19 December 2014

Cycling in Pollution - the Beijing Solution (?)

Last weekend riding out through Kawasaki and Yokohama on a cold morning and busy streets, I felt as if I was breathing in diesel fumes at times as the trucks accelerated from traffic signals, the cold engines not burning as clean as after they warm up.  It was a relief to get further down the Miura Peninsula and into the clean sea breeze ... at least it was great until the sea breeze turned into a swirling gale force wind.

Today, I saw an online article in The Guardian on air pollution in Beijing.  Yes, everyone living in Asia knows about air pollution in Beijing, so nothing new.  But still it was a well-written article that conveys what it must be like to live in such an environment ... and makes one glad that Tokyo air is much, much cleaner.  Of course, Beijing pollution creates huge problems for outdoor athletic activities -- especially school activities, runners and cyclists -- all of which are discussed in the article.  According to the article, the British School has an inflatable dome, so that tennis, basketball and other sports can be played in filtered, relatively clean air.

As for cycling, one Beijing resident British artist, Matt Hope, has come up with a partial solution -- the breathing bike!  Power from pedaling drives an air filtering system.  Here is an explanation of the invention from early 2013:

The Guardian article has a nice photo of the bike in use, in Beijing traffic, riding by the CCTV tower ... next to the building that burned in a spectacular fire in 2009 when it was almost done with construction and someone decided at would make a nice place for a fireworks display.

Not something that I would ever want to use.  I will be happy if the only power I generate is for my bike lights ... and maybe a USB charger for my iPhone or Garmin.

14 December 2014

SV-9 arrives

SP Dynamo has sent me a couple of SV-9 hubs.  The wait is over.  I look forward to building one up and trying it.

I measure a weight of approx. 313 grams, down from approx 371grams for the SV-8.  So 16% lighter.  Much smaller also.  If it works as well ... a major improvement.

Left: SV-8, Right: SV-9.  Big difference in size, and weight.

SV-9 fits in the palm easily.
SV-9 weights 313 grams.
SV-8 weighs in at 371 grams.  

Miura Trip -- Wine Red hubs after Red Wine week

On Saturday I took an early winter trip around Miura Peninsular with Eric and Seiichi, who has a vintage bike shop in the Yutenji area.  I usually save the Miura area for late January and February when the mountains are impassable.  But this Saturday I was happy to head south and take it a bit easy after 3 nights out in a row and a trip to Hyogo and Nagoya.

On Wednesday was an annual Burgundy Christmas dinner that we have now attended the past 3 or 4 years.  Incredible food and wine as in the past.  On Thursday, just beer with dinner.  Friday, again more red wine at a farewell party for the contact at one of our business partners -- she is from Bordeaux, so yes, more good wine.

So it was only appropriate that this would be a maiden ride for a new pair of Gokiso wheels with wine red hubs.  Yes, they are fantastic, things of beauty and precision, smooth as silk and very fast.  But more about them in a later post.

Seiichi led the way.  We took Kampachi then Route 1 -- much more major roads than I would have chosen by myself.  But Kampachi traffic thinned and became tolerable after Dai-san Keihin entrance, and Route 1 was a fast way to Yokohama Station.  South of Yokohama Station, we got off of Route 16 and hugged the coast along an industrial road ... which was very fast and lower traffic than Route 16.  A great chance to get up some speed and see that, yes, the Gokisos really did make it easier to maintain a high pace.  Or was that a tailwind?

Once we got further down the peninsula the wind picked up, coming from all directions at different times.
Seiichi and Eric on the Southern Miura Peninsula

The Canyon Shark wants to go this way

Seafood for lunch, of course!  What you see in the photo, plus some Shime-Saba.
After a delicious lunch of (too much) fish, we swung back up the west side of the peninsular toward Kamakura,  The cross winds and shifting head/tail winds were vicious.  At several places sand was blowing from the beach across the road (and into my eyes).  I suffered, still digesting my lunch as I tried to keep up with Eric and Seiichi ... and eventually fell back after missing a few traffic signals, only to catch them again when they waited for me in Kamakura.  Then some cafe latte and I hopped the train back as far as Musashi Kosugi.  From there, a quick spin over to C Speed and then home.
West side of Miura Peninsula -- windy Sagami Bay
Quick stop by C Speed!
Not that much distance -- about 115 kms total -- but a nice, if windy, ride!  And great to be riding with new friends who enjoy many of the same things as I about cycling ... and start from Komazawa Dori.

