eating like a pro: ramen at nagi golden gai

“Ramen for lunch?” I texted. I know I didn’t even have to put a question mark at the end of that statement, but I like to keep up the façade that maybe I can be accommodating to other people’s preferences. In this case, as I was talking to a gastronomical twin, it was wholly unnecessary. An enthusiastic response was sent back and plans to meet in Shinjuku promptly made.

Though Japan is often equated with both sushi and ramen, the problem with the latter is that, unlike sushi, you can’t just follow the [Michelin] stars. Whole books and blogs are devoted to the subject of ramen in Tokyo, which makes choosing just one place a bit overwhelming. On top of that, when you’re on limited time in Tokyo, you want something that consistently delivers but isn’t so famous you can get it in New York. I’d heard enough about Ramen Nagi to assume that this would fit the bill.

Despite its location in Golden Gai, a small area in Shinjuku crammed with tiny bars [including a favorite of Tarantino], I wasn’t quite ready for how cramped the space really was. Behind a simple door, a wall of a tiny staircase leads up to a ticket vending machine, where you make a selection and hand the tickets to the guys behind the counter. The restaurant [if it can really be called that] is narrow enough to demand the creative use of space: customers’ backs are almost against a wall of cardboard boxes and tissue boxes are suspended from the top of the bar. When Adam and I were called up from the alley where we were instructed to wait, I was directed to a seat next to a giant bag of rice, some empty bottles, and a keg. Adam tried to squeeze his legs under the ledge that served as the table. It didn’t work very well but at the very least, he wasn’t seated next to anyone else.

In minutes, though, we had two giant bowls of noodles to distract us from our seating situation. We’d ordered the standard ramen, plus an order of tsukemen. Tsukemen – the new noodle dish darling of Tokyo – consists of cold ramen noodles that are served with a concentrated version of regular ramen broth. The noodles are dipped into the broth before being eaten. It’s different from ramen, but equally good.

Probably because the ramen at Nagi Golden Gai is very good. Chewy, curly-edged noodles are served in a dense broth with a thick cut of pork, a few sheets of seaweed, and a marinated, soft-boiled egg. It’s the kind of food you can’t hate and hits that gastronomical trifecta of comforting, filling, and “holy shit, that’s good.” It’s the ideal bowl of sustenance to take the edge off a night of binge drinking in Golden Gai, or simply a good, cheap lunch with a favorite friend.

I can’t quite remember what we talked about after our bowls of deliciousness arrived, probably because I was too busy enthusiastically slurping noodles [while Adam ate like a normal, well-mannered human being]. When I finally came up for air because there was nothing left to eat, I mentioned that I was surprised that no one had recognized Adam. He shrugged in response as we edged our way towards the stairway, squeezed between a wall of boxes and the customers lined along the bar.

A guy sitting at the counter looked up briefly at me as we passed, before turning towards Adam: “Are you Adam Hansen?” he asked.

We looked at each other in mutual surprise and disbelief at the serendipitous timing of the question.

Adam shook hands with the guy before we stumbled down the steep staircase, laughing at what had just happened. Soon we were back on the street, headed back into Tokyo to continue eating like a pro.

september selection

Work's been kind of hectic the past two weeks [hence the lack of posting], but here are a few highlights [well, the ones that didn't involve Lotto-Belisol trains] for the month:
- The 300 not on 100. So jealous. Wish I had been there!

- Le-N-lo: possibly the best $299 modification you could ever add to your bike.

- ...Sorry, I LOL'ed:

- This month's boner killer: proof that Degenkolb has been doing nothing but eating kuchen between the TDF and World's. [Thanks, Josh.]

Andddd I'm headed to NYC in a few hours for a week of coffee, bikes, friends, and CX. See you guys on the other side!

winning the lotto

As a diehard believer in the power of postcards, I love getting real mail. For me, it's one of the best parts of Christmas; I am guaranteed a few real cards, complete with paper stamps and postmarks. Handwritten letters on real paper are the key to my heart. Call me materialistic, but packages will always be better than emails, texts, or even gchat. They are signs that someone cared enough about you to put something in a box, tape and address it, and then carry it to a post office. Even if you paid an Amazon employee to do all of the above.
I understand that this revelation of mine is nothing extraordinary. It's a happy event that occurs quite regularly in daily life. Sometimes, when you know mail is headed your way, it becomes something to look forward to, other than 5:01pm on Fridays. I could write a billion words about how real mail makes me feel, and you'd get it. Most people would.
There are no words, though, to accurately describe the feeling of complete, unconditional happiness when your favorite UCI WORLD TOUR PRO CYCLIST sends you something [priority!] in the mail.

