30 January 2011

Daigo Rindo and Tsuru Tsuru Onsen

A car turns into the parking lot at Tsuru Tsuru Onsen, as Jerome and Didier are visible below, climbing the steep slope.
I rode today with Jerome and Didier ("the man who brought Look to Japan"), another cold day in Kanto (highs in the 3 or 4 degree range at the base of the western foothills, lower up on the tops of the hills, and mostly cloudy in the afternoon with a few tiny snow flurries as we got back home.
We headed out to Hachioji, then toward the base of Wada, but instead of the usual Wada climb, or the Rindo (forest road) approach, we took Daigo Rindo toward the North.  As described previously by Ludwig, Tom, MOB and others, this is a nice alternative climb, tops out at just over 600 meters elevation, and there is a nice descent that brings you out near the Togura 7-11 just west of Itsukaichi (the "last convenience store" before the climb to Tomin-no-mori).  There is a gravel stretch of maybe 1 km. on a lower section of the rindo descent, but we made it through without any flats.
We then climbed from Itsukaichi (175 meters elevation) up to Tsuru Tsuru Onsen and beyond to the pass above, a little higher than Daigo, maybe 625 meters elevation, and very steep from just below the onsen until the pass at the top.  Instead of going down the dark, forested north side to Yoshino Kaido, we turned around and came back down to the South and then homeward.  We toyed with the idea of stopping for a bath -- the onsen facility looks nice, and it was actually open for business --  but we decided to forgo hot baths until back at our respective homes.
I had swapped out my compact crank for my 53-39 FSA Team Issue crank with Quarq powermeter, so I was climbing the steep hills with a bit less gearing than usual, but had no problems.  A recreational pace and two nice climbs, neither of which I had done before (though I had done Tsuru Tsuru from the other side), is really beyond all reasonable expectations for a late January ride.

29 January 2011

Kawasaki Velodrome

Ludwig and I joined an exceptional occasion to ride inside a real "keirin" velodrome thanks to Hiroshi's connections. First-time experience for both of us and although we were not fixed-geared, I had a great time - so did Ludwig I believe.
Hiroshi...many thanks for the invitation!

26 January 2011

Cargo Bike

Thinking of getting a Xtracycle conversion kit. Could use it to explore Ulan Bator.

25 January 2011

Ulan Bator

Update by David L. -- When in (or near) Ulan Bator, a horse is probably a better bet than a bicycle:
Before I learned to ride road bicycles.
(That is dinner being prepared to the left/rear of the photo -- very fresh meat).

24 January 2011

A Healthy (but No-Ride) Weekend?

We had dry, cold riding weather again this weekend, but I slept late on Saturday, and on Sunday morning had agreed to make my first trip in what seems like a year or so to Costco with my wife.
We also needed to stop by a home center and see about picking up supplies to fix some very distressed wood sections of the small wood deck behind our house--making my participation in the pilgrimage mandatory (ended up ordering the wood to pick up later, so the store could cut most of it to size, but bringing back various deck coatings/stains, brushes, nails and wood screws in bulk).

Speaking of Costco, I think I've found the best food bargain in Japan.  I've been trying to eat a bowl of oatmeal (with some brown sugar, and raisins, banana or berries), along with a small yogurt cup, regularly for breakfast since last Fall, and Costco is the only place in Japan I've seen the 10 pound (4.25 kg) boxes of Quaker Oats. I still am working on the box I started back in October, and so I believe the labeling which says each box has around 100 servings.  For 848 yen.  That works out to 8.5 yen per serving.

The contrast with other breakfast cereals available in Japan -- even if you get them at Costco -- is pretty remarkable.  And of course this stuff is supposed to be very healthy, and I don't get hungry an hour after I eat, like I do if I eat breads (or, in an emergency, rice) at the breakfast table.  Is this a good rider's breakfast?

So no ride this weekend.  I did hand over the tandem to Jerome on Saturday, and on Sunday did clean up my bike gear/tools/supplies, get on the trainer for awhile, and also tried to spin over to Positivo to pick up some supplies -- only to be greeted by a "rinji kyu gyo" (closed) sign.  And I somehow managed to have a spoke on my HED rear wheels come loose on the way back from Positivo, with the spoke nipple rolling around in the rim  well.  I dug it out but was not able to re-attach it, so I'm headed back to Positivo for wheel repair soon.

21 January 2011

First Ride Galibier

Finally I could pick up the Peugeot Galibier from the LBS. I must say they did a very good job AND left my bike out on the yard in the rain.

The nice white handlebar, so Euro stylish, is gone as the the brakes needed to be rewired and I had only an orange spare left.  Already in the shop I noticed that the shifting was very smooth when I tried it. The guys gave me some warning, as the rear cogs were already pretty much used and that might result in some problems. And they said nasty things about the brakes, being so much inferior compared to the brakes of today. So I was warned.

After lunch break I dressed up in full cycling gear and took her out for the first longer spin - but still only 30 km. The first things that I noticed was, that the bike is very comfortable, much more so than the unforgiving Cervelo or even the Gazelle. I am not sure why, but I guess it is because of the wheels with 36 spokes that absorb much more vibrations. I built them up myself, and asked the bike shop to check them. Them said I did basically a good job in truing and dishing the wheels but the applied tension was way too low. They told me that they gave every spoke another two turns until the wheels were ready to be ridden.

