02 January 2009

First 2009 Positivo Espresso Team Training Draws Huge Crowd


Tokyo/Japan [Jan 2nd, 2009]
from our Japan correspondent David Graham [who rarely writes]


Approximately
127.77 million spectators, equal to the total population of Japan minus four wives of attending Positivo Espresso team members, lined the streets today between the Tamagawa and Moto-Hakone to watch the first team training of the Positivo Espresso Team in 2009. Although time and route of the first training has been a well kept secret, after rumours have spread on the news, police and volunteers struggled to keep the masses under control.

The crowds virtually went crazy. Some adults in cars tried to break through the corridor of policemen so that they could be close to their idols.

A bunch of twenty something students in short trousers with strange sashes kept running all the way from Kawasaki to Moto Hakone behind the team. A guy from Toyo University came closest, but missed the team by 8 minutes on the top.


In order to avoid to be recog
nized by the crowds, the team members took precautions and did not wear today the new
cycling jerseys, sponsored by Mars Petcare, HABA Toys and Wegmans Baggels.

The training was under direction of the new team coach Car Chrismichael, brother-in-law of
Chris Carmichael who was contracted on January 1st to coach the four elite riders who attended the training today and all other 128.76 million members who are supposed to join the team in 2009.

"Lance Armstrong might climb up the mountain above Kaloko, wherever that is, in the rain and post photos on twitter .... but who can confirm that he really rode up there? We want to make sure to be seen by a huge crowd of people.", Chrismichael stated at the start of the day.

Today's ride included an 80 km more or less flat stretch between Kawasaki and Odawara.


"I want to teach these guys some new skills, such as stopping at red lights. OK, this is a situation rarely encountered at races, but one needs to get a feeling for seeing a red light, processing this information and pulling the brake lever against all logic."

Because of this new approach, the previous record [set by David Jacob in Okutama July 2008] of 28 policemen and volunteers watching in awe while he blissfully rode through the only red traffic light ever installed in Okutama, was never in danger. David managed a poor "2" on the open ignored policemen magnitude scale and Ludwig was at least almost hit by a flag wearing volunteer.

The training also focused on "riding together as a team", however the approach failed after 40 km, when each team member choose the road it would like to go best.

Despite the ethusiastics crowds, there were also some critical voices heard on the sidelines: "These guys should really make more training rides," Iijima Koi (36, housewife from Shibuya) said, "I don't want to ride in crowded trains and stand in line for hours just to see these guys for four seconds." And Kudo Ryosuke (98, unemployed) added: "With all Pachinko Parlours closed and only stupid quiz programs on TV, to come here is the only thing one can do on January 2nd anyway."

The second part of the training consisted of a 14 km long 745m elevation meter climb from Hakone to Moto Hakone. As everybody stared at the team members, it was hard for them to give up or take a break and they were forced to climb up in one go. This resulted in a new Hakone Toge Baka record. Also it showed that guys in their forties are impossible to be outsprinted up a hill by guys in their twenties [provided that the former are on 500.000 JPY plus bikes and the later run].

A police motorcycle escorted the leading rider through the goal area to ensure his safety at the last kilometer. Nevertheless he missed the goal at a left turn and continued straight as he had much power left and didn't wanted to stop. All riders made it to the top where they attended a soba banquet conducted in their honor at Hakone pass.

When the banquet reached its high point, they sneaked out of the door and continued their training on route 20, nominated not only as "Most beautiful cycling road in Japan" but recently the decision to ride on route 20 was voted as "The mother of all best decisions" by an independent panel of decision makers.

They were shadowed until the town of Atami where it seems that they a) bought beer and b) hopped on a bullet train in direction Tokyo where c) later four empty beer cans where found in the garbage container at the rear of car #5.


10 comments:

James said...

Super report Kraehe-san. Entertaining as always. I have added a few pics, the route and a slideshow. I can add photos to the slideshow as and when I get them..

Manfred von Holstein said...

Indeed excellent report from this unknown correspondent.

The team's photographer has added a few more pictures to the report.

Incidentally, I find it interesting that the runners seem to hardly slow down on section 5, despite the 864m height difference they have to overcome. I'm sure they use the strongest runners for this stretch, but still... It takes them as much time from Odawara to the finish as it takes us to just the peak. We still have some training to do...

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/箱根駅伝の記録一覧#5.E5.8C.BA

David L. said...

... I added a few more pictures, including some of the actual runners on the hill (when Waseda was leading and Yamanashi Gakuen in second -- upper-middle of the hill), and some of our stronger team members. I need more help with formatting appropriately.

mob said...

I worked a little bit on the layout, thanks for all the good contributions. Unfortunately James Flickr slideshow got lost .. can you add it one more time?

Manfred von Holstein said...

Unfortunately the only complete team photo got lost as well - I have justed added it back.

I quite liked the Lance Armstrong pictures to remind everybody in what league we are riding. Might get lost otherwise...

James said...

I removed some of the photos from the text, but added them to the slideshow, which is back - plus a link to see it all in bigger technicolour glory. I hope that is OK?

mob said...

Thanks James, the post looks great. It will be hard to do something better this year, in terms of blogging as well as in terms of riding.

By the way, why don't we set up a team flickr account, where we can upload all photos and show them on the blog as well as have acces to them for other purposes?

Tom has set up an account on Picassa but I am not sure if he wants to share the access with us as he has other photos there as well.

Manfred von Holstein said...

The final version of the blog looks really great. So does the slide show.

James, any chance I could get the photos as original files?

Did a great ride today into territory unknown to all Positivo Espressos. The route doesn't even exist on a map. And no, it is not Route 76 (which does exist on most maps). 2,100 meters climbing - I need some rest before I blog.

TOM said...

Thanks James for the slideshow! Really enjoyed the pics and now have regrets I did not join you guys. As usual, priceless funny write-up by Michael!

The Positivo Espresso slideshow featured at the right top of this page is public and can be accessed by anyone by clicking on it. It seems like this Picassa/Google combination can only handle 50 pics though which is why older pics do not appear unless the order is changed.

Yes, it might be a better idea to have an independent team flickr account as Michael suggested so that any member can freely post the pictures there first.

James said...

I'll set-up a Positivo Flickr account and pass along the details.

MvH.. I will upload all photos to the Positivo account and you can download from there.