22 May 2017

Wednesday - Giro Meets Stelvio

I have been enjoying Beardy McBeard's daily photo report on the Giro D'Italia. Stage 15 ended in Bergamo on the cobbles/marble flagstones. Tomorrow, they rest, and on Wednesday, they will climb the Stelvio Pass.  Will they beat MOB's and my times from 2015 Giro delle Dolomiti?  Can they do it in 50% of the time? 40%? Well, on today's 199 km flattish stage, the average speed was 46.5 kph. Wow. And with 7 riders within 5 minutes of the lead, entering the last stretch of the race, Wednesday should be an interesting day.

Beardy's rest day ride over the Stelvio last year offers some really beautiful photos, here. And Tuesday he will do it again. I recommend subscribing for his daily update photos.

This year's rest day photos are here.

21 May 2017

Pollen and heat

Today I headed out for a morning ride with Jerome. I wanted to do the Tsukui / Otarumi loop.

It was HOT today, at least 30 degrees C, maybe hottest day of the year so far in Tokyo. But I drank huge amounts of water, and the heat was manageable.

But by the time I got out of town, my hay fever was really kicking in -- eyes watering, face itchy. I have been off any anti-histamine since March and managed okay, even on the Tohoku trip over GW. But today, it hit me. What was the pollen source? Well, my distress increased as we rode the Tank Road around Machida toward Lake Tsukui.  I noticed none of the grasses have been cut. No wonder.
grasses all along the Tank Road
I doused my head with water just past the end of the Tank Road, and again at a convenience store nearer Tsukui, then turned around and came home.  I took more urban roads home, and made it back to Setagaya, and an anti-histamine, eye drops and a nice shower, without trouble.

Despite the pollen distress, I set a personal record (on Strava) for my return down Onekansen Doro. Why? Well, I realize that the "segment" starts just at the traffic signal by Tamasakai Ave (near the Starbucks at the far end of Onekana), so when I usually ride back from the Tank Road entrance, ... I am not completing the Strava segment. 

Around 85 kms, so a bit over 150 for the weekend. Not bad, and my weight is finally, slowly, dropping.

19 May 2017

Van Moof rolls out new "Smart City Bike" for Japanese Market

Dutch cycling/lifestyle company VanMoof has announced a new "smart urban" bike model for Japan. It seems aimed at the Tokyo urban market.
-- Built in front and rear lights, dynamo powered.
-- A really nice front hub electric assist power - 24kph up those hills with barely any effort.
-- Mechanical disk brakes.
-- study front rack to attach a briefcase, purse or small shopping bag.
-- Anti theft features to dream of. ("Find my bike" GPS, etc. And, as I understand it, a "Lockout" feature so the bike stops working if it is reported missing, and even a guaranteed replacement if the bike is not recovered in 2 weeks.)
Pieter Franken reports it is a joy to ride.  As he notes, it is "Piet Mondrian meets mama chari":

This kind of product moves away from mama chari "bicycle as disposable item" to bicycle as urban transportation alternative. For a stylish Tokyoite who can only have one bike, mostly for getting around town, and who wants electric assist, looks like a great alternative.

I stopped by the event, but needed to head off before I could do a test ride (and the size is for the Japanese market anyway).

07 May 2017

Golden Week - Isabella Byrd's "Unbeaten Tracks of Japan" 1500kms #tohokudeyokatta

Jerome and I joined many friends for the AJ Kanagawa-sponsored series of rides in Tohoku over golden week.

The ride was a spectacular series of events -- 300, 400, 200 and 600 kms in length.
I did all but the 200 km one (instead I rode 125 kms to get to Aomori and do a short side trip). Jerome rode all 1500 kms.
The route offered a great mix of mountains, seacoast, farmland and everything else. Beautiful weather except for rain the first day.

I rode the Renovo Firewood -- it was extremely comfortable and fast, and the Di-2 shifting worked without recharge for the full event, while the hydraulic disk brakes worked like a dream. One flat rear tire (clincher) and a creaking BB (grit in the threads) were the only extremly minor hiccups.

You can see my photos here on Flickr.

You can find the routes on RidewithGPS.

First 300 kms.

Next 400 kms.

Third event - 200 kms.

Final leg -- 600 kms.*
*We were offered the alternative of going up through Oirase Keiryu to Towada-ko, and doing a short extra loop later that evening to make up the distance.

My favorite areas:
(1) Ouchi Juku
(2) Mogamigawa and Shinjo at dawn
(3) Kakunodake and the long climb and descent over Ani Pass
(4) the sea coast of western Aomori (Fukaura)
(5) the small peninsula east of Aomori-shi
(6) Oirase Keiryu, Towada-ko, and the descent to the South
(7) climb to Appi Kogen
(8) early morning stretch in the hills just above the plain of Ichinoseki, and along a river toward Ishinomaki
(9) gentle climb up the Abukuma River in S Miyagi and N Fukushima.

Quite a lot for one week!