Wheels No. 00023 and 00024

Last week I finally built up two of the black H Plus Son Archetype rims I got earlier this autumn.  The H Plus Son Archetypes have worked out very well -- better than the Sun XCD and much nicer looking than the TNI rims, and reasonably priced.  I like the black even better than the polished silver I already have for the Yamabushi.  So in addition to these two rims, I have another a 32-hole rim for use with my first SV-9 hub (when it arrives), and a 36-hole rim to replace a Velocity A23 rim when it exceeds its useful life with the White Industries hub ... sometime in the next 18 months if that rim gets use.

I build these with Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and a Dura Ace 9000 rear hub and SV-8 black front hub.  They make a very nice pair of wheels for brevets and longer rides.  Better than anytime I have built recently for my own use.
No 00024 (Left -- rear) and No 00023 (right -- front)

Dura Ace 9000, Sapim CX Ray (32 spokes), H Plus Son Archetype = very high quaility, nice aluminum clincher
Always build so you can see the label on the hub through the valve hole.
Front wheel -- SV-8 dynamo hub, Sapim CX-ray (32 spokes) and H Plus Son Archetype =
very low drag, very comfortable dynamo aluminum clincher
Washers on the spoke heads for reduced stress/reduced spoke breakage.

A 1024 gram front wheel with dynamo hub
... a bit heavy, but think of the weight of all those batteries that you can avoid carrying.
913 gram rear wheel -- nice for such a solid, wide rim!
... I may need to reduce the wheel inventory in the garage sometime soon, as I am building them now much faster than they wear out.

08 December 2014

Cold Manju in Akiyama

Sunday I rode again with Todor, joined today by Eric, Chris, and Ryan (Chris' brother in law visiting town).  Clear, cold weather.  We planned to meet again at the Yanokuchi Lawson at 8AM, ... but Eric rides out Komazawa Dori from Yutenji and pulled up as I was waiting for the light at Kampachi around 730AM, just after leaving home.

Another ride up the river, then out Onekan -- but nothing felt old, with the novelty of a new group of riders, sorting ourselves out on the climbs and descents.  We continued from the far end of Onekan, along the "Tank Road", then through the sprawl of Aihara NW of Hashimoto, then around the North shore of Tsukui-ko.  We stopped briefly at the top of the climb, then again on the narrow suspension bridge over Tsukui-ko, enjoying the tranquility of being suspended high over the water, no wind or other noise, and the heavily treed hills all around us, colorful with the changing leaves.
Todor, Ryan, Eric and Chris at the top of the hill N. of Tsukui.
Todor, Chris, me and Ryan, on the suspension bridge
Onto Route 412, then Route 517 with its climbs and descents, a short jog along Route 76, and eventually we ended up on Route 35 heading through Akiyama and gaining elevation on the lower part of climb toward Shin Hinazuru Tunnel.  I just did this route on the Nishi Tokyo brevet in early October, so at least had some memory of the nasty little climbs.  We were working under a 4PM return deadline for Todor to the Yoyogi/Shibuya area, and the weather was quite cold once we got past Sagamiko and started to get the inland mountain climate, so we set a goal to try to make it as far as the little manju shop before turning around.
The autumn flowers, green pumpkins and an oddly shapred daikon.

The original "O-no-ire manju -- both anko and miso filled
We made it to the manju shop a few minutes after noon.  Unfortunately, it seems at least at this time of year they finish baking the day's manju mid-morning, well before our arrival, so while the sweets were not quite as cold as the surrounding air (a few degrees C), they were not piping hot either, as they had been the last time I visited.  Not quite the treat I had anticipated.  At least the proprietor brought out a metal bucket in which he had put embers from the cooking fire, so we could eat out front in relative warmth.

