24 November 2013


Last week when I crested Wada Pass and chatted with a group of Audax riders seated at the cafe, I asked (jokingly) if they were on a brevet.  One of the women said that no, they were "cycling".  I guess this is Japanese (among Brevet riders, at least) for a more relaxed ride ... as opposed to training, racing, etc. (all of which I would consider "cycling").

Today I went cycling in beautiful weather.  Out One-kan, the North side of Tsukui, Kanagawa Routes 517, 518, Makime Pass, then across Doshi Michi and through the countryside North of Miyagase, then winding my way toward Atsugi for a quick hammerfest along Route 246 as far as Yamato/Chuo Rinkan, and home via train.  Spectacular weather and a nice ride.
Fall at Lake Tsukui

Fall along the road to Makime Pass - Kanagawa Route 518

Fall as the climb steepens
a 1MW solar power project just over the south side of Makime Pass
The Route

23 November 2013

LEL Jersey

I had not planned on ordering a commemorative jersey for London Edinburgh London 2013 ... but upon seeing them in July at the event, I changed my mind and joined the "post event" order.  Mine arrived on Friday.
Full zipper, of course.  Zippered waterproof back pocket, of course.

Left shoulder

Right shoulder
Lots of nice details, like this area at the back of the neck.  And of course it will be a perfect fit next year, when I lose those few kgs. ...

21 November 2013

Cycle Polo -- Komazawa Park Wednesday Nights

Jerome and I had dinner with Laurent last night near Omotesando.  Laurent had a car parked in town, but Jerome and I were on bicycles and rode home.  As we passed Komazawa Park, in the shadows on the opposite side of the road we passed what looked like an organized cycling event of some kind.  It required a closer look.

It looks like a younger man's (and woman's) game, with a requirement for track stands, bunny hops etc. to be any good.  But the mallet does provide a third point of support, and everyone seemed to be having fun!

One of the guys recognized me (and my bike) from Above Bike Store.

Wednesday nights.  9PM on ...

This video gives a better idea of the light conditions and the action.

17 November 2013

Reverse Paul Jason -- Kobu Tunnel, Golf Course Hills and West side of Wada

It was a beautiful day today, perfect for cycling.  Jerome and I did a longer half-day ride -- 140 kms of the "reverse Paul Jason" ride, one of our classics.  Up the Tamagawa and Akigawa, over Kobu Tunnel, the "golf course hills" of Uenohara, and back over Wada Pass.

We left my house a little around 7:45AM, and I was back around 2:20PM.  Unusually, I was well ahead of Jerome at the top of Kobu Pass and Wada Pass (he stopped for a drink at a vending machine on the ura Wada climb).  Jerome was ahead of me through the golf course hills, more in form.  Beautiful weather the entire way, some headwinds coming back into town, but we have been in worse.  We met a group of about 10 regular Audax riders who were resting at the Wada witch's son's cafe.

Not really a lot to say about this ride, except "beautiful!"

Heading up the Tamagawa -- lots of walkers and cyclists out today.
Just about to start the descent into Yamanashi from Kobu Tunnels
Mt Fuji barely visible from the back side of Wada Pass, now snow covered.

10 November 2013

Clif Bar in Japan ... at an almost reasonable price

My longtime favorite energy bar for cycling is the Clif Bar.  Back when others were inedible and full of preservatives, Clif Bar stood apart as really tasty and easy to digest.  And the little tale on each bar about how the brand started out, won me over.  Clever marketing.

But it was not available in Japan, until quite recently.  And once it became available in Japan, the prices were very steep -- well over $2 per bar.

So I was very happy to see a variety box of Clif Bars featured at Costco in Kawasaki yesterday evening.  18 bars for under 3000 yen.  Arount $1.60 per bar.  Still not U.S. pricing, but much better.

The end of an institution -- no more 7-11 on the Tamagawa in Fuchu

When I first started cycling in Tokyo back in 2004, it was a rare ride that did not include a stop at the 7-11 along the Tamagawa, a few kilomters past Sekidobashi and just beyond the Yotsuyabashi (Pref Route 20) turn off to head out toward Takao.

Even if it is only 20 kms from my house, that is not too far for a morning stop after saddling up without a full breakfast or coffee.  And it is 30-35 kms for riders who come from central Tokyo.