The whole bike feels very comfortable, also thanks to the wonderful Charge Spoon saddle which really surprised me. I thought plastic or artificial leather saddles would be out of the question for longer rides, but this one is really comfortable - and priced at only the third of the cost of a Arione or Gel Flite saddle.

The disadvantage about a bike being comfortable and "soft" is, that it is harder to accelerate as some of the power goes into the frame  and spokes and not into driving the bike forward. Compared to the Gazelle and Cervelo the Peugeot is a slower bike. It is still fast enough though to be raced in the flats in the 30 - 33 km/hr bracket which I find most comfortable over long distances (not that I could maintain that range for long time anyway).

I was a little bit scared of braking after what the guys in the shop said so, but no, the brakes are doing well. Sure they don't have the power of today's Ultegra brakes and they behave completely differently, but once one is used to them they are doing fine.

Also the drive train behaved nicely. Shifting is so smooth (and silky). Yes, in the world of bicycle riding the words "and silky" must be added to the word "smooth" if the topic is shifting. Like nook and cranny: "Books were stuffed into every nook and cranny of his office." Isn't it possible to stuff the bloody books only into the nook?

If only 140 years ago bicycles would have had 44 gears (Campa Super Record with 4 cogs in the front), I am sure the phrase would have made it into le dictionaire des idees recues by Gustave Flaubert.

I continued to ride along the river Wümme while the sun started to set early. The only somewhat negative surprise that I had was, that the bullhorn bar isn't as comfortable as I thought it would be. Steering is somehow strange when the hands are so far in front of the fork axis.

I have ordered another set of cogs so that I can replace the worn one and a new Golden Arrow rear derailleur. Now I have a Shimano Arabesque derailleur fitted and that is just a gross breach of style which cannot be possibly kept undetected by the knowing eye for much more time.

Summary: Very happy, very proud that I was able to realize somuch of my own bike. I like the look and style and it is also a good ride. Due to its softness it is hard to imagine that I will do longer rides on the Galibier, but for a ride up to 50k it is a good alternative. I can also think of further modifications.

Of course, until the Faggin is ready.

20 January 2011

How Not To Lock Your Bike

19 January 2011

Mini Velodrome London

Red Bull Mini Drome Final London from Tim S on Vimeo.

Red Bull Minidrome from Eyeball Moving Image on Vimeo.

Red Bull Mini Drome Pursuit Race from Donut! on Vimeo.

Freddy Maertens

Wonderful picture of the rider with the most aerodynamic nose in the world of cycling. No wonder he was such a good sprinter. Truely something, the German word "Zinken" was invented for.

Tokyo to Osaka

Excellent video made by some fixed gears Americans riding from A to B. Or from T to O in this case. One of the better videos I have seen about a) riding and b) Japan.

Tokyo to Osaka Teaser from John Murillo on Vimeo.

The whole video can be seen here. There is also a homepage here. Noticed at the Cycling Art Blog Site. Thanks.

18 January 2011

Bremen Six Days

I left work early and went to the LBS to fetch the Peugeot Galibier. Nothing had been done and they promoised me to finish the setup today. All nice guys but German service .... another night out in the rain on the yard for my bike...heartbreaking.

My son hat some surprises for me when I came home afterwards: An A in mathematics (thanks to the engineering genetics of his father) and a F in German (probably thanks to his mother). Anyway, as promised I took him out to the Bremen Sixdays race.

The race is hold at Bremen Arena, a trade fair and event ground and now in its 46th year. According to the announcer, it is the biggest sixday race in the world, whatever that means. The track is 166,67 m long, made completely out of wood and only manufactured for the event; afterwards it is dismantled and recycled (perhaps). German carpenters in their trademark black work clothes were constantly checking during the race if everything holds up.

Due to the short length and the tight curves the banks are very steep. The straights are short and the riders are mostly moving in curves. When I came in a German Enka band was playing so we were forced to leave immediately and enjoy some mediocre food. Yes, eating out in Germany, what a mess. Even my son, when asked yesterday what he misses most from life in Japan answered "restaurants" as his first thought.

Somehow naively I thought that during a six days race the riders are riding continously for six days. The impression was left on me by Erwin Kisch, a famous journalist from the twenties, who rode about the six days race in Berlin and called it the "ecliptial treadmill". Yes, before the war the ride was continous but this is now a thing of the past, thanks to the efforts of the six days riders labour union. By the way, ecliptical, what nonsense to engineering ears! The from of tracks is of course clodoidical (x'''=constant) in order to avoid sudden centrifugal accelerations.

Yesterday night we saw three events. The first one was a point race. Every 10 laps the first to forth placed riders were given points based on their ranks. This continued for 60 laps. The interesting part is, that the changes between the riders are very frequent, say, every 3 or 4 laps. And the way these guys changes is amazing: The rider on the track is overtaking his teammate on the inner, lower side in the curve, the new rider is accelerating than overtaking him on the outside and while doing so their hands lock in and the previous rider is giving him a big push so that he comes up to speed. This is amazing to see just as a single event but when you see 4 or 5 teams changes at the same time with all 24 riders of 12 teams on the tiny track and how to manage to manouver around each other without crashing it is really amazing. I wish I would have the same amount of control over my bike. No, actually over my family or even better my life.

The second event was a 166.67m time trial. Each of the 12 teams had the stronger rider going alone, but as in the first event, the other riding was drafting him first and gave him a big push just before the start line. The resulting speed was well over 60 km/hr average for one lap and the fastest rider did it in less than 9 seconds.

