The first section of this blog has been gratuitously copied from a post I just wrote a moment ago for

Being an Apple fan boy, my initial reaction to the iPad was ‘I want one!’ then ‘I’ll get one!’ I mean, I find *Twinkle*s iPod touch really sexy, so a BIG iPod touch must be Exceedingly sexy – like a giant Apple pie made by Mr. Kipling, drowning in Ambrosia custard.

But then I started thinking about how much time I spend in front of the screen already – I almost always have an iPhone and MacBook Pro on me already – do I really need another screen to look at?

These thoughts came to me whilst I was out running, training for the Tokyo Marathon. I thought about how much I’ve enjoyed exploring the city on these runs – but also how I’ve found it a bit frustrating that I can never explore beyond the distance that my legs can take me within a couple of hours.

It was then that I made the decision – I’d use the money that I’d put aside for the iPad to buy a touring bike, and spend my free time during the spring and summer exploring Japan.

Joseph on his bike Jungfrau

Used to do a lot of cycling when I lived in Switzerland

As a teenager I absolutely loved cycling, and covered some pretty long distances. It was such a great way to see places, to travel far from home for free, to feel the thrill of travelling at high speed (at least when going down steep hills). The summers I worked in Switzerland saw me doing quite a bit of cycling too – it was tough going but boy was the scenery beautiful.

Thinking about this a couple of days ago got me all excited, especially as I can now combine cycling with other passions, such as photography (using my Nikon DSLR) and tracking my trail (with a GPS app on the iPhone). I feel it’s important to know my surroundings. That’s one thing I really take from our runs – the knowledge and feel of how places on a subway map link together, of where I am in relation to other places I know, of how I can get from A to B to C when the earthquake strikes and there’s no public transport system left.

Japan by bicycle

So, although I haven’t even got a suitable bike yet, yesterday I ordered the iCrew – a waterproof iPhone holder to attach to the handlebars. I’d had a look at the other bicycle/iphone holders on offer, but wasn’t all that impressed. They seemed pretty dangerous really, liable to catapult your iPhone onto the road if you stopped too suddenly or jumped off a kerbstone.

Whilst I’ve obviously not tried it out on the road yet, I like it already – it’s very sturdy, and can be rotated so you can easily watch YouTube movies whilst pedalling along (OK, maybe not such a good idea). Although totally sealed, the power and home buttons can be pressed thanks to flexible rubber bits, and the touch screen is as sensitive as it is on a naked iPhone. There’s a rubber stopper in the top that you can pull out if you want to plug your headphones in.

Next on the list is the bike itself (complete with rack and panniers), a helmet, and glasses. That should do the trick. I see myself going on long weekend trips, blogging / live streaming when out and about (phone signal permitting).

It’ll be great to see more of Japan outside of the city. It’s something I’ve missed these past 18 months – about time to put it right. I hope to be able to do some mega-long trip, like Tokyo to Hokkaido, around Hokkaido and back to Tokyo – we’ll see.

Bicycle training will begin once the marathon is out of the way at the end of the month!

Tomorrow I’ll be attempting to set a new distance record – 20 miles – it’ll be the furthest I run before the marathon itself.


5 Responses

  1. Hey Joseph!
    It sounds like you’re excited as I am to run the marathon! Have you been able to adhere to your schedule consistently? I posted this in the facebook group for the marathon, but I wanted to direct this to you, specifically since it sounds like you’ve run quite a bit before: Have you ever had runners knee? I got it a few weeks ago, right at the (arguably) most important time of my training, and my right knee has only allowed me to run a few times in the past couple weeks. My longest run in my training so far has only been about 12 miles. I’ve been icing, elevating, cross training… Would you happen to have any suggestions?

    A big fan and listener of your “A Year in Japan” podcasts,

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for the kind comment.

      Sorry to hear about your knee problem.

      I haven’t actually run much before. I did the Tokyo 10km in 2009, but that was really the first running I’d done. I’ve been following a program I got from some running site.

      I haven’t really managed to stick to the 16-week training program – there’s quite a bit of running to do on weekdays and I have failed spectacularly to do those runs. Still, I have stuck to the long weekend runs, and today managed to almost do a full marathon (25.7 miles) – will post about that in a minute.

      I’m no expert, but my running partner is, and in the past when I have had similar problems (I injured my knee during the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker event) it’s been a case of rest, and gym work. Taking it easy, but working on building up the muscle around that knee.

      Whatever you do, you don’t want to overdo it and give yourself a lifetime injury.

      I hope it heals in the next three weeks – it would be good to meet up on the day itself before we set off!

      1. Thanks for your reply and advice, Joseph,
        Congrats on still getting those weekend runs in. Those are the important ones, I think. These winter months can be so difficult to get those weekday runs in when dusk comes so early (I guess this “Land of the Rising Sun” comes with the necessity of being “Land of the Setting Sun”, too.)
        My knee has only allowed me to run twice in the last couple weeks, really, but I’ve been swimming, strength training, and resting… Hopefully the other 3 months of training will still amount to something come marathon day. If, during the marathon, you happen see a foreigner trotting along who looks like he has an injured knee , know that if you carry him to the finish line, he’ll buy you unlimited ramen (or udon/soba) after the race 🙂

        It’d be great to meet up prior to the race, though perhaps my being the only person in this country who doesn’t (yet?) own a cell phone, it might make it somewhat difficult.

        Also, a big thank you for all those great “A Year in Japan” podcasts you created. It was one of the several main sources I listened to for a year or two before taking my first trip to Japan in 2007. Before I moved to Japan, I listened to them on the quiet commuter train going into Chicago in the mornings and would sometimes laugh-out-loud at some of your antics. It was a very eclectic podcast that really got me ecstatic about taking my first, second, and third trip here. Thank you so much!

        Good luck in your last few weeks of training!

        1. Once again Dan, I appreciate the feedback. AYIJ was all very amateur, but i loved doing it! Glad you liked it.

          If you see someone with a bunch of iphones strapped on, that’ll be me 🙂 Come and say hi.