day 4, on to qualifiers
Al: Ohaio gazimas!
Well, I was drinking sake in the park and these kids had sparklers but they were different from our sparklers in the USA. They shot sparks. So I was trying to get a closer look and they handed one to me, and they were chasing each other, so I chased them and shot them with sparkler sparks. Japanese people are super nice and friendly and excited that we are here. The women keep saying I am cute and taking my picture and everyone is totally pumped that the messenger world championships are here. This dude at the liquor store didnt speak more than a couple words of English but was totally stoked about something. Maybe he thought I was cool looking? Or he liked the beer I was getting? I was totally stoked that I finally found a good stout beer. We were both talking and saying things that the other didnt understand. Good moment. The beer is all Japanese. They dont really seem to import beer, and most of it is like MGD or something. And the beer companies make all beverages. Its like if Coca-Cola made beer, and there were 4 Coca-Cola vending machines on every block with Coke, Mellow Yellow, beer, and bottled water.
And these guys in the park were just hanging out by the pond, they didnt bike or know anything about messengers, they were just there and hanging out but were totally party animals and there were like 1000 hugs and exclaimations of appretiation for each others cultures.
You can tell English is really hard for everyone but everyone knows some and all the signs have English on them which must be a huge effort. Paying for stuff is a big deal. They give you a plate, you present your money to them on it, they say something complicated, maybe thanking you for it, they present you with your change, count it, and say something else.
Yesterday was pretty laid back and mostly uneventful. We attended the open forum and presented our bid. I think it went pretty well.The voting is on Thursday so keep your fingers crossed. Today is race day! Time to qualify. We will keep you updated as to who will make the cut.
Biking Tokyo is awesome. Everyone does it and you can do whatever you fucking want. The lanes are super narrow. Cars pass you with little room but I don't really mind because everyone is a really good, attentive driver. It confuses me when people ride on the wrong side of the road and I freak out and think I am on the wrong side of the road but I am on the left side which is the right side. People are super excited I am here and really friendly. People take my picture. Women keep saying I am cute, but I don't think they are hitting on me. I am not going to remember much of what you told me. I forgot not everyone looks weird, just some people. People have really nice bikes. Like, everyone under 30 has a really nice road bike or fixed gear.
Tommy Lee Jones is on a million billboards. And the billboards say BOSS. It's kind of weird.
This was a total cross course, other than the fact that it was all paved. Several 180 degree turns and tight chicanes. You could pull some Bart Wellens jackass cross shit, taking a tighter line in and cutting someone off, bumping them, etc. except most dudes would try to skid through the corners and their wheel would kick out towards you. I had a freewheel and could really lean it into the corners. Dudes were getting pissed I was bumping them out.
My routing sucked as usual though. I took the wrong turn on my last pickup/2nd to last dropoff, forgot to dropoff once I got there, so I did 2 extra laps. I think I barely missed the cut. How do you train a brain?
Sino (reigning world champ, from Tokyo) apparently broke both his legs like 3 months ago and had to keep his bike in the small ring and spin at like 140 rpm. He still got 4th because he is a total badass.
Yesterday was the day of the qualifier race. We rolled out of the hostel in the morning to meet up with the main group ride out to the course in Odaiba. It was a pretty cool sight to see when the main group of over 100 bikers came around the corner. We jumped into the group and it was sort of like being in critical mass in Tokyo. The scenery was beautiful as we rode along. I hadn't been to this side of Tokyo yet.
When we arrived at the racecourse, I was amazed at the scope of what the Tokyo Bike Messenger Association had pulled off. The course is huge! There are huge vendor areas and they brought in a bunch of trucks selling food right on the site. The CMWC site is bigger than the Chicago Criterium was this year. The course consists of a couple of big parking lots with a street in between them. The course is laid out like a cyclocross course on pavement, with caution tape, cones, and traffic barriers marking it out. It is very intricate, and well thought out. There are four checkpoints in each section and two on the road that connects both sections. When coming into a section, you have to choose your route very carefully. The whole course is one-way, so if you miss your turn, you have to go a really long way to get back on track. Each racer was given a folder with a stack of ten tickets with jobs and times on them. You could pick and drop packages in any order you wanted, but you had to complete each delivery on time to get credit for it. There were several 30-minute jobs, several 15-minute jobs, and one 5-minute super rush. That one was a bitch.
I felt like I did the race pretty well. I could have routed myself better, but I made all of my deliveries on time. It doesn't look like I made the cut, though. It should be fun to watch the final. I'll be cheering for Molly, Christina, and Nico.