A couple months ago, during an impromptu session at an oft-frequented watering hole, a friend told me he had dropped a significant sum on a new bicycle and was looking to sell his current relatively modest stallion. Intoxicated or not, his generous offer piqued my interest and a few days later i was a proud owner of a hardly-ridden Pinarello decked out with Campy Super Record and Shamal Ultra wheels.
I have been into cycling for a couple years now. It's my form of transportation of choice and rain or shine you will find me pedaling through the streets of Tokyo weaving through horrendous taxi drivers and drunken salarymen. Building my previous bike from the custom steel frame up was my new expensive hobby alongside photography and it became my "baby".
I was always apprehensive to get into the spandex-clad, carbon-riding masses; there was always some aura of "douchery" for lack of a better word. Perhaps it's the mass-produced, made in Taiwan, overhyped and even more overpriced carbon frames to the ridiculous brand-whoring billboards that is modern cycling fashion that turned me off. While not the speediest or lightest, riding a custom hand-made vintage steel frame was art, not unlike developing your own film and making prints.
My hard-core cycling friends always derided me for being "hipster" but welcomed me nevertheless for a 100km maiden voyage into the mountains of western Tokyo. The burning sensation in my quads up a 6km stretch with an average 12% grade reminded me of CCS cross country finals some 20 years ago. There's pain and then there's this beautiful pain; the latter gives you a great sense of accomplishment complimented with breathtaking views and an adrenaline pumping descent. I was hooked.
Cycling has always been about the 'Culture of Mechanical'—a.k.a. the raw, tactile connection of the human animal to a beautiful, efficient, analog machine. The parallels to film photography was not lost to me, and both are some of the few things that make me feel alive and human. They are both at once stimulating and humbling. While i am not completely sold on carbon (not used to babying my bikes) and still appreciate the purist feel of steel, it has allowed me to open my horizons and experience a new zone of sensory pleasures. Without such emotional grounding i would be lost in this crazed existence.