30 November 2010

Peter Pan

"New Wimbledon Theatre is thrilled to announce the biggest pantomime cast to date to celebrate the theatre's 100th birthday. 
Global mega-star David Hasselhoff will be playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan alongside star of Pineapple Studios Louie Spence who plays the cabin boy, Roger.

David Hasselhoff, best known for the iconic roles of Michael Knight in Knight Rider and Mitch Buchanan in the most watched TV show in history, Baywatch will be making his pantomime debut in the swashbuckling family show Peter Pan."

Buy Tickets

I hope our European members are able to get tickets for this sure to be sold out performance.

29 November 2010

Winter Ride

I was leaving the house at noon after spending the morning checking the complete flickr photo account of Tom for pictures of fur coats. To my excuse I have to say that there is very little else one can do in Bremen in November when temperatures had dropped down to zero degrees.

Nevertheless I prepared myself for a short winter ride. The words "preparation" and "short ride" and their relation to each other change completely over the seasons. In summer the duration of a preparation is about 15 minutes and consists of putting on socks, heartbeat monitor, bib shorts, jersey shoes, gloves and helmet (in that order. I try to avoid looking into a mirror when having only socks and heart beat monitor on) then running back to the house to collect the water bottle, running back again because one has left the camera, then cursing and climbing back up the stairs to look for the map, thus filling the required 15 minutes interval. This is then followed by rides of eight hours plus, as long as the sun is visible in the sky and in Germany during the summer than can be a damn long time. There is much more enjoyable riding time compared to less enjoyable preparation time.

In winter, on the other hand, the preparation time is endless. It starts with the pounding about the right choice of attire. Lately I have been reading something about how PE members laughed about overdressed, sweaty winter riders they encountered on their trips and that left me now as a nervous, neurotic wreck shortly before every ride. Am I overdressed? Will somebody laugh at me?  Shall I sell my yellow Assos Fugu Jacket? As if there were not enough issues already, I have always cold feet. So I started to use two layers of shoe covers. One neopren type just over the Shimano MTB shoes and another wind stopper like material on top. The neopren type shoe cover was cheap and I bought it at Rose, the favorite shop of Ludwig and myself. I shouldn't really complain about them and it is certainly not in my interest to vituperate about Rose. But today I needed close to 40 minutes of preparation time and a large chunk out of that time was consumed by trying to close the zipper on the backside of the shoecovers. As this can only be done when the shoe covers are on, my neighbors saw me winding on the road in all kind of poses, commonly known from 12 year old Romanian girls engaging in rhythm sport gymnastics.
After I have finally managed to zip up both shoe covers I was seriously considering to keep them on until the next ride. Sleep with them, shower with them, walk around in holy academia .... everything is better than to put them on one more time.

And after endless 40 minutes of preparation, how long did I ride? 3 and a half hours. This relationship is sadly distorted. Coming home, I needed time to shower, redress, eat, drink some coffee, again valuable time spend. 5 hours bike related activities, not much riding thereof.
I choose a longer standard route today, along the river Wuemme (the Tamagawa equivalent) as usual but then further on to Lessum. There weren't much bicycles on the road but quite a few people have opted to take a walk. I hit a cobblestone section of the road that was lying in the shadow of some trees and immediately the ride got wobbly and I almost fell down on the slippery surface. From then onwards I rode very carefully, checking the surface for spots of black ice and keeping speeds down. Now all the leaves are gone and it is more fun to ride on the bike paths as they are cleared of all obstacles. I rode on to Ritterhude, one of the few places that provides something like "hills" and I climbed about 50 meter elevation difference as a preparation of the Transalp. The further on to Osterholz-Scharmbek where I took the obigatory SOS landscape photo, and further on the Worpswede on the standard loop. My average speed was down to 25 km/hr and I am not exactly sure why. Sure, there was some headwind but overall it was just difficult despite keeping the heartrate in the 145 - 155 bracket. 

