Up with the sun, 80 miler, drinks, tapas, sun down. Perfect!
Metamorphosis – a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism…
Okay, so it’s a slightly over dramatic turn of phrase but to be honest it’s probably the most apt way to describe the way this year’s shaping up.
Way back when, in what feels like a different lifetime now, work life was of a distinctly more sales/marketing/management ilk, but when we sold the business I fell into something completely different. Kitchen installation was only ever meant to be a stop gap until I worked out what I really wanted to do, and a mere 10 years later (!) I’ve finally got my act together and made the break. Those 10 years proved a great experience but I was always 50/50 on the work, some parts I loved, some I hated, the only thing keeping me at it so long was working with my best mate. Work was merely a distraction as we spent most of our time planning the next big cycling/climbing/travelling/etc. adventure. While nothing changed on this front the work itself had certainly become less enjoyable due to a number of factors I won’t bore you all with. So as I hinted at before a change was coming.
They say timing is everything and for once I seem to have lucked out on this front. Over the years I’ve accrued experience in a fairly diverse range of job roles and skills, all of which on paper bare very little relevance to one another unless you can stumble across that job in a million to which it can be applied. Somehow that’s exactly what happened. A chance encounter, a casual chat, a perfect storm brewing and hey presto I’m the new (excuse this as I don’t really like throwing job titles around) Production Manager for Earlyrider Bikes!
For anyone not familiar Earlyrider manufacture some very classy little balance and pedal bikes for kids. Although it’s only ‘bikes for kids’ I hear you say, the branding, image, and ethos of the company is absolutely bang on and right up my street. I am absolutely smitten already. And somehow I’m getting the opportunity to get involved in just about everything I love; Bike mechanics, sales, marketing, photography (check out the image above I helped shoot for the next brochure), travel etc, etc. To top it off I even get to go to Eurobike and the NEC Cycleshow which for me is a kid in a sweetshop experience. A further indication as to what a radical change it’s been as to my feelings on the whole love/hate work ethic is that I’m currently on holiday and for the first time in years enjoying thinking about and staying in touch with work while away!
I am sorry that this post just reeks of gloating, and to be honest I’ve got very little defence on that. I promise to reign it in after this. All I can say is that after 10 years of being fairly career disenchanted (read suicidal at points) I am now deliriously happy. Sure, it’s not always going to be all roses and the honeymoon period will become jaded at some point, but when you rock up to work and the first thing you see are bikes then you can be pretty sure a bad day here is still a good one in my book.
So it’s been a while since my last post, life seems to have been flying by at warp speed with seemingly not enough hours in the day, my concentration pulled in so many directions sometimes it feels my head may implode. Even time on the bike has taken a bit of a knock, but only being relegated as paving the way for a better future has taken priority. So hopefully all for the greater good.
So what’s been happening? Well for a start the ‘Uber Workshop” end of Project Club House is finally taking shape. This has been a very satisfying little side project, which does also hint at the flavour of the other changes that are afoot. Towards the end of last year and beginning of this it had become clear that some big changes needed to be made career wise if I wanted to hold onto any shred of sanity and happiness. Work takes up such a large percentage of our time on this planet that I believe you should be happy in what you do and quite frankly that has not been the case. Change was overdue. So the wheels are in motion, and hopefully rolling towards a future and lifestyle more aligned with a happy heart. Somewhere back in the mists of time I forgot what was important: Have passion and happiness in your work, the money will (hopefully) take care of itself.
Only time will tell how this will play out, so whether I end up in a happier situation or find myself staring into the bottom of a can of Special Brew outside the job centre at least I will know I got off my arse and tried to make life a little less ordinary. I’ll keep you posted.
To infinity and beyond…
“Snowboarding in Japan, really? Do they have much snow?” Nine times out of ten this is the response when you inform people you’re heading off to quite possibly one of the best but least known snowboarding destinations in the world. And the answer to the question is yes, they most certainly do, over 15m on average per year! Virtually of of it falling as some of the lightest powder you can dream of. At this point in the conversation they assume one of two expressions. The true powder hounds wide eyed and salivating already daydreaming of waist deep pow, while everyone else glazes over consigning you to a character file labelled Lonely Planet touting snow obsessed ski bum weirdo. Their loss.
It had been 6 years since our last trip to the Land of the Rising Sun and memories of epic powder were as vivid as ever, so using my fortieth as a weak justification for a lads trip (hey, sometimes it just has to be done!) we once again set off with expectations running high. As before we were not disappointed. Our destination was once again Niseko the largest and most well known (relatively) resort, located on the northern island of Hokkaido. By European standards the resort is low and tiny and if you picked it up and dropped it in the alps, with alpine snowfall, it would probably only rate as a ‘day trip’ resort. But this isn’t Europe it’s Japan, and it gets blasted by cold dry air from Siberia that picks up moisture as it crosses the Japan Sea dumping epic amounts of light dry powder. Heaven! If your idea of hitting a resort is charging groomers from top to bottom then this isn’t the place for you. If however the idea of fresh lines in waist deep pow, and playing in the trees has you dribbling then I would suggest you make the effort and get yourself over there.
And it’s not just the powder. There is undoubtedly something very special about the whole Japanese snowboarding experience. The Japanese people are incredibly friendly and polite. Lift operators bowing and sweeping the snow off the chairs for you. Massive apologies and free hot drinks when you got stuck on a lift for twenty minutes? Ever had that in Europe? No, thought not. And everything is just so alien and amazing in equal measure: Snowcapped volcanoes. Snowboarding off a peak while being able to see the sea. Leafy green bamboo squashed flat under metres of snow. Supermarket isles where you don’t recognise a single thing. Heated toilet seats. Heated train seats!
It’s all just so different, the beauty in the difference of the detail. Are there any bad points? Well there’s a lot of Aussies there, I’ll let you make your own judgement on that. But if I heard one more conversation on the bus or in the Gondola that started with “Jeez we were soooo wasted last night” ……..Bluebird days can also be a bit of a rarity because, if you haven’t already gathered, it snows rather a lot! And of course it is a little more expensive to get there. That being said once there the food, beer, and most importantly coffee, etc is cheaper and in my opinion of a better quality than the overpriced rubbish in the Alps.
We hiked the peak several times opening up unlimited untracked lines. Did a day out with guides doing snowmobile accessed backcountry. Rode floodlit powder until 9pm at night. Drank Sapporo. And basically lived the dream. And so after a week in powder heaven we had to regrettably say sayonara and head home. But once again we have come away with memories to last a lifetime. Snowboarding in Japan is a very privileged, unique, and special experience that I would thoroughly recommend.