A package from the Czech Republic, courtesy of the most amazing Adam Hansen, arrived last Thursday. I've had a stupid grin permanently on my face, since.
"What's your favorite color?" Adam had asked a few weeks ago, "I'll send you a t-shirt."
But what came with the perfectly fitting Hanseeno t-shirt, were Lotto socks, a Lotto cap, Lotto neckwarmer, and a Lotto jersey. I was sweating so much I had to shower 10 minutes after opening the package.

I didn't want to take the shirt or the jersey out of their plastic sleeves at first, but I eventually caved. Unfolded, the t-shirt has these great little details [the logo on the sleeve, and the "Hanseeno" down the side]. The geek in me loves the plastic toy-inspired design [what are those called, exactly?]. It's become my new favorite t-shirt.

As for the jersey, I'd secretly lusted after it on the Lotto-Belisol e-shop and had to take a better look. It's incredibly thin and light but super soft at the same time. It feels dead fucking sexy. [I have the sleeves tucked in here.]

And then I flipped it over, and noticed...

I almost screamed and passed out at the same time.
"Does it fit?" Adam later asked.
"I don't know, I'm going to frame it," I replied.
"No, wear it! I should send you an aero one...those are tiny!" He joked.

Yeah, I still haven't come to terms with the fact that this actually happened. But the jersey's still in my room so...I think it did.

......So, um, does the Universe make any more of these? Preferably very single and totally in love with me? Because I'm calling fucking dibs.
Adam, I owe you major hugz.


A few days ago, I made the mistake of making eye contact with a police officer. I braced myself for a scolding [“Young lady, you shouldn’t be riding in the middle of the lane…”], but got into a five minute conversation [yup, on the side of a busy intersection] about bikes instead. At one point, he said:
Policeman: Do you ride for a team?
Me: What? Ahaha um, no.
Policeman: must be a pro.
Me: Ahahahahaha hardly!
Policeman:’re wearing Castelli...

...And I didn’t really believe it when a reliable source told me that Castelli is the most pro brand here. Time to buy up some more Castelli gear!
Hope you had a good weekend, guys!
[Coming soon: WORDS!]

mani-pedi pro

When I first got Embrocation Cycling Journal volume 2, the first page I incidentally turned to was "The Art of the Bike Wash" by Radio Freddy. On the pages following the piece were pictures and two sentences:
"A clean machine is a PRO machine. Keep it PRO, keep it clean."
Sometimes I wish I'd never read that. Those words consistently come flooding back whenever I glance at my bike. But I'm really good at denial, so it wasn't until Jason pointed out that my rear tire was the "grayest white tire [he'd] ever seen," that I knew I had to do something.


But scrubbing my rims really did nothing but smear the brake dust everywhere, and while black tires would hide such nonsense, white [PRO] tires are much less forgiving. So when I made the ridiculously amateur move of rolling over gum, I also simultaenously found a way to whiten those strips of rubber.
I'm not going to go into detail here, but during one extremely embarrassing point in my life, I made out with a boy only to get his chewing gum all over my back. This taught me two things: 1. hook-ups are rarely worth the trouble, and 2. nail polish remover will always be my default go-to harsh chemical of choice.


So while Radio Freddy warns against using harsh chemicals, this is rubber we're talking about, not a Ti frame, so I went at the gum plastered on my tire with a cottonball soaked in nail polish remover. It did the trick, and then some. Because the tire ended up whiter.
And of course, more PRO. And with a trip to NYC planned, the sun finally shining, and a tire that looks more black than gray, I finally pulled on some gloves and gave my rear tire the same treatment [the gloves aren't really necessary unless you have nail polish on and you don't want to screw up your manicure]. I'm sure someone's going to tell me I just did the worst thing I could do to my tires, but clean tires are PRO tires. Even if that means I'm going to flat on the way downtown today.


Plus, unlike the worthless wtf-how-did-your-gum-get-all-over-my-fucking-back hook-up, at least this use of nail polish remover is going to end up in something positive. Well, for my bike. Unfortunately, I can't say I look nearly as PRO. Good thing there's a salon next to NYC Velo. Which means friends, espresso, a couch, bicycles, and a decent mani-pedi are within 20 ft of each other.
What more could a cyclist ask for?