26 June 2008

Open edifice of raw, steaming talent that is David Hasselhoff

As we all know, David Hasselhoff, aka Knight Rider is not only a very talented actor and singer, but also an avid bike rider. No I am making that up. But I can find no other excuse to include these brilliant Amazon customer reviews about his "best-of" album. Every word that David H. sings [yet another brillant David by the way, how many are still out there we don't know yet about?] is true. Yes "Je t'aime means I love you". This is true, I can vouch for this. And "Hot Shot City" is particulary good in case you don't noticed yet.

I want to leave the office now and buy it. Or I do zero wedding with no loan.
So many choices. Anyway, god save the turks.

23 June 2008

Swiss Military Bike

An interesting article from Spiegel Online [in German] about the Swiss military bicycle. 22,5 kg of high precision built without major design modifications in more than 68.000 numbers between
1904 and 1988. The Ordonanzrad 05.

20 June 2008

le grimpeur

Really good blog.. le grimpeur lots of good reading.


In a triumph of optimism over satellite weather forecasting technology... does anyone fancy a ride Saturday morning. Say 8.30 at FutakoTamagawa bridge... Ride out to a family restaurant in the vicinity of Mt. Takao??

17 June 2008

Miyakejima [Ladies & Gentlemen, please wear your gas mask]

When you arrive at your destination at 5 AM after a sleepless night on the vinyl covered board of the second class E deck, including a nice hangover, your first impression of the new shores has a tendency to be rather negative. In case of Miyakejima, add a level 3 gas alarm, the penetrating smell of sulphur in the air and a completely deserted port with dilapidated house left and right. This feels like the morning after the night of the living dead.

Is this the Japan of "Uebergestern"? Did we see already what the country is facing, in thirty years from now whe
n the population becomes less and less and older and older so that whole areas will be deserted and bare of human beings?
The Positivo Espresso Team checking in at the lobby of the Miyakejima hotel.

The arrival at our hotel room did little to dilute our first impression. This hotel has seen better days and there was little attention to the details. The rooms smelled of mould and the alternative would have been to open the windows - and let the sulphur gas in. But hey, after some hours of sleep, the distribution of gas masks and a trip to the beach everything looks different. The beach was full of black pebbles (resent research has calculated the number of pebbles as 8,601,767,493 in the top 10 cm layer). The water was just warm enough (for Brits and Germans) and we re-enacted a famous scene from a James Bond movie. Just wonderful.
And our impression of Miyakejima started to soften. The day then continued with the first race of the weekend, a 3.6 km 150 m elevation difference "hill climb". After successfully conquering Fuji, Wada Toge and Jerome's hill this year, that seemed to be a piece of cake. I met Stephen at the start who stayed and slept at the hotel. David and Juliane didn't make it back in time to the start (David because I told him a wrong starting time and Juliane wasn't interested too much) so we were the only Positivo members to attend.

The start was by class and race number and in 15 second intervals, so I was the first starter in the D class field and Stephen the last one.
Miyakejima is somehow hilly. There are no big heights to conquer but there is constant up and down. The hill climb started with a flat piece of road, wonderful to accelerate and I almost made up the distance to the last starter of the C class field. I was soooo fast. Hey, that's how hill climbing is supposed to be, I said to myself. Unfortunately I got immediately very much slower once the slope started. I never saw the C class rider again. The next 1.6 km consisted of a 8 - 10% slope which brought me almost to my knees. I was never in danger of giving up, but my speed dropped to 10 - 15 km/hr. There was a flat part after that where I could accelerate and the remaining portion was 4 - 6% thereafter, so I could go faster. But I had no orientation where I was in relation to the goal, so I could not make an all-out attack towards the goal line on the last meters as the goal was behind a curve. One more D class rider overtook me.

At the goal I waited for Stephen to arrive and also Juliane and david just made it back from the beach to watch the last groups of riders coming up. In the end I made a respectable
77th place out of 110 riders in the overall standing and an excellent 8th place in the D class. There was even an Irish rider finishing behind me. Later I checked my CICLO data, I had an average speed of more than 20 km/hr, was running at constantly more than 300 Watt and rode up at 14 m/min. This is pretty good, compared to Fuji HC ad other tours, even faster than Jerome hill which is a similar ride.