The road from Worpswede to Quelkorn was just boring as usual, I really don't know why I am riding there. Fischerhude to Borgfeld in contrast is quite nice but I was quickly running out of steam. I had no food with me and when I tried to drink from the water bottle I noticed that the nozzle was frozen solid.  My Ciclo device showned now minus degrees and my feets and my hands were iceblocks. Just four days ago I visited in a university excursion I huge German fish monger called "Deutsche See" and we were shown arround the cold storage facilities, minus 24 degrees.... that was really cold. But today on the bike didn't felt much better. My thoughts were running around.....a tune popped up in my head, first "Walk Hard" by Dewey Cox and I could imagine this conversation from the trailer going on between my body and my mind:

"So maybe you don't believe in me after all?"
"I do believe in you, I just know you're gonna fail!" 

Gazelle, leaning against a gate. Variation of an old theme.

Then I was again on the river Wuemme and after crossing the railroad line and after making a turn a Riensberg graveyard I was back at the house. 82 km only, time outside the house almost equal riding time. Too cold to make a break. By the way, to opt for the lighter Assos air jacket 851 with some uniqlo heatec trikot below was perfect. I need another pair of shoe covers, some overgloves and an hour more time for preparation though.

28 November 2010

Wanted -- Bicycle Patent Counsel?

Editorial Comment

I am a bit worried that I need to prepare in case I receive a letter threating legal action from a certain Colonel Manfred von Holstein, something about my Cervelo R3-SL infringing a patent of a great German bicycle manufacturer, Canyon.  Seriously, Dominic mentioned to me yesterday that Cervelo had lost some kind of lawsuit to Canyon recently ... so I had to look for it.
Can't we just get along?

Reading both the Canyon and Cervelo press releases (you can find them on their websites, or check HERE where both are printed one after the other), you would think these were two entirely different courts.  Canyon gets excited about the fact that the EPO -- that's the "European Patent Office", not the illegal performance enhancing substance -- found that its "patent was fully patentable".  Nice to hear, but does not mean anything.  But Cervelo points out that in fact the EPO ruled the relevant claim of Canyon invalid, and sent it back to the local court for Canyon to try to prove a narrower claim, and Cervelo mentions 4 frames that already used the narrower concept before Canyon filed for its patent ...

My quick assessment is that Canyon is using this for publicity purposes -- pushing out misleading "victory" statements when it has achieved no such thing -- and trying to stain the reputation of Cervelo.  It declared victory on November 18, before the EPO hearing was even held on November 24, a pre-emptive strike.  And I can see lots of articles have been removed from sites -- no doubt after Cervelo or its fans complained.  A low blow by Canyon.  By the time this is over, there will be lots of interim decisions, lots of mistaken releases and parroting news stories that "Cervelo frames found to infringe Canyon patent" (a Google search finds this one on Cyclingnews.com, now removed but available in a cached version on Google -- totally misleading headline, even though the story quotes from both parties' press releases). The actual court case will fade away without any final judgment that Cervelo did anything wrong, on a frame design that it will have long since stopped making.

Both companies are wrong about the one thing they agree on.  The Canyon CEO says:  "I would like to emphasise once again that this judgement will have no effect on private persons."  Cervelo:  "We agree with Canyon on one thing, which is that this case will have no effect on consumers."

In fact, if these companies spend their time and effort fighting over patents that one of them filed over minor tweaks in bicycle frame design, then they will not spend their time or money making better bicycles. The companies will be distracted.  The lawyers will make a little money off it.  Consumers (and riders -- those who got booted when Garmin and Cervelo teams merged) will pay the bill.

My vote -- let's take this EPO out of cycling. There is no Canyon frame in my future.

P.S. The EPO decision is not yet on their website, but should be within the next few weeks.

A Fast Trip Home in Your Future?

Who would want to get from Kofu to Sagamihara in 15 minutes?  Is Japan really in a fiscal position to pay trillions of yen for this convenience?  The few times I have been on a train from Kofu back toward Tokyo (Chuo-sen, via Hachioji toward Shinjuku), the passengers have been mostly groups of older people on excursions, couples with children going to/from a visit to relatives, and hikers and cyclists.  Three weeks ago when I hopped a train back from Kofu on the return from the races at Saiko, I secured my bike bag and took my seat, then a group of 5-6 Japanese touring cyclists boarded a few stops later, at Enzan, and looked enviously at my prime bike bag location.  They needed to walk through to the next car to find a place they could store their bags.