A few years later, after Y's moved its Tamagawa store up the river to a building next to the 7-11, this intersection (Yotsuya 5-chome) became an unofficial mecca for road cyclists in western Tokyo.  On any sunny weekend midday, you were pretty much guaranteed to see not just serious road cyclists staging for a trip into the mountains, but some "potterers" and at least a few MAMILs with expensive road bikes -- including one slightly overweight guy posing on his Colnago with rear disk wheel -- stopping for food and drink before heading back into town to complete a flat, sub-50 km ride.

Jerome and I rode up and down the river today, and I am sorry to report that the 7-11 is gone.

Wouldn't this be a great place for a cycle shop/cafe?  Maybe something a bit different than Y's?  If interested, you can call the real estate broker a the phone number on the window!

Shimano SPD pedal self destructs?!?!

I started my commute to work on Friday morning and quickly headed via Kaminoge Dori toward Meguro Dori taking the fast route rather than the more relaxed Komazawa Dori.  I was using my standard Azabu-and-back commuting rig -- the Yamabushi, with SPD pedals and Shimano cycling sandals -- comfortable, easy to change out of at the office.

But soon after I got onto Meguro Dori and up to speed, I felt am odd slippage on my right pedal, my foot sliding off the pedal entirely.  Somehow, the pedal had come entirely off its spindle.
Left pedal, still in one piece; Right pedal, useless
What triggered this?  I have no idea.  I guess nothing lasts forever, and these are more than 5 years old, with heavy usage over the past year or two.  But it was a bit disconcerting, since I am using other SPD pedals (with a platform) on longer rides, and would hate to have the same thing happen during a long randonee.  I am not about to start traveling with spare pedals!

03 November 2013

Gando Toge! 厳道峠

Jerome and I headed out around 8:15AM on a beautiful early November morning, without any set route plan.  When we got to Tamagawahara bashi, the light was red and so I suggested we head across the bridge and continue out Onekansen Doro, the first time in quite awhile.  We saw lots of cyclists, especially on this stretch.
After a quick trip out Onekan and then along the Tank Road and Machida Kaido, we were just about to turn onto Route 413 when we saw a familiar face and bicycle.  The bicycle was a Cervelo R3 SL with Lightweight wheels, impeccably maintained and clean as usual.  
The rider was Laurent, on a last training ride before next week's 210km Tour de Okinawa.  
The river along Doshimichi at Ryogoku Bashi
We rode together around the north side of Lake Tsukui, and decided to head up Doshi Michi.  At a rest stop at the 7-11 before the first real climb of Doshimichi, Laurent suggested that Jerome and I might want to try Gando Toge -- a new route for both Jerome and me -- though Laurent could not join as he needed to head back into town more quickly via the Route 76 loop.  
Too many cars and motorcycles on Doshi, as we try to turn into the rindo entrance
We found the entrance to the rindo (forest road) and were glad to leave Doshimichi with its heavy holiday car and motorbike traffic.
Rindo entrance for Gando Pass -- within a kilometer of the fountain where people fill water bottles
I remember Laurent once telling me that his favorite climb is Nokogiri, a relatively steep grade with plenty of rocks and debris on the road surface.  The south side of Gando also started relatively steep and with plenty of rocks and leaves on the road surface.  Within a kilometer of the entrance, I rode over some sharp gravel and heard a hissing sound.  A flat tube, and worse a nice slice on the sidewall of my tire. I fitted a folded 1000 yen note inside the tire at the tear and managed to inflate a replacement tube without it protruding through the slice.  A few meters further, the road became much clearer, and stayed that way all the way up.

The climb took us from 500 meters elevation at the entrance up to 800 meters elevation at the pass, with the grade usually in the 9-10% range.  So much easier than Nokogiri or Wada.
At Gando Pass
Then it was a nice descent to the north, ending up at Akigawa Onsen. 
We headed back in along Pref Routes 35 and 517, then 76, to Fujino.  We made one wrong turn and ended up at Fujino Onsen, a day hot spring that seemed teeming with visitors on this Sunday in the middle of a 3-day weekend.  The hot spring building looked nice, and we stopped to eat a snack on the benches in front. 
Fujino Onsen
Unfortunately, the views of nearby mountains and river were largely blocked by the huge hospital/nursing home facility just down the hill.

Then it was out onto Route 20, over Otarumi (with a stop for ramen at the pass), down past Takao and on the roads through Hachioji and home!

A classic Positivo Espresso ride, over 140 kms and a few good climbs, as well as a new route, discovered by Laurent and passed along to us.  Thank you, Laurent!

300,000 visits

It has taken awhile, but Positivo Espresso has now had 300,000 pageviews/visits, according to Google's web statistics.  Congratulations.