31 August 2014

Old Men on Bikes

Today Jerome and I went for our first ride since David and Juliane's visit, as Jerome is finally back in Japan from a lengthy business trip.  It was the nicest weather for a bike ride in several months.  Partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid 20s (C), and a nice breeze that did not ever become a really ugly headwind.

There were lots of old guys out on bikes, taking advantage of the weather for a spin.  No, I am not talking about myself or Jerome, but lots of 70-  and 80-somethings riding along the Tamagawa bike path and elsewhere this afternoon.  And plenty of 60- and 70-somethings on road bikes further out.  Of course, there were some young guys as well, and a number of teen and pre-teen road cyclists on Yabitsu.  Indeed, I cannot remember ever having seen as many cyclists on Yabitsu as today.

We headed out from my house before 8AM.  Jerome rode his new randonneuring bike, the bette noire or "black beast".  I lent him one of my front wheels that has a disk and carbon clincher rim, with dynamo hub, so he could try it out for the 1000 km Brevet we will try in late September.  He still needs to get SPD shoes/cleats for these pedals, but today rode in running shoes.

Jerome with the Black Beast
Jerome had hoped for rain today ... to demonstrate how I will now be able to sit on Jerome's wheel without getting crushed.  Instead, we just got nice weather!

Before starting the ride, I had noticed that my rear tire was low.  I pumped it up but knew it would bear watching.  On the way out Onekan, after the first hill and descent, where I had made a minor breakaway from a pack of Japanese riders, and Jerome, the tire was almost flat.  I changed the tube and pumped it up ... but saw a bulbous protrusion from the tire sidewall at one point.  Then a realized I must have put the wrong tire on this wheel, the one that had given David J. troubles at Nozawa Onsen 3 weeks earlier after a long descent with the brake pad rubbing against the sidewall.  We decided to try the Cherubim / Konno Seisakujo shop in Machida, and if it was not open, then Cycle Base Asahi at Hashimoto.

The front door of the Cherubim shop was open, two employees were working on a bike, so we walked in and I found a Panaracer "Closer Plus" 700x25 tire -- a reasonably priced and very functional replacement.  This looks like an excellent "cost/performance" training tire.  

After wandering around the shop and selecting the tire, I noticed a sign on a stand near the door to the effect that the shop opens at 10AM, ... whereas we were there just after 9AM and walked right in the open door.  But they had no problem accommodating us.  The man who helped us asked about my S and S coupled Ti travel frame, wondering where I had gotten it.  And they brought out a floor pump for me as I was changing the tire on the sidewalk out front.  Very considerate.  I really do want to get a beautiful custom built Cherubim randonneur frame while I am in Japan.

The beast at rest near the Cherubim shop in Machida.
Since we had deviated from our "normal" routes out to Yabitsu to get the tire replacement, we headed west on Kanagawa Routes 57/54.  There was plenty of urban sprawl, traffic lights, etc., but once we crossed the Sagami River at Takadabashi -- the start/goal of many Brevets -- we found ourselves on a nice route climbing up the other side on Route 54.
This shows our route deviation from Machida to Aikawa/Hanbara as a straight line, as I forgot to turn the Garmin recording back on when we left our rest stop.  Our actual route swung a bit south toward Camp Zama at the crossing of the Sagami river.

Eventually we were on a steep climb through Aikawa/Hanbara area, and stopped for a quick rest at the Aikawa Solar Park a/k/a Sun Terrace Tobishima.  This Kanagawa Prefecture solar project looks very nice (and expensive)! Just the landscaping probably costs more than one of my company's similarly sized projects.

From here just a short climb and some tunnels and we reached the NE corner of Miyagase-ko.  I have been to Miyagase-ko countlest times, but never ridden this approach before.  Jerome said he had descended it once.

After getting some water and onigiri (rice balls) at the Miyagase michi-no-eki, we headed onto the Yabitsu climb.  Eventually Jerome pulled ahead of me and disappeared far ahead up the road, riding strong and fast.  Too fast, it turned out, as I found him resting and eating "kaki-gori" shaved ice with syrup topping at the restaurant/coffee shop about 100 meters elevation below the top, just before the steepest part of the climb.  He had run out of energy.  I joined him for a few minutes, to consume my last rice ball (having stopped to eat the first one mid-climb).  Then I went on and reached the pass ahead of him.

Yabitsu Pass is on Kanagawa Route ... 70.

Here comes Jerome!
We did not stay long at the pass, but headed back down to the kaki-gori cafe, for a basic pasta lunch.  There were cyclists coming and going the entire time.

The trip home was uneventful, except a Baskin Robbins "31" stop in Hashimoto.  On the way back, as usual, Jerome pulled more than I.  But I had plenty left in the tank and could take some pulls.  Plus, I realized, Jerome's use of street shoes seemed to slow his usual acceleration significantly, especially on short uphill stretches.  So I could step up the pace a bit, even attack on those stretches, and end up in front.  I am not foolish enough to think I will be able to do the same thing once he clips into the pedals.

All in all, a very successful inaugural P.E. ride for the black beast.

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