On June 4, 1989 we raced the first series...the 42 mile Showa Park Criterium near Tokyo. We had a field of 113 riders. It was the first time I got a real taste for pack riding. Very dangerous, and sometimes dizzying.
On the top photo, I’m in the middle on the red bicycle, and the big head, second from left, on the second photo. Our Volvo sponsor was not coming through for us, so we protested by not wearing our team jerseys. That was mostly J.T.'s job, getting money for the team. I was never big into that angle--I always preached that we needed to train a lot more and the money would come to us. J.T. was a great guy, sometimes like a brother to me, but I didn't care about money--just wanted to ride!
I sat in the pack, if you want to call it that, until about 33 miles when I moved near the front, four riders from the lead position. I believe we were averaging 25-26 miles an hour, so it was no cake-walk. J.T. was braver than I, staying deeper in the pack to conserve energy. At 35 miles, while entering a turn, a Japanese rider and I bumped a few times and I went over the top of a road sign. All I can remember is getting up with dirt in my nose, mouth, and face…trying to put my chain back on the bicycle, surrounded by Japanese spectators. J.T., who was a few riders back saw the crash and said he didn't think I'd be getting up. I chased the pack but never had a chance to catch them so close to the finish. I finished 67th of 113, 40 of which could not finish, averaging 24.4 miles an hour for the 42 mile race, and lost 3 minutes 28 seconds with the crash and chase. J.T. was about 20 places ahead of me in the standings, not having crashed. The results were posted in the Japanese papers the next day. It was my first taste of the big time. It tasted like dirt.