In any event, for any of us who happen to be still in Japan, and still cycling to Yamanashi, in 2020, the trip half way home may get a LOT faster.  These trains have already clocked 581 kph on the test track (even my Garmin 705 does not say I am going THAT fast on my Cervelo).  And after a further eight years of construction, by 2028, the service should go all the way to Tokyo!  Let's hope they manage to include enough space in the Maglev for bike bags!

27 November 2010

Yabitsu 2X

Some hurried emails Friday evening ended up with a suggested 7:20AM start at/near my house.  Dominic arrived a few minutes early, Rapha clad and riding the Cervelo he bought from Knotty.  Dominic explained, as per his email, that he could not ride out with us because of duty with his daughters, but he wanted to stretch his legs early and so went for a spin.  It was good to at least have a few minutes to talk ... actually more than a few, as I waited for Jerome, who missed his alarm and called to say he would be at my place in 20 minutes or so.

In any event, Jerome and I decided to go out Onekan, and the North Shore of Tsukuiko, then decide on a destination.   The weather was clear and brisk the leaves spectacular.  And this was a true "recreational ride", without a pre-determined destination and at a reasonable pace.
The brisk weather and foliage ("koyou") made for a spectacular day ... though that meant lots of people were out.
Looking South over Tsukui-ko toward Yabitsu, on the horizon.

We made the obligatory stop at Casa Pablo Escobar on the North shore of Tsukui.
The guard dog was indeed a bad dog -- neither seen nor heard.
One of the henchmen did make an appearance, and he looked a bit threatening when I snapped his photo.
(I wish I could remember to suck in my gut like that for photos.) 

Miyagase-ko, getting ready for the Christmas festival.
Hillside at Miyagaseko, with blue sky and puffy, wintry clouds.
Japanese cloning technology at work -- a sheep dog?  a dog-sheep?
Onto the road to Yabitsu.  Usually deserted, it was as crowded as I have ever seen it.
We took it easy, snapped photos, and still made it up to the pass in less than an hour.
The glowing Mavic jersey made me visible to drivers in the mirrors rounding corners on the narrow, twisting Rte 70. 
The red momiji were beautiful... did not think to stop for a picture until this one, not a great specimen.

During the usual quick descent on the South side, Jerome suggested we stop for food at a "donut shop" near the convenience store above 246 that marks the "official" start of the Yabitsu climb.  I smelled the donuts as I passed, then saw the flags, but could not see any shop.  Where was it?  Here:
There are two ladies making donuts inside the shed. 
Mostly the donuts get shipped out by truck on large trays ... not consumed on site.
The flags mark the spot.
We turned around at the Daily Yamazaki and implemented our plan to climb back over Yabitsu -- the first time I have done the South side climb.  It was not bad, some steep sections, and 600 meters elevation gain in 10 km.  On the way back, we swung a bit South of Tsukui-ko, and stopped for some food.  I should have passed on the donuts and eaten a real lunch earlier, but the donut "shop" was one of those amusing interludes about living in Japan. ...
The traffic was heavy, here and on every major road -- this line is heading toward Atsugi.
Busted!  A non-PE approved Family Mart.
We took Rte 513, then looped back over to the North shore of Tsukuiko, then via Hashimoto, the tank road and Onekan, and we were back home by 5:30, having ridden 175+ km and climbed about 2450 meters.  Very satisfying.  Now after turkey soup, turkey leftovers, and a hot bath, I should sleep very soundly.

Proven ways to improve performance levels

Lately, mainly because I am focused now on academic achievements rather than physical ones and perhaps because it isn't much much to ride a bike on wet roads, under grey clouds, threatening to pound merciless tons of icy water on barely prepared riders in minus temperature. And all of this in the flat lands of Bremen and its surrounding. I had to think of ways how to get back into better shape and survive the winter season.

Veteran riders know that there is one method commonly applied when performance levels are following the function curves of y (level) = 1/x(time). The nice thing about this method is, that you don't need to overdo yourself on the bike, something that is rather unpleasant as described above. It is very simple: Buy a new bike. And what can be more pleasant to buy a new bike in the country of Germany where it seems that every cellar and every attic is filled to the very top with vintage frames from Italy, France and England. I am not a big fan of petroleum-based frames, even my dear aluminium Cervelo is out of favor in the harsh environment of North Germany. However the Reynolds 531 tubing of my Gazelle is performing well. So I thought that I need something similar. Now here it is:
First ride, properly dressed up in Japanese construction worker pants.

