01 January 2014

Rest in Winter

Jerome invited Misako and me to join the family Bouhet for a dinner of steamed mussels in garlic broth last month in his neighborhood.  Special guests at the dinner were Yukiya Arashiro and his significant other, Miwa Iijima.  It was a fun event, with plenty of mussels, fried potatoes (French fries? Freedom fries?) and beer followed by several bottles of wine.

Yukiya went straight from Ishigakijima to rural France at age 19 to pursue his dream of becoming a pro cyclist, and has made it as far as being Japan national champion, first Japanese rider -- with Fumi Beppu -- to complete the Tour du France (and first to have completed both the Tour and the Giro), a member of the Europcar Pro Tour (now World Tour?) team, "most aggressive rider" in a stage of the 2012 Tour de France, and winner of the 4 day Tour du Limousin in 2012.  He is now 29 and so could have his peak years just ahead.  He is a popular, aggressive/attacking rider, more than capable of winning a stage in a Grand Tour.

My theory is that one reason he has been so successful is that he went straight to France.  For awhile there was a theory of multinationals that would try to succeed in Asia by "Japan passing" instead of "Japan bashing" -- going straight to other markets in Asia without worrying or complaining about the difficultiies of succeeding in Japan.  Arashiro-san has done the opposite by going straight to the world.  He is kind of like those intrepid Japanese high school students who reject the entreaties of their "sempai" and skip Tokyo University to instead study abroad at Yale, MIT, Harvard, or Oxbridge.  If you want to play on a world stage, best to get out of the Japanese "system" as soon as possible.  Yes, Arashiro-san now has Japanese sponsors and fans, but he was able to develop in relative obscurity for awhile, and far better than anyone who had stayed in Japan longer, he is able to speak fluent French and to fit in well on a French (might one say a VERY French) team, dominated by Thomas Voeckler and now Pierre Rolland.

In any event, he told us that in the December off-season he could relax and enjoy life, without worrying about training.  He would soon be off to Thailand to start preparation for the 2014 season, but Nov/Dec offered a period of rest and recuperation, even an opportunity to eat mussels and drink alcohol without worrying about the next morning's early departure.

We all need a break like this, even amateur cyclists such as Jerome and myself.  So here we are, already 22 hours into the New Year, and my 2014 kilometer log shows a big goose egg -- zero.  Today was a day devoted to family and food, with a little blogging and online shopping mixed in.

Starting tomorrow, we ride again.  But only for fun, with my sons, on the lowland portion of the annual Ekiden Ride

I already have in mind my 2014 cycling goals, so there is plenty of time to map out my training plan for 2014, then implement.  For now, I rest.


Robbie said...

Hi David.

I found your blog when looking up shoulder injuries in Japan.

I somehow injured my shoulder and was doing the online search. I read through your story on the 2009 post and wonder how it all came out for you in the end. I'm pretty bummed out about this sudden tear/injury. Unlike yours, mine was not from a fall or impact, but came on suddenly. Lifting my bag quickly? Not sure. Whatever it is, I can't lift my right arm above shoulder height w/out pain, so been doing the RICE stuff and hoping for the best.

Robbie in Tokyo

David L. said...

Hi Robbie:
My shoulder injury recovered fully.
But sounds like a totally different situation than yours. It sounds like you tore something ... which may need intervention to recover. In any event, I suggest you get it checked by a professional.
Best, David