27 June 2013

SR600 Fuji this weekend!

This weekend, Jerome and I will attempt the Fuji SR600.  What is an SR600?  It is a course of 600 kilometers and at least 10,000 meters of climbing.  To qualify for "credit" as a randonneur, one must complete it in 50 hours (10 hours longer than a "normal" 600km Brevet, to accommodate the extra climbing).  In this case, since there is EVEN MORE than 10,000 meters, the time limit is 52 hours.

The course looks spectacular

The climbing is daunting, with 2 passes of more than 2100 meters elevation, and a whole bunch just a little bit lower. 
At least the weather seems reasonably cooperative -- not too cold on the high passes, not outrageously hot in the low valleys, and no segment that is showing (24+ hours before the start) a greater than 30 or 40% chance of rain ... after two or three very wet weeks!

23 June 2013

Positivo Espresso Classic Hot Ride

Tokyo heat and humidity, hammering up the river with Jerome at 35-38kph.  Today's weather brought back memories of so many similar rides with good friends over the past 9 years.

Hot and humid, but not so hot as to be completely oppressive.  And with a cool breeze on the upper stretches of the climbs and, of course, a reasonably stiff headwind on the homeward leg.  Hot enough so I lost several kgs of weight during the ride, despite consuming 3.5 liters of liquids (plus a bowl of cold udon with salty broth, and at least 3-4 cups of mugicha).

Jerome and I headed out on a half-day ride.  We planned to go to Takao, over Otarumi Pass, then back over Wada Pass (the "Ura Wada" climb).  It rained a lot last week, and so we thought it best to avoid climbs that would be damp.  Both these seemed likely to be dry enough to avoid slipping on a bed of leaves, moss or still-wet pavement..

Of course, once over Otarumi, we decided to add a third hill and headed off to Bijotani (valley of the beautiful ladies).
On the flat area at the top of Bijotani ...
Sadly, there was a sign at the Bijotani Onsen to the effect that the Onsen has CLOSED for good.  The "bijo" have all moved to the city or gotten old and feeble.  We saw no cyclists on the Bijotani climb, but did pass one man descending motor scooter, chatted at the top with an 80+ year old hiker climbing Mt. Jimba, and then saw a group of about 10 men on mountain bikes as we descended the South side of the pass.  The men on mountain bikes were in their 40s or 50s. I hesitate to call them "mountain bikers" since they were all spinning ridiculously low gears on a relatively shallow part of the climb, but they were traveling in groups of 2~3 and looked as if they were having fun.
Steep drop off alongside the road at top of Bijotani
Ura Wada was relatively quiet, though we did see Alan and Naomi W. of TCC whiz by on the descent as we climbed the lower stretches.  On the descent, I got a heat puncture from sitting on my brakes ... and the wheel rim was too hot to touch as I tried to change the tire.
Fujino's local yuzu cider - lots of sugar
I rode Brunhilda Li, my German-designed, China-built Canyon carbon frame bike, with my HED Jet 6 wheels.  Brunhilda is a great frame, and the wheels are fast -- noticeably easier to hold a speed over 35 kph, and noticeably easier into the headwind.

22 June 2013

Ready for LEL -- Voyage, Voyage

I still have more training to do -- the Fuji SR600 coming up --  but my bike ("Voyage") is ready for London Edinburgh London.

I've selected the wheels, lighting and storage options (though I may go with a larger rear bag ultimately).  The major tweaks from recent rides are below, as of June 22.  Updates further below are as of July 7.

(1) I have added some new carbon bottle holders (via Aliexpress) and will take advantage of the ability to attach a third bottle holder under the downtube.  As you can see, I have a tool canister in the third bottle holder.  This will free up space in the rear and handlebar bags for other, lighter weight gear.

UPDATE:  Though I will use the third bottle holder, I am a bit disappointed by its small capacity.  Its main purpose will be for storing a few heavier items, since the Rixen Kaul klick-fix seatpost attachment is rated for a maximum of 2 kgs.  I will probably use the slightly larger Rixen Kaul bag (photo below) rather than the Voyager Mini-Flex (photo above).

(2) I will go with my trusty SV-8 dynamo hub, Velocity A23 rim, 32 Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and Supernova E3 Pro light.  For the rear wheel I will use the A23 rim I built with a Chris King classic hub and 32 spokes (drive side DT Swiss Competition, non-drive side Revolution0.

