The Chain Gang’s Favourite Japanese Cyclist – Yoko

TuscanyLast weekend I received a real bonus. One of the loveliest ladies we’ve ever had on a Chain Gang holiday was Yoko, from Hiroshima in Japan. She’s ferociously strong on hills – which she denies but which Hanna, Lisa, Gary, Steve, Sandy et al will support me on (I hope).

Anyway, luckily for me her new job means she has to visit all the cities outside Japan where her company, Uniqlo, has stores, which includes London.

Sorry Yoko, but when you email me, that means you get on the blog. Yoko’s second cycling tour with us was in the Dordogne, along with Laurie from New Zealand. Laurie moved back to New Zealand quite some time ago, but before she left the UK she worked for two of my closest friends, Chain Gang veterans from our very first year in 1997, and along with my Mum the only other shareholders in the Chain Gang (until some enormous travel conglomerate buys us all out).

Laurie looked after Cormack (my mate) and Fabian (my Godson), so Yoko knew something about Sean, Suzi, Cormack and Fabian before we went for dinner on Sunday. It was London in January – obviously it rained, it was muddier than hell, but there was a park so we walked in it.

I’m torn about waxing lyrical about the two boys and their brand new little sister Celestine, but they’re not a suitable subject for a cycling blog.

Last year Yoko went on a cycling tour in Tuscany with an American company called Cyclissimo, or something like that. On the night before she left London Yoko met Hanna, his wife Reme, and myself for dinner, and Yoko showed us her itinerary for the following week. (Hanna paid – it’s difficult to pay if Hanna’s around).

I tried to be supportive, and I think I succeeded, because I was determined not to rain on her parade. But a tour of Tuscany that doesn’t visit Siena? And doesn’t cycle through any part of Chianti?!?! Excuse me! Now she’s safely home she can take the truth.

SienaWhat on earth is the point of travelling half way round the world to cycle in Tuscany if you’re not going to spend time in Siena or Chianti? And not see the frescoes in the Abbey of Monte Oliveto, or the Abbey that Charlemagne built at Saint Antimo. Charlemagne, for God’s sake – you can’t not go!

Since Yoko got back from Tuscany, I’ve hinted at this, but not so blatantly as here. I know Yoko reads the Chain Gang blog so I feel slightly disrespectful, but what on earth do companies think they’re doing if they drag people to Tuscany – but somehow Siena and Chianti aren’t part of the deal?

Anyway, of course it was fantastic to see Yoko as it always is, and I hope she’ll forgive me enough to let me buy her dinner next time she’s in town. Italian, naturally.

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