Anyway, as usual, I could have done better but overall I wasn't too unhappy. Sometimes I feel like Mario Basler (aka as Mr. 85%), a German soccer player who constantly said over the full 15 years of his entire professional career and after virtually every game: "I am still only at 85% of my potential performance."
On top of the hill a group of unfriendly policemen, fully equipped with ceremonial riot sticks ("Gewabo" = Gewalt [German for brute force] + Bo [Stick]) rounded the unruly pack of riders and forced them to descent in one big group. Being the uncooperative foreigners, Juliane managed to have a mechanical on which grounds we successfully managed to escape.
Enjoying mechanical problems

It took four adults considerable time and effort to fix a front wheel flat. This time we had a) a pump b) spare cartridges c) offered prayers to the various deities of the roadside. But we manged to rip off a valve from the first exchange tube. And luckily d) we had another exchange tube.

We skipped all of the official entertainment program, although "Le girl" Enka singing and "360 degree monkeys" comedy shows are not only events which should definitely be missed but also to be listed in the appropriate annex of the Geneva convention. Instead we opted for the local Onsen which was still empty of riders, followed by a very tasty dinner at hotel mildew. David was excited all day long whether it would be possible to get some dishes of fish and rice and believe it or not, that was exactly what was being served.

While Juliane and David fought with giant anacondas and mothers in cars full of dogs in their sleep respectively, Stephen and me went to the local bar where the local misfits gathered and were being served by a girl having the approximate body shape of sponge bob plus half visible tattoos at various locations.

After a good night of sleep, all Positivo members went to the race track where we checked out the course and made some training laps. The track has not too many flat parts. There is an ascent after the start, followed by a long and more or less straight descent followed by a crazy ascent to the start line again, all in all 2.5 km long. We were pretty impressed that such course is possible, having expected something more nicely flat. So while we were previously discussing our race strategies, for example when to break away from the field, we were now quietly considering our options how to get out without loosing face. One proposal was to raise hands in victory one lap before the actual finish, getting congratulated by Juliane and quickly leaving the place before the real winners arrive.
Anyway, we didn't had to think too long, because before too long an announcement was made and the race was cancelled. Too much poison gas was coming from the volcano and we were kindly asked to wear our gas masks during training. Sad. Despite what we have thought previously we were all very disappointed not being able to race.

But the Positivo Espresso team is always good for new ideas. So we started immediately to compensate for the loss of cycling time by making one tour around the island. Actually this is a lot of nasty up and down and as we were going very fast, we were pretty exhausted when we arrived at the black pebble beach again. In total it took us 1:14 hr to make one full circle around the island, which is about 32 km.

After that we had another splash in the local Onsen, packed our bags and left for the port. I have to say I was quite moved by the departure ceremony as we threw long paper ribbons from the ship towards the pier which tangled up in a big colorful mess. Suddenly everybody seemed so friendly and warm-hearted. Even the policemen waved us good bye.
So when we arrived back in Tokyo after spending the whole ship journey on the upperdeck (meaning, no bulkheads in our way and no deckheads above our heads) looking at the seascape on star, after, port and foreboard, our opinion of Miyakejima has significantly changed.

When we arrived in the first place we were excepting a group of zombies trying to stop our bus or at least giant mutant mango turtles hunting after us. When we departed we all had respect for the island and its inhabitants facing the fate that has been dictated by natural forces. It's not an easy life down there, but nevertheless we encountered many friendly and helpful people. This memories will stay, while those of zombies, anacondas, mildew and cars full of dogs will vanish like the smell of sulphur is earased by the inshore winds of the sea.
david pointing in the direction of starport or so.
Julianes legs after sulphuric mutation.My shoes in the appropriate place.Checking for survivors.
David after his right leg has accidentially been exposed to sulphur gas.

NFCC Article on the website of the French Chamber of Trade and Commerce in Japan

For those of us who are able to understand French, an article about the NFCC team has been released on the website of the French Chamber, including a photo from the recent photo session at the Peugeot dealership in Meguro.

Mais aussi...