The third event was the longest one, called "Big Wild Hunt". The teams were riding for 45 minutes and it was their goal to escape from the "peloton" and catch up the peloton from behind again, thus having made one more lap than the rest. The lap count is the decisive factor at six days races, even today; but for 100 points gained one get 1 extra lap and within the same lap count the team with the most points wins, so it is important also to look out for opportunities to save points. That event was the most interesting, as escape groups were constantly formed and again, as in the other events, the change between riders of the same team was constantly going on. Interesting to see an escape group of say, three riders in front (or in the back?) and then one or two riders are exchanged from within the group.

For me it was very exciting and even my son managed to look up from his Nintendo DS from time to time. By now it was 10 PM and "Middle of the Road" threatened to appear and perform their timeless pieces of middle of the road music. It was as pleasant as seeing the Fuehrer rising out of black ashes in Berlin again and we left in sheer terror. We also missed the second showhighlight "Klaus and Klaus" (an Enka Duo that had one hit in the seventies"On the shores of the North Sea"), which is similar to the return of Stalin and Beria.

Nice event, photo taking was not allowed, security everywhere. Sorry for the poor quality photo.

17 January 2011

Project Faggin Orange Speed

Three tasks for today:

1. Pick-up the Peugeot Galbier from the bike shop (hopefully)
2. Visit day 4 of the Bremen Six Days Race with my son Henri
3. Start thinking about Project Faggin Orange Speed

Oh yes, and work at the university.
It seems that I missed Boney M. at the race yesterday. Never mind, today there is another great band playing that nobody should miss: Middle of the Road! And this, after I have seen Abba in October in Berlin. What will be next? Perhaps Alvin Stardust? Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers? Or, the best band of all times, the Kursaal Flyers?

The Faggin frame cost less than 8.000 Yen, couldn't resist.The idea is to set up a cheap speed bike with modern components, 105 range, flat handle. Only one chain ring in the front, 9 or 10 in the rear.Budget 300 Euro, completed. Will built some nice wheel by my own again. This will become another good looking bike.
Little Does She Know

Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's two-timin' me
Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's cheatin' on me

I was outside the one stop
When I saw her in the corner
And I didn't like what I see

Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's two-timin' me

She was sharing her spin dryer with a guy in a tie-dye
When she saw my reflection in the chrome
I knew that she'd seen me 'cause she dropped her bikini
The one that I got her in Rome

Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's two-timin' me
Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's cheatin' on me

When she finished her laundry she was all in a quandary
And made it for the street like a hare
Her escape was so urgent, she forgot her detergent
And dropped all her clean underwear

Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's cheatin' on me

Bremen Ekiden

When I was still living in Tokyo, the Positivo Espresso Ekiden ride used to be the first ride of the year in the last years. Snow and ice in Bremen made all rides too dangerous so far, but with temperatures well above 0 degrees, blue skies and dry roads I finally wanted to get out in 2011.

When one is working on an old bike, one can forget easily that the purpose of repair is not to have a good looking bike in the garage, but to have a good ride on a well functioning bike.

I woke up late and read the post from David, describing his trip with Froggy  to Wada and Bijotani in cold weather today. That inspired me finally to get out of the warm study and get the bike ready. Thank you David, for getting home and blogging quickly.

The Galibier project is no finished yet. I spend some evenings building the wheels with old hubs and new rims but I wasn't comfortable if I have applied the right amount of tension on the spokes. The trueing went quite well, lateral trueing and dishing Isn't so difficult but vertical trueing is. So I decided that the last adjustment should be done by the pros. And a lot of things they found were wrong: Did you know, for example that braking wires and shifting 
Fixed gear? No gear is much cooler.

wires have different diameters and so have there hulls? I never looked that closely at my bike as to notice that the brake cables are 5 mm and that shifter cables are only 4 mm thick. And to mount old school aero shifters on bullhorn handle bars is so difficult, that even the pro shop doesn't know what to do. I will get surprised on Monday.

The Galibier not ready. The Peugeot too nice to move it on even slightly wet rodes. The Cervelo also too nice. The Pinarello is sold and shipped. Bad Boy too slow. So after long back and forth I opted for the trusted Gazelle. Not so fast but reliable and with mud guards. I felt like a girl in font of a mirror, selected a dress for a night out in town.

Still I needed to do another half an hour of preparation. The chain was rusty, I had no spare tube ready, the air pressure was way too low ... all this tiny things one have to take care off today. I relish the times when I just didn't know and consequently just didn't care about all these adjustments.

Heading out in direction North Sea a strong headwind met me just from the start. Along the usual roads at the "Siel" the first cyclists were out and I tried to maintain a pace of 30 km/hr even while exhausting myself quickly. When I arrived in Ritterhude, I made a left turn for Worpswede following my standard loop and suddenly I had the strong wind in my back. That was fun now. So I reached Worpswede in almost an hour with 31.0 km/hr average speed, climbed up the hill and continued in direction Fischerhude. As this was the first longer ride of the year I didn't want to overdo it, so I stayed in the 150 - 155 HRM range. at Worpshausen I made a short break and Gazelle and me remembered the guys from Worpshausen that were killed in world war I. This is a long and cherished Positivo Espresso Bremen tradition, that the first ride of the new year always stops at a WW I memorial. Even my parents knew about that: They married January 4th, 1962 and their honeymoon led them to, among all possible place, Verdun. Where they visted Fort Douaumont and perhaps met other couples on their honeymoon who had the same splendid idea. Or perhaps not.

