and I was unsure of whether I’d tightened the quick release levers probably as La Cangura felt wobbly.

But it was good to be out there again on what shapes as a shoddy kind of day with a wake for my father-in-law tonight.

Get Off Of My Cloud!

Riding today was like floating through the heavens at times, reminding me of one of my favorite songs by the world’s greatest rock band: The Rolling StonesGet off My Cloud.

I’d have loved to have been able to keep the scene for myself as I rode through the mists along the Tama River, sometimes staying above the clouds as I rode along the levy.

Thoughts were a bit too cloudy for my liking, too, as I go through another character-building, growth stage, I guess.

Wasn’t a great start to the day. Struggled to sleep again, as I have for months. Was late taking off. Went in to wake up Mrs. Kangaeroo, as we had planned, and she was furious at me for having snored loudly all night.

The weather was uplifting again. Apart from the couple of days in early January when the temperature plummeted well below zero (and apparently killed my jacaranda), 2023 has been a great year for weather so far, with a warmer than usual spring.

Be nice to have some warm fuzzy feelings about the professional side of my life….

The Rising Sun Just Stole My Heart Away

With only mildly sincere apologies to perhaps the ultimate bogan band, Cold Chisel, this morning’s rising sun just stole my heart away.

Although Jimmy Barnes and the Chisels had their girl stolen, I had mistakenly believed it was their heart.

But the title was too good to throw away, so I had to tie them into this in some way.

It’s been a somewhat lousy week, mainly because I have been flat out and it has stopped me from riding regularly.

Mrs. Kangaeroo was on night shift last night.

As always when alone, sleep didn’t come easily.

I got to crunch out a decent chunk of the work that needs to be done, though, so insomnia was a nice silver lining.

With drizzle on Monday and oversleeping through my alarm yesterday, today was the first time I had been able to head out in the morning with anything like resemblance to my normal pattern.

It’s a little chilly, but this week has become noticeably lighter.

I was still using a 2,000 lumens light to see my way for 3/4 of my morning ride just last week.

Now, I can basically turn off the light at about the halfway point of the ride.

It’s still murky, especially on days like today when the clouds are out, but it is nicer and much more accommodating for cycling to be able to do it in the light.

And it was those clouds that joined the rising sun to put on an absolutely magnificent light show this morning.

The beautiful sky came totally out of the blue as there had been no indications earlier that it would be so sensational.

But as my time cycling along the Tama River drew to a close, I was greeted with a huge yellow disc emerging over the horizon.

Many of the other cycling road users were gasping in awe at the sight.

It was a wonderful chance to actually greet some people as we shared the wonderful moment.

I felt really blessed.

And then, just as quickly as the sun had put on its show, it had risen to a height where the clouds obscured it once again.

And it was back to reality and normality.

Sunrise of the Year (So Far!)

Mother Nature turned on an absolute bloody ripper of a morning with the sunrise of the year so far, at least as far as I am concerned.

The skies were simply glorious as light broke through, blended with the clouds and created a mix of vibrant colors crossing the spectrum.

And the clouds played their part, too, creating swirls in the skies that shaped an otherworldly ambience.

It’s the second consecutive fantastic sunrise I’ve seen and was simply breathtaking.

I spent a lot of the ride voicing my thanks to Mother Nature for such a stunning start to the day.

The sunrise was uplifting, but not quite powerful enough to lift my spirits.

Last night I found out for sure that I had missed out on getting a job I was pretty keen on trying.

Another avenue also appears to have shut off.

Professionally, it feels like yet another low point with little way out.

Ah, well, that has often proved to be a learning opportunity in the past.

Poor little Dino remains compelled to mother, and she is doing brilliantly, laying and warming her eggs being punctuated only by ripping shreds into any paper she can find to use as a nest even though she rarely makes it back to the cage after stuffing strips under her wings. Her relentless efforts are admirable, though.

Otherwise, I’ve been experiencing a series of uncanny coincidences.

Last week, I had been wondering about the fate of a once-close but now distant former colleague who had suffered from grueling headaches. I received a message a couple of days later from another former colleague to tell me that she had collapsed with a brain hemorrhage and been hospitalized. I can only pray for her recovery. She had been a dear friend and an erstwhile ally on the job, so I am concerned.

Then, just moments after learning I’d missed out on the job the guy who found my current position for me got in touch to ask how I had gone.

I was hoping this might turn out to be serendipitous, but then realized there had been a whole series of events I interpreted as being fortuitous omens in the lead-up to applying for the position.

They didn’t turn out to be too accurate in the end!

Better to believe in realities, perhaps?

Still, there’s some good happening.

I got an email from a long-time mutual Strava follower and a few of us will finally meet in person later this month. Can’t wait!