27 September 2011

New Arrival

7:30PM Monday night, side profile
7:30PM Monday night, front
11:15PM Monday night
The frameset arrived at my home while I was at work today.  I got home, ate a quick bite, and literally could not wait to build it up ... and definitely could not wait to have it built up by the LBS.

She will never be this clean, or white, again.

26 September 2011

Autumn in Germany

It is already getting cold in Bremen. And much to my surprise, there is even the occasional scrub of Kosmos blooming on the sides of the streets.

I took the Canyon out for a fast ride on Friday evening. Very fast indeed, only 2:07 hr for the usual 70 km loop along the Wuemme to Worpswede and Fischerhude and back. My shape was "ma ma" but I could draft behind several tractors bringing in the hay and finally I was behind a scooter (small numberplate, speed limited to 40 km-hr theoretically) for almost 8 km.

On Saturday I was too busy building up the new bikes. Yes, the plural is correct as I am working on the Union Single Speed as well as on a new Kotter frame that I am going to built up for a friend of mine, currently working in Saudi-Arabia.

The steel frame was made by Kotter, a company from the South of Germany for their own racing team. The frame was chromed first and then painted with a thin layer of lilac paint, so that the chrome is shining through the paintlayer from underneath. It is hard to see the real beauty of the frame on a photo - one has to see the frame on a nice autumn day outside in the sun. This called "Chromovelato" in Italian.

I also decided to sell my Gazelle winter bike. The new blue Olmo works very well with removable mud guards and I really don/t need two winter bikes. In case you are interested:

It is a Gazelle Champion Mondial A Frame model from 1979 with serial number 3237 359. Framesize is 60 cm, made of Reynolds 530 tubing. - Sorry Hiroshi, Sorry Tom you are out. You can see the frame in the original Gazelle catalog from 1982 on Page 13 on the top. I upgraded the components, now there is a super-light Suntour Cyclone Mk. II rear derailleur attached, plus new bar tape, new wiring and and and. Should be ready to run and be misused in the winter. 320 Euro plus shipping if you like.

On Sunday I felt the first onslaught of German virus on my body and since today I am finally confined to the house. The good thing about being sick is, that it takes away the pressure of all operational issues in normal life (clean up the garden, help daughter with her homework, fight about money wisely spend on bike components with the wife, scold wife about money uselessly spend on figure skating dresses - same wife by the way). Instead one can lean back and think about the strategic things in life, provided that the headache are not to big and the nose is not running faster than the supply of tissues will last:

So, this will be one of my last post on the Positivo Espresso blog. In the last weeks I have set up a new blog in German which will be much more handy when communicating with the other cycling guys in Bremen. Once it is completely ready for launch a will let you know.

As a kind of farewell gift David and me have published some excerpts from the "Great Kanto Cycling Book" I was writing with the help of Phil and Thomas from TCC in 2009. The original idea was to publish it as a book, but nobody was interested to pick up the threads in Japan and I was too busy organiszing my new life in Germany.

So instead of leaving it in the drawer to rot, David and me decided to make the content public. Perhaps somebody else would like to add or comment on some of the pages - plaese feel free to do so.

To see the Positivo Espresso blog growing from 0 to almost 60.000 hits has been a great pleasure. However, most of these hits had been made when I was already in Germany. So I believe it is would be better to set up something similar in Germany again before hanging on too long with the original site.

While blogging on a separate site, I still feel as a member of the Positivo Espresso Original Core Team (PEOCP) and I will continue to stay in contact and ride together with all of you. Actually most likely I will ride together with Stephen on Mallorca in two weeks time.
Read all about it ... later and elsewhere.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

25 September 2011

Cervelo Farewell Rides

My new Canyon frameset left Koblenz, Germany on Friday the 16th.  It made it to Narita (via Shenzhen and United Parcel Service) on Thursday the 22nd, just before this 3-day weekend.  I hope it will actually get delivered early this coming week.


Last weekend, on Sunday the 18th, Didier and I rode in muggy weather up Wada Pass via the Rindo approach.  On the climb, my first trip to Wada since before summer, I somehow got into my head that Wada Pass had an elevation of 600 meters, 210 meters higher than Otarumi ... but eventually as the road kept headed up, was forced to acknowledge that the top is 700 meters.  Of course, the Rindo approach we took goes another 40 meters or so higher to 740 meters elevation, before you approach the Pass descending along the spine of the ridge.