Again, I was facing a strong headwind. The part between Worpshausen und Quellkorn is the most boring portion of the standard loop. The headwind was getting even stronger when I took a right turn at Fischerhude and rode on a small road in direction Borgfeld. Borgfeld is located within the federal state of Bremen (while the rest of the tour is mainly in the federal state of Lower Saxony) and for some reasons the family and relatives of the last German emperor, Wilhelm II, are living here. 

There is nothing special about Borgfeld though, one doesn't feel any wind of history, only the smell of horse shit. Well, this is what you would think of Borgfeld normally. But today it was quite different. As the snow of December has melted and it takes some time for the water to reach rivers and get carried to the sea in the flat lands of Bremen, all the pasture to the left and right of the road was flooded. That looked very nice, finally I had the feeling that I am living close to the sea.

I continue on my way home. Three hours out on the roads. 75 km done. Shabby by Tokyo standards but not too bad for Bremen. The Gazelle was wonderful as usual. It would have been easier to ride the Cervelo, but riding the Gazelle costed more effort and was the better training therefore.

I noted today that the Assos Airjack 951 jacket is too warm for temperatures of 10 degrees and more. I need a long sleeve jersey from TCC, possibly now.

16 January 2011

Snowing everywhere except Kanto

A quick check of the weather forecast for today last night -- typical Kanto January winter weather, dry, sunny and cold, lows in Hachioji and westward of -5 degrees C or lower.  But today it seems to be snowing some along much of the Japan Sea side of Honshu, in the mountains, of course, and even on the Pacific Coast -- as far south as Sendai and Iwaki approaching Kanto from the North, and as far east as Nagoya/Aichi approaching from the West.  It looks as if even Kyushu is supposed to get snow showers just about everywhere around the island at some point today.  And it is certainly cold enough in Tokyo so if there were any precipitation tonight, it would be snow.  Jerome and I hopped on our bikes for a quick morning ride, dressing against the cold and taking advantage of Kanto being the one rideable zone today.
A quick ride -- back by 2:30, no photos, minimal stops, so we went for maximum climbing (1500 meters, or 1760 if you believe Garmin Connect).  We rode up Wada via the rindo (forest road) alternative -- which takes you about 40 meters above the actual pass and has no traffic at all, then went down the rear descent, climbed the road to Bijo tani from the NW toward the SE, then returned home via the North shore of Lake Tsukui, the tank road, Onekansen-Doro, and down the Kawasaki-side of the Tamagawa, in the road with light traffic and a tail wind that made it relatively easy to go 35-40 kph along the river.
As usual, Jerome started weak and finished strong.  I pulled him out, he pulled me back.  I was first up Wada, and he was first up the second big hill.  No speed records were set, but it was a nice surprise to get in two good climbs on a very cold and blustery day. The Wada climb is approx 7.4 km distance and 488 meters elevation gain, measured from the point where the approach to the "rindo" departs from the "normal" approach up to the top.  It is pretty flat at the lower section and only gets steep after it turns into a rindo.  The "ura Bijotani" climb is 6.9 km and 431 meters elevation gain, with various steeper, less steep and almost flat sections.  Both have plenty of 12-15% grades.

15 January 2011

Tokyo Itoigawa 2011 -- Indications of Interest Now, Applications at Beginning of February

The 40th annual Tokyo-Itoigawa Fast Run is scheduled for Saturday May 21, 2011 (with return to Tokyo for most the following morning, Sunday May 22, though as this year proved, it is possible to hop a train back on Saturday night).

This epic ride inspired more blog posts than any other last year (see here, here, here, here, here, here and other links here), and the build-up was a bit intense.  2010 reports suggest that the actual event proved almost a let down after all that, and many who joined for the first time decided it is a "once is enough" experience, especially after fighting with the trucks in the tunnels from Hakuba downhill toward Itoigawa -- or Dominic fighting with a car that was trying to run him off the shoulder in the sprawl near Matsumoto. (I guess I found the tunnels exhilarating back in 2008 with MOB, DJ and Juliane, though maybe we had fewer trucks since we were on a later schedule, and Juliane handled all the fighting with drivers earlier in the ride).  Two of my younger colleagues tried it last year on way-too-little sleep, not just the previous night but the previous week.  That I do not recommend, especially for those of us over the age of 35 (well, also over the age of 45).

Yair and I are interested in a repeat.  This can be his recovery and training goal as he gets back on the bike and into shape in the Spring.  I want to get a time noticeably faster than in 2008, and use this as part of my ramp-up to Transalp, which begins 36 days later.
James M. will again ride for the victory, I believe, trying to give Andy Wood a run for his money (Andy is rumored to spend the entire winter chained to a trainer, on the balcony of his home somewhere in Niigata, riding in place into the snow and sleet, just to prepare for this event). 
Tom S. will ride with another team, as usual, and also push for a victory, at least in his (mine also) age group.
Jerome?  Steve T?
Team applications and fees are due the week of February 7, so we need to start organizing now.  There is supposed to be a lottery for teams, but I hope since we had good representation last year that will not be an issue.  The organizers do provide refunds (minus a service fee) if you need to cancel later or decide you do not want the hotel/bus options you requested. 
If you MIGHT want to participate or have questions, let me know by email, a comment on this post, or otherwise, and I will be sure you are included in follow up communications. 
I'll also start a TCC thread if there is not one already, since this will likely be a combined event.

