May 29, 2012

A visit to the Suginami Bicycle Festival 2012


I was surprised on Friday when I stumbled across a poster advertising the Suginami Bicycle Festival the very next day.  Not only was the festival in Suginami, my neighbourhood, but was being held within easy cycling distance from my home in the parkland that line the Zepukuji river.  My daughters and I had already made plans to cycle to the Suginami Children’s Traffic Park on Saturday afternoon and the Festival was located just a few minutes from there. Perfect!

The festival was organised by Ken Toyama of the nearby bicycle shop Tanuki Cycle.  Aside from regular bicycle sales Tanuki Cycles specialises in custom built bicycles, including tandems, three seaters, and contraptions the likes of which you may never have seen before.  Riders of these rather unusual bicycles bought their machines to the festival not only to show them off but to give everyone a chance to ride and fall in love with them.

Visitors to the festival were more than welcome to take any of the bicycles for a ride between 5 to 10 minutes around the park.  As the majority of the bicycles were designed for more than one rider, their owners were more than happy to take anyone for a tour around the park if they didn't have the confidence to get into the driver’s seat themselves.

My daughters love their bicycles but I wasn't sure how they'd take to a tandem, three seater or a recumbent.  As soon as they arrived they spotted a three seater and before I knew it were cycling off under the care of one of the festival volunteers.  For the rest of the afternoon they did lap after lap of the park eventually trying all of the bicycles, some more than once.  This left me free to talk to Toyama-san and the other volunteers about their passion for bicycles.

Speaking to Toyama-san I learnt that this was the first year the festival had been held. He was very encouraged by the positive feedback, and above all by the laughs and smiles of festival goers as they completed a circuit or two on a bicycle they would otherwise have little opportunity to experience. We're all hoping it will become a biannual event.

The festival was a lot of fun for all.  Congratulations and thanks to Toyama-san and his hard working team of volunteers.

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