There is a thing with elite sportspeople. They are different to the rest of us. When they congregate, they connect. Together, they share a competitive spirit and thirst for the same thing. A kindred fight. With struggle. Victory. Patience. Outlook. Media. A fight with themselves.
From our stolen and unworthy perspective, crouching in a corner filled with bikes and examining this petri dish of lycra & unusual culture in athlete gatherings, we see that Keirin riders share this connectivity closest. They sleep with the enemy. They warm up next to their nemesis’. They sit in a room, in silence, touching elbows, waiting to be called to battle. Some even wear armour.
They are humble and polite in victory, gracious and giving in defeat. A defeated man will gift his opponent a new tyre or a can of energy drink as a respectful offering. They need that stuff. A victorious man will struggle to accept the giving, and will deliver a robotic thankyou bow over 18 times before hugging his opponent with sincere humility and submitting to the outward showing of his own dominance.
We can learn a lot from these athletes, who to us are just faces in a crowd, competing to just get by in a land alien to us. They are more than this. They are learned sportsmen in a discipline that embraces the little things. The kindred fight and the afterglow of battle. They smile. Always. Dec 5
We’re back in Japan. And it’s cold. Like 5 degrees cold. The kind that makes you feel like your bones are on the outside. Apparently Winter arrived one night recently.
Omiya is our first stop this time round. Shane is here for another 3-day race. It was great to see him, Tuen from Holland and Andre from the Ukraine, as well as the host of Japanese racers of both small and large stature.
We will be releasing our Trailer for the Ryokou series this week and couldn’t be more excited with the turn of events leading up to its release. Publicly, 88 supporters pledged $7,151 to a crowd funding campaign we
ran, and privately, several high profile people also threw their support behind it which will be revealed during the series.
So I guess in a cliche but poetic end to this post, we may be cold on the outside over here, but we are definitely warm on the inside.
APPARENTLY WINTER ARRIVED ONE NIGHT RECENTLY.
My electronic device dims a small, opaque room and fills it with a tinny sound of acoustic guitar as I write from somewhere in the south east mountain region of Izu, deep in the Shizouka Prefecture of Japan. Internally, my habitat is a clean mix between a generous yet run-down hospital suite and the physical interpretation of a brain occupied by someone with absolutely no taste. But it doesn’t bother me. Externally, the contrast is stark. The night noises compete with eachother to impress no-one, and they hum without change in pitch, all while I lie amongst the dark shadows of empty peaks. The rugged mini mountains are drenched in a unforgiving deep green terrain and at once they are perky and fluffy green. They shoot up jaggedly from a tepid and belligerent flat earth that was once so humbly rocked by the depths of what it lies on. This earth is very much living. She is a showboat, but her beauty can take our lives. It’s temptation at its finest.
I am so far from my home, and from my barriers of communication. But the truth is, I live for these distances, their truths and their alienations. I travel to be reflective. Not to escape, but to see my life from the outside. To stare narrowly across to the now hazy, coastal, sunlit bubble that I operate within.
I travel to be selfish.
- Matty Oct 8
Japanese is a happy word. The people are both indifferent to you and completely committed. Meaning they won’t nod or stare at you in passing, but ask them for help and they are yours.
Often the idea of travel is far more seductive than the reality. Kind-of like finally bedding the girl of your dreams but only to discover she’s high maintenance. The charm of travelling for work, is your itinerary isn’t written by Lonely Planet. You’re led by narrative.
Sunrise and sunset signal the start and end of the day, and when you kill 2hrs at a train station, it doesn’t feel so bad. Remote and regional are your teardrops. When you tell your friends where you went, you’ll need to say it twice. And they won’t go there.
Today but, we got to be tourists.
And it was as hard as a work day.