13 January 2011

12 January 2011

Pioneer Cycle Computer

LA GAZZETTA DELLA BICI: All your bike are belong to us! By: James Machin: "Pioneer has announced a new cyclo-computer with an Android based OS. Some of the features are just simply amazing! Check it out!"

I know the guy that does the presentation in the video, but I can't remember where I met him.... does anybody know him?

11 January 2011

PE Europe pre-Transalp Altitude Training
Yes, we are 100% committed to Transalp 2011. With Europe enveloped in the new ice age we looked further afield to get a head start on the rest of the Transalp field - we believe with dedication, hard work, ruthless efficiency (an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice orange uniforms), and total commitment, we can, at least for a day, make it into the second last starting group in 2011. So off to the High Atlas mountains of Morocco for some early season high altitude work - with a little help from Ali and his camel (that is a camel, right?)

chasing down the breakaway...

back in the peleton

at the feeding station

look who won the stage!

Have to study tomorrows stage profile so I know when to ATTACK!!!!

BUT! I end up in the broom wagon... (they look like carpets not brooms!)

Happy New Year Positivistas!

10 January 2011

It's the fastest track ever, say cyclists after first test run at Velodrome | Olympics

It's the fastest track ever, say cyclists after first test run at Velodrome Olympics

Shizuoka 200 km Brevet - January 9 - Fighting A Cold and The Wind

Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, with Mt. Fuji in Background, across the Abe River

When I think of Shizuoka, the picture above is pretty much the mental image that comes to mind -- Mt. Fuji in the background (with much less snow on the Southwest side than we typically see from Tokyo or Yamanashi), riverbeds,and a more or less continuous stretch of sprawling smaller cities along the coast (Numazu, Fuji, Shimizu, Shizuoka, Yaezu, Shimada, Kakegawa, Fukuroi, Hamamatsu ... just to name a few of them).  And also maybe some tea bushes planted on the hillsides.  Of course, Izu is technically part of Shizuoka Prefecture, but I'm thinking now of non-Izu, "Tokaido-adjacent" central Shizuoka. 

If you use a wide angle instead of telephoto, Mt. Fuji recedes pretty far into the background.  This is much closer to the perception with the naked eye.

Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, the Abe River and Mt. Fuji in the background

If I had planned better, I would have managed a photo that shows also the upstream bridges where Rte 1, and the JR Tokaido-sen, and the JR Sanyo Shinkansen, and the downstream bridge where the Tomei Expressway, all cross this same river (the Abe-gawa, at the western entrance to Shizuoka City, to the extent there is any noticeable, delineated border).  Regrettably, I did not, but those transportation arteries are one's constant companion in a trip through Shizuoka.

My image of Shizuoka was recently, perhaps permanently altered, by MOB's report of his cycling trip back to Fukuroi/Hamamatsu last Spring before leaving Japan, and the difficulty in finding a good route through the urban parts of this prefecture.  I was surprised on re-reading the entry to note that the Brevet I joined on Sunday took many of the same roads on its "return leg" as MOB's trip.

Just like MOB, we rode the "Strawberry Line" or Ichigo Kaigan Dori -- and there were the students MOB described, trying to lure customers in.  The strawberries are cultivated inside plastic sheeted houses, and so they grow even in the winter sun.

Just like MOB, we rode Rte 416 between Shizuoka and Yaezu (Yaizu?), where it winds along the coast and eventually climbs up a hillside, after passing an area called "Oo-Kuzure" (big landslide) where the road is more like a bridge, out over the ocean for more than 500 meters, with pillars embedded in the sea, since the hillside has completely fallen away, destroying a former road that was in the form of an "open tunnel" built into the hillside -- some pieces remaining.

And just like MOB, we eventually joined Rte 79, then 73, and traveled in the middle of nowhere past the entrance to the Fuji Shizuoka Airport, and then rejoined Rte 79 and took it and some other city roads, mostly with heavy traffic, through Kikugawa, Shimada and Kakegawa, and back to Fukuroi.

At the Fuji Shizuoka Airport,a  remarkable monument to Japanese transportation planning built on top of a long, wide ridge, no doubt flattened with the efforts of hundreds of earth moving machines over several years, I even saw one flight depart in the several hours I was close enough to monitor -- the initials "FDA" visible on the side of the plane.  I did not see any landings.  And I heard (but did not see) the hum of shinkansen trains going into a tunnel directly underneath the airport, as we climbed up Rte 73 nearer the airport entrance.  I only saw one or two highway signs the entire trip pointing out how to actually get to the airport ... and I fear that FDA may have only two planes -- one red photographed in MOB's report and one blue that I saw. The hillsides around the airport are covered with tea bushes, and I wondered how many years it would be before the Shizuoka redevelopment authority would propose tearing up the runways and taxiways and planting a massive tea plantation.  Or maybe, since the land has been leveled and tea is grown on hillsides, there is a higher value added use -- rice, perhaps?

So given MOB's March 2010 report, I only need to mention a few points particular to this event, even though it was my first time to ride in mid-Shizuoka. If of interest, you can see the Brevet routes here:  outbound and return, on Yahoo Route Labi (short for Route Laboratory, I think), a/k/a/ "Lat Long Lab"?

