RIDE ALIVE 2015

PHOTOS: Eri Tanaka

VIDEO: Ryota Kenmochi

LOCATION: Toyota, Japan

From solemn overlooks to raucous gourmet meals over bonfires, the two days of Ride Alive meander like the routes they follow. Groups clamor up hiking trails and paddleboard en masse.

Rie Sawada is moved by nature as surely as she moves through it. Many people talk about whether they prefer beach vacations or trips to the mountains. Some like both. They each offer their own sense of scale, their own forces of nature to cooperate and collaborate with. The tides are moved by the moon’s gravity, as we climb and descend mountains, we’re moved by the earth’s. To choose land or sea is to miss the point. Only by considering the whole can we truly appreciate the parts.On Ride Alive, participants work individually towards a common goal. Communal campouts at the end of a day of individual exploration, a convivial toast to adventurous solitude. Much of the earth’s beauty is best internalized alone and processed together. Sunrise is a time for quietude and contemplation, moments of mental preparation for the journey ahead. It is not arduous, nor is it easy. Riders move at their own pace, take their own detours, link up and separate organically as their whims move them. Ride Alive is a different trip for every participant, but that’s what makes the experience so powerful. Ride Alive is not a race, participants to not pour their energy into beating each other. Instead, they use every ounce of their being to appreciate their surroundings. On the densely-populated islands of Japan, this thorough an escape is a rare treat to be savored. And every member of the Circles community does just that.

Beautiful bicycles assemble at dusk and spread out at dawn. They follow the desires of their owners, and perhaps provide some input of their own. Bikes are vehicles in every sense of the word. They transport us to places literal and transcendental alike, and Rie brings that duality to life by carrying a mobile cafe with her as she crosses continents by bike. CharRie’s Cafe has brewed coffee for new friends over 5,500 kilometers of Europe and Asia.

Along the way, Rie searches for good waves to surf and serene scenery to ride through. RAL’s route offers both, and encourages a natural mix of land and sea, community and solitude, sound and silence. From solemn overlooks to raucous gourmet meals over bonfires, the two days of Ride Alive meander like the routes they follow. Groups clamor up hiking trails and paddleboard en masse. Individuals ride bikes and fish in quiet coves. Every element and every aspect of life is organically incorporated into the weekend. The trip is full of great food, lifelong memories, and beautifully fleeting laughter. The rides are not always easy, the weather is far from perfect. But for someone who thrives on the energy of the natural world and all of its admirers, Ride Alive is a restorative weekend. As an adventurer, Rie rode through a weekend that embodies her vision for life well-lived. Everyone who shared a cup of coffee or a conversation with her was brought closer to the life she is creating. Just as a cup of coffee travels a remarkable route from green bean to brewed drink, a day of Ride Alive depends on all elements, earthly, human, and otherwise to become what it will be.