On the trip back our riding was focused on the goal -- get home.  After a nice descent back through Akiyama, fewer beautiful country roads with short climbs but low traffic volumes.  We took a different route through the Hashimoto area -- Route 508 instead of 413 or upper Machida Kaido.  As with Saturday, the Strava segments for Sunday suggest I was riding at a faster pace than normal on many stretches, mostly trying not to get too far behind Eric!  150 kms, 1770 meters of climbing.  

A very good ride.  And we can be thankful to live in Tokyo, where it is possible to do something like this in early December!

Eastern half of the ride (first and last parts).
Western half of the ride (middle parts).

06 December 2014

Old School -- Long Sleeve Thick Wool Jersey

I have been waiting awhile for this, ordered many months back.  But it arrived just in time for winter brevets.  Very nice merino wool.

Front -- 1/4 zip
Rear -- 3 jersey pockets
The lettering is raised -- thick, cushy, feels like it will last.

Onekan Coffee Run

I took a short ride today, with 3 members of the ASIJ (American School) community, Todor, Jonathan and Scott.  It was the coldest morning of this fall, only just above freezing at 650AM when I headed outside, and not much warmer at 9AM when we came out of the Starbucks at the far end of Onekan at the turn-around.  As Todor said at one point, it was a "MAMIL ride" with a nice coffee stop ... but nonetheless, riding on the Canyon Shark, with others, in brisk weather, attacking the rollers, Strava tells me that I was definitely going faster than usual on Onekan.

The Canyon Shark and my Q36.5 hybrid jersey/jacket and long bib shorts were perfect -- while riding I was neither hot nor cold.  I quickly hand washed my gear since tomorrow's forecast is pretty much identical.

I should do more of this kind of riding -- out early, push some (more) on the short climbs, back home by 10:30AM, a quick shower and I am not totally wiped out.  ... but tomorrow I will do a longer ride.

Sunday 8AM start from the Yanokuchi Lawson -- Kawasaki side of Tamagawaharabashi.

05 December 2014

Jerome tests out a new rig in Jogjakarta

Jerome's new job takes him to some interesting places.  But he always manages to find a way to get in some cycling, even if he does not bring a bicycle along.

Cycling in Jogjakarta ...

Wheels -- Nos. 00021 and 00022

I built up more wheels with dynamo hubs for a few friends this month.  Let there be light!

Wheel #00022.  For T-san, a long time Audax rider, he wanted a light, low profile rim.  Hiroshi Koyama of C Speed recommended the Ambrosio Excellight, instead of Mavic Open Pro.  The rim looks very nice (eyelets) and builds up fine, and is quite light weight (430g).   I prefer wider rims for Audax, but for T-san or other Japanese riders and Japanese roads this should be fine.  I have been happy with the Ambrosio Evolution rim I built up and then gave to Jerome in 2011.   I used DT Swiss Revolution 2.0/1.5 spokes, which I have had good experience with on many front wheels.  T-san asked for a PV-8 -- a bit higher output at low speeds than the SV-8, and maybe better if you will be using a USB charger, though a slight trade off in terms of drag.

Ready to build
Wheel #00021.  For H-san, a member of our Fleche team, my instructions were to minimize cost -- for him this is an experiment and he is not sure whether he will actually take to it or not.  So he chose an inexpensive TNI rim, and I used some reasonably priced Hoshi 1.8mm spokes.  The higher rim should be more aerodynamic, but also somewhat stiffer.

30 November 2014

Kobu Tunnel

I headed out this morning for a 3/4 day ride.  I decided to head up the Akigawa, either to Tomin no Mori or over Kobu Tunnel.  I wanted to get in a decent ride, with some work on strength -- powering up a few hills with low cadence and/or one leg drills -- but did not want to return so exhausted I would be unable to function this evening ... often the case.

