In my mind it was awesome, in practise it was flimsy cardboard held together with string, ribbons and sticky tape and I wasn't entirely sure it would last the duration of the ride without falling apart. With fragile decorations complete, I donned some cycling tights two layers of HeatTech tops and my Santa suit before climbing carefully into my sleigh.
I have to admit to being very self conscious as I cycled to the ride and in addition to that I was worried the decorations would fall apart. I was convinced I looked totally insane, but as I cycled children smiled, people waved, some cycled along side me wishing me a Merry Christmas and before long I began to loosen up a little smiling and waving to anyone who made eye contact.
Less than a kilometre into the ride, while waiting at a set of traffic lights a female voice called from behind "I saw your bicycle on twitter. I think we're going to the same ride" and that was how I met a fellow Night Pedal Cruiser with whom I cycled to 246 Common in Aoyama for the start of the ride.
The ride got underway on time at 17:00 and we wound our way from Aoyama to Roppongi. As you can imagine 50 riders dressed as Santa, a handful of tall bikes with loud Christmas music blasting from countless bicycle mounted stereo systems causes quite a spectacle and if that wasn't enough we were frantically ringing our bells to garner even more attention from the people we passed. (So much bell ringing in fact that I almost gave myself a blister within the first 15 minutes of the ride.)
Amongst all the other Santas and decorated bicycles any feelings of self consciousness or embarrassment quickly evaporated and seeing the look of joy a simple wave or "Merry Christmas" would bring to the faces of people we passed encouraged me to make sure everyone we passed got a smile a wave or a wink from Santa. Who knew that dressed as Santa all it took was a simple wave to send someone over the moon with enjoyment? One forward thinking rider had chocolates which he passed out to children and adults alike on the ride, even pulling up alongside cars with the windows down handing sweets to the children inside. Why didn't I think of that?
I was really beginning to enjoy myself and started to understand that our Christmas ride was about more than just a group of cyclists having fun together cycling the streets in Christmas costume, it was about making those around us happy. It was about getting peoples attention, making them laugh, smile, wave, and about spreading some joy around the city. I think we did a wonderful job.
With Christmas music still pumping from the stereos, and wine flowing, we whiled away a couple of hours eating, drinking and chatting. Many a person came to photograph Tokyo Tower lit up for the evening only to end up in a picture with Santa Claus and many a group of young ladies dressed in skimpy Santa costumes, stockings and heels came to pose for a photograph but in the end just who was posing with who became impossible to determine.
It was a quick and boisterous ride back to Aoyama. Our numbers reduced made the ride faster, the beverages consumed made us louder and we continued to draw attention to ourselves and spread the Christmas cheer.
Eventually we broke free and continued on our way home only to have carloads of young women scream our names (Well, OK, Santa's name) and take photographs as they passed by. I was beginning to feel like a rock star and commented to my cycling companion that it would be hard returning to work the following day as just an ordinary guy.
In short it was a great ride. It was amazing to see so many riders turn out and that the vast majority of them got into the spirit of things by wearing a costume. But to me the best part of the ride was the reactions of people we passed, the smiles, the waves, the countless photographs and calls of Merry Christmas. It made me so happy that a group of simple cyclists just having fun among themselves could bring a smile to so many people along the way.
I can't wait till the next ride.
Merry Christmas everyone. Enjoy the holidays, ride safe, and I look forward to writing for you all in 2014.
For more stories, news and information about cycling in Tokyo and around Japan follow @tokyobybike on twitter.