28 January 2017

Wada in Winter ... and the Women of Jimba Kaido!

The Renovo poses at Wada Toge in the usual place
Today was a balmy late-January day. I had to get some work out of the way before heading out, and did not leave home until after 11AM. Still, I was determined to get in a decent ride as I cannot ride next weekend, and I've got the Yakushima hill climb coming up next month.

130 kms and 1700 meters of elevation gain (if you believe RidewithGPS and Strava).
I hopped on the Renovo, my most "fun to ride" bike for longer distances. The ride qualities of the wood frame, the DI2 shifting, hydraulic disk brakes, and tubeless Schwalbe 1 tires on wide rimmed Velocity Aileron rims ... makes it one sweet ride.

I headed for Hachioij, then onto Jimba Kaido toward the hills. I realized that it has been a LONG time since I have gone the main road up Wada. Too much traffic, and shorter (if steeper) than the Daigo Rindo alternative (which is plenty steep, and actually climbs 35-40 meters higher, to boot). Today, I thought there would not be much traffic, mid-winter, and I was a bit worried about debris and perhaps ice on the rindo, so I decided to go straight up Jimba Kaido. On the approach, I was not disappointed. The weather was spectacular and there was almost no traffic.
On Jimba Kaido!
As I turned left and headed the last stretch toward the base of the steep climb, a touring rider darted out of a pulloff. He was fully loaded and young. I figured he must be a college student (final exams just ended, and only students, homeless people, crazy foreigners and a few Audax riders do that kind of thing in winter.  I asked him where he was headed. "Kobe".  Impressive.  "Nairiku route?"  "Yes!" Just like Jerome, but he looked as if he were planning to spend at least a week on the ride.  I got a photo later as I took a rest at the bus stop before the climb.
College student heading for Kobe via the inland route

I realized as I headed toward the stretch to the base of the climb that I had not seen the Women of Jimba Kaido in a long time. Were they still there? Still unclothed? Did they miss me? Or had someone else taken them away. I was delighted to see that the Women were still outside, unclothed and beautiful. But there clearly had been activity.  I think a major change in the troupe--fewer massive reclining bodies and more diversity. Still plenty of headless bodies though!
Some of the Women of Jimba Kaido
One on the far side of the group was a bit demure, facing away from me.

For the first time ever, I could hear the sculptor at work, even see him through an open window along the road.

Anyway, I did the climb slowly, and needed to get off the bike twice because of traffic -- once when a cyclist coming down tried to go around me on my left/his right, and I needed to put a foot down and walk a few meters to somewhere with enough room to remount and lock in, cursing him for not passing on the left. Then there was the classic traffic jam -- Honda Odyssey going up and similar car trying to come down. They were facing off each other and the Honda was starting to back down, but there was not room for me to ride by, so I dismounted and walked around both cars. Next time I will take the rindo.
Some snow near the top, but not much!
Near the top

Mikan, Palm Trees, and Tea Bushes!
At the top it was warm enough to chat with an American named Jim who said he was in Japan in the 1990s and came back recently, is riding with Half Fast, and came up the Ura Wada climb. Eventually his riding partner Andre (riding a GS Astuto carbon frame bike) appeared.

I headed down to the west since my sweat was starting to get cold from chatting at 700 meters elevation. The west side was great, a beautiful valley as usual, no traffic, only a bit of slush and ice near the top--but always a clear path through on dry pavement.

I had forgotten that getting from the west side of Wada to Fujino does include one short climb. Then I was on Route 20. Instead of continuing over Otarumi, I headed SE and took the high forest road on the North side of Lake Tsukui.
Tsukui field -- I have photos all seasons. But this does not look quite like I remember previous winters.

On the north side of Tsukui. Just beautiful today.

Shadows getting long as I leave Tsukui behind
I took the Tank Road and Onekansen Doro. Uneventful, but at least I still felt okay, not pushing too hard. At Yanokuchi I decided I would take the Kawasaki side and stop by C Speed. A group of 7-8 sharply dressed Japanese road cyclists was heading out from the Yanokuchi Lawson as I passed. I ended up in the middle of their group. It was a "Rapha" ride. Anyway, it was nice to ride with a group for a change, stop by C Speed to see Hiroshi, and then head home, finally in the dark, but not an issue for the Renovo with its SD-8 dynamo hub and front/rear lighting!

January has been a good start to the cycling year, especially in comparison with the past two years!

21 January 2017

Japan Handmade Bicycle Show - - The ride home and Farmer's Market - Part 4

After leaving the bicycle show, it was lunchtime as I rode home down Aoyama Dori in sun and a warm (if windy) winter day.
In front of United Nations University, there was a big farmer's market. It seems to be a regular event both Saturday and Sunday.
It could have been straight out of Portland, Oregon. There were some people selling antiques anc crafts, but it was at least 80% food. Lots of food carts I had a "half and half" with two types of curry, quite spicy and not Japanese at all. Tasty, and there were plenty of other things that looked good.