NFCC, l’équipe de cyclisme franco-japonaise
Team NFCC - Peugeot - Calyon

Le club NFCC joue la carte des relations franco-japonaises. Force est de constater que les équipiers enchaînent les places sur le podium. La structure se professionalise. Vous trouverez ci-dessous la carte d’identité de cette équipe soutenue par Peugeot Citroën Japon et Calyon Japan

Calyon Japan et Peugeot Citroën Japon suivent le projet avec intérêt :

Patrice Couvegnes
Senior Country Officer and General Manager

« En l’année du 150e anniversaire des relations Franco-japonaises, la filiale du Groupe Crédit Agricole au Japon CALYON a décidé de sponsoriser la jeune équipe franco-japonaise de cyclistes et de triathlètes du NFCC Peugeot-Calyon. Un certain nombre de collaborateurs Français et Japonais du groupe ont d’ailleurs participé ensemble à différents événements sportifs cette année et les résultats sont très déjà encourageants. En plus des médailles et podiums déjà remportés par l’équipe, il s’est crée une dynamique très positive autour de ce projet. »

Philippe-Jean Lafond,
Directeur Marketing de

« Notre partenariat est dû au fait que la marque et les vélos Peugeot sont très connus au Japon. Il nous a donc semble naturel de soutenir une équipe cycliste franco-japonaise dont le projet coincide avec le 150e anniversaire des relations entre la France et le Japon. »

Le club est divisé en plusieurs sections :
- Section Cyclistes Elite qui participe à la JBCF (All Japan Businessman Cycling Federation)
- Section Cyclistes Hill Climb et autres courses
- Section Triathlon

Les 3 meilleurs résultats engrangés par les équipiers :
Mai 2008 :
- Course de montée de Aizu, Fukushima - Victoire en catégorie C
- Course d’attente du Tour of Japan - Victoire et troisième place en catégorie B

Plusieurs places dans les 10 premiers ont été récoltées par dans l’ensemble des trois sections depuis le mois de février.

La répartition de l’effectif est de 65% de Francais - Francophone, 30% de Japonais et 5% d’autre nationalité.

[Note: "65% of the team members are French, 30% are Japanese and 5% are from other nationalities. I would like to point out however, that the town where I was born has been frequently occupied by French troops during the recent 1.000 years or so]

Présentation de 3 membres :

- Coureur JBCF Elite :
Kenichi Akitsu, Japonais, 33 ans, postier A couru en Italie pendant 2 ans et en France pendant 4 ans au niveau national et régional.

- Coureur Cycliste « Hill Climb » :
Goro Akiyama, Japonais, 31 ans, salarié Il est le premier Japonais à avoir rejoint l’équipe en Janvier 2007 et ses talents de grimpeur ont permis à l’équipe de décrocher trois podium depuis le début de la saison.

- Coureur Triathlon : Eric Hermand, Français, 32 ans, instituteur Il est un des triathlètes disposant d’un potentiel de performance important. Actuellement, il prépare la course d’élite Ironman d’Allemagne qui se déroule en juillet.

Projet de l’équipe pour 2009

En 2009, une équipe élite de 8 - 10 coureurs va être mise en place avec l’arrivée de nouveaux coureurs francophones notamment un québécois déjà champion du Canada sur piste - 4 kms poursuite par équipe en 2002 et 2e au championnat du Canada sur route en classe Master, et de nouveaux coureurs Japonais, avec pour but de participer à toutes les manches de cuircuit japonais, de participer à deux courses UCI notamment le Tour de Kumano en mai 2009 et de présenter un coureur japonais au Championnat national du Japon sur route en 2009. Les autres sections de club représenteront le club dans l’ensemble des épreuves cycliste et triathlon au Japon.

SITE INTERNET : http://www.teamnfcc-peugeot-calyon.com Contact : Stephan FOREST, stef.forest@gmail.com

Spot the difference [from Daily Miyake Post]

Out of the above four photos only two are screen shots from James Bond movies. The other two are from cheap German/French agent flicks from the zeroes. Can you spot the difference?

Positivo Espresso Volcanic Island Tours Presents... Hachijojima (no gas-mask required)

The next in the growing tradition of Positivo Espresso summer island tours is planned for the weekend of 5th, 6th July.

