01 May 2015

500,000+ page views

Recently, Positivo Espresso passed the 500,000 page view mark.  Well, it happened a few days back since we are already over 503,000.

The first post, back in 2007, "The Positivo Espresso Blog Starts", when MOB decided to separate cycling from his other blog entries, has only 14 page views as of today (well, 15 now that I just looked at it again).

You can see the most popular posts on the right hand side far down the home page.  For some reason the product reviews attract the most traffic, though this was never intended as a product review site.  The SP Dynamo series 8 review is now at 22,000 page views.  Contrast that to the great Miyakejima report at around 3400 page views.  Of course, there is a bit of reprinted third party content -- Mario Cipollini's comments on the Andy Schleck "can we still be friends?" wimp-out after Contador beat him in the Tour, over 11,000 page views.

Will we get to 1 million?  Does anyone else want to provide content?  How about in Japanese?  Volunteers are welcome.

Golden Week Ride Number 1 ... on the Renovo Firewood

I took my first Golden Week ride today, Friday May 1.  Well, I did take a short spin on Wednesday, the first holiday of GW, and did ride 98 km yesterday going into town and out to Keio SFC, so I guess that also might be a GW ride, technically, even if in spirit it was a commute.  Or one could argue that GW does not really start this year until tomorrow, Saturday May 2, since next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are public holidays -- the "main" part of GW this year.

In any event, hard to worry about such definitional issues.  In spirit this was definitely a GW ride. Beautiful weather, new green growth on all the hillsides, hot sun, but cool breeze and nice in the shade.  Just heavenly.
The Tamagawa just South of Fussa
I stopped briefly in Fussa to look at the Ishikawa / Tama Jiman sake brewery and beer hut. There were pre-school kids getting a tour of the grounds.  Beautiful place ... but isn't this a bit like giving kids a tour of a cigarette factory in Kentucky?
Kids, this is where they make the really good stuff.

In Itsukaichi I stopped at the little onigiri and bento shop that Tom S. showed me awhile back.  The old man gladly filled my water bottle and posed for a photo.  Then he gave me a free can of tea --"service" as they say.  Now I will need to go back when I pass through.
No name onigiri shop.  Either 2 or 3 signals up the hill from Musashi Itsukaichi Station, on the right side.

Master of the shop.  Never seen him open his eyes further than this.

This morning's colorful foods.
I rode the Renovo Firewood.  It got lots of oohs and aahs from the group of cyclists who were resting at the Togura 7/11.  And it rode beautifully.  I felt really strong on the way back in ... I think because it is so good at absorbing shocks, yet plenty stiff when I accelerate -- even when out of the saddle.  The Di2 shifting is incredibly smooth, and the Shimano disk brakes are, well, even better than the Avid BB7 I have on the front of the Yamabushi, and great for the descent from Tokisaka Pass.

Also, I climbed well on the Renovo.  I might have set a personal record on Tokisaka Pass ... except I stopped several times for photos.  Hard not to stop on a day like this. The photos say it all:
The Akigawa

Approaching Motojuku
On the climb to Tokisaka Pass

Looking up the hill. Thatched house.
This short video gives an idea of the breeze on the hillside ... lost in a photo.

At the tea house.  Wood bicycle next to wooden bench.

Must be fed by spring water.

From just below the 7-11.
Simple out and back route

30 April 2015

Yukiya Arashiro goes down hard

As reported a few days ago ... but only seen by me this morning, Yukiya Arashiro got the worst of a pile-up during Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

"One mass crash with about 40 km to go took out a number of riders, and sent Europcar's Yukiya Arashiro to hospital with the most serious injuries."
"The Japanese rider lay on the ground a long time and was obviously in pain. It was later reported that he had broken ribs as well as either his humerus or scapula."

Ouch, Yukiya.  At least L'Equipe carries a photo tweeted by his partner/manager Miwa-san, which has him still smiling that infectious Arashiro grin!
Get well soon, Yukiya.

25 April 2015

An Object of Beauty; a Leap of Faith

Sometimes, life takes an unexpected turn.  I was not expecting to get another bicycle this week.  But as mentioned before, went to the Renovo Hardwood Bicycles exhibition at Maach eCute in Kanda/Manseibashi this week with Hiroshi.  Renovo was part of an exhibition of Portland, Oregon-based firms marketing their wares in Japan.  A few days later, and I have a beautiful limited edition version of their "Firewood" road disk model, and will be helping Hiroshi as C Speed plans to distribute the Renovo bikes in Japan.

Yes, this bike is a work of art -- so beautiful "it should be hanging on the wall".  But no, it is not a work of art, it is a performance bike designed to be ridden and to work like a frame should -- laterally stiff, unrivalled shock absorption and fatigue resistance, and an incredibly quiet ride.  I hope it will last a lifetime.

