blogs, bikes, and red bulls with TJ and alex

Bloggers are generally really weird. It takes one to know one, so trust me on this. The degree of weird varies, but anyone who chooses to spend their free time talking into an anonymous public space is either desperately lonely, has stunted social skills, or is too prideful to let go of the reality that they're never going to get published for real.
Possessing all three of the traits above, however, has never kept me from being embarrassed about it. When people ask me why in the world I'm at a bike race or event I've sometimes been moved to admit that "Iblogaboutbikes," under my breath. It usually makes people uncomfortable enough to be hyper aware of when I'm taking pictures of anything. It's okay. I understand the creepiness of possibly being inadvertently published on a website that is not Facebook. Really, I do. And there are enough weird/not exactly flattering but 100% accurate pictures of me on the Internet that keep me from doing the same to others [well…for now].

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I didn't get much pictures of hang times with Tim et al. this year. None of lunch which was enthusiastically inhaled by Tim, Alex, and me, none of the casual ride around Tokyo we went on [I blame that on Tim grabbing my backpack and shaking me from side to side like a delinquent stray cat to test my handling skills], and only one of dinner and drinks with Arnie and Ai of Red Bull. I did, however, get a can of the F1 flavor Red Bull, which is supposed to taste like blueberries, not gasoline.

The more organized among us, thankfully, filled in the blanks this year. Alex shot one of our lunches – ramen at Soranoiro – with a real glass bottle of Coke. I did grab a shot of some of our wagashi [traditional Japanese confectionaries] eats at the Tsuruya Hachiman café, but nothing really compares to the last picture. Because no TJ visit to Tokyo is complete without some half-drunken photos taken by Arnie of Red Bull [this year of Ai, also of Red Bull, and I making the Japanese sign for “money,” while Tim does air quotes around our heads].

Early the next morning, my voice all raspy and my breath probably definitely still reeking of booze, I met up with Tim and Alex again at Bonsai Bike Shop before their respective flights home. I played semi-competent translator and Tim gifted a signed jersey to Yoshida-san. He had also dug out a package wrapped in brown paper, filled with Skratch Labs contraband. I have the BEST bike friendz, EVAR!

By the end of the day, they were in air. I would spend the next three days trying to recover [unsuccessfully]. Although the visit seemed way too rushed, the weirdly cool thing about this time around was that we were still planning stuff even while Tim and Alex were headed home. The trip felt short – what trip doesn’t when it involves good friends you haven’t seen in more than a month? – but I’m pretty sure that next time we’re in the same 1 km radius of each other, it’s going to be really fucking rad.

a tokyo state of mind

If there is something I’d like to be remembered for, it is my absolute inability to drink.
I don’t say this with pride; I simply believe that it is one of my more positive – albeit incapacitating – traits. Boyfriends have found my post-half-a-beer stumbling adorable, friends know they never have to include me in a second round, and my family will happily pour one less glass of good wine. I like to believe that the money I have saved ex-boyfriends on alcohol somehow cancels out my sociopathic propensity for screaming fights, and that between friends, I still retain some utility as the generally sober one with no driver’s license. These thoughts run through my throbbing temples – the beginning of a hangover – just as everyone [irritatingly, happily] starts in on their second round. A good night usually has me drinking large amounts of water and running to the bathroom for the rest of the night; a less successful one has me spontaneously passing out on some random, semi-horizontal surface.
Having come to terms with the fact that a glass of Chimay will make me cross-eyed, I generally stick to what I know best: premium American beers known better by three-letter acronyms and girly drinks so watered down they have the inebriating effect of juice. I ordered a tall glass of something similar on Tim and Chandler’s last night in Tokyo, at a yakiniku restaurant full of fake geishas with plunging necklines.

“What is that, like a wine cooler?” Chandler asked.
“Yeah,” Tim said after taking a sip, “but worse.”
But it was something I could finish, which had, to me, some semblance of significance. Like a triathlete’s proud “Finisher” t-shirt, it seemed like an achievement I could refer back to later in the evening, should my night not conclude with the check. “But I finished that drink,” I could say defensively, “remember? Back at that restaurant? Like an hour ago? Remember?”
I came back from the bathroom, however, [escorted there by those same geishas] not to my empty glass, but a full one. Courtesy of Arnie of Red Bull.
“High five, Kaiko,” he said.

A drunken blush had started to invade my entire face by the time Arnie, Ai [also of Red Bull], Chandler, Tim and I crammed into an elevator and back outside. To go to karaoke. This was going to be interesting…in part because Arnie ordered vodka shots as soon as we got there.
Vodka and I have a somewhat troubled history. The first time I drank an entire shot of vodka, the room spun, and I ended up with my face in my sister’s toilet for the majority of the night. Until 4 a.m., that toilet seat was the most reassuring headrest I’d ever known, its surface so cool and welcome it didn’t occur to me until much later that that morning, my left buttcheek had rested in the same spot where my face was. But at that point, I was beyond being “gross,” and was actively embracing “downright disgusting.” I even went so far as to attempt to talk to a then-boyfriend while slumped over that porcelain fixture, as if my inability to refrain from convulsively bringing up nacho remnants every time I opened my mouth would somehow wither in the face of [college] love. It didn’t.
I finally stopped retching, took the next day off, but told my boss at my internship the truth a few days later [“I think I drank a little too much the other night”]. Later that summer, I was asked to parade in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel next to Grand Central station wearing a sandwich board. I would like to think the two events are somehow not related.
Afterwards, I swore off vodka shots like I swear off boys post-break-up; just long enough to forget about all the bad shit that went down. One could argue that my vodka abstinence lasted a bit longer, due to the fact that the mere mention of gray geese was enough to give my esophagus spasms [something, admittedly, no man in my life has been able to do before]. Mental gag reflexes had abated, though, by my best friend’s bachelorette party. As the sole bridesmaid without an acceptable, bullshit excuse to not get properly shitfaced, I did my first vodka shot in forever, topped off with most of a Tom Collins. We ended up at South Brooklyn Pizza later that night, where I crammed bread, cheese, tomato sauce, and gobs of roasted garlic into my mouth while mostly ignoring the group of guys we had collected on the way. I rolled outside, cheese probably stuck between several teeth, and promptly dropped the ball on reciprocating flirting with an incredibly handsome British banker [his handsome-ness certainly didn’t help the situation]. Instead, I crawled into a cab to pass out on my sister’s couch, half-bedazzled and fully clothed, but without pants. Thank you, alcohol.