Plan A: Overnight ferry from Tokyo at 10:30pm on Friday 4th July; arriving 9:30am (offering remarkable views of the many Landmark Towers along the Japanese coast); return Sunday or Monday 5:25pm on NH830 arriving Haneda at 6:10pm; Ferry costs about 7,000 yen, flight about 10,000 yen (bike transportation needs to be considered...)
Inbetween... free camping (with own typhoon shelter) and sleep, eat, drink, ride your bike (not too much sleeping 'tho!) - and we can add a little swimming, hiking, stretching etc.
I'm happy to make bookings if anyone wants to come - let me know soon.

16 June 2008


“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennedy

“I thought of that while riding my bike.”
Albert Einstein, on the theory of relativity

“At that age, it’s one of the worse things in the world to wake up and not see your bike where you left it.”
Hip-hop star 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, on the theft of his childhood bike

“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”
Iris Murdoch, ‘The Red and the Green’

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
H.G. Wells

“If you brake, you don’t win.”
Former racer Mario Cipollini

“I relax by taking my bicycle apart and putting it back together again.”
Michelle Pfeiffer

“Marriage is a wonderful invention; but then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.”
Billy Connolly

lots more

Be careful out there

driven to crime

13 June 2008

Talking of "family service" and "family obligations"....

....at least this CERVELO guy seems to have found the perfect solution:


12 June 2008

Coming Soon -- Miyakejima Results and Stories

[Insert here -- Michael Kraehe's humorous posting about this weekend's JCRC race on Miyakejima. Let's hope he takes a camera and gets some photos of the volcano.]

... for those (like me) who could not make it to Miyakejima, I was thinking of a ride on Saturday morning ... back by 2PM or so with enough energy left to interact with family.

11 June 2008

No more heroes

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 10, 2008:

Former world champion and Tom Boonen has tested positive for cocaine, Belgian judicial authorities confirmed on Tuesday. The Paris-Roubaix winner returned the positive in an out-of-competition control carried out by the ministry of the Flemish Community, on May 26, three days before the start of the Tour of Belgium.

"A suspension is foreseen when controls took place during competition, but it's not the case in this affair," said Sonck.

And the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed that Boonen would not be facing any sanctions under their rules.

"The UCI will not be requesting that a disciplinary procedure be opened," a UCI spokesman told AFP. "We have not been informed of this result but if the information is confirmed as it is an out-of-competition control UCI rules like those of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) do not have any sanctions for cocaine."

According to reports, Boonen, a contender for the top sprinter's green jersey in the 2008 Tour de France, is currently in the process of negotiating a transfer to French team Bouygues Telecom.


"out-of-competition control" so it doesn't count.. that's ok then.

TOM's comment: ....I'm very sad and extremely disappointed in my national hero. Removed the official website from my favorite cycling links.....

another viewpoint from trust but verify..

"If Boonen's OOC test were being done under UCI and WADA prototols, and the finding is not of a type that can produce any disciplinary action, why have we heard about it at all? Who blew the confidentiality of this non-actionable result, before any B sample test could have been requested or performed?

Another car in the train wreck."

08 June 2008

JCRC Narita Automobile University Race

After preparing myself yesterday with David and James on a hard 137 km ride with 1.000m plus of climbing plus attending the start of the soccer European Championship festival at the German school afterwards, I rode out to Narita in the early morning to attend another JCRC race. My personal goal was to achieve a top 30 finish. With 31 registered starters plus the odd guys not coming despite registration that seemed to be a somewhat feasible target. The roads were empty and luckily it didn't started to rain so I was there well before the start of the race and I used all the time I had to practice on the track. The race schedule for my (D) class was 12 laps on this 1 km course. The course itself was flat with the exception of one tiny hill, however a lot of tricky curves to maneuver, so it wasn't boring at all.