We returned via the "main" road down from the Pass - Jimba Kaido - and saw many Japanese riders suffering in the heat, struggling to turn over their cranks, or resting by the roadside having abandoned part way up the climb -- five years ago that would have been me!  And at one point, a car I had been stuck behind met 3 cars coming up the road on a narrow stretch -- instant gridlock that allowed me to pass and continue the climb without any traffic. ... No photos though.  Thanks Didier for a nice ride.

Saturday September 24.  The Cervelo enjoys a well-deserved rest in dappled shade and a cool breeze, outside a courtyard restaurant on the hillside above the South shore of Sagami-ko.

Yesterday, Saturday the 24th, I rode with Fumiki, Tim, Thomas and Travis of TCC on their O-Toge time trial.  It was nice to enjoy a true Cat 1 climb and beautiful weather in the countryside on the 2007 Cervelo R3 SL.  I suspect I can count on one hand the remaining rides on this frame, which has served me so well these past 4 years.

A question for Positivistas everywhere:  if by obscure tradition some Japanese cycling clubs insist upon burying a punctured tire tube at the end of its useful life, what does one do with an older, slightly scratched up carbon frame?  Maybe touch up the scratches with paint and hang it on a wall?    Maybe sell it on Yahoo auctions ("rare XL (61cm virtual) size not sold at Japanese retailers, only crashed a few times, rarely raced, AS IS condition")?

Maybe apply the Transalp elevation profile decals again?  Add some other custom markings with my name such as:

"Paris-Brest-Fresnay sur Sarthe, 2011 Metric Millenium",
"Schwalbe TOUR Transalp Finisher, 2009 and 2011",
"Tokyo Itoigawa Fast Run, 2008 and 2011"
"Etape Acte 2, 2011, 1390th place",

or even the undeserved

"JCRC Class C Racer"?

Does it need some personalized high points to accompany the manufacturer's small "Paris Roubaix 2006, Fabian Cancellara" decal and the Positivo decal on the seat stays, or would that just clutter up an attractive design?

Rear Disc wheel for ... less than 7000 yen?

Inspired by MOB's reminder of the TT world championships, I decided on Saturday to try a product that I got recently from wheelbuilder.com along with my new Velocity A23 rim/White Industry hub wheels.  It is an "aero jacket" cover for my HED Jet 6 rear wheel, converting the already-aerodynamic wheel into a super slick disk for TT and triathlon use.  The product is cut and drilled specifically to fit my wheel, including an inquiry as to whether I had 24 or 28 rear spokes, to make sure that the fasteners don't hit any spokes.  And the cost, only $89, or about 6700 yen.

Shipping charges would increase that substantially ... so best to order as an accessory that can fit in the same package as a wheel set.  Maybe this is something one of our favorite LBS's would want to offer in Japan?

There is an adhesive cover to place over the cutout for the valve stem -- not yet attached.

This photo showing right/cassette-facing side.

Do I ride TT's or triathlons?  No.  But someday.  ...

It took quite awhile to tighten the plastic fasteners so that the cover is firmly attached against the spokes.  And the fasteners look pretty flimsy -- I cannot imagine I can take them on and off very many times without damaging them (but a spare set costs only $7.50 ... 600 yen).  The plastic aero jacket itself looks reasonably durable and should hold its shape nicely, though it comes with a warning that it is not intended for regular training use -- save it for race day.

I rode these wheels up and down the Tamagawa on the Friday holiday afternoon.  I really noticed a difference, especially coming back down the road along the Kawasaki side.  Yes, I rode this stretch awhile back with Steve T., holding a high average speed as I gave it my all.  But this time, I was not pushing it into the "red zone", and could still hold the speed at 41-42 kph for long stretches without much wind.  Nice.

22 September 2011

UCI World Championship Copenhagen

Martin’s salute



Judith Arndt Of Germany Competes

Looking forward to the men race on Sunday.

