23 February 2014

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

I am behind on my training schedule.  What to do?

Get out the Powercranks for some fun while commuting and on the trainer!  The Osymetric cranks are EASY on the legs -- less effort to get through the "dead spots".  I really should avoid them for training, and just use them for events.

The Powercranks, on the other hand, will get the job done.  Stronger legs coming up!  Legs that will shut up when told!  I have not used these since 2011, when they helped me get ready for Transalp.  And eventually I got to the point where I managed to ride around Mt. Fuji using them, with plenty of climbing.

And I finally got the shift lever I need for the Retroshift set up.  So for now the Canyon is an odd beast.  Powercranks.  Right side Retroshift.  And a new Ultegra 6700 rear derailleur and a new 12-30 rear cassette.  If the Retroshift works out, eventually I will move this groupset to the Ti Travel bike, for randonneuring, and put the SRAM Red groupset on the Canyon for speed.

Retroshift with Dura Ace lever.

Long, Slow Distance

With the snow these past 2 weeks, I have gotten way behind my plan to in shape for the Fleche in mid-April.  No Brevet in January or, with the Chiba cancellation, February ... unlike last year, when I had a 400, 200 and 300 under my belt by early March mid-February.

Yesterday, I saw Tom S. when he had stopped at C Speed on his way back from a Miura Peninsula loop.  His face was covered with dust, and Hiroshi said Tom had grumbled about the traffic volumes and lights.  That did not sound pleasant, and today, Sunday, the forecast suggested it would be no colder -- and maybe sunnier -- if I headed north into the areas of Saitama beyond Oume -- Iruma, Hanno, Moroyama, Ogose, Yorii, etc.  I wanted to look at a few smaller pieces of land someone had brought to my company as potential solar project sites.

Plus, I thought it would be fun to ride with the snow on the sides of the road.  My wife's suggestion that western Saitama and adjacent Gunma were still near disaster areas from last week's snow made it even more intriguing, bearing in mind Rule No. 9 of the Velominati, I looked forward to the cold weather and snow.

So I headed up the Tamagawa at 8:15AM.
Cold and a bit bleak in the morning

It was cold and cloudy at first, but the clouds cleared completely about the time I passed into Saitama at Iruma and its tea fields.  Just south of the tea fields I could see some damage from the snow loads of last week.
Snow damage in Iruma

More of the same.

I made decent time, and eventually found myself on roads I have taken during various Saitama and Aoba brevets.  But the weather was actually very nice, especially in the sun and mid-day relative warmth.  Sure, it was cold.  But not really bad-ass cold. 

I made it to Yorii, and eventually found some reasonably deep snow.
Snowy valley in Yorii near the JR Hachiko Line 
It was a fast ride back, at last with a favorable wind.  176 kms in all.

UPDATE:  I awoke the day after posting this to a notice that the Nishi Tokyo March 15 brevet has been postponed, cancelled, due to the current snow levels on 2 passes.  Of course, there are still 19 days before the event, so I would think it is a bit premature ... Jerome and I may need to plan our own training ride instead.

16 February 2014

Snow, Snow, Snow

February is usually the worst month for winter cycling weather in Tokyo.  The nice clear weather of December is gone, and we get our share of wet and cold days.  It is often treacherous to venture into the mountains and even the hills around Lake Sagami, black ice on the descents, especially on the Northern slopes. But at least it is possible to ride up the Tamagawa toward Oume, or around the Miura Peninsula south of town.

What we do not get, in Tokyo, is significant snow.  At worst, we get a few inches of wet stuff once or twice a winter, and we can cycle again quickly, usually the next day.  I can gloat over my friends in the U.S. as they need to stop cycling entirely for weeks at a time.

Not this year.

On Saturday, February 8, we got a significant snow fall -- 20-25 cms (8-10 inches) or more of dry snow.  The weather stayed cold enough that it took days to melt.  I was finally able to ride my bike into town on Tuesday the 11th, a public holiday with light traffic (and so it was possible to avoid getting pushed out of the main lanes and into the snow lining the streets.

The snow was gone by Friday ... just in time for the next storm.  This one started early Friday, with light snow until early evening, then heavy snow all night, followed by a few hours of rain.  By late Saturday morning Tokyo had another 25 cms of very heavy snow.  Kofu, in Yamanashi, got a record 108 cms of snow by 11AM Saturday.   Maebashi on the plains of Gunma, where I did a Brevet this time last year, got almost 70 cms.  Of course, Chiba cancelled its Saturday 200km Brevet.  The waether  warmed up by Saturday afternoon, and is warm again on Sunday.  But way too much snow and slush for cycling.  Still over 70 cms on the ground in Kofu!

And what traffic there is on the streets seems to be trucks with traditional metal tire chains, their rattling loud against the bare pavement on the main streets.  Will we even see potholes in Tokyo over the next month or two?  Will I actually suffer a flat tire on my commute from the crap left on the road from this weather mess ... for the first time in years?

Snow on the veranda

Snow on the back section of the house
 I may even get out the trainer and get some exercise indoors while watching the "winter" Olympics on the Black Sea.

09 February 2014

Panasonic Blue Beauty

The Panasonic bike is built up!  The handlebar arrived Friday so I could do the cabling and final build during Saturday's snow storm.

It is a dark blue, with black saddle, bar tape, etc and silver seat post, stem, etc.  The blue rims on the wheels are the only thing flashy.

The components?  Here are most of them:

Jack o' Lantern?

Okay, one or two non-Japanese parts.  But majority Japan content.

A few more photos mid-build:

Awaiting the handlebars so I can do the cabling.