Back at the karaoke booth, still in denial that I was already on my way to getting tanked, I took an obligatory sip off my shot after we all raised our glasses. I thought I was in the clear, until Tim pointed to my mostly-full glass. The last train literally and figuratively pulled out of Shibuya as I picked up my glass and clinked it against Tim’s [which Arnie had somehow refilled]. Bottoms up.

From there the my night got a lot more awesome. Arnie serenaded us with ballads like Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Ai was hitting all the high notes that no one else could, Chandler and Tim were adding the appropriate screams to Guns ‘n Roses songs, and we all yelled along to “Thriller.” …And then I started rapping.

Let me clarify: I do not usually do this. In fact, until that night, I have never subjected a person I had only met several hours prior, to my inner gangsta [Sorry, Ai!]. Much like masturbation, I will admit to doing it [come on, everyone lip syncs into their mirror, right?] but that doesn’t mean I’m doing it in public. As proof, I could list long-term boyfriends and close friends who have never so much as heard the words declaration “it was all a dream/I used to read Word Up magazine,” escape my lips. I may hum along to a rap chorus, but my real rapping sessions have largely been conducted in the safe confines of my room, and even then with the paranoid, self-consciousness of Michael Bolton in “Office Space.”
But feeling either generous or cruel [depending on one’s assessment of my performance] in addition to simply drunk, I was enthusiastically channeling Snoop Dogg in “California Gurls” and Jay-Z in “Empire State of Mind.” Jaws seemed to drop a little before general laughter followed. Tequila shots appeared. I actually drank half of mine.

We wrapped it up around 3 a.m. with a Lady Gaga medley and said our goodbyes. I staggered into a cab, didn’t hurl as soon as I got home and randomly drunk-emailed friends while lurching uncontrollably. All with my pants undone.

The next day, for the first time in my life, I was [horribly, disgustingly] hung over. Tim and Chandler emailed a last goodbye from the airport, and I told them to come back soon, for Round 2.
Because come to think of it, we never did get around to Biggie or ‘Pac...

eat drink bike sleep

Oh, and study.
That's pretty much all I did yesterday. I fell into bed early on Saturday in anticipation for the Sunday morning ride, even though there was no route planned. And possibly no ride partner, Pete having texted me late Saturday night that he was up for the ride but was an "anarchist party." I figured he'll be a no show.
I woke up bright and early to a comment on my blog from Pete. Written well past 1am. Yeah, right, he's going to be ready by 8.30am, I thought. Screw it, I was going to do two 15 mile loops without stopping anyway [my first 30 miler - sad but true], Pete or no Pete. But a small chat box popped up in gmail around 7.45 - Mr. Pete Shelby himself, awake and willing to go on a ride after about 5 hours of sleep, even with work from noon to 6pm at CB. He picked up a Red Bull at the Store24 and we headed right into gusty winds towards hills and, for me, 30 miles of fixed [anticipated] agony.


We didn't stop [minus the few red lights we didn't blow through] until we had thrown down 14 or so miles, and we pedaled past an apparent fire in Brookline. There were about seven fire trucks, the road was blocked off by police cars, and ambulances also lined the street. I used it as an excuse to snap a few pictures, eat some offered gummi bears, hydrate, then slide my feet back into the clips to do 15+ more miles.



My toes numb by mile 20, I was seriously jealous of Pete's Sidis [I haven't set mine up yet]. My legs were sort of on autopilot halfway through the second loop, and only familiar landmarks and the desire not to be seen/labeled a lame quitter kept me pushing on the pedals. Well, that and good jokes - seemingly perfectly timed - which had me laughing to the point of not realizing that I was already halfway up a hill and that I just had to push a little more to crest the mofo.
My knees seemed to think 28 miles was quite enough as the last stretch home got slightly uncomfortable. That could be due to my sprint through the intersection in Washington Square, though; we never seem to make the light, except on Sundays. Sighting a green as we came down Beacon Street, I yelled ["It's Sunnnddayyyyy!!!"] and whooped as we burst through the light as it turned yellow. Gritting my teeth, sniffling while trying to breathe/pant, head down, slouched into my drops, we finished the ride in two hours and change. Less than 15mph; yeah, slow. Still, don't hate.
I proceeded to stretch, shower, stuff my face, and fall asleep on my books [missing polo!], but dreaming of pretty bikes, summer rides, and all things Rapha [Pete unzipped his jacket just enough as we said goodbye to reveal a baby blue Rapha jersey...yeah that whole "starving artist" front is totally just to get chicks].
Next time, we'll do it faster.
[Today's also my older sister's birthday - the only person who is capable of making me cry in sheer envy of her artistic talent, call me on all my bullshit, and the first person who taught me that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger. Thanks, Kanako. Happy Birthday!]