17 September 2011

Olmo Evolution One

Well, today is my birthday. Thank you David & Ludwig for your good wishes. I took half a day off from work and my new white Olmo out on a longer ride in splendid autumn weather as a kind of birthday present to myself.

After fiddling and tweaking for weeks on the white Olmo I feel now very good with the (almost) final result. The original idea was to built up a Eighties aerodynamic craze bike (a good example is here) with "aero dynamic brakes", slim seat post, shifters on top of the down tube, internal cable routing, Recessed spoke holes on the hub and a complete Shimano 600 AX group.
Although I am now the owner of a complete 600 AX group set, I encountered some problems: First, the Olmo frame doesn't provide for shift cable routing on top of the chain stays. This used to be the standard for older frames, but this Olmo frame is just too new.

And second, the Shimano 600 AX crank set with 1'' pedal connectors isn' really a thing of great beauty. I gave up on this idea and as I had already bought Campagnolo Super Record brake levers with Olmo pantographs I thought it would be nice to buy some Campa parts for the drive train as well.
The Olmo is now equipped with a Super Record front derailleur and a Gran Sport rear derailleur as well as a Gran Sport crank set. Gears are shifted by Shimano 600EX Arabesque frame shifters, friction type which I believe are the most beautiful baroque shifters ever made.
One problem I always encounter with friction shifters is, that the threads in the braze-on adaptors are worn out so that the screws to connect the shifters to cannot be tighten hard enough. Friction shifters work with ... friction .... so the tighter they are screwed on, the more friction can be provided. If there isn't enough friction available, they tend to slip and this results in unintended gear shifting. The original M5 screws from Shimano are not long enough so that they interact only with a few convolutions. I bought some cheaper screws which do not look as fancy but do the job. But I wonder if there is any better solution?

There are a few things left to be done: I will give up on the aerodynamic idea in terms of bottle holder and buy a nice, old looking bottle holder for standard bottles. I also need to think about the cable routing for the rear derailleur again. And finally I would like to have rubber hoods for the Super Record brake levers. But as vintage spare parts they sell at 40$ a piece if at all.

The Olmo rides beautiful. It is fast and accelerates well. I had no problems to keep up with modern racing bikes on the Wümme trail. I had to get used to ride on the lower part of the handle bar only. With the track style handle bar it's almost impossible to have the hands on the upper part. It is certainly not possible to brake with the hands on the upper part. At first I had some pain in my back but now I got used to it. It is also new again to get used to clip pedals but now I can fairly quickly get in and out of the clip pedals. The braking performance isn't good at all but it is enough for standard situations.

This is a nice bike to ride distances of 50 - 100 km. More than that will be painful. I can also use It for commuting to work.

Having spend all this words of praise or my new white Olmo I need to add that I am currently working on two new bikes:

This is the basis for the first Fixie bicycle I am going to built:
And a good friend from Japan-days asked my to built up an old Cinelli bike for him. This will keep me busy during the long winter months in Bremen.

15 September 2011

Bavarian Adventure

During a business trip in late August I had the chance to visit Munich with my bike and take two days off to explore the Bavarian countryside.

I stayed at a cheap hotel (Best Western) in the vicinity of the main station in Munich. This part of the town is mainly populated by Turks and so it is no wonder that some of the restaurants, shops and hotels are named after famous figures form the Turkish history such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

On the first day I took my bike on a train out to Starnberg lake which is about 30 minutes away from Munich. Bikes don't need to be packed in bags so it is rather easy and fast to start. The weather was just perfect and I started to ride along the lake. Some of the estates grouped along the shores of the lakes are just spectacular. They look like villas silent movie stars from the Twenties use to live in.

 I just rode aimlessly but fast around. After Starnberg lake I rode on to Tegern lake and then further on to the Schlier lake. In one of the villages I noted a good bicycle shop and I spend some time with the mechanic there to fix my cassette. I had tried to combine some of my Ultegra 6700 and Dura Ace 7900 cassette parts and construct the ultimate 11-28 Durultra cassette but that didn't worked out at all. So I could ride only in 8 gears with the fastest one being the 14 tooth cog on the rear.
But nevertheless it was a beautiful day and I just rode and rode without any plan or any goal. If a road looked nice or a village hat a nice and interesting name I just went there. For work I have to be so much organized and plan carefully the things ahead but in my private life I prefer a more chaotic approach from time to time. When the sun went down I took a train home to Munich main station. Everything was so easy.