When I mounted the Supernova at my front brake attachment last month, I found that when I would turn the mounting bracket hit the shifting cable's barrel adjusters, which are at the base of the headtube.  This limited my turning angle to around 25-30 degrees -- a potential issue at slow speed.  It also would knock the light and brake off-center, and I feared that with time repeated impact against the cables would sever the inner shifter cables.  So I am mounting the light off a handlebar mount, with an extension high enough to avoid obstruction from the Ortlieb handlebar bag.  I considered the "axle mount", but I like this better -- at least I will try it for the SR600, to confirm it is stable.

UPDATE:  Using the light attachment pictured above, the light kept slipping forward/pointing down toward the ground, and was only really stable after being secured with a plastic tie looped from the light back around the handlebar stem.  I have since found another brake-base mount attachment that does not interfere with the barrel adjusters and, with some metal-bending, I managed to attach it to the Supernova light.  This seems to be a better solution for me than the SR600 attachments or the axle.  I should make a better attachment, or have one made, by someone with some scrap metal and a good drill.

(3) I also hooked up the Lightcharge USB charger again for some help in re-charging batteries (*limited to dry, daylight hours), to help keep the Garmin Edge 800 going over 4~5 days of LEL.  It has the benefit of being cheap, easy to install, and it should not compromise my lighting even if it happens to get waterlogged somewhere in Scotland.

UPDATE:  I tried to use the Lightcharge USB charger on my iphone ... and the amount of the charge over a 45+ minute plus descent with constant speed between 30 and 50kph was only around 6% of the phone's capacity.  I think "The Plug" does slightly better, but installation would be difficult.  I will go with battery chargers for Garmin and iphone, one more time.

(4) I plan to use the Axiom Fastback DLX reflex fenders -- clip on and off for easy packing.

UPDATE:  I will now use the SLS Raceblade Long removable fenders.  Easier clip on and off, better coverage, and slightly more stable.  See the updated fender review.

(5) new bartape, with gel pads underneath.  This and 700x25 (or 700x24) tires at sub-100psi, with 23mm wide rim traditional 3x spoked wheels should prevent hand pain, even if the road surfaces are poor.

UPDATE:  On the SR600, the bar tape/gel worked very nicely.  Also my shoes worked well -- no hot foot or pain whatsoever.  I will go with my favorite 700x24 Vittoria Open Pave CG tires.  My Conti 700x25s will be spares, one on the bike and one or two in my drop bag(s).

(6) a SRAM Rival "wi-fli" long cage rear derailleur and 11-32 rear cassette (to give me easy climbing gears with 53-39 front chainrings -- essentially the same low gear ratio as with 11-28 and 50-34 compact crankset gearing).

UPDATE:  LEL set up pictured below.

15 June 2013

More Keirin -- International Riders

Nice documentary about Shane Perkins and other international riders who are invited to participate in Japanese keirin races, embedded over at MOB's Cyclyng blog.

The Return of Womens' Keirin

Apparently in the past year or two, women's keirin has returned to the betting tracks of Japan.

I learned this when I happened to catch a rebroadcast segment on J Sports cable TV last week.  The event is called "Girl's Keirin" in Japan by the marketing folks (and J Sports), though this would be considered offensive in the U.S., and in interviews the athletes themselves use the term jyoshi keirin -- 女子競輪 -- which really means womens' keirin.

It seems that the bikes used are international standard track bikes -- carbon frames allowed -- and the rules are more consistent with international track bike racing, so the intention is to nurture women riders who can compete at international events, not just to add to the domestic keirin/gambling circuit.

In any event, I missed the earlier inevitable TV segment about the model or "campaign girl" turned keirin rider, and instead caught the much more inspirational one about Miyoko Takamatsu, the 51-year old mom and ex-amateur triathlete who in 2011 decided to go to Keirin School and make her professional sports debut at age 50.  50 ... is the new 40!  or maybe 50 is the new 35!  To a 50-year old cyclist, this is as much of an inspiration as Yuichiro Miura summiting Mt. Everest at age 80, or Jamie Moyer (born one month after me in 1962) still suiting up and pitching in the major leagues in his late forties -- and managing to pitch a major league shut-out game in each of 4 different decades.

Japan may be an aging society, but it is a very healthy and active one.

14 June 2013

Brevets on Gravel?

