22 June 2009

Peeing in the rain with the Tenno Heika

Two parties on Saturday and Sunday night and no riding on Sunday forced me to leave the house today despite cloudy, threatening skies.

I took the train to Hachioji and rode up to the Takao station.

Where I didn't took a break at the 7-eleven. By the way I am so glad that David clarified which restaurant one has to visit at Okutamako finally. Many times I rode by with empty stomach and no power left but as I didn't know which restaurant the Positivo Espresso approved one is, I mumbled "shikata ga nai" to myself and kept on pushing to the Western most convenience store at the entrance to Okutama village.

I guess what we need is some kind of stickers, which we could take with us on rides, paste here and there and which clearly state:

POSITIVO ESPRESSO APPROVED SUPPLY DUMP
ポシティーボエスプレソ確認店


Of course we would need to do also marking for roads and passes. To climb Kazahari by Ura-Kazahari with 15% plus inclination is OK, also Ura-ura Kazahari Rindo and Ura-ura-ura Kazahari boro boro Michi is OK, but the main road is not.
So who is going to take the lead ?

Anyway. The weather was miserable, always a light drizzle in the air. And so many policemen on the road, was there another traffic safety week I have missed?

I took the road to Jimba Kogen from Takao and was going up the second slope which leads just right through the huge Hachioji cemetery when I noticed that my climbing performance was not good - so what to do? As I didn't took a rest at the 7-eleven, I thought that draining some ballast water from my bodily vessel would help and I was looking for a suitable place along the road to do this quickly.

About 2/3 of the slope up I found a nice looking innocent bush and no people around so I stopped and was just ready to unzip when out of the said bush a young Japanese guy appeared and asked me to ride on. To be more precise he said:

"Our majesty the emperor will pass by in a few minutes and I would like to ask you to kindly walk with your bike on the sidewalk until he has passed."

I guess I was mighty lucky that the emperor, probably returning from his morning ride up Wada Toge, hasn't seen me with my bib shorts dropped in full exposure. And as I am a law-abiding subject of his majesty, I decided to push my bike along.

For a few meters.
Until I was out of sight.

As I wanted to give the emperor and his buddies a good show I climbed up the next slope at full speed in standing. Every 50 meters there were some undercover policemen with small earphones, I was starting to feel like being transferred into THE MATRIX - Agent Smiths, or perhaps better Agent Suzuki everywhere.

So here they came, first some motorcycles, then some black Toyota limousines with the characteristic doilies everywhere on the seats and on the windows.
Wow, my first encounter with the emperor since many years - and definitely the first time on my bike. I just felt sorry that I couldn't show off our new Positivo Espresso 2009 jerseys.

After this very motivating event and now free again to cross one or the other red light I moved ahead in direction Wada and started the long climb. I wanted to take it easy, but this is a contradiction in itself, Wada is never easy. And I still don't have the strength to climb fast for extended periods.

The road was wet and slippery and my new 105 rear derailleur was not well adjusted so I tried to move up steadily and without putting too much power suddenly on the rear wheel. At the steeper parts I was back into single digit speed; but in the end I made it up in less than 23 minutes despite my best efforts to go as slow as possible. I am still puzzled why it took michael 33 minutes to ride up (best time) - if I would go that slow I would probably fall off the bike due to it's instability.

I then went down the road very slowly, in the meantime it had started to rain a little bit more and I was trying the Positivo Espresso approved strategy in case of sudden rainfalls: ignorance.
After arriving at road #20 I continued along road 76 as I wanted to climb up to Hinazaru. But the rain was getting harder and harder and I had to give up and rode back to route 20.

But I wasn't completely wet yet and the traffic on route 20 was relatively light so I rode to Sagami and continued then with a reverse Otarumi approach. I wanted to see how bad I am.

Now, actually I was feeling good, just like Lance Armstrong after his battle with cancer, which he so skillfully described in his book "It's not about the bike" (an affront of a title like no else, because if the performance is not there it is ALWAYS the fault of the bike). So I started to think about this book and about one story in particular:
So when he has had his cancer surgeries and it was going better, he started to train again on the bike, riding out with his friends. His friends were constantly telling him how great he was doing and how quickly he came back into shape. Then one day, while the group was riding out and started to climb at a small hill, Armstrong was overtaken by an old lady on her shopping bike who happened to take the same road and he realized that cancer has hit him much harder than he ever thought and that the return to pro sport would take much longer than he has realized so far.

I like this particular story very much, it is one of the few things I remember from this book which is otherwise uninteresting for normal human beings. I like this story because it has a small flaw: "Who would believe that Lance Armstrong actually has friends?"

I mean, think about it, well he probably has, yes, but isn't that the same "probably has", as in "Adolf Hitler probably had a barber." or "Josef Stalin may have had a priest." or "The mathematic teacher of Mao Zedong"?

It took me some time to understand, but now I think that his so-called friends dressed up a female pro-rider in old lady clothing on a shopping bike and made the whole situation up.

Anyway, as I continued to feel like Lance Armstrong on the slopes of Otarumi, I had a very nice tailwind that pushed me forward and I was up in 18:19 minutes which is respectable.
The fast descent on the other side brought me in no time through the rain to Takao station where I was finally so wet that I decided to give up riding for today.

Only 60 kilometers, but hey, I have met the emperor on my bike.

2 comments:

Manfred von Holstein said...

The approved stickers are a nice idea, but maybe even more importantly, shouldn't we start handing out prizes for the best blog entries? This one certainly deserves one!

David L. said...

Nice brush with royalty!

You know you've been living in Japan too long when ... you think nothing of stopping in a suburban area and relieving yourself in the bushes. ... then again understandable for an endurance athlete, and it sounds like you were still much more discreet than the Diet member who decided to urinate outside on the Diet grounds when I was living in Tokyo in the early 1990s. He seemed surprised that anyone would find anything wrong with it.

Welcome back!