For a second round of living and working in Japan, I decided to go for something more practical for the conditions in the rural countryside. Snow, mud, road, gravel - a single bike that could handle the changing of the seasons, take a beating and still keep going far. The bike has always been the device for discovery here in Japan and seeing what awaits on the roads less traveled.
Working indoors for most of the day, the lunch ride calls out every afternoon to leave the office, blow off some steam and get the legs moving. We can be free for an hour each day away from the computer and unrestricted to where we go and what we do, really only limited by a choice in tires and our own motivation. Different from both the morning and evening rides, it is the best way to break up the office routine and go back to work for the second half refreshed and ready to go.
Blue skies at lunch here have often asked for slick tires, a shift to the big chain ring and going fast. In a quiet farming town of 6,000 people with plentiful of 90 degree turns bordering the rectangular rice fields that cover the land, it's common to have the roads to myself and practice going into corners fast, braking late on discs and try hammering out of turns to get back to speed. Like time trialling, going for an out and back or a loop during lunch requires a good management of effort. Go out hard from the get go and it'll be a tough battle getting back and rejoining the Japanese co-workers back in the office on time.
Rainy and snowy days simply ask for knobby tires, less psi, and the realization that the distance traveled and going as fast as we can isn't the the name of the game, but rather to just get out, get a little dirty and enjoy the freedom and joy of being on a bicycle. The rainy days on the trails have been a perfect way to work on handling bumpy, muddy courses and learn that gravel grinding or getting shaken up over loose terrain on a rigid frame is just as fun as getting from point to point as fast a possible.
Fast or slow, rain or shine, when the lunch bell rings at the office, it's time to go to work.