A beautiful Peugeot racing bike from the seventies in grey, pimped up with some orange accents in the form of Schwalbe Ultremo tyres and new orange handle bar tape. Everything else is right from the original bike: Mafac brake levers, Huret derailleur, Suntour shifters, Maillard high flanged hubs ...... 

This is just perfect to cruise around in the old streets of Bremen, parking in front of the city hall dating back to the 16th century or paying a visit to a friend living in an rundown art deco villa from the early 20th century.

And it is also perfect for the challenges that area awaiting me in 2011, in particular for the Transalp. David and me are pretty much ready and excited to sign up in December 1st for the event. I need a good bike to bring me over the alps and I thought a triple crank set would just be what I need to speed up the 20% slopes in Austria and Italy.

Of course this bike is much to beautiful to be ridden. It will be stored in our garage under a black tarpaulin and I will dare to take a look from time to time. In the meantime the Gazelle has to bear the brunt of snow, ice and rain in Bremen.

Some more bike porn pictures from the seller, a vintage pro shop in Muenster. I exchanged the tires and the replaced flat bar with the original drop handle.

25 November 2010

Gents Race

How it should be done?

Congratulation James

via La Gazetta

20 November 2010

Sunday Barbeque at Yamanakako

A different stable of bikes leaning - steeds of David, Jerome, Marc Antoine and Camille

Jerome and I left my house at 7:10AM Sunday, stopped at Takao 8:35AM, then continued on to Rte 76, Doshi michi, and to Yamanakako. With James and Dominic looking for a shorter spin, Ludwig and Tom away on a 2-day cyclo cross trip across every mountain in the Japanese archipelago, TCC training along the Arakawa, MOB in Bremen watching the grey skies and early darkness, the Russian into running season and recovering from his evening out with Dominic, Nishibe-san in Kobe ... it was just the two of us, together again to relive the glory of Transalp 2009.

We made good time on the first leg. As usual, I started out strong and got weaker over the course of the day, while Jerome started weak and got stronger.  In the morning, he was grumbling about the after effects of nightly Beaujolais Nouveau parties, apparently a big marketing opportunity for French cheese importers, Japan being the destination for 50% of the world's Beaujolais Nouveau, whatever you may think of the actual wine.)

Things slowed down after I got a flat on Doshi and we stopped for a prolonged tube changing exercise, complete with valve extenders and rim tape adjustments.  Then we stopped again at the convenience store between the turn off for Tsuru (Rte 24) and the Doshi Michi-no-Eki.  As we snacked in the sun at the convenience store, Keren (sp) of TCC pulled up.  He was at the far point of his ride (from Takao) and planning to go over Rte 24 and loop back.  He started by "I saw (on the TCC site) that you were riding today, but did not expect to catch you since I was starting later ..."  This brought home the need for us to step up the pace a bit.

As usual, the Doshi traffic was a bit heavy, maybe worse than usual because of the spectacular blue sky and dramatic clouds, the leaves in all shades and colors, from bright red and yellow to greens and browns.  The sunlight and shifting clouds, plus passage of a week, made the scenery even more beautiful than last weekend.  Unfortunately, I left the good camera at home and needed to make due with the Blackberry mini-cam -- no foliage photos or panoramas.

On the outbound trip, traffic was worst at the Doshi Michi-no-Eki, where a line of cars waited in the highway to try to get into the parking lot, and some cars near the back of the line pulled out in the roadway in dangerous fashion.  Fortunately, there was also a line of 8-10 Japanese road cyclists -- younger fast types, that pulled out of the parking lot just as I passed, and quickly left me behind on the uphill.  But I felt strong-ish still, and made good time.  Jerome had been ahead out of convenience store parking lot and opened a gap, but stopped to take a cellphone call and "had no power".  I ended up waiting for him 5-10 minutes at the lake.  I passed a bunch of other cyclists, including 2 couples on road bikes and a number of solo riders.  Finally, I started to catch stragglers from the younger fast group.  One, then a second who had slowed -- I would not see them again.  Then 2 more, stopped at a vending machine for a drink.  The 2 at the vending machine eventually caught me again, one climbing quickly and steadily.  The second looked like a kid of not more than 20 years old.  As he finally caught me, I said in Japanese, "I weigh nearly 100 kilos.  How much do you weigh, 55?  60?"  The answer "53".  "If I can climb at this speed, you should be a LOT faster.  The top is just a little further.  Ganbatte!"  That did it, and he pushed ahead for the last 75 meters elevation gain.  When I got to the tunnel entrance, their group was all waiting there for the last stragglers, and they smiled and waved as I passed, no doubt having heard my challenge from their team member.  I accelerated up the last stretch, out of the saddle, just to give them a good show.