The usual strong teams were there: Cicli Hide, Ravanello, Maid School, Yukirin ... you name it. I sported my Positivo Espresso jersey plus the NFCC bib shorts to show my heart (above) and my duty (below).
Nagai-San was so kind to repair my Gravity Zero wheels the evening before, so I could take full advantage of advanced cycling technology to compensate for the state-of-the-art body of myself. I watched some of the other races, like kids and women and over50 and slowly got excited. Then I went away from the venue to do some more training on a normal road in order to get warmed-up. Chiba can be so ugly I thought, then I looked at my watch - only 10 minutes to the start! So I made a fast u-turn and arrived just in time for the start of the C and D start races. As usual I was very nervous and I wished I would suddenly become blind, break my leg or get pregnant in the 9. month so that I had a good reason to abandon the race. Of course nothing happened but only the start signal. As usual the race was fast. There were also some idiots from the bicycle club of Yokohama Kokuritsu Daigaku who constantly cutted the lines and subsequently crashed in lap10 to my full satisfaction. I was able to keep the pace of the main field. My strategy was as usual to be very careful in the curves so I lost always some places during the curvy part of the track. But then I sprinted up the small hill and added to the pace when going down again so I found myself back in the front group. That strategy worked out well for the first 6 laps, then I got tired and I thought that I would skip the hill sprint once. Also for some strange reason the organizers hat the D class started first and then 30 seconds later the stronger C class. In lap 6 they caught up and it got a little bit messy. So I lost the overview and I found myself trailing with some other D and C class guys in a second group behind the main group. Now the track was not as crowded as before and I felt better. I kept almost the same lap time for all 12 laps (except the first of course), the fastest one being 1:37 (lap 3) and the slowest one being 1:42 (lap 10). Two laps before the finish I was in a group with 7 D-class and about 5 C-Class riders. I sprinted up the hill in lap 11 to get into a good position and finally I was in the front of the group. I didn't want to do all the drafting work but I had no choice. In the last lap the C-class riders started the sprint at the hill and I had no power to keep up with them. But I controlled almost all D-class riders, only one guy was sprinting ahead. I tried to stay in his wheel but I couldn't in the end. Result : 15th out of 22 riders reaching the finish with an average of 38.6 km/hr (acc. to my ciclo and 35.7 km/hr according to JCRC). Managed to stay 2nd in the second group of 7 riders. I lost about 48 seconds on the winner, so the speed was definitely picking up in the second half of the race. Would I have reached a better result if I hadn't rode out to Wada yesterday? Perhaps, I was feeling tired especially on the climbs. But cycling is not only about racing and not only about touring for me and I wouldn't like to miss the fun part with David and James.

Anyway, this was a much nicer race than expected. I woke up at 6 AM and was home at 12.30, not too much time and effort lost indeed. Will go there next year again with my kids perhaps.

When I tried to dismount the Gravity Zero wheels from my frame, the lever on the tensioners got sheared off. Ups, I had to admit that I also turned it into the wrong direction ... Anyway, again a problem with these wheels. I guess I am going to mount some standard Champagnolo tensioners instead.
In the end I am pretty happy with the results of this weekend. I went to the local expat-supermarket next to my house and bought my a lot of good food as reward. Miyakejima can come.

07 June 2008

Wada Quickie

Today something incredible happened. David, James and I agreed on a riding plan and guess what, apart from the fact that I was too late and had to catch up to the guys at Sekidobashi, we rode exactly as we had outlined it the day before. We never do that. Normally we have big plans, which tend to be too big, such as: "OK let's try to go to Ensan and then we cross over to the Araikawa." And then we end up going up and down the Tamagawa. But today we had a perfect match. I didn't want to overdo it today as I plan to attend the JCRC race in Narita tomorrow, but we went quite a brisk speed to the Takao 7/11 and then further on to the Wada start point. There we went for the first TT of the day, the Wada climb. This is a very hard and steep climb and we were all pretty much exhausted when we reached the top. The start is a little bit flatter (that means 6%+, but then it is 11% average, alternating in the 9 to 15% range. Sometimes my speed dropped down to 6 - 7 km/hr and I could only go up by riding in circles. And once you are on the top, there is only the teahouse witch waiting for you, trying to blame you for not buying something .... so it is really not a pleasant climb. But we wanted better times for our togebaka records and all of us did. One could see the effect of the Fuji hill climb last week. After that we went down the long slopes on the other side, returned to route 20 and started the next TT, the reverse Otarumi time trial. After Wada, everything is flat and a thing such as a slope ceases to exist. So all of us again were very fast up the Otarumi (see Togebaka) and David please note that I voluntarily added 10 seconds to my time in order to compensate for the wrong finish timing. Today we had a lot of longer breaks, but once on the bike we went very fast, also despite headwinds on the Tamagawa. I was back home by 14:30 and even before that we had the traditional coffee break at the Futago Tamagawa Segafredo (since 2008). It was a good and fast ride and I think it is a good idea not to strive for longer and more demanding rides every weekend, but also do some shorter ones. Not that this one was easy although. Thanks to David and James who kept pushing me through at the right points. Please feel free to add some photos. [Photos added by David L.] The sign at the bottom of the Wada Touge hill climb TT -- "only" 3.7 km of pain ahead. James and Michael share a joke at the bottom of the Wada Touge TT, next to the famous Jimba Soba noodle factory, "Under [the] Mountain Shop." Also be sure to visit James' blog (Jimmy from Shinagawa -- link on right hand of page in "important people" -- for another photo.