I wandered and got some vegetables, leaf lettuce, and small jar of goat cheese/mushroom paté, tea from Shizuoka, etc. Some things were expensive, but others were no more, even less, than at the supermarket.
This was all I could carry -- no rucksack. Lots more looked good!
And there were lots of things you could not find at the supermarket, definitely - different types of apples, colored cauliflower, beets, yuzu jelly, and delicious raspberry jam. The jam REALLY tasted like fresh raspberries -- the berries are grown and jam made in Hokuto-shi in Yamanashi -- I had a nice conversation with the lady about the difficulty of growing and handling raspberries in Japan, using knowledge I got from Jerome on a bike ride long ago.

The goat cheese is from a goat herd near Otsuki, toward Sarubashi (here). She was surprised that I knew the place.

So was the lady who sold me the black tea from Shizuoka (north Tenryugawa).

So was the couple who selling an Australian variety of apples from Nagano.  I said "Nakano?" She was surprised I knew it was the apple capital of Nagano -- since Aomori and some other apples are better known in Tokyo. (I remembered a couple we talked with at Nozawa Onsen at the public footbath who said they came every year to buy apples at Nakano, down the valley.)  I told her I had been there on my bicycle.  She said "ahh, Shiga Kogen".  Of course!

Just a few examples. All thanks to riding my bicycle around this country.

Despite hearing this morning on the news about Donald Trump's dystopian view of the world as expressed in his inaugural address, the world does not look grim. In fact, it looks like a pretty nice place.

Japan Handmade Bicycle Show - The Parking Lot - Part 3

As Jan Heine's blog post from last year's show noted, this year as well there were quite a few interesting bikes in the parking lot at the Japan handmade bicycle show. Not just my Renovo!
This proud owner told me he hand-sewed the leather trim on his basket.
And he pointed out the bike in the next photo to me.

Venus -- apparently a very rare bike today, probably from the 1960s, for Keirin racing use.

Rear brake for Keirin racing! Pull the lever - kind of like stopping a sled.

A pair of Amanda road bikes. Maybe his and hers ...?

A pair of Bromptons -- maybe his and hers?

One of several Bike Fridays I saw - Made in Oregon.

Vogue/Orient Industries. A builder in Kamakura?
Very bright, safety colors. Alfine internal hub. Distinctive.

Ravanello - made in Japan.

More Cherubim firehouse red!

Francesco Moser frame -- do not see many of these classics in Japan.

Japan Handmade Bike Show - Something Different - Part 2

Of course, a custom, hand-made bike show would not be complete without some different, non-standard designs!

Not sure how many of these they will sell ... but amusing,
and gets rid of the captain/stoker discrimination.
1. Miraicle.  This is a mini velo from Gifu, Mino city.  They are a division of Takai Corporation. The frame is a carbon monocoque mini velo with an internal hub (Alfine) and disk brakes.  Very high tech and not too heavy (10.8 kgs).  Itoh-san, the exhibitor, said he rides brevets with AR Chubu. He said he knows Higuchi-san from our Fleche team. A nice guy and an interesting mini velo for Japan and urban living ... though not for my body size/type!

2. Sano Magic - Wood Bicycle. I was happy to get a chance to see/touch these and chat with Mr. Sano, since I hear of him regularly since I got the Renovo.

His bikes are a very different concept than Renovo.  Solid wood (but surprisingly light -- I think a light type of wood). And not just the frame is wood (and no metal inserts like Renovo -- he is a purist). The saddle and seatpost, and the bars and fork, and even the wheel rims are wood.  He even has some wheels with wooden four-spoke designs. He says his design is more durable than other wood bikes, and still comfortable. He said there is one customer who rides his Sano 1000 kms a month. (I told him that I have ridden my Renovo on 200, 400 and 600 km brevets.) But I suspect most of Sano wood bikes are on display somewhere. At 2 million yen and up, a bit out of my price range ... and I have my doubts about whether any of them are being ridden as hard as I ride my bikes.

JPY2 million (around $17K at current exchange rates) gets you a complete bike
including wood rimmed wheels.  Mahogany anyone?
Still costs less than a sportscar, and you can hang it on your wall as art.

3. Sunrise Cycles!!

Speaking of art, these are contemporary art.  Weird, out of some sci-fi movie about a metal future. I loved it. The builder, based on Shinjuku-ku, did a huge amount of work on this bike. Even the mud guards have custom metal work involved.  Going wild with laser cut sheet steel.

They don't sell this bridge over at the framebuilder supply shop.

He brought out a beer can to show me how the 3 bottle cages were designed to work.
Not for your standard water bottle!

Fender from a Sci Fi movie - Aliens?

The most complex head tube I have ever seen.

No, this is not a suspension design. Just a very complicated, artistic connection

Again, very complex, and cool.
Panier attachment ...

More complexity here.

4. More Mini Velos

5. Paul Brakes

These Paul brakes looked really solid.
6. New Dynamo Lighting

A Dutch dynamo light (with SV-8 hub -- not shown).
The frame is titanium, painted for the classic look. And carbon bars?!?

Makino randonneur with classic front light

A Dobbat's bike. With the newest Busch and Mueller light and a Shimano centerlock disk brake dynamo hub.
Looks like a thin tire, all weather road bike. 

7. History on Display. They had a road and a single speed/track "Everest" from pre-WWII Japan.

After the show, it was out to the bicyele parking lot for the ride home.