1. The outbound route was entirely different from the impression given above, for the first 70-80 km.  It quickly headed North, then took Prefectural Rte 81 through various valleys and over small passes.  There was little or no urban sprawl, and plenty of nice riding -- it was almost like a "rindo" at points, a road of one narrow paved lane with leaves on parts of the road surface, except where tire tracks had passed.  It climbed over small passes, the highest less than 400 meters elevation, and descended back down into valleys.  For the local ride, this would be a great route.  For a rider going Kanto to Kansai (or vice versa), this would add distance and elevation, but be much more pleasant than along the coast, and less extreme than Jerome's alternative of the interior route through Nagano.

2.  Wind.  As we left the start area at 6:30AM, climbed a short hill to the South and did a kind of "fish-hook" loop around to the West and then to the North, I noticed a disturbingly strong headwind on the short West leg.  If there was a strong wind at 6:30AM, and the forecast had shown winds getting stronger over the day ... what would the return trip be like?  I did not really notice the wind at my back much on Rte 81.  Of course, the wind was at my back, but also we were in and out of valleys and not directly exposed much of the time.  But once we emerged and hit the coastline near the Strawberry Line, wow.  Almost no work effort at all to keep 38-40 kph, my main concern whether a car would get frustrated with the miles-long traffic jam and pull over suddenly onto the shoulder.  I used my brakes more than I pedaled for at least 4-5 km.  As I got further up the "Strawberry Line", I saw a couple of the strongest and fastest riders, already on the return leg.  Another wow.  They must be well over an hour ahead of me already, but they were barely moving into the headwind -- couldn't be going faster than 20 kph.

Sure enough, the return leg was hellish.  The wind was in front at least 75% of the way home, and was at its strongest when the route was on the seacoast (other than Rte 416 into Yaezu, which was in the lee of a hill).  But after Yaezu there was a lovely 10 km stretch to Yoshida, on Rtes 416 and 150, with a straight, boring road heading due SW, plenty of traffic, the gale force wind directly in your face, and the sun also directly in your face, already low enough in the sky so that the glare was constant.  The windchill was bitter at the second checkpoint -- a hilltop 7-11 just after passing the airport, and with less than 25 km left in the ride as the sun dipped near the horizon.

A last view of Mr. Fuji, as I rested beside this seawall a few meters from Route 416 where the wind was mostly blocked by a headland.  The sea looks calm -- as opposed to the large, white-topped rolling swells off the Strawberry Line.

The wind was a good test of my HED Jet 6 wheels.  They worked beautifully -- slicing the headwind and easily manageable even in extremely challenging crosswinds.  A few times I got out of the saddle and shifted some weight over the front bars/wheel, and that seemed to keep the wheel from getting pushed around at all in the gusts from the side.  The crosswind seems to slide right off of them, giving credence to the manufacturer's claims that their drag co-efficient is lower than a typical aluminum clincher even with the wind at the worst angles.

3.  Cold.   A nasty cold is going around -- just close your eyes and listen to the coughing, sneezing and sniffling on any train in Tokyo.  I started to get it on the 4th of January -- sore throat and fatigue.  I made sure to get extra sleep on the nights of the 4th and 5th, and thought perhaps I had beat it back.  The morning of Friday the 7th it was back -- a hacking cough and more weakness.  I took medicine, slept about 10 hours Friday night, and felt a bit better.  No fever.  I went to bed very early Saturday night ... hoping I would feel good enough to get up at 3AM, drive to Shizuoka, and start at 6:30AM.   No need to break any records, just finish within the time limit and check off my 200 km Brevet for this year, on the way to the PBP 2011 qualification requirements, and thinking of my Washington DC-based friends who used to "ride through" a cold, swearing that exercise helped recovery from the illness.

In any event, whether from the illness or otherwise, I felt like crap as I approached the turn-around checkpoint and for about the first 75% of the return leg -- until the last checkpoint.  On the early part of the return leg, as I led two other cyclists through the streets of Shimizu, I needed to excuse myself, dismount and huddle by some shrubs as they went on, woozy and nearly sick.  But the nausea passed without incident, I needed a couple more rests on the return leg when I feared dizziness, and the muscles did not give up.  So not many photos this ride, and a long, slow slog.

On the drive home, as I got out at a 7-11 in Kakegawa and again at a Tomei rest stop after passing Gotemba where I stopped for 30 minutes or so to try to wait out a traffic jam, my body started to shiver and shake almost uncontrollably from the cold air as I passed between car and building.  But today, I seem over the harsh sore throat, hacking cough and fatigue/achy feeling, and just have some modest sneezing and sniffling.  Maybe, for the right bug, there is something to the "ride through it" theory?

My next Brevet is the 300 km Chiba event on February 26, starting at 10PM -- with Jerome and Steve T. also signed up.  Sign up opened on Friday on "Sportsentry" ... and it was full already when I checked this morning.

07 January 2011

String Bike

"The STRINGBIKE® has two identical but oppositely directed driving units at either side of the frame. The rotation of the pedals forces a swinging arm to swing forward and backward around its shaft. The forward segment of this motion pulls a rope wound around a drum on the rear shaft that makes the wheel to rotate. As the two sides move in mirror symmetry, there is always one arm that moves forward, thus the rear wheel is always driven. In this way the task of actual driving is taken unnoticeably from the right to the left side and vice versa." www.stringbike.com for puppets.