06 June 2008

Saturday June 7th Ride

Weather looks excellent on Saturday (27-19 degress, 0% rain) and David as well as me would be available for a short/mid range trip. which lasts until perhaps 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

How about the following:

7:30 David House
8.20 Sekido Bashi (if Tom comes)
Tamagawa -> Asagawa -> Takao -> Wada -> back to route 20 -> reverse Otarumi -> and back

Should be app. 120 - 130 km from Davids house maximum, we could be back by 2 easily.
And add some more results for our "togebaka" chart.

I hope Juliane is OK after going up like Pantani, then making the Australian Track Salto and finally resorting to a pure Millar.

I have JCRC race on Sunday as well, so I don't want to go out for too long and a too exhausting ride. Wada is just fine. Soccer EM is also due to start tomorrow.

04 June 2008

A weekend out there

I am not sure but some of you might actually be aware of the rumor, that there is a very large mountain in Japan called mount Fuji. Sometimes friends from abroad come on tourist missions to visit me and then they always want to visit two things, mount Fuji and the emperors palace. I find it ironic that you never ever see mount Fuji anyway, as it is almost always shrugged in clouds (if really there) and that you have no access to the emperor palace so you cannot see it either. What one sees is usually rain and mist in the first place and a huge field of gravel in the second. And these are supposed to be the two major tourist attractions of Japan.

It is the mystical mountain which always leads to announcements in airplanes such us "Here is your captain speaking. On the right side you can now enjoy a wonderful view of Mount Fuji in the sunset." Unfortunately I always tend to sit on the left side, sometimes in the middle and I never had the chance to actually see this wonderful mount Fuji. I also refrain from jumping off my side and trying to get to the windows on the right. If everybody would do so, the airplane would surely get out of control and crash into Mount Fuji. If really existing.

So I was not surprised that when we rode the magical mystery bus organized by James and Walter from Azabu in direction of the Fuji, the air was full of rain and mist. Another ploy to feign the existence of the said mountain. We were supposed to attend a Fuji Hill Climb race the next day as TEAM BGC, a fictitious name of a fictitious company taken from a novel by Nick Leeson. This is of course for all of us except david, who belongs to TEAM HSBGC. According to the organizer this mountain should have been higher than Jerome's hill in Itsukaichi and the race harder than the ascent on Byoinzaka.

But first we registered in the rain and then drove back to our luxury accommodation at the Fuji Q . highlands. With us was the creme de la creme of the Western pro rider elite [only derivative
time trials and M&A ultra endurance although]. In order to stay anonymous, James had the very clever idea to register us under completely made-up larger-than-life characters. I, for example, was supposed to be a guy called Andy Veale, aka "Chop", married to Siti Selamat, a Singaporean Lady played by Juliane. I am sure pretty sure that such crazy characters do not exist in real life, but then again, we are taking about finance here and who knows. David J played a crazy character called "David J", and James Knott a funny guy called "James Knott", whereas Walter played another ridiculous role as the infamous "Walter".