In the end, I went up the Akigawa, through Kobu Tunnel, then back to Uenohara and back via the North side of Lake Tsukui, then Onekansen Doro.  141.6 kms, around 1250 meters climbing.  Just what I needed.
The weather was cool, even cold and damp along the Akigawa -- 10 degrees C and 96 percent humidity (?) according to one sign just past the Tokura 7-11.  

I tried to go along the lower Akigawa ... but the path was blocked off due to potential slides.
On the road to Itsukaichi, I passed 5-6 Japanese cyclists, 3 in a group and singles.  We all stopped and so chatted a bit at the Tokura 7-11.  They were heading for Tomin no Mori, except one older rider who said he would do Kobu/Ura-Wada.  On a solo ride it was nice to have some fellowship.  I pushed off ahead and did not see them again.
At a second stop -- the Circle K on Route 412 just before heading toward the North shore of Tsukui, I was eating lunch when 3 young women -- presumably college students -- pulled up for a rest stop.  One was clearly the leader, telling the others what to do and giving pointers.  We chatted and I showed off the Canyon Shark.
The XL Canyon Shark towers over the XS women's bikes.
(The photo was a bit rushed due to a car trying to park against the back of my legs.)
They had come over Otarumi and were heading back toward town down 412/413.  
I told them I was heading over the North side of Tsukui to avoid traffic and do the extra short climbs, and headed out. Lake Tsukui was very tranquil, a cyclist strolling on the bridge.  I almost hopped off to enjoy the view.  But instead went on until I got up the hill to the forest road.  There were nice fall colors still visible from the North side.
After I rejoined Route 413 to the west of Tsukui, I saw the 3 students from the Circle K in a line ahead.  They had made good time by taking the direct route.  I passed them just after the road dips and zig zags toward a short climb that ends with the start of a long straightaway to Route 16.  Jerome usually zips ahead of me on this little climb, ... but I wanted to put on a good show, so after exchanging greetings, I hammered up the hill, making the traffic light I usually miss at 川尻 and leaving them somewhere down the hill.
When I got home and uploaded my ride, I was disappointed to find that this little hill is not at a Strava "segment" ... so I created one.  My little power-climb today put me 9th out of 585 riders, and at 1 min 10 seconds, was 28 seconds faster than I have done this climb before.  Yippee.

Then a quick trip back in via Onekan and the Tamagawa, and a hot bath.
Fall foliage under dark skies between Kobu Tunnel and Uenohara:
The road is the road.
Torii, fields, and hills between Kobu Tunnel and Wada.
 Bike Leaning at bamboo bridge

29 November 2014

Elliptical Treadmill

This blog leads people in unexpected directions.

When I was in Berlin last winter I went along to the 103rd Berlin Six Day Race. Having no idea what to expect, I called on MOB for advice. He introduced me to a German writer I had never heard of - a journalist called Egon Erwin Kisch, who wrote a piece called Elliptische Tretmuehle about the 1923 Berlin Six Day Race. 

So I had a night at the races (I blagged a press pass). But I could not find an English version of the Kisch article, although it was clear that he was a celebrated writer and this is a celebrated piece - it was mentioned in the programme for the 2014 race. In fact it is well known enough to still be in print in German.

At the heart of matters
I really liked the man, the history, the city, and the article. And the evening at the Six Day Race was fun too - as you might expect with beer and sausages and some pretty dramatic, if not melodramatic, track racing going on. The article is only short - I think 1300 words in German, 1800 or so in English. I have now translated it into English - I was amazed that there is no full English version. After some negotiation with the copyright holder and a bit of learning about self publishing, it is now available on Amazon for Kindle. I have to pay the copyright holder so I cannot make it available for free unfortunately.

Anyway, it is available here: 

I used this image for the cover
I wrote an article too for Rouleur magazine about Berlin in the 1920s, Kisch, the Six Day Race now, and then. It should be in edition 51.

Thanks to MOB for the inspiration and Juliane on some German difficulties. Definitely a Positivo co-production.
It is entertainment masquerading as sport, but fun to go