bonsai bike shop bromance

I’m not one for stereotypes, but unless I am PMSing and therefore off my fucking nut, I am very predictably a push-over.
I have supplemented this unique trait by tending to have friends who will demand my time and attention by dragging me out to ultimately enjoyable events that I am always hesitant to go to. That’s not to say I don’t give them the obligatory, initial, most likely annoying, quaffing [as Biggie put it, “…and she starts off, ‘well, I don’t usually,’…”]. But a murderous glower, clenched teeth, or an exasperated tone are usually enough to get me out of bed and into some half-decent clothes. Depending on who’s doing the asking, of course.
Well, until last week, that is. Because when Chandler told me to just show up to their hotel on Monday after Tim wrapped up some interviews, I was PMSing, but miraculously refrained from whining or otherwise coming up with some lame excuses. I emailed back an okay and without another word, got my ass to Odaiba.
…Just in time to catch a photo shoot with Hiro Ito of Cannondale, Koichiro Nakamura, and Hideyuki Suzuki by the random Statue of Liberty replica near the hotel. I predictably paparazzi-ed.

After a late lunch of okonomiyaki, plans as to what was next were up in the air, but there were vague murmurs:

“Yeah, let’s go there then.”
“Okay, yeah that’s a good idea.”
“Bonsai? Okay, okay.”
I was all, “Tim’s into trees???
Bonsai or Bonsai Cycle Shop, it turned out, is actually the name of one of the coolest bike shops I’ve been to [and not just in Tokyo]. Opened last September, it’s a beautiful bike shop that also houses a small café run by the incredibly talented Natsuki-san. Yoshida-san and Natsuki-san greeted us at the entrance, the door opening into a space surrounded by the smell of freshly baked double-chocolate muffins. Yoshida-san explained that he wanted to build a shop around the three things that cyclists consumed: coffee, dirt, and chocolate. He managed to do a lot more than that, though, offering a space filled with awesome frames, bike parts, and custom jerseys. The shop is impeccable; details [like the lighting fixtures and the small Oriental rug in the workspace] tying everything neatly together. Like all great shops, the care that went into every detail is obvious, resulting in the sense that everything is painstakingly curated, but only enough to be inspiring as opposed to inaccessible.

Soaking up the good vibes of the shop, I was half a centimeter into a perfectly done Americano when Tim called me over for some translating. Yoshida-san patiently waited out my version of translation, which consisted of listening to Tim’s question in English, nodding that I understood, then attempting to telepathically convey the question in Japanese through imaginary laser beams emitting out of my eyes. It didn’t work; my mangled Japanese produced far better results.

Like the book Yoshida-san produced when I told him Tim and Chandler were on the hunt for gifts for friends. Called simply, “Le Tour de France,” it’s a collection of amazing photographs from the 1986, 1987, and 1988 TdFs by Yasufumi Kitanaka. It’s also a publication that’s been out-of-print for some time; Yoshida-san told us that the publishing company happened to be nearby with more than a few boxes of these books in storage, thus making Bonsai Cycle Shop the only place in Japan where you can get these gorgeous books. A sucker for most things involving bound pages, I purchased one to savor – a few pages at a time – between the pedaling and ride route searching.

I could have easily spent a few more hours there, just looking at stuff. But dinner was calling and there was more discovering to be done. We said our goodbyes, and I promised to pay another visit soon [a promise I followed up on yesterday, to see Yoshida-san’s new Indy Fab and sip a post-ride Americano.]

Tempura and some shopping in Shinjuku followed, after which Tim and Chandler wrapped up the night with a public display of bromance.

24 hours later, I’ll briefly contemplate not being such a push over before saying a mental, “fuck it,” and having one of the best nights of my life. But more on that later.
[Some more pictures here.]