Then down the hill to the lakeshore, and the final 10 km around the lake to the cabin that Jerome's sister Benedicte and her husband Frank rent annually, sharing weekends with several other couples on a rotating basis.  We joined their regular family barbeque, and met their delightful children Marc Antoine and Camille.  This kind of mid-ride feast always seems to re-charge Jerome, whereas I spend the rest of the ride trying to digest the food (and sweat out the beer and wine) while riding.  By the time we left it was already well past 3PM and the sun was below the hills to the south, a wide shadow on this side of the lake.
Jerome watches the barbeque while carbo loading.
Frank runs the grill. He is a runner, who tried Fuji HC on bicycle this year and got second place in his class/age group.

We decide to forgo Mikuni Toge and just ride toward home -- back down Doshi, then past Tsukui-ko on the crowded South side, into town via Yaen-kaido and along the Tamagawa (lighted streets, not path, in the dusk/dark).  I figure that once I get over Yamabushi Toge and onto Doshi Michi, I can just cruise downward for the next hour or more and the meal will not bother me too much.

It worked reasonably well, and by the time we hit Yaen Kaido, after suffering through heavy traffic on Doshi and riding through an endless line of sitting cars near Tsukui-ko and beyond toward Machida, I was feeling strong again.  I pulled into my house a little past 7PM, 205 km for the day.

19 November 2010

16 November 2010

The Heat Is On

15 November 2010

Leaning against...

Didn't realize I have been into this "leaning against" act for so long until Dominic rekindled my fetish...here's right against the drug lord's arches. Next time, I will use the cacti as a support.

"It is an ill plan that cannot be changed" - Latin proverb

In true Positivo style, there was no plan other than to meet to plan at Starbucks at any time on Sunday morning so long as we were ready to roll at 7:30am. Shane, James and I left promptly at 7:43 without a plan but with a plan to plan the route along the way. There had been vague talk of Yamanaka, Saiko, Odawara, Yabitsu. As a precaution we had bike bags which, contrary to plan, were not used. The plan was finally hatched at the bridge near the 7-11 & Y's Road on the Tamagawa. In the interests of full disclosure, although we had stopped for several minutes while I fiddled with my cadence sensor, the plan was not actually finalised until we rode across the bridge very gently as the plan was coming together slowly. Up Route 20, passed Drug Dealer House (pictured at top), around Tsukui-ko and then turning off by Paddington Bear Land which is also known as Picnic Land, turning right at the house with the huge red chili on the roof and along this beautiful road to Route 20 again right by the road that leads to the backside of Wada.I had never ridden Wada Toge from this 'easier' side. It is certainly longer than the front side, beautiful, but steep nevertheless. The gradient is regularly at 10% and in several parts it kicks up to 12%. Not knowing the finishing elevation (my usual way for gauging climbs for planning my attacks) I asked a kindly elderly couple who had stopped to enjoy the wonderful views how much further to the top. "20 or 30 minutes" they said. Arrgghhh! That was disappointing news indeed, but thankfully was incorrect, A few minutes later we rounded a corner to see the top and the Witch House. I have never seen the witch so wasn't sure if the person inside with a broomstick, pointy hat and a wart on her nose was her, but judging by the number of people milling around but not actually sitting on the benches in front I suspect it was.From the top of Wada we made brisk progress to the river to return home. As we were joining the river we saw Tyler and some of his friends ride by. As we turned confidently to the right onto the river we wondered why they were riding in the other direction. Doubt soon crept in to our minds. Was the plan wrong? As I was looking at the sun to get my East-West bearings Shane pointed out that we were riding against the flow of the river and that could not be correct. Good Boy Scouts work that. While Shane and I were playing native American Indians and Boy Scouts, unbeknown to us, James devoured a chocolate bar* which must have had something in it. He put the hammer down and we had to work very hard just to hold his wheel for the next 20 minutes. The man was out of control, reminding me of the story Shane had told a couple of hours earlier about how his dog went flying around after the vet administered a rectal thermometer. It took the dog a week to calm down, but rather less time for James. We made very short work of the Asakawa and were soon at 7-11 on the Tamagawa for the final refueling.It is said that after a long ride one should take the last few kms gently as a warm down. It makes perfect sense. While stopped at a red light (yes) two little girls in the back seat of their parents car were waving and smiling. Why I decided to ride right behind the car at 45km/h while they continued to wave and giggle I have no idea.** And then closer to home, I decided for no good reason other than to hunt down James to sprint up Elvis Hill. That finished me for the day. I arrived home just as my family were returning from a weekend up in the mountains. Humphrey (the dog) was excited but no comparison to Shane's dog after the encounter with the vet I would think.
After a long drive back from the mountains my wife announced she wasn't cooking so I went shopping to buy ingredients. On the way back from the supermarket I stopped in the pub for a recovery pint of Guinness. I was after all, Guinless. Guinness has vitamin B and iron and used to given to patients recovering from operations in the UK. I'd rather have a Guinness than a vitamin B12 shot that pro cyclists have after a hard ride. Did you know that a pint of Guinness only contains 200 calories? That is less than orange juice or skimmed milk. In the pub I met a woman who had just had a blazing row with her husband and was having a few drinks to calm down. Back at home, inspired by Tom's blog of last week, I cooked the ultimate recovery dinner (bangers & mash) while listening to Thelonius Monk.
To help recover from long rides I recently purchased a pair of Skins compression tights (y'know, black with yellow stitching). I wore them last night in bed. I wonder if my wife realised she was sharing a bed with SpiderMan***?

