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The “slow” movement

August 3, 2010

Slow cooking, slow vacations… it’s cool and popular to slow down and take things as they come right? It’s all about slowing down.

Momo and I were watching a show about slow vacations in Europe where people, and I mean regular people not super fit people, cycle on uprights each day from lovely hotel to lovely hotel. Their luggage is transported for them by car. It looks charming.

So I have embraced the movement too (and I’m not just talking about my slow dissertation). Yesterday, I tried “Slow Moving.” How pastoral, how quaint, how terribly unpractical.

Faced with a bit in the bump in the organization of my move, needing desperately to ride my bike, I packed a box onto the back of the Beaute filled with books, and filled my basket with another load of stuff.

It was dark out, it was rush hour, it was hot. I reminded myself that speed was not the object, and I toodled along cutting through the back of Yoyogi, down past Shinjuku, past my old hood in Nakano Sakaue and down the….should I call it the Grey-way, cause it’s not a green way. There is this quite nice pedestrian path that extends from just past Shinjuku quite far east, but it is not very green. I used to run it when I lived over there. I rode past the place where the grey-way meets a park and it reminded me of one particular time I ran through there in 2008.

It was afternoon. It was typhoon season. I tried to squeeze in a run before the typhoon was due to hit. Needless to say, I didn’t make it. On the way back it started to rain but was not yet at full throttle downpour. The grey-way is largely kind of tiled, and gets slippery when wet. As I passed the park, an elderly man waved me over. I stopped. I thought maybe he needed help in the rain or something.

He was a bit of a mumbler but he said something like “Lady, it’s raining hard isn’t it?” I politely nodded and agreed. He mumbled something else, and I said, pardon? Then he pointed at my chest and said “Lady, you have big boobs huh?” to which I burst out laughing (It’s certainly not a comment I’m often the recipient of). By this point, I had put it together that this man was probably a resident of the park and was not in need of help. Then he invited me to join him for a juice. I thanked him and started back on my way, but as I left, he continued to call after me and offer me beverages. Oh, and of course, just to round out the typhoon part, I did get stuck in the full burnt of it, but a bit further down the path.

But back to slow moving. I got to my new place, unpacked my load, rested for a few minutes with a cold cider (which just means sweet fizzy water) and got back on my bike.

Getting back on the bike made me realize how heavy the load had been. It was so breezy to ride home. It also made me realize why the steering on the Beaute seems so loose–that bike is designed to be carrying 30 or more pounds on the front and so is designed to turn easily even when loaded. I guess I am actually under packing it in some ways. It’s the first time I’ve really loaded her up, and overall she handled beautifully, even on the uphills. The only things I found difficult were swerving around the pylons between each section of the grey-way that stop cars entering it, and sometimes breaking suddenly–the breaks worked fine, but I still felt hesitant.

It’s actually quite thrilling to ride under Tokyo city hall and through Shinjuku in the evening once it has cooled off. And all told, new place to my brother’s is about 45minutes. I’m sure it could be done quicker with a different kind of bike (and rider), but slow is nice too.

Oh, and half way through I got a text message from a friend with a car. So, even though I had considered doing a load each day, the bike moving is over. I think slow-moving would be more fun with one of these on the back of the bike:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. jtau permalink
    August 4, 2010 2:25 pm

    I love that there is a “slow vacation” movement! It’s just like the “neo” movement when I was taking politics in undergrad where it was du jour to title whatever it was you were working on papers or theses “neo” something or other. Ever since my first cycling vacation three years ago alongside the Danube, I’ve been hooked. Cycling is an incredible way to see the world. Let me know if this is a potential grad trip — I’m so there.

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