Knights in White Lycra

  • Knights in White Lyrca

Yes, the heading has absolutely nothing to do with personal financial planning, so I hope you will read on as it’s far more interesting! This month my article refers to a charity bicycle ride which an IFG colleague and myself are undertaking with 20 other Tokyo-based Expat business people between May 15th and 18th 2014.

OGA for Aid, a Japan-registered NPO, has been involved in relief aid and recovery work in Minamisanriku since March 2011. OGA initially provided emergency supplies for survivors but adapting to changing needs, it set up various projects to support the devastated community. 

OGA established the Green Farmers Association which provides land for survivors to grow, process, and sell vegetables, thus providing a sustainable business and a source of income for years to come.

The project will create jobs (currently 14 individuals are employed) allowing local residents to avoid reliance on subsidies or donations and to stay in their hometown.

This innovative project seeks to operate outside the cumbersome regulations and steep prices imposed by Japan Agriculture. A factory in the Minamisanriku region is operational but JPY5 million funding is required for equipment purchase, set up and to fund the business through the first year. The aim of our cycle ride is to raise this JPY 5 million.

Many businesses and individuals have become less interested in assisting Tohoku and are focusing their sights on the Olympic Games. As the third anniversary of the Tsunami comes and goes on March 11th, memories will further fade and we feel that having done a similar ride to Minamisoma in 2013 which raised JPY2.7 million, this will be our final bike ride in support of Tohoku charity initiatives. Tragic as that is, it’s the reality and we know many will ignore our cries for support this year.

And now the funny bit. Why Knights in White Lycra? Well, if you are of a certain age, you will be familiar with a 60’s band called the Moody Blues who had a hit with ‘’Nights in White Satin’’. During a drunken karaoke session among a few riders, our nickname was born. Mercifully, most of us do not wear white lycra, in fact it should be made illegal, but we thought the name might catch on.

We do however wear lycra and with the riders spanning four decades, some look distinctly more objectionable in it than others.  None of us cycle for a living, a few need to shed some weight and a rather greater number have long said good-bye to their youth! This ride is no walk in the park as we have to cover 465 kilometers in less than four days so a lot of training and preparation is involved. Between now and May you may spot a group of middle aged men in lycra (MAMIL’s), breathing furiously as they haul their bikes up and down the Arakawa and Tamagawa Rivers, stopping regularly for cramp and others frantically in search of bathrooms to relieve their age-related disorders! If you see them, give them a shout of encouragement!

So on May 15th, we shall put down our pints, hold in our tummies and crowbar ourselves into lycra for a journey which begins in Nihombashi, Tokyo and ends in Minamisanriku.

Of course we would really welcome support from the local and Expat community which can be in a number of ways, not necessarily financial:-

  1. By making a donation on the OGA website in support of the bike ride;www.ogaforaid.org/en/kiwl.html
  2. By liking the Knights in White Lycra Facebook page and inviting others, and where you can follow preparation and progress updates;www.facebook.com/cycle4tohoku
  3. By attending our fundraising events which are scheduled as follows;

April 3rd 7.30p.m OGA Quiz Night, Finn McCools, Akasaka.
Contact Nick Rees to reserve as an individual or team. nrees71@gmail.com

April 25th 6.30p.m OGA Dinner Drinks & Disco Night, Conrad Hotel Shiodome.
A black tie evening with a 4-course meal and oodles of entertainment including the world’s only light artist, singers, magicians and possibly an appearance by the Knights in White Lycra, singing our theme song! It’s going to be a lot of fun! To reserve tickets, please email ogaforaid@gmail.comstating number of seats required and they will send banking details for payment. Y20,000 for an evening of great food, drinkable wine and variety entertainment.

The people of Tohoku should know that they are not forgotten, and that the community at large cares for their future. Your donations however small, are large in purpose and importance. On behalf of all the riders, and the residents of Minamisanriku, thank you very much for your support.