The woods?  Curly maple. Peruvian walnut. Birch. Purple heart.

Even though the bike has some nice classic touches, this is NOT a classic bike.  It is not a throwback to the early days of cycling in the 19th century when frames were made of wood.  Back then there were no CNC cutting machines.  This frame uses 4 different epoxies, and it has a hard polyurethane coating similar to that on high end automobiles.  Road disk.  DI2 electronic shifting.  A very high tech design and manufacturing process.  And it is built by someone whose background is no, not wood carving and wood working, but designing and building airplanes.

One normally waits a LONG time for any custom bike, so the instant gratification is ... unfair, almost feels like cheating.  That said, Renovo is now transitioning from custom to "ready to ride", so others will be able to get the same joy in about the same time it takes to order any bike that is not sitting in the shop but must come from abroad.

The cost?  Well, on the Renovo website the current MSRP for a Firewood frameset in the U.S. is $4150.  Hiroshi says he is aiming for an MSRP in Japan that is roughly equivalent, at current exchange rates.  Of course, the standard Firewood and Pursuit frames are a bit different than this custom version -- different woods and no decorative inlay ... but they also are things of beauty.  And don't we all deserve some beauty in our lives?

20 April 2015

Panasonic Randoneusse Bike for Mashita; and Wheels 00025 and 00026

Mashita-san wanted an all around bike -- primarily for city use.  We found this used (but never built up) Panasonic order made randonneur frameset, including fenders and rack, at Cycly in Sengawa for 49,000 yen.  It has a lot of character already, with the hammered fenders and small, light weight randonneuring front rack.

Panasonic designed these to be very strong -- perfect to take one on a ride, say, across the Asian continent.  Thicker tubing -- mostly double butted, but a straight gauge 1.0mm walled downtube!  And 26" wheels, so easier to find replacement parts if your wheel gets destroyed just outside of Rawalpindi or Nairobi.  It might even last a lifetime?
The bike built up into something that should be very nice for zipping around town or its real purpose -- covering long distances in speed and comfort.  It is very stable and quite fast.  ... Not sure if it will ever be used on a long ride, but it can be. And it has a kick stand.
Shimano Canti brakes -- a first for me.  Hiroshi helped me with adjustments.
Now they are working well.
Cateye solar-powered rear light
Shimano 105 drivetrain.  Lowest gearing is 34-32, with its smaller (26") wheels, capable of spinning up any hill 
Shimano Click R pedals -- Like SPD but takes much less force to disengage.
Good for a first time user of cleats/clipless pedals.
Nitto front rack -- part of the frameset
Handed down a beautiful used Supernova E3 Pro dynamo light.
Looks nice on this rack/frame.
At C Speed for inspection and some final guidance
Front wheel, No. 00025.  SV-9 dynamo hub, XM317 rim, DT Swiss Competition spokes.
Rear wheel, No. 00026. The same rim and spokes, and Shimano 105 5800 rear hub.

Arrived in a massive box.
Breaking this down for recycling removal seemed like half the work.

19 April 2015

Sunday Ride with Jerome -- Takao, Otarumi, Route 76 to Doshi Michi, then Lake Miyagase and Yabitsu Pass

Lake Miyagase, from Kanagawa Route 70
Today Jerome and I went on a thoroughly satisfying ride in the areas west and south of Takao.  Weather was perfect -- cool but not cold, only a few sprinkles of rain and the least bit of sun.  Lots of road cyclists were out.

We parted after descending the south side of Yabitsu Pass -- he was continuing on toward Enoshima area for a "beach cleaning" event.  I went back via Route 246 and Kanagawa Routes 51/50 to Chuo Rinkan and hopped a train home.  For me 140 kms and either 1600 (Garmin) or 3600 (iphone/Strava) meters of climbing.  I think in this case the Garmin seems a lot more accurate!

The Yabitsu climb was beautiful -- new green growth and flowering trees.  And the South side descent had me grinning a wide smile.  I could only think "this is why we ride!"  I would greet many of the oncoming climbers with a "gambare!" or "fight!" cheer, and usually get a smile in return.

Rather than write more, I think the photos tell the story.
On the Asagawa path nearing Takao

At Otarumi Pass.  No Fuji view today.
At Otarumi Pass

A photo rest on Route 76
On Route 76, one of many flowering trees above.

On Route 76.  Photo rest stop.
At the Miyagase-ko Michi-no-eki
Miyagase-ko Park

On Route 76, fresh green on the hills.  Park below
On the Yabitsu climb
Yamazakura and stream on the Yabitsu climb

Flowering trees on the Yabitsu climb
River on the Yabitsu climb

River runs through it -- on the Yabitsu climb