I’m building a bike.
Here’s the frame, when I bought it. It’s from Brother Cycles, in London.
So, I’m building a bike. What that really means is, spending most of my waking hours obsessively researching the minutiae of each bike part I want to buy, spending 99% of my disposable income on said parts before (see below) finally, hopefully – at some near mythical point in the future – taking them to an (apparently) certified professional to be assembled.
Well, that point in the future mustn’t be too distant, because as I mentioned in my last post, we’ve recently booked a holiday to Japan for some summer cycling. Four weeks cycling in the Land of the Rising Sun, altogether, with at least two weeks dedicated to cycling the mountains of Hokkaido: the most northernmost of Japan’s large islands – probably destined to become the Land of Raging Leg Pain for this particular cyclist.
Planning the trip has sent me far down the Wikipedia rabbit hole and had me reading all kinds of crazy-yet-fascinating stuff about Japanese culture. One thing that resonated particularly with me was reading about Otaku. For those of you who don’t know, Otaku is a facet of Japanese culture that can loosely be defined as ‘a (Japanese) term for people with obsessive interests’. It stems from anime and manga but, as Wikipedia says, “in modern Japanese slang, the term otaku is mostly equivalent to “geek” or “nerd” and can probably be applied to anything.
I have no doubt that anyone Japanese would quite comfortably label me ‘Otaku’, and although now the object of my obsession is bikes (and has been for some time), it’s been other things in the past, most notably spending literally years and years of my life studying and drooling over photos of electric guitars, effects pedals and amplifiers.
Nothing wrong with being such a geek, is there? Well, no I guess – and the bicycle is about as harmless and fantastic as anything ever created. In fact, as current Instragram cycling demigod Ultra Romance (look him up) said in a Specialized promo video he made recently “(the bicycle) is probably one of the only things we’ve invented that could actually help humankind, rather than put us forward just to put us back”. Well said.
So, as I wrap up the latest bike building project, and prepare to take all of these nice-looking boxes and pieces of steel and rubber to the local bike shop (LBS), I reflect on how sometimes I might obsess a bit too much over all of these objects instead of just getting out there and riding my bicycle, or playing my guitar, as it were. Still, there’s worse things to spend your days reading about and…check out this bike store in Tokyo!!!!