I wondered if I should travel to Sonthofen the second day for a repeat of the first day of the Transalp 2011 race and conquer Oberjoch and Hahntenjoch for a second time. Actually the Hahntenjoch was the first climb in many years that forced me to walk up. But the weather didn't looked to good and since a long time I wanted to visit one of the most famous sights of Germany : the Neuschwanstein Castle.

So I took a train to Garmisch Partenkirchen, home of the famous winter sport idols Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther. That day it was cloudy and it threaten to rain. Nevertheless I started to ride in direction of the Austrian border. It was so nice to be back in the mountains and I wholeheartedly enjoyed the climb. But then it started to rain and I was forced to take a break at a bus stop in order to wait until most of the water was released from the clouds before I could continue to ride. An ugly and busy road brought me back to the German border and the town of Füssen. From there it was only a few kilometers to the castle of Neuschwanstein. The site was extremely busy with many, many tourists from all over the world. Actually from the main road up to the castle gate is a very nice climb, lasting for about 2 km and 180 m elevation difference. One has to navigate one way around the tourists which must be similar to the feeling that TdF or Giro rider have when they ride up the last stretches of the Tourmalet, the Galibier, to Alpe d'Huez or the Mortirolo.
The castle itself looks surprisingly new. Which is probably due to the fact that it is pretty new, only erected during the reign of Ludwig II in the late 19th century. Just like Tom collects new bikes and I collect old ones, the hobby of Ludwig II was to built new castles. The money for that expensive hobby was provided courtesy of Prussia or the German Empire which was paid in return for the consent of the Bavarian King to agree to the formation of the German empire under Prussian leadership. Probably people found it rather extravagant and lavish to spend that much money on a singular purpose. The same thing could have been said about the pyramids in Egypt, but history proved the investment of the king right: Today the magic castles of Ludwig II are one of the main tourist attractions of the Bavarian Federal state.

Next to Neuschwanstein castle is another castle built by Ludwig II, the Hohenschwangau castle. Not many tourists go there but It provided the opportunity for another shorter climb so I rode up to the castle gate as well.  

Clearly one can see the point up to which cycles are allowed. The most funny thing I saw was, that there is  street number sign mounted on the castle gate (Alp Street 30) which speaks for the German sense of organisation. Were letters to the king addressed like this?

Mr. Ludwig Wittelsbach
Alp Street 30

After so much sightseeing I was eager to do a little bit more of cycling. I entered the main road in direction North and suddenly I realized that I was on this very famous road that every Japanese with some interest in Germany knows: The famous ROMANTIC KAIDO!
Please note that the name is also written in Japanese on the road sign. Wow, I heard so much about this road but I had never been there and I even had doubts that it would exist in reality. But here I was with my bike and two nice white Swiss DT rims and looked at the beautiful, romantic road and the even more beautiful, not romantic mountains.

After that I road through the countryside of Bavaria and the weather was continuously improving. There were many rolling hills and I really enjoyed this part of the trip. It was so enjoyable that I even forgot to take pictures. The villages along the road had such nice names as "Einöd", "Lauerbach" and "Sndgraben" and not such ugly names as they are common in the North of Germany: "Sauensiek", "Okel" or even "Fickmühlen". This was one of the best rides I had in the last month. As in Japan I ignored a road barrier and rode through a construction site. At one point I realized that I was riding on almost liquid asphalt that has just been poured some hours ago.

After more than 150km riding I arrived back at Starnberg lake and took a train home for the last 30 km through the Munich suburbs. I really should live in the South of Germany.

04 September 2011

Lots of Rain ... to the West; Plans for Sept 17-18

Well, despite predictions, Tokyo proper was mostly dry this weekend.  The storm dumped over 1800mm (almost 6 feet) of rain in parts of Wakayama Prefecture and Nara, between Osaka and Nagoya.  Lots of flooding, landslides and many people killed or missing.  Many other areas also received record rainfall.