06 January 2011

Saturday January 8th / Monday January 10th

After failing to conquer Mount Rokko, I am planning a long trip either next saturday or monday to keep in shape. Currently considering to leave home very early in the morning (around 4 or 5) to be back home in the evening. Planning to ride up either towards Yabitsu / Hakone or Omekaido / chichibu

Anybody willing to join this trip?

SATURDAY 9:30AM UPDATE (by David L.)

Jerome and Ludwig decided in the end to head for Chichibu and onward toward Gunma and Nagano (very cold today!).  Apparently Jerome is having problems with flat tires again, at least based on this photo from Ludwig:
Message from Mr. Rindo "Karuizawa really not feasible any more. Will probably end up doing some onsen in Chichibu."

05 January 2011

UCI World Tour

Jan 18 to Jan 23 Tour Down Under (AUS) UCI World Tour
Mar 06 to Mar 13 Paris – Nice (FRA) UCI World Tour
Mar 09 to Mar 15 Tirreno-Adriatico (ITA) UCI World Tour
Mar 19 to Mar 19 Milan-San Remo (ITA) UCI World Tour
Mar 21 to Mar 27 Tour of Catalonia (ESP) UCI World Tour
Mar 27 to Mar 27 Ghent – Wevelgem (BEL) UCI World Tour
Apr 03 to Apr 03 Tour of Flanders (BEL) UCI World Tour
Apr 04 to Apr 09 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (ESP) UCI World Tour
Apr 10 to Apr 10 Paris – Roubaix (FRA) UCI World Tour
Apr 17 to Apr 17 Amstel Gold Race (NED) UCI World Tour
Apr 20 to Apr 20 La Flèche Wallonne (BEL) UCI World Tour
Apr 24 to Apr 24 Liège – Bastogne – Liège (BEL) UCI World Tour
Apr 26 to May 01 Tour de Romandie (SUI) UCI World Tour
May 07 to May 29 Giro d’Italia (ITA) UCI World Tour
Jun 05 to Jun 12 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (FRA) UCI World Tour
Jun 11 to Jun 19 Tour de Suisse (SUI) UCI World Tour
Jul 02 to Jul 24 Tour de France (FRA) UCI World Tour
Jul 30 to Jul 30 Clasica San Sebastian (ESP) UCI World Tour
Jul 31 to Aug 06 Tour of Poland (POL) UCI World Tour
Aug 08 to Aug 14 Eneco Tour (BEL) UCI World Tour
Aug 20 to Sep 11 Vuelta a España (ESP) UCI World Tour
Aug 21 to Aug 21 Vattenfall Cyclassics (GER) UCI World Tour
Aug 28 to Aug 28 GP Ouest France – Plouay (FRA) UCI World Tour
Sep 09 to Sep 09 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec (CAN) UCI World Tour
Sep 11 to Sep 11 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal (CAN) UCI World Tour
Oct 15 to Oct 15 Giro di Lombardia (ITA) UCI World Tour

via VeloNews.. something to whet the appetites of those that follow the racing.

The UCI Europe Tour Races are here.

Colnago Extreme Power - Rotto Broken

I found this carbon frame for sale on Ebay after it has been pointed out by Bike Snob NYC.

Hm, carbon, I really don't know ... I never have seen a steel frame damaged like this, looks like it was massacred by an angry wife/girlfriend/teenage son/werewolf.
Or perhaps it was tortured by bullhorn obsessed bike mechanics that listened to David Hasselhoff tunes played on a Garmin 800 while cheating about elevation meters. Not sure why he took so many pictures of the frame.

Anyway, the most funny part are the questions asked by supposingly serious bidders and due to BSNYC I am sure there will be many more coming.


Q:It doesn't look too bad, are you sure it can't be glued back together? Bergi, New Zealand.

A: Hello. I think that is impossible..

Q: Is the item insured when shipped to prevent damage?

A: I'll make a good packaging with the frame parts with care.. but by the way it's broken, I don't think that it can be damaged more.......

I will add another one right now and let's see if it gets answered:

Q: I like the frame but I am not sure if has the right size for me. I am rather tall, do you think a long seat post would help to make it rideable for me?

This is the second funniest think I encountered today. The funniest think was not Alex Marco and also not the web of love, but when I checked Amazon.com for a scientific textbook about financial controlling and the first thing listed under "Customers who purchased this item also purchased ..." was a heavy duty document shredder.

Web of Love: '60s "Scopitone" Music Video (Oddball Film / BB Video)

Alex Marco "The Bike" - The best bicycle video ever

04 January 2011

Heavy Stuff

Today I got a SMS from my local bike store. They finally deassembled the Maillard rear hub.

Good news indeed. As I wrote previously, I was so stupid to remove the hub from the wheel before removing the cassette from the hub. Which is a minor glitch if it happens with todays technology, is a major pain with the technology of yesteryears. It's almost as bad as trying to eat a marmalade sandwich while playing soccer on playstation 2. Believe me, everything can happen in that situation.

On the weekend I went to a DIY shop bought a large plank and some steel screws and nuts to construct something to counter the cog but it didn't worked out when we tried at the bike shop. Luckily the good people there were so moved by my engineering efforts that they agreed to give it another try later: When I am away and I couldn't take a peek at their trade secrets.