150km and almost 1600m of climbing. I'm still hungry.

*Cadbury's Boost. Actually consumed at the bottom of Wada waiting for my compatriots to navigate beyond the bus stop. Highly recommended, provided enough oomph to overtake buses, and still get us back to the Tama at a decent clip. As my friends used their Boy Scout skills, I used mine and checked Google Maps on the iPhone.

**Neither did two bemused and thoroughly tired riders left behind. This was all rather odd. Our writer neglects to mention the yumminess of the yummy mummy driving perhaps. There can be no other reason?

***Such a black costume rather than the original red one would indicate that our intrepid writer has been taken over by a Symbiote as seen in Spiderman 3. This may explain the extra accelerative powers witnessed yesterday on Komazawa Dori. You have been warned.

Saiko - The Obligatory Photos, of Fuji, Fall Foliage and My Cervelo

Ludwig and I attended the JCRC final stage at Saiko, both staying Saturday night at a very nice bungalow I arranged through a colleague, adjacent to his second home, on a hillside above the village of Oishi ("Big Rock") on the less crowded, less developed North shore of Kawaguchi-ko.  Luxury accommodations, with a very tasty from the grill and filling dinner prepared on the charcoal grill, complete with ample wine (including from the local, Kawaguchi-ko, Oishi vineyards.  Motto:  "Oishi da kara Oishii").
James Machin (racing for Fuji Cyclingtime.com) was there with his family and pro/semi-pro teammates to claim the overall JCRC series championship/S class championship.  James finished in the bunch sprint, sustaining 44.51 kph over the 60 kilometers, but voiced some frustration at the tactics of Team Bridgestone Anchor, which joined by "special appearance" as an 8-person team, giving them the ability to control the race by working together as the other, mainly individual, entrants could not.  He ends the season as the JCRC overall and S-Class points champion.
Recovering from a cold, without any racing this year or preparation, forced into C class (30 km) due to early overbooking in D and E (20 km) groups, and joining with some much faster, stronger, better teammates, I was nervous about my prospects, to say the least.
We joined together for the early morning team time trial, with Kawaguchi-san, the TT champion of Fuji Cyclingtime.com subtituting for Yair, who could not attend due to injury (see the Tokyo Cycling Club bbs for details -- fortunately he is on the way to recovery, though it will take awhile).
In any event, I volunteered to "lead out" the TT team, and gave it my all for the first 1 or 1.5 kilometers, then pulled off and let James, Kawaguchi-san and Ludwig go ahead.  The cool morning air and brief tough effort had left me gasping for air, but I was happy to accomplish my 2 main goals for the event.  (1) a strong lead out -- at times going 45-50 kph (or more) on the straight away and gentle downslope, and (2) not crashing in front of James M. and bringing him down, ruining his hopes for a finish "in the points" that would assure/improve his position for the various championships.  James, Ludwig and Kawaguchi-san cruised to finish in 6th place -- just a warm-up -- as I trailed far behind and pulled off, mission already accomplished (sort of) after finishing only one of two laps.
In our main event of the day, the C-Class 30 km heat 2, Ludwig did quite well ... 6th in the heat ... a podium finish and an average speed of 41.96 kph.  Not bad for someone who swore off all racing a year ago after winning the D Class championship here a year ago.