Jerome and I would love to plan some Brevet courses some years in the future, when we each have fewer job and family commitments. ...

So after seeing this NY Times story, and reading on the Seattle Randonneurs' list about this San Francisco based series of gravel long distance rides, I think I need to consult with Tom, Manfred and others about potential Brevet courses on real backroads in Japan.

13 June 2013

Who needs an Ebike ...

When you can have ... a jet bike.

And more detail is available here.

05 June 2013

600km Okitsu Classic

The last two Kanagawa Audax events I have attended had very small groups of riders.  Last October's 600km Brevet had only 9 finishers and 13 DNFs, as the mountainous course drove away most potential entrants, and Saturday night rain in Nagano punished those who tried it.  Then last month, plenty of riders signed up for the the 400km "Okitsu Classic", but the weather forecast was grim enough to persuade many riders that they would be happy just to stay at home.
Surfers visible at Omaezaki coastlne -- reminds me a bit of California along the PCH
So it was a bit of a shock for Jerome and me to show up, a few minutes late, for the pre-ride briefing on Saturday at 530AM, and walk into a room of nearly 100 people, including riders and staff, and a number of familiar faces.  Maya Ide and Haruyo Kinomiya, who entered the Cascade 1000 last year in Washington State, and many other Kanagawa regulars.  
Just over the next hill at Omaezaki, looking toward the Hamaoka nuclear reactor and a Vestas wind turbine farm.  The woman rider in the photo is Yume-san, who I met when I helped with a tire change before PC1.   This was the last I saw of her ... as my pace was slower than normal with stiff muscles and high humidity.
The course did not disappoint -- easier than last fall's 600km, and with some very nice stretches.  

Most notable was the 100km+ mountainous stretch along route 473 then route 151 in Shizuoka, Aichi and Nagano, through Sakuma and Niino and on into Iida.  Nice river valleys and mountains, with low traffic even on a Saturday afternoon.  I had not ridden this before, but would love to do so again.
Tenryugawa, from the Eastern shore
I had ridden along the reservoirs of the Tenryugawa, back a few years on a trip from Chino to Hamamatsu, along the Akiba Kaido.  That time, I found the never-ending reservoirs monotonous, the tunnels unpleasant, and was looking for an alternate route the next time I ride the Akiba Kaido.  This time, I got a completely different perspective, as we took a small local road along the East side of the reservoirs, bypassing the tunnels and the traffic, and most of the time riding in the woods.  Very nice. 
More Tenryugawa
I started the event with VERY sore ribs and right side of my chest -- from a minor fall off the bike last Wednesday,.  I warned Jerome that I might not be able to ride ... but decided to do so, even if not as quickly as him.  I had some pain the first few hours, until my muscles relaxed in a stretched out position on the bike, and again at the very end of the ride, and took it at much more relaxed pace than I would like, but was otherwise fine.  Jerome zoomed ahead, reaching Tenryu (136kms) several hours ahead of me, resting at a hotspring ("kenko land") in Shiojiri as I struggled through most of the night with only brief meal-time and road-side naps, and then finishing hours ahead of me.
We veer off the main river and head up Route 473 into that valley

A tunnel on Route 151 as we start to gain altitude
The last 40% of the route was familiar territory, from Matsumoto back to the Shizuoka coast via Shiojiri, Fujimi, Minami Alps and the Fujikawa, with a few different twists than last month ... but the weather cooperated this time and the ride was pleasant.

04 June 2013

NYC's Bicycle-Promoting Totalitarians!

Here is the link to Ezra Klein's take on this WSJ fumble (and you can view the video there) -- both he and James Fallows used the comparison to The Onion  ... somehow the embedded video seems not to work from blogger.com ...

No, this is video is not from "The Onion".   It is from a WSJ editorial board member who knows that she represents the "majority" view.

Those UGLY bicycle racks.  Bike parking racks are a fire hazard ... cars, not so much.
 4 wheels good, 2 wheels bad!
Over the past five years in NYC, 597 pedestrians hit by cars and trucks. None killed by cyclists. ... But everyone "knows" that cyclists are the real threat, even more so since they were empowered by the mayor and his ideologically maddened traffic commissioner!
Didn't the Chinese ride bikes when they were really communists?  Don't those Dutch socialists ride bikes?  Don't you see the connection?
A cyclist was killed by SUV in the first week of bike sharing program. The answer -- punish the victims.