It had been a busy month leading up to this trip. Fairdale displayed it’s 2015 bikes at the Interbike Tradeshow just days before I left on my Japan trip. I had been so busy getting ready for and working at the tradeshow that I had done almost no riding to prepare myself. I hadn’t even planned out what bike I would ride or gotten gear together for myself. This all kind of hit me as I flew back from Las Vegas realizing I was heading to Japan in only 2 days. Typically I also had managed to get very sick at the tradeshow and was feeling like hustling to get myself ready for a big trip was going to be a huge pain. I borrowed some Blackburn bags and a front rack from Fairdale team rider (and neighbor) Leif. He also helped me set up a Weekender Archer bar bike for the trip. It was a sample bike we made in the Electro-Silver color and happened to be a large (which was my size). With only a short around-the-block test ride I packed up the bike into a cardboard bike box along with all my bags and gear. The $200 bike fee United charges each way was painful but at least I had a direct flight from Denver straight to Tokyo.
I will tell you that all my years of traveling have made me pretty jaded about flying. I realize it’s amazing that I can go anywhere in the world in a matter of hours but man, I hate it. The whole process of herding through the airport and getting stuffed into an uncomfortable little seat on a plane is something I could happily do without. Once I actually get to my destination the flying time seems to be erased from my memory and I enjoy myself, but I’m never a happy flyer. I was still pretty sick on the plane ride over. My antibiotics were in full force and I was fighting my typical spleen-less bacterial infection that I seem to pick up easily. I was coughing and feverish the whole trip. I was positive I was annoying other folks on the flight, but I don’t think I was actually spreading anything around. My neighbor in the middle seat next to me was a big dude who wrote “martial arts” on his customs form as his occupation. He never said a word the whole flight and hardly moved. He simply sat down, put his hands on his thighs and seemed to meditate. With his shoulders being wider than the seat and myself not being particularly narrow I had an uncomfortable time trying to keep the unwanted body contact to a minimum, contorting my shoulders to make room for him. Anyway, enough reliving the miserable part of the trip! 14 hours later we were on the ground and I was breezing through customs.
I had planned to ride my bike straight out of the airport but considering how sick I was feeling and a slightly late arrival at about 4pm I hopped on a train that would take me into downtown Tokyo. The Narita Express (NEX) train out of the basement of the airport is a treat. Almost empty, super fast and spacious seats make it feel so nice after a long plane ride. Once at the downtown Tokyo station I hoped to grab a cab to some hotel and get a good nights sleep. Much to my dismay none of the cabs could fit my bike box and I was turned away. Feeling sick and delirious from the long flight I had no choice but to build my bike there outside the train station. I was so out of it this was a bigger ordeal then it should have been, but after dropping pretty much everything I touched a few times I eventually got the bike rolling. I wandered around Tokyo a bit until I found a hotel. It was $120 for a comfortable room at the KKR hotel and with how run down I was feeling I probably would have paid twice that. I was asleep by 7pm and so grateful to finally be comfortable.