Bikes. Parts. Chaos.
A day of riding in the Tokyo rain left black, powdery scum all over our rims and brake pads…which found its way onto the carpet in our hotel rooms as we packed up our Travelers Checks for the trip to Nagoya. Scrubbing at the black silt only pushed it further into the carpet fibers. Hopefully, we won’t see a fat bill for carpet cleaning. Next time, I’m going to pack an old sheet or blanket into my TC case to keep this from happening again. 
After breakfast and a short interview with Bicycle Magazine, we headed to Nagoya (Japan’s Detroit…home of Toyota) by Shinkansen - the high-speed train.  
We checked into our no-frills business-style hotel and retreated to our rooms to chill out a bit before our next scheduled outing – an evening of fun at Circles bike shop.  
We visited Tanaka san’s old shop in 2007. It was smaller - but very interesting and well-organized - and seemed to focus mainly on boutique fixed-gear/single-speed bikes and accessories. The new shop blows the doors off the old one. I was really impressed with the layout of the shop…2 levels (eventually, expanding to 3 levels)…and the product offerings within. Frames from Vicious Cycles, Sycip, DeSalvo, Hunter, IF, Seven, Black Cat, and Surly fill the showrooms and the spacious repair and lounge areas. The display cases house shiny bits from many high-end component suppliers. Clothing, bags, and accessory offerings are plentiful throughout the store. Circles also offers custom paint options and bike fitting.  This is a true full-service shop. 
The shop tour ended after we geeked out for an hour or so, and the party started to ramp up. We were certainly enjoying the plentiful supply of beer, Chu-hi, and pizza. What else does Circles have? Girls that ride Surlys! This wasn’t the typical bike industry sausage fest that many of us are accustomed to. Seriously, it was nice to see so many ladies (many of them featured in the 2010 Love Wheels Nagoya calendar) showing up on their Surlys. We like talking to the dudes, but the bike industry, as a whole, could use more feminine influence/participation.  Don’t you agree?
It was only 11:30pm (early for us) when Rie tried to pull us away from the temptation of partying into the wee hours. It took a while…Rie was noticeably agitated by our transparent stalling techniques, but eventually we were corralled into the waiting van and shuttled back to our hotel rooms so we could assemble our bikes for the group ride the following morning. It was probably the right call.
We arrived at the ride starting point, near Toyota City, around 10:00am. The parking lot was full of waiting riders…many of them on Surlys…with more arriving as we unpacked our bikes from the van. We were pleasantly surprised to see our old friends from Kyoto…Takuya and Chie…who made the trip, along with our new friend Sunta, to ride with us that day. We’ve visited Kyoto (a city I really love) on several previous trips, but we couldn’t fit it into this schedule. Next time.
The ride started around 10:30. We rode bike paths and streets through scenic hills and valleys dotted by small neighborhoods, old temples, and the occasional convenience store where we could refuel as needed.  After a long lunch, we parked the bikes and walked to - and through - a historic village where artisans demonstrated their finely-honed crafts and showed their wares.  The 45km ride was punctuated by a few big pulls off a large bottle of sake that Takuya generously provided. 
What’s better than a long soak after a ride? Some of us made our way to a modern public bath. We soaked for 45 minutes before the “authorities” asked Trevor and Fleck to leave, because tattoos are not allowed in this particular facility. Apparently, there’s a lot of paranoia associated with tattoos and their ties to Yakuza…the Japanese mafia. Fine. We needed to get moving anyway in order to get to our dinner appointment, at Yama Chan…known for their incredible chicken wings, on-time. 
Lots of great food, beer, and “fresh lemon sours” were consumed. 
Luckily, things got a little blurry...
After several “last calls”, we made our way back to the hotel to put our bikes in the van for transport to our next stop in Kurashiki. Then, with an escort from some of the Motocross International crew (Nagoya is their home turf), we found a suitable club to drink a few beers and enjoy the nightlife that the neighborhood is known for. 
We decided to have one last beer and watch some of our video footage from our adventures in Tokyo and Nagoya, in Trevor’s room, when we returned to the hotel. I woke up as my beer spilled down the front of my shirt. Trevor and Fleck were asleep on either side of me. Three dudes passed-out on a single bed. That’s how we roll.
Fortunately, we had until mid-afternoon on Wednesday to recover and pack our belongings for the next leg of the trip to Kurashiki on the Shinkansen.
Thank you, Nagoya, for the never-ending hospitality, the strong cycling culture, and the company of all the beautiful ladies. We look forward to the next visit. 
You can check out more of my Japan trip photos HERE.