22 February 2010

Saturride Full Story

Mishima and Atami are two adjacent stops on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. By Shinkansen train, it takes precisely 8 minutes to travel. It took Ludwig and me almost 10 hours on Saturday.Shinkansen lines are almost straight, direct lines, connecting points with each others. Moreover, they rarely cover higher elevations, so a lot of tunneling and bridging works are required to built these railways. As we didn't dare to run with our bikes on the Shinkansen tracks, the second best option to ride from Mishima to Atami is to take natinal road number 1 which leads through Hakone and includes a nasty and congested climb and a ridiculously steep downhill from Atami Toge. Yes, 32 km of joyless riding over some big hills. Conclusion: The best way to get from A to B is not necessarily the shortest straight line. Ludwig and me wanting to avoid the mountains, chose the road which circumferences the mountain ridge at Hakone. Unfortunately the ridge continues until the tip of Izu peninsular so our trip on Saturday looked like this:I admit that we cheated in the very South and took a shortcut over Jaishi Toge which turned out to be the highest pass of the day at 370 m elevation.

This time we found the way out of Mishima rather fast and arrived at the West coast road in time when suddenly I felt my leg hurting and my bicycle moving somehow strange.
A short inspection revealed, that I have broken another spoke on my Zonda rear wheel, the one next to the one which has been exchanged last month. Luckily Ludwig had a spoke wrench tool with him so we could somehow true the wheel and continue to Atami.The West coast was beautiful as always with blue skies but too dizzy to see mount Fuji in the back. Although the road runs along the coast, there are a lot of ups and downs and it is not easy to keep a good pace. So when we arrived at Matsuzaki, we opted to take the Jaishi road, which was also more pleasant to ride than the rather busy main road along the coast.In Shimoda we met David (another one, not one of the Davids mentioned recently on this blog) and took a look at his sailing boat which he is currently outfitting for the trip from Shimoda to Sydney. He told me before about his plans so I expected a huge boast, two masts at least, perhaps 20 meters long, cannons sticking out from every possible opening, the Jolly Rodger hoisted at the top... but no, this was a rather small boat, which looks to be suitable to cross the Tamagawa for example. But again, I am no expert in sailing.We approved the port but not the boast and then continued to have a quick lunch at the Lawson in front of Shimoda station. Is it OK under Japanese regulations to sit in front of convenience stores in urban locations and check mails on the Blackberry?Now we had a nice tailwind when we rode North along the East coast. But there was also a lot of traffic which was due to the fact that many visitors came to see the blooming plum trees in Izu. Or perhaps the blooming cherry trees. Ludwig and me saw a lot of blooms along the way, but he being an economist and me being an engineer, we couldn't decide whether they were plums of cherries. Or both.For the first time this year I had the feeling that spring is now knocking on the door. Spring, the season where you suddenly fall in love with the girl selling Tofu at the local supermarket and you start to plan ridiculous long cycling tours for the summer.

Traffic became now really terrible. And drivers in Izu are bad. Or perhaps they are from Tokyo and want to return as fast as possible and they are ready with there nerves.
And some of them don't brake for cyclists. This might be, because they drive Toyotas and they don't brake for anything because they cannot brake at all.

I started to think about what would have happened if the recent quality issues with Toyota would have happened with Shimano group sets and which countermeasures could be enacted:

"Dear Shimano Dura Ace 7800 group set customer. We are sorry to inform you that under certain circumstances the following situation might happen: You are riding on your bike and you want to brake, however instead of braking you feel the urge to pedal full speed ahead as fast as you can go. Even if you brake you cannot come to a stop any longer. If this has happened, please bring your bike to an authorized Shimano dealer who will upgrade your bike so that in case you pedal full speed and you pull both brake levers as hard as you can, the crank will disengage from the front cog and you will come to an immediate, sudden and perhaps painful stop."

Now, we took another longer road to avoid the traffic shortly before Ito city (the pointless ride tradition )and I could convince Ludwig that we must complete our original goal and reach Atami in daylight. Which we actually did. Just milli-seconds before the last photon of the day was shot in direction Atami station from the sun, we managed to arrive and take a wonderful evidence photo.

All in all, it was for both of us a trip that involved more than 200 km distance and more than 2.300 meters elevation. I still wonder if we wouldn't have been faster going over Hakone.

Additional impressions added by Ludwig:

Izu is clearly a lot warmer than the mountains to the west of Tokyo. No trace of snow anywhere, and while we never made it above 340m or so, I think even the highest passes of the peninsula (close to 1,000m) would have been completely free of snow and ice. Worth remembering for future excursions in winter.

As with Miura Hanto, national roads on Izu are pretty horrible. Those on the west side of the island are about as busy as on Miura. The road from Shimoda via Ito to Atami is still a lot worse. It was basically one long traffic jam of 80km, complete with aggressive and reckless driving tourist buses (coaches). The views, especially in the south, are really great, but the traffic is rather too dangerous to do this again.