I did less well, 43rd out of 60, but was happy nonetheless with how things played out.  The pace was blistering on the first lap -- often above 45 kph, it seemed.  I rode near the back of the pack, keeping a little distance for safety sake ... but lost the peleton at the "usual" place -- the 90 degree turn on a short uphill stretch 2 km from the finish/end of each 10 km lap, where the faster riders spring ahead and the rest of us struggle to accelerate and get over the crest.
Some others had dropped already earlier in the first lap, but I had no idea how many, and I found myself with two riders in my sights, and the main group fast disappearing up the road.  Panic set in and I tried to push back toward the group.  As I passed the two, I hollered "let's ride together" in Japanese.  One took the challenge and hopped on my wheel ... but he could not pull, or keep up, and I left him behind as I accelerated on the downslope early in the second lap.  The field was already a few hundred meters ahead.  
Next, I saw a rider in the green "Saitama Audax" 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris jersey riding about 75 meters ahead of me.  At last, a chance to get some benefit from my Brevet experience!  Any one who has ridden a few Brevets in Japan learns that this particular green jersey is something special.  Brevet riders tend to be "slow and steady".  Not Saitama.  They are FAST and steady.  They haul ass over long distances.  If I could only catch him. ...   Somehow I managed to do so, and again issued a challenge to ride together.  At first, he pulled me, but by the time we got to the back stretch of the lake, I had recovered some and we shared the work, somehow maintaining a decent pace, trading off again and again, each taking turns resting in back and then cutting inside on one of the sharp corners to take the front duty. 
We managed to keep this up for the rest of the race, and finished with an average pace of 38.66 kph.  I tried to come around him one last time at the finish ... but misjudged the line (it was about 20 meters short of the  overhead banner) and ended half a wheel behind him.  Not too bad for a 30 km effort, 22 km of which was ridden without the Peleton and with its share of headwinds.  No one passed us, we stayed ahead of the D class group that started 2 minutes later than our heat, and we caught a number of the C class riders from the prior heat.  Yamaguchi-san and I thanked each other at the finish.  ... So I may be back again next year?  Next time, I'll train for it -- intervals, sprints, etc.  Really, I will.

Now, some photos.  A few new additions from Ludwig.  
The three time trialists, plus me.

At the start.
Glasses on, engines ready.
S Class start!

James and Sebastien, smile for the fans.

Now the photos from my initial post:

At Tachikawa -- into the bike bag you go.
Registration Saturday afternoon.
Bike leaning along guardrail at Saiko.
Bike leaning along guard rail at Saiko #2.
Ludwig and the fall foliage at Kawaguchiko:

Bike leaning along hedge, at our accommodations with view of Fuji.

Bikes leaning along rust-colored hedge, at our accommodations.
More bike leaning, with Fuji:

Looking from Oishi village toward the Wakahiko tunnel entrance -- a little after-race climb up to the entrance and then a continuing modest upslope inside the tunnel for a little more than 2 km.
One last glimpse of Fuji.

On the Upper Ashigawa (see also the photo at the very top of this blog entry -- spectacular vistas here between the ridges):
At the entrance to Shin-Torizaka Tunnel, at the top of the second short climb on the way through to Fuefuki/Kofu:
And down among the fruit trees in Fuefuki, in the "fruit bowl" of Yamanashi/Kofu area: