This is sort of a photo journal, and few words from a recent trip to Japan…
I’ve spent so much time in my life in transit, on a trip, on the way somewhere or another, that when I am home, sometimes i feel displaced, and disconnected, wandering in and out of my own uncertain reality.
Often times I find myself in a hurry for no good reason…
I was in a school bus, heading north on another excursion, to celebrate a birthday, and got an invitation from a a friend, Rie Okamoto who lives near Nagoya, for me to visit and to participate in another celebration.
The trip was at the end of a season that had me traveling almost every weekend. Part of me felt worn out, and contemplated staying home, to enjoy some time in the woods, and just chill , but If I stayed home, I knew for the most part, what would be in store for me, If I accepted the invitation to go to Japan, well, anything goes…
Rie runs Motocross international, and imports some serious BMX into the Japanese cycling world, and Joining me would be good friends, Chad Osburn, Mat Hoffman, Taj Mihelich and new friends I had yet to make a connection with.
Obviously I told Rie I would be there, it’d be crazy not to. The trip to get to Nagoya was a long distance, so I packed my bike, and a book, and got on an Airplane. My headphones I would soon learn had broken somewhere along the way.
It was a long day of travel, stopping in Detroit as I sized up the other passengers that would be on the 14 or so hour flight half way around the world. Business class hot shots, a Mixed Martial Arts team, (one of each Size), various folks from different cultures, and social classes. Once again I was a black sheep thrown in the mix, and sat next to a vietnamese couple, who were either 65, or 70 years old, but possibly even 100.
I only know they were Vietnamese, because the older gentleman was smoking a cigarette and the flight attendants were flipping the fuck out. The chubby white guy next to me acted as if he had never witnessed anything so obscene. The language and communication breakdown turned the senior flight attendant into a berating, belittling, classist bigot, which made me feel bad for the old man, and I hate cigarettes. ‘THEY CAN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!’ Someone interjected, “they are not Korean, or Japanese, they are from Vietnam…”
I can only imagine, how he felt, with animated leathery skinned white women yelling at him about going to jail, and scurrying away, only to return with more mannequins, to blather and make crazy hand gestures and loud talk to try and get him to understand english. He had probably never been on an airplane, and was surrounded by 200 shitty cartoon characters who he could not communicate with.
He might not have understood a word they yelled, But I assure you he felt threatened, and the hysteria was contagious. Perfect atmosphere for a long flight across an ocean.
The panic subsided, and the flight went as scheduled. He didn’t light anymore cigarettes, although I imagine it was a nervous habit to begin with, and he was probably pretty overwhelmed. Go figure.
I got To Nagoya, and caught a ride to the Hotel, My room was barely bigger than a small bed. Plenty.
Japanese Hotel Rooms, at least the ones I have experienced are not like typical rooms in the states, regardless of how many stars they might be in America, even the shittiest room is spacious in comparison, In Nagoya, and Tokyo, where I was visiting, the rooms were nice, but super tiny, literally a walkway perimeter around half the bed, and a small RV style bathroom. In the Bathroom, its all kind of one unit, sink/toilet, shower combo, and enough room for a medium sized body. My body is extra medium.
The next morning, a full house of Jet lagged and wide awake weirdos crowded the coffee machine in the lobby, and soon I was with a handful of buddies pedaling around a city I had never seen before. it was rad. Bug eyed, and excited, I felt like a kid, and I like that feeling. I was riding bikes, and exploring, and I was with friends, it was exactly what it should have been.
A world renowned stuntman, an olympic bronze medalist, Professional BMX riders. some locals, and me… It was weird as hell.
The next few days were a cosmic mash up of people who have hardly spent any time traveling together, in close proximity for hours on end, and in a foreign country. It reminded me of the Old seventies tours around the UK at the turn of the century. A cool dynamic, and total luck of the draw.
A few events with riders, retailers, media of all kinds, and riders of all age groups and skill levels, filled the days, and I lay in bed each night recounting the events and anticipating the next, I was stoked, and slept the minimum.
The trip home consisted a two hour train ride, a two hour bus ride, a 12 hour flight out of Tokyo, and another two hour flight from Atlanta to the town I live in, where I am hardly ever at. At home, where I jetalgged hard through morning coffee an routine, planned my next escape. I leave in a few hours.
A life on wheels, with or without speed wobbles…