We had a nice dinner at the famous Italian restaurant ANGELO MIO [or was it ANJERO MIO?] at the Fuji Q hotel, the dished obviously selected by competitive teams in order to make us heavy and complacent. After a few beers David and me retired to our room, which was slightly more spacious than the R&B Hotel in Hachioji where I got lost in the smoking saloon of my apartment some weeks before. Yes, as we have been racing together for quite a while, David and me are now confident enough to share a room, although he immediately moved one half of the double bed 15 cm away from the other half. It would be anyway hard for anyone to seduce a man who is sleeping with his Blackberry in his hands.

David woke up early as he needed to take the shuttle bus to the start. Bin, Juliane, david and me decided to ride on the bikes from the hotel the next morning. We had no idea where the race would be but everything was perfectly organized and we easily found the way to the start. It was still cold and misty when we left the hotel, but the sky was clearing up. This was no surprise, as we constantly have pointed out the improving weather conditions on the day before during the bus ride:

"It looks less cloudy in the direction we are going!"
"It seems that the rain is getting less."
"Tomorrow the weather should be perfect"

We have developed an eye for such things and we are now experts in finding also the closest family restaurant in case our eyeswere wrong. Of course it helped also that the weather forecast on TV said basically the same thing. Not only less rain, but also 11 degrees C increased maximum temperature the next day. This is what I call local warming.

Anyway, so we took one of the last curves before the start area and then we could see mount Fuji. Yes, it really existed. I forgot to take my camera with me, but I am able to draw a pretty precise picture out of memory with the help of advanced CAD software [MS Paint]:
You have to understand that it is a very big mountain indeed and I was standing right in front of it. After we realized what we were up to, a 24 km distance 1.200 meter upwards struggle against this thing we realized that this got serious. James very precisely summarized it when he noted that it was always nice to brag in the office about it, but now it was really getting serious. But on the other hand, now that I am back safe in the office, I can again brag about it.

Ok, here is my race strategy :
It consists of two mayor elements:

1. Don't let yourself be pushed by the other riders: they are younger, they are lighter and they have more time to train. And there are about 4.000 of them.

2. But whatever happens, finish in front of David.

Juliane was a little bit earlier to start at 7:03, but all of us others started between 7:20 and 7:30. David, david, James, Bryon and me were all in the same age group. We couldn't find Tom at the start. I warned David not to overtake the pace making motorbike at the start and gain an unfair competitive advantage, but there was no such cycle anyway. After riding up at a leisurely speed for 1.3 km, the race started close to the Subaru Line tool booth.

I accelerated a little bit at the start. I wanted to go up at 18 km/hr in average in order to cut the 1:30hr time line, but very soon I realized that this would be a little bit too ambitious. James, David and Bryon overtook me early in the race and as usual I felt super-bad during the first 5km. I was ready to give up. Really, I was almost throwing up. But on the other hand I know that every race this is the same feeling. Not only every race, but every time I am stepping out of the house and do the first km on my bike or starting to climb in the mountains: it is just no fun. And it goes away. Always. So after reaching the 5 km mark I felt better, but my time didn't look too good. But I overtook David again and also the first riders from the earlier start groups.

In this kind of races it is important to have a nice and steady wheel in the front which goes up at about the same pace. It is difficult to find though. Riders steering wild from the left to the right costing a lot of energy and if the frontman is too slow one is loosing time. If he is too fast it leaves one exhausted. I found a nice wheel (something blue in a Skoda jersey) and I continued to ride with this guy for the next 5 kms or so, before I moved away. When I reached the 10 km mark I
was already at almost 42 minutes, so no way that I would make it below 1:30hr.But I started to feel ok and I still had power to accelerate on the flatter slopes a little bit. The ascent is really very gradual, but the feeling was that 2/3 of the ascent were over after the first 15 km or so, after that it became less steep.

In the meanwhile the better riders of the later starting groups started to overtook me. When I arrived at the 19 km mark I had no power left to indulge in useless speeding to get a good result for the mountain prize. I overtook James and gave a little push so that he could make it to the finish line as he was running low on ammunition.

But after that the envisaged flat part came and I could start to go really fast. Nobody overtook me there. But this might also been because all the fast riders had finished the race already. I wanted to keep a high pace, but the last stretch was too long to do so and I fell back in my usual rythm. Also I could feel the impact of the high altitude.

