Austin is the capital of the state of Texas and the fastest growing large city in the USA, and also the home of Lance Armstrong. He owns a bike shop called Mellow Johnny's, the name finding it's origin from a play on the French "Maillot Jaune" meaning yellow jersey. There is also an adjoining coffee shop called Juan Pelota, playing on the phonetics of Juan sounding like "one" and pelota meaning "ball" in Spanish. Lance had an operation for his testicular cancer. We were there for the screening of TIME TRIAL at the SXSW Festival, we rode Brompton's and stuck stickers all over the place.
Dan Deacon is an American composer and electronic musician from Baltimore, he is considered to be one of the most innovative electronic artists of his generation, his live performances being particularly legendary. He composed the soundtrack for the film TIME TRIAL, the soundtrack has recently been released as a limited edition vinyl. He played the after party for the screening of TIME TRIAL at SXSW and wore one of our special edition (rare AF) CHPT3 AUSTIN T-shirts.
On the third day in Texas we left the big smoke and went in country, mission being to capture local culture and landscape with some CHPT3 and a camera. We also had BBQ, I had no idea this was such a staple part of Texan life, and I liked it, although I cannot fathom eating so much meat ever again... ever ever. We created a photo-essay-journal to exhibit the fruits of our success here.
Standing on the steps of Taiwan's National Palace Museum. It holds nearly 700,000 ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, these were originally in the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing - a museum formed in 1925 after the expulsion from China of the last emperor - the property of the imperial family established that museum. During the Chinese Civil War it was decided to crate up and transport the artifacts and artworks of the museum to Taiwan where it was thought to be safer. Only 22% of the crates made it to Taiwan, the rest eventually returning to Beijing, although those 2,972 crates are considered to represent the best of the collection. We made the stairs our meeting place for our early morning Sunday ride.
I was told we were going for a nice little group ride on the Sunday morning, we met at the steps of the museum, shook hands, chit chatted, got some photos, then rode in the rain up "the hill" (Feng Gui Zui) for what seemed a much longer time than they'd told me. I decided to go hard, which was a terrible mistake. It should be noted the guy who took all the great photos we have from that day, was also on a bike, not a motorbike, a bicycle. And he was better than all of us.
The Brompton communities in Asia are incredible, they seem to out number the road riders and are amazingly proud of their bikes and ethos while being very inclusive to all cyclists - roadies could learn a thing or two from them... This was the afternoon I met some of the Taipei community in Huashan Creative Park, one of whom, Ken, ended up coming over to Japan with us to race in the BWC as part of the CHPT3 team.
A first time visit to Taiwan will surprise in many ways, but arguably the most surprising is the sheer number of temples. This makes the accolade of most popular all the more important and that goes to Long Shan Temple in the old Wanhua district of Taipei. It is 300yrs old, a miraculous age considering the natural disasters Taiwan has endured and also the allied bombing of the Second World War. The locals take pride in the fact they have have always maintained the temple, rebuilding it after every fire, flood or earthquake with little help from government or wealthy benefactors, every stone or carving was placed or paid for by donations from the local community. Most temples are dedicated to one diety or religion, Long Shan is a mix of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian faiths, Taiwan has always been a country that is inclusive in its attitude to religion and Long Shan is the emobiment of that spirit and a testament to the resilience and devotion of the local people.
We made a video in and around Long Shan Temple, the main guy was on an electric skateboard and was able to pull off some amazing tracking shots on the busy streets of Manka - the result is here.
This was our pop-up store in Taipei, it was the first time we had all our collaborative partners in one place and it actually looked like we had really thought about everything we'd done. Which was a relief.
This is our Asian team - Pentagon and friends. They rock.
This is us in Seoul, Korea, during Fashion Week. BOLWELL is seen in the background trying to ruin the photo. This was our stop off on the way to Japan from Taiwan, I'd never been to Korea and it was interesting to check out the cycling scene and get my own grasp of everything I'd heard from afar. The Brompton culture was the most impressive, I was lent a CHPT3 bike built up with SRAM eTAP and carbon wheels by the legendary shop, BB5 - this was not an abnormal set-up in Seoul for a Brompton, although the shop and scene was abnormal from a global perspective, Korea appeared to me to be a spiritual home for Brompton.
Then there was Japan, I'd only been once before and that had been 25yrs in the past, I hadn't allowed that trip to give me preconceptions, yet I did think I would know what to expect, after all, I've read James Clavell's Shōgun. For the record, I did not expect it to be so amazing. Everything about it was a wonderful surprise, the place, the people, the culture, and above all, Tokyo. I don't know if it's just me, but I found it strangely calm and peaceful for a humming metropolis. The reason we were there was to take part in the Brompton World Championship Japan qualifier, representing CHPT3, thankfully they put us last on the grid of the hundreds and hundreds of participants, meaning that before the race had even started we already had our excuse sorted. To coin an old French pro cycling phrase, "We didn't win, but we had a laugh."