05 July 2010

"This one goes to eleven" (and 28)

As part of my preparation for the upcoming Etape on 18th July I fitted an 11x28 cassette on my wonderful new Dura-Ace 7850 wheels. I discovered that on long climbs having the ability to shift into a 28 really helps - especially in the "disadvantaged" state I was in for Sunday's training ride. To paraphrase the immortal words of Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnell, "this one goes to 28".

Firstly, a lesson in how not to prepare for a day of climbing in summer heat: champagne, white wine from the Loire region, red Bordeaux, Sauternes, vintage port and then 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Whereas I thought upon waking up that I had miraculously dodged a bullet, reality (and a feeling of approaching death) set in on the 7:30 train to Otsuki. I was indeed in a disadvantaged state. Riding away from Otsuki station James K soon pulled ahead. Soon a problem with my front derailleur forced me to stop to have a look. The little devil sitting on my shoulder was suggesting it was damaged beyond repair and the only solution was to retreat to the station but the angel on the other shoulder reminded me of Rule 5 (harden the **** up) and take what was coming to me. The gentle ascent to the beginning of Sasago Toge was the most difficult time I have ever spent on a bike. The heat and humidity were killing me. Once in the shade and quiet of the climb itself the world began to reset back to normal. I am not yet fully used to the noise from the rear hub of the new wheels so on the descent I kept thinking there was another bike right behind me.

We descended down to the Fruit Line and rode across to the climb up Yanagisawa Toge, attacking from the Enzan side (16km). This is a long a steady climb and is ideal for our Etape preparations. Apart from having to stop to switch off the cadence monitor in my Garmin (which was going haywire) and some cramp in my toes it was an uneventful climb. At the top it started raining - this was not to be the only rain of the day. The rain falling on the hot roads made for a descent through steaming rods - very dramatic. Towards the bottom we turned right down the now infamous route 18 - y'know, the road with the "rollers" such as Tsuru Toge and the Kobu Tunnel approach. OK, you say, those are further down route 18 and we would not encounter them on this day. True, but within a short distance we found ourselves on a 16% slope which eases off to a mere 14%. This was sharp 250m climb. It was indeed a short-cut through to Matsuhime, but in future, beware when James suggests a "short-cut" or "just a few rollers". Having said that, his underestimations are not always bad. For example a quick pint after work can sometimes turn into something rather more....

The climb up Matsuhime was refreshingly cooler and then beyond refreshing when the heavens opened and it rained very hard and glasses steamed up etc. Steamed up glasses did not make too much difference on the first part of the descent as visibility was very poor anyway as we were in a cloud. We kept up a brisk pace back to Otsuki station and made the train just in time.

120km and 2700m of climbing. According to my Garmin I hit a new record top speed of 914.3km/h. I'm not sure if that is when I was going uphill or downhill. If you heard a sonic boom yesterday that must have been me.


Jimmy Shinagawa said...

I've been riding my new BMC frame recently.. it is equipped with all the old bits from my Trek which includes a triple crank 53-39-30.. rear cassette is 11-28 from SRAM.

I have been finding that the 39x28 is pretty good for the climbs.. the ratio seems to suit my 'natural' cadence (60s) on most of the slopes.. the steeper stuff becomes a bit of a grind, but has been manageable.

I did all of the ride yesterday in the 'middle' ring, apart from the odd descent.. I persuade myself it is good training.. however I have every intention of availing myself of ALL ratios available come the Tourmalet in 2 weeks time (just as I did on Odarumi last week!).

Dave seems to have a higher natural climbing cadence (70s) and we have been well matched 34x28 vs 39x28 so far on our rides.

Apart from his propensity to turn up in the mornings reeking of booze, he has been an excellent training partner.

Looking forward to the Etape.

James said...


In that case it wasn't your glasses fogging up but the vapor cloud created by the sonic boom.


mob said...

This one goes even to twenty.


Manfred von Holstein said...

So much for BBiT...

11 really makes a difference when you are on a compact crank, going down fast hills on straight roads. Back in Germany, I missed it dearly and will replace the 12-cog ring on my old Dura Ace cassette with a 11-cog ring.

Going from 27 to 28 is far less noticeable - as mathematics would also predict. Maybe it was good to have 28 when I went up the 22% slope out of Osaka the other day. But even that wasn't really good enough. Maybe it makes a bit of a difference on my heavier cyclocross, especially on rougher terrain.

But it is really going to 11 that matters... He really got that one right.