I was feeling a little bit funny in the head. So I didn't want to stretch it. The good thing about high altitude is, that everything is emotionally emphasised over there. I laugh more, I cry more. When watching movies in airplanes I normally start to cry, even when watching say "Ghostbusters" or "Alien III". And also on the top of Kazahari everything is funny whatever Juliane, David, david, jerome or Tom are saying. I guess that must be the reason why pro athletes are training in these altitude chambers: It is that much more fun.

Also I felt funny because David gave me that NY Times article about this Slowenian ultra endurance athlete : "That which does not kill me makes me stranger". The gist of this article is that this guy gets nuts when riding very, very long. He is seeing for example Mujahedeen, shooting at him so he goes even faster. So I was ready too to see the Mujahedeen coming up any time from behind.

Overall as a team we had some very good results. Juliane, ahem sorry Siti, would have reached 4th place if she had been registered in the proper age group. Bin was close to the athletes class result and the rest of us stayed mainly in the 1:30 to 1:40 hr bracket. This is not bad, as for many of us it was the first time. I for myself was satisfied. It was the first time to climb mount Fuji, including any try to do this without a bike, and I never climbed 1.200 meters elevation in one stretch without a break. Normally I can do 10 m/min climbing for longer stretches, but here I did an average of 13 m/min. I am not in climber, the mass I have to move up a mountain is more than 100 kg - obviously mainly because of my very heavy Cervelo bike which is made out of solid granite. And it was a good training for the more serious JCRC races to come in the near future. And my cadence is now very much higher than last year - this is good for training and races.

I did some more analysis on my Ciclo and using the data provided by Runnet, I will post that on the weekend.

We were quite exhausted and after a rest on the top where we met David Marx, we joined one of the groups going down. As usual David was the fastest guy down and he was awarded the reverse Polka dot jersey.

We were all very exhausted, so some of us decided to take a leisurely ride home from Yamanakako by Doshi Michi. James, david, David and Juliane, sorry Siti, joined the trip while the rest was sleeping on the bus home according to rumours I have heard.

We were immediately penalized by congested roads and a longer climb up to the Yamanakako. And of course in this formation, there is no leisurely riding, only pure competition and fight to death for the pole position. So we made a stop at a nice restaurant on the shores of lake Yamanakako, unfortunately not at the British Cafe there. Then there was a last climb up before we had the long descent basically down to the Tamagawa with only one more climb.

The weather was good and our five rider team worked brilliantly together. We overtook some Jelly bean riders and before we could make another stop we were back at the banks of the familiar river of Tamagawa. Then, after more than 90 km of constant riding, we took a last break at the Segafredo at Futagotamagawa station. All of us looked very tired, it is a pity that no photo exists of us then. david looked exactly liked he has looked at the Lawson in Omachi on the Itoigawa fast run. I don't know how I looked like but I remember how I felt.

So we split and rode the last km home after a remarkable weekend. We were all proud of ourselves and have a new story to tell to our grandsons one day. But these stories will be told another time as I have to stop blogging. Siti is calling from the kitchen for dinner.


[Analysis to follow]

stiff bikes...

"What makes it unique is that it's overdesigned on stiffness. A
normal human being could not ride this bicycle. You would immediately fall off
and feel like riding on a concrete block, for example. It's so stiff that it
doesn't behave like a normal bicycle, and obviously the strange element is
this bicycle doesn't have a brake, doesn't have a gear, it's a single speed,
no lights or whatever, but still it is the most difficult bike to ride,
because obviously you're riding at the speed of over 70 km per hour without
brakes, so it is very special."

mob: There is another video on Spiegel Online, unfortunately in German


02 June 2008

team bgc

And the ride home:

View Larger Map

5th Mt.Fuji Hillclimb...

Excerpt from Tom's blog:

...with about one-fourth of the race left, I passed a familiar-looking yellow Assos outfit...sure enough, there was Juliane! So late in the race, there were only few female competitors that had already reached this point so I tried to cheer Juliane up ...."you're the very first lady!" Afterwards I did pass 3 or 4 more but I pretty sure Juliane captured herself a podium place....

Juliane, did you get the medal??