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Half-Asked Questions

I am visiting Japan for [...] - can I join a ride on [...]?

We don't know yet. Our club rides are organised by volunteers. We typically decide what to do by Thursday night or Friday morning before the weekend. No long-term advance planning here.

The way to get information about rides is to sign up for our mailing list. Nice though we are, we are all busy and we are not going to make special communication arrangements for you on the off-chance that you will turn up.

N.B. We require all riders to wear a cycling helmet on club rides. If you don't like helmets that's fine, but you can't ride with us.

Where can I rent a bike to join one of your rides?

Our friends at GSAstuto have road racers available for rent. There are other places in town for other types of bike. Please don't turn up for a club ride with a shopping bike. And please don't ask whether someone has a spare bike to lend you; we don't know you.

When do you ride?

Every day of every weekend or Japanese public holiday when the weather is good enough there will be a ride. Probably. Usually more than one ride. But availability of rides depends on the volunteer ride leaders.

What are the membership fees?

Half-Fast Cycling is and always will be completely free of charge. However the management (ha!) and elders may randomly invoke various ancient rules of the club that involve you buying everyone else a beer.

"Half-fast"? That sounds like "Half-assed". Some kinda joke?

Thank you for drawing our attention to this potential source of confusion.

How come you lot simply ride from one beer machine to another?

Because it's quicker than walking.

Isn't it irresponsible to drink beer and ride?

Absolutely. In fact, from 1 June 2008, it's criminal! For anyone caught drunk in charge of a bicycle the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and a fine of not more than 1,000,000 yen. Likewise it would be criminal for us to encourage you to drink and ride. So don't drink and ride! (You'll spill it anyway.)

Isn't riding a bike on the road dangerous?

Drivers in Japan are refreshingly considerate of cyclists. Of course, the onus is on you: if you are alert and ride defensively, you will be prepared for almost every hazard. Lights and a helmet are important, but the biggest precaution you can take is anticipating dangerous situations. Many of us are experienced street riders, and we're happy to teach by example. Incidentally, from 1st June 2008 riding without lights at night can attract a fine of up to 50,000 yen - you have been warned!

I'm a beginner. Can I still come on a ride?

Of course. But choose your first ride according to your ability. Everyone has to start somewhere. We support & encourage beginners. Please don't choose a 50 km first ride.

What kind of bike do I need?

The majority of our members ride road bikes. Some have mountain bikes. A very few have folding or recumbent bikes. So anything goes, but we're riding on roads, not mountains or shops, so a road bike is the most appropriate tool for the job.

Where can I buy a good bike?

At a good bike shop. There are several around Tokyo with English-speaking staff. If you're buying new, get one that really fits you well! See our links section for some shops and an article by Don on buying a bike. Or look in the classified ads of Metropolis magazine.

My English is not good. Can I come on a ride?

Yes! We welcome people from any country. Most of our riders are bilingual or better. Anyway, speaking English is easy after a few beers.

I'm coming to a ride. Should I bring anything?

Always make sure you bring the host rider's number. Otherwise, here are a few suggestions: We require you to wear a helmet. An extra layer and gloves, in cooler weather, or during the rainy season. If it's really hot, sunscreen and maybe extra underwear. Sunglasses if you think you're cool. A spare inner tube is strongly recommended. Bring a pump & patch kit if you have one, though there are usually some floating around. And don't forget milk beer money.

What can I do to really annoy the other club members?

Turn up for a ride that's way beyond your ability on a badly maintained bike, with your tires so deflated and threadbare that you get punctures every couple of miles. That'll do the trick.

If you're in doubt whether your equipment or fitness level is appropriate for a ride you're considering, contact the ride (dis)organiser and ask them.

Must I wear lycra cycling clothes?

Look at our photos. Some of us do; some don't. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. (A moth-eaten Superman T-shirt is a good start.)

How do I get one of those fantastic club jerseys?

They are nice, aren't they! Unfortunately they're only made to order, and we don't keep spares in your size. You can pre-order at any time from the Jerseys page, and we will contact you before the next batch is made.

I don't live near Roppongi Hills, but the bike route goes near my house. Can I rendezvous with the group along the way?

Probably. You will need to check with the ride (dis)organiser. S/he can give you an estimated time and an intersection. It's important to be at that intersection early because they'll probably be thirsty by that point...

What is a bike bag? Where do I get one? Which one should I buy?

It's a bag that your bike goes in so that you can carry it on a train or ferry. In Japanese they're called rinko-bukuro. Depending on the style of bag, you'll need to take one or both wheels off your bike to pack it, and then reassemble at the end of the train journey. The bag then folds up small enough to be carried with you. Here's an article about Bike Bags in English and an illustrated guide to getting your hands oily in Japanese.

The weather forecast says it's going to rain. Will the ride be cancelled?

Cold/hot temperatures, wind, sprinkles, or raindrops wouldn't prevent a ride. A sustained downpour would. Forecasts change all the time, and they're often wrong anyway. If you're in doubt, check your e-mail for updates, or call the host rider within an hour before the ride. Hosts should always provide someone's mobile number in their original posting.

I wrote to you asking for detailed advice for a bike trip I want you to plan for me in Japan, for free. Why haven't you replied?

This is a weekend cycling club, not a pro bono travel agency. Thank you for your understanding.

Where's Don?

Club founder Don Morton semi-retired in June 2008 and is currently dividing his time between cycling in Tokyo and roaming the earth in his EarthRoamer (he'll be delighted to tell you about it at considerable length) .

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