The kendo stretch on the west side is much more pleasant to ride though not free of traffic either. A few rather long climbs which add to the grand total we did on the day.

This is also where I met a friendly Japanese rider who turned out to be a half pro: racing among the top riders in the top class of Jitsugyodan, the top amateur cycling league in Japan. Also one of the top riders in last year's Fuji Hill Climb. We rode together for maybe 10km until I decided to let him go and wait for MOB. I was pleased I was able to match his pace up the hills, even getting him (and of course also me) breathless. It was probably the first time I chatted while riding at a heart rate of over 170...

My ride was somewhat marred by problems with my dérailleur - gears were slipping frequently. No matter how I adjusted the tension, the problem would not go away. And unlike before, the dérailleur did not seem to be bend.

The next day I cleaned the bike and found that the dérailleur hanger was somewhat lose. But then I found that fixing it didn't really solve the problem... I took the bike to Nagai-san's and had it checked out. It took us a while to figure out that the cable had almost completely disintegrated inside the gear shifter and this was causing the problem. It was good I insisted on this before proceeding to having the cassette and dérailleur exchanged against a new set which I had order the other day.

I'm now riding with a SRAM Red OG-1090 11-28 cassette, which necessitated replacing the 7800 dérailleur against a 7900 one, because of the difference in capacity. 7800 gear shifter, 7900 derailleur, 7800 chain and SRAM Red cassette are working well together. The SRAM cassette is noisier than Shimano's, because it is made out of one block and hollow inside. In some way that's slightly irritating, in another it helps to hear immediately when a gear is not shifting properly. I'll be curious to see what difference the 28 vs 27 will make in the mountains, and the 11 vs 12 on fast runs downhill or with the wind.


TOM said...

Had a good laugh when you wrote that Spring is the season when we plan those ridiculous long rides for the Summer! The falling in love part is very true too.  Kinume 絹目 is my favorite(without soy sauce for me - I love them straight).

Wow...those marinas and seascapes are just gorgeous! Too bad, the traffic is rather heavy.

Ludwig, how does Izu compare to Miura-hanto traffic-wise?

Manfred von Holstein said...

Have added my comments to the post. Ludwig

Manfred von Holstein said...

Extended my comment to cover my dérailleur problem.

TOM said...

Thank you Ludwig for the feedback. These things are good to keep in mind when planning a next Izu ride.

As to your new 11-28 SRAM cassette, I recently purchased the same, not SRAM but Shimano Ultegra. I like the comfort of the wide range so much, I ordered a second cassette.

In case of Ultegra, no need to change anything though, I can fit the cassette on my 105 Ridley, my Ultegra Anchor or my Dura Ace 7800 Vlaams...

Manfred von Holstein said...

The derailleur upgrade has nothing to do with SRAM vs Shimano. I would have had to do the same with a Shimano Dura Ace or Ultegra 11-28 cassette.

Your 105 derailleur has a larger capacity than a 7800 Dura Ace derailleur, so you are fine there. Your Dura Ace set up works fine because you are not using a compact crank on that bike. The combination of compact crank and 11-28 cassette results in a capacity requirement of 33, which the new Dura Ace derailleur just matches, while the old one falls 6 teeth short of it. It may still work somehow, but even with the old setup I did feel the lack of tension in the lower gears (technically, I was already above capacity), so I did not want to stretch things further.

So why did I choose SRAM Red? Because I fell for the logic of having it made out of one piece and with sliding teeth, and also because it is supposedly even lighter than the new Dura Ace cassette. The latter turns out to be lie - the cassette is quite a bit heavier than SRAM claims.

TOM said...

Thanks Ludwig....naruhodo!! Yeah, me too, I like the idea of having the cassette in one block. So much easier to swap too, I guess. I believe the new Campa 11 cassettes come as one piece as well if I'm not mistaken. Wish Shimano would do the same. Fascinating your observation about the difference in noisiness!

James said...

I have a solid block cassette and standard Shimano and I have to say that I actually like the ability to build my own cassettes up for the days riding.

Especailly when you know the terrain you are riding in. The purchase of 2 dirrent cassettes suct as the a 25-11 and a 27-12 can give you a huge array of customizable options that can be swapped out and changed totally depending on your abilities and terrain.

I have a Litespeed solid block on my SRAM wheels, very short ratio for riding TT's and on flat course and its great, very stiff and seems to give more power. But if I'm to get the benifits from this I'd need to spend 30,000 plus each time I need a new cassette for specific terrain and its a cost I can't really justify.

Manfred von Holstein said...

The SRAM cassette is in one block for 8 out of 10 rings. The smallest two are still loose. So far I have never seen a need to swap cassettes. But who knows when I might change my view...

James said...

If you only have one set of wheels then I agree a one block system is perfect for your needs. Especailly if it covers ratio's that you use alot.