Jerome and I had planned to ride today.  There was a sudden, brief downpour just as he got to my house, so we went inside for coffee.  We are thinking about a Sat/Sun ride the weekend of the 17-19, maybe going out to Nagano and trying one or more of (1) Odarumi, (2) Crystal Line, (3) the 299 "mountains of madness", (4) Akiba Kaido with some variations, (5) Norikura, (6) Utsukushigahara, or (7) Kurumazaka Toge.  If anyone is interested in riding those days (I need to be back in Tokyo no later than Sunday evening, although Monday is a holiday), and has thoughts about the route, just let us know.

The weather radar this morning showed a North-South line of hard rain at the edge of the hills west of Tokyo, so we just went to Ome, did one smaller hill in Chichibu, and returned again along the Tamagawa, hitting rain at several points near the westernmost part of our ride. This 115km was plenty for me, as I am still recovering from PBP, still a bit of numbness in my 2 outside fingers on my right hand.

The Tamagawa was completely full of muddy, fast moving water, roaring like I have never heard it. This was the only photo I took ... does not really do it justice.

Nagai-san and Nakayama-san at Positivo had restored the front end of my Cervelo, building it up with my old FSA "wing" style carbon bars and some nice white (for now) bar tape.

Also, I got yet another pair of traditional aluminum clincher wheels -- built up in the U.S. at a reasonable price and shipped to Tokyo.  These are Velocity A23 rims, 23mm instead of 19mm wide, just like the HED Ardennes or newest Zipps.  I had them built with 36 spokes in the rear, 28 in front, and White Industries hubs (which seem to have many fans).  I am hoping that they will be significantly lighter and more comfortable than my "bombproof" 36/32 spoke Mavic Open Pros with Ultegra hubs.  So far, so good.  I am trying Vittoria Open Pave 700x24 tires, and with the wider rims and Open Pave tires, I could barely feel the speed bumps on the Tamagawa path today. If all goes well, these will be my Brevet wheels.

When I picked up the bike yesterday, I did get a warning that the top tube ... is not going to last forever given the deep scratches it suffered in May.  So even though it made it through the summer and shows no sign of imminent collapse, a new frame (or bike) is definitely still on the agenda.

01 September 2011

Paris - Brest - Paris 2011 by Velonews

An incredibly well written article about this years edition of PBP 2011 published by Velonews. Too good to put only in the "shared" box on the right.

Look at the eyes of these guys and tell me how people look like after 1.200 km on the bike:

"This is my first and last Paris-Brest-Paris,” Edwards said. “My wife, who is a great endurance athlete, did it in 2007 so I had to do it also. I race Ironmans but this was something else. There was nothing which could have prepared me for this. Physically I trained hard, my equipment was perfect … but mentally this was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I have been to war.”

The Germans that attended were also naturally being associated with war:

"To know that I am not going to have to ride through another night is such a relief. I wanted to ride through without sleep but had to stop for three hours in the end. I could not keep up with the large group in front (a large group of German riders had just finished, all riding for the same team) they were riding like a military unit."
Meanwhile I am back in Munich and have two days off before I will frolick around with a larger group of students in the "Teutoburger Forrest", the site of the greatest German military victory ever. Quite some while ago, though.

Staying at Davids Bester Western Hotel in the Turkish quarter close to the main station, I used the first day to ride around some of the lakes in the Southof Munich: Starnberg Lake, Tergern Lake und Schlier Lake. The weather was just wonderful and I easily did 120 km and more than 1.000 elevation meter. Climbin felt so wonderful, I am missing that.  The later being the average tally for a month of cycling in Bremen.  I also went to a bike shop to get my gear fixed. Now I know what is wrong: I tried to built a all purpose cassette from my Dura Ace 11/25 and my Ultegra 12/29: The Durultra 11/29. Doesn't work. Hm, it would be nice to live in the South of Germany, I thought.

I am still torn if tomorrow I should take a train to Sonthofen and repeat Oberjoch and perhaps Hahntenjoch climbs of the first day of the Transalp, or.... I heard that quite close by is a pretty good copy of Cinderellas castle from Tokyo Disneyland. It was built in the 19th century by the Bavarian king Manfred II. Am I mixing things here? Perhaps I have been on the bike too long - look at my eyes.....