The guy told me today that he built up the bike again to counter the removal tool which was connected to the wheel. Then finally he was able to unscrew the cassette. Which is actually not only a cassette, but a cassette with an integrated freewheel. Probably a Dura Ace FA-110, if you are interested in the details. Coming home I started to clean and polish the hub and de-assembled it completely. I was surprised how small the ball bearings were, I thought the balls would be small on the front and bigger on the rear wheel because of the forces that needs to be transmitted. No. These balls are very small. And luckily I know that there were 9 balls on each side, which limited my efforts to look for the ones which have rolled down from the table right on the Flokati carpet. This was similar to the search for Dr. Livingstone but me, Stanley, I made it finally. I had an even worse Flokati carpet when I was a teenager and I am sure that if it had been stored at my parents home, one would perhaps be able to retrieve today many of my belongings and drugs lost before I came between 18.

Also I thought that the hub would be heavy, but in fact it is the freewheel that accounts for most of the weight. Wow, almost as heavy as a Cervelo project California frame.

03 January 2011

January 2 Ekiden Ride Report

After lunch at the Hakone Touge Michi No Eki -- nearly all the hard work done for today
The Positivo Espresso/TCC Ekiden Ride went off without a hitch yesterday, as no one got lost, and nearly all the riders reached the top of the climb and the finish along Ashi-no-ko 30 minutes ahead of the runners -- enjoying a welcome from cheering crowds (even cheerleaders), marching bands and everyone making noise to try and stay warm.  We were blessed with glorious, clear weather, dry roads and not-too-strong winds (that were at our backs on much of the ride along the Sagami Bay).

We received plenty of encouragement on the climb, with "gambatte" calls from some pairs of attractive, younger women (waiting for their real heroes) -- inspiring us to even greater than our usual efforts -- and the occasional "Fai-toh!" (fight!) from an oddly dressed Japanese guy.  The muscle-suited cyclist who had dismounted near the top of the climb took the prize.

The group suffered a serious schism in cycling doctrine at the Hakone Pass Michi No Eki.

One group, led by Ludwig, insisted that it would show disrespect to MOB Kraehe if we were to take Route 20 toward Atami Toge (MOB's "favorite road in Japan") in his absence.  They argued that Route 20 must never be ridden by P.E. in his absence, and opted to explore Route 75, the "Tsubaki Line".  Another group, referred to by some as "the renegades" (and by Ludwig as "the re-negates"), led by Dave and Dave, argued that we must ride Route 20, out of respect for MOB -- that he would have "wanted it that way" and would not want to deny us the pleasure of this spectacular stretch along the spine of the mountains of Izu, just because he is stuck in North Germany working on an antique road bike in the dark of winter.  No one thought it was worth calling MOB at 5AM local time to figure it out. Just about the only thing that anyone could agree upon was that the descent into Atami from Route 20 was "a b****", could cause excessive wear on brake pads, and was to be avoided if practical.

So we split into two.  Ludwig's group went back down the bumper-to-bumper, extremely tedious (their words, not mine) road the short way back to Ashi-no-ko, then onto the Tsubaki-Line.  They report that Tsubaki Line was worth this minor inconvenience, is a GREAT cycling road, and some of the photos bear this out.  The TCC reports and links can all be found here.

I joined the renegades, who I had been riding with most of the way since I was slow getting my gloves on and cleat covers off while leaving the Family Mart at Fujisawa, missed a red light and did not see the lead group again until Odawara.  The four of us headed up to the pass, then cruised down Route 20 -- spectacular views as always.  After the traditional brief stop at the entrance to the Izu Skyline, we headed West down Route 11.  This was a really, really, really nice descent -- lots of curves, not too steep, emerging from forest to see a spectacular vista to the West or a valley to our side, and only a couple of cars coming up the hill for the first 5 km or so.  We realized that anyone going from Atami to Numazu takes the OTHER Route 11, which skips Atami Touge, goes through a tunnel and only rejoins our deserted road near the bottom of the hill.  Hard to imagine that any other route could have equaled this one!

Then we enjoyed our own short slog through traffic jams on the flat area, up to Mishima Station, where we acquired the necessary provisions (beer, unagi-flavored "Pretz") to enjoy a quick shinkansen trip back to Tokyo.  My Garmin data/map is here.  Some photos, mostly from Ludwig, a few from me (click on them to see in full size):

The start -- Otemachi/Marunouchi Area of Tokyo early

Too many traffic lights early on.

The Fujisawa Stop -- where I fumbled my cleats and gloves and lost the lead group.
Lots and lots of Japanese cyclists this year ... mostly slower than us, and apparently a huge group that rides slowly AFTER the runners.  I got the pleasure of driving several to complete exhaustion who tried to hang with me on the flat.
Beautiful weather, as usual!

The road turns gradually up.

Andy W, Travis, James M and Mike (photo by Ludwig), waiting for the rest of us at the finish.
Mysterious broadcast-related equipment at the Michi no Eki.  Might have something to do with all those live TV shots from trucks and motorcycles during the Ekiden.
Dave & Dave at lunch -- are those potato chips?

Mr. Rindo and others who did not grab one of the chairs at the table, and so whose legs were maybe a bit numb by the end of lunch.  I thank you for your sacrifice.

Andy and Shane (a/k/a "new Dave").

A motley crew.

The view from our lunch spot.

The traditional stop at Atami Touge.  "We have conquered Izu!  Already 1/20 of the way down the peninsula."

Looking back from Atami Touge.

On the climb of the Tsubaki Line.

I think they went up there -- ahead.

Yes, definitely climbed another hill for a better view, and proof that James M. (a/k/a "MacGyver") topped 1000 meters.

The usual heavy traffic on East Izu roads ...