18 November 2019

Fall River in Fall / 秋の秋川

The Akigawa Gorge - 秋川渓谷

Weekend work-related events will severely limit my riding opportunities over the next month, so I was not about to miss the opportunity for a ride on Sunday. Jerome had just returned to town, and Peter also wanted to ride, so the three of us headed out. I met Peter at Meguro, and Jerome caught up with us at Futako Tamagawa.

We made excellent time up the Tamagawa and out Mutsumibashi Dori toward Itsukaichi, then stopped for water and a snack at the Seven Eleven on that road just before the Ken-O-Do under/overpasses. This Seven Eleven used to be in a small shopping mall with other shops, and the doors opened to the East in the direction one rides from approaching from the Tamagawa. Now it is alone with a very large parking lot and the doors open North toward the road. It is newer, and bigger, but still a Seven Eleven!
The Rideable part of Minami Fussa Park
The main attraction at the Seven Eleven was a yellowish lime green Lotus roadster with two women in it who were heading up the Akigawa for lunch somewhere beyond our turn-off. Non-cyclists, they were Japanese but spoke English as if each had lived a long time in the USA. Peter, a car person, told me that an old Lotus roadster is not so expensive, but it did look as if it would be very fun to drive on a winding road through the mountains.
Fun to drive!?!
Descending on lower Bonbori Rindo
At Tokura we entered the Bonbori Rindo and started the climb toward Iriyama Touge. We passed by a "road closed for urgent repairs" notice and went around some pylons to continue. There was earthmoving equipment on the left side, a power shovel to remove debris from Typhoon 19. Was that the repair? Alas, no. We only made it about halfway up the climb before we came upon some more serious blockage -- a pile of logs tossed down the hill along the stream in the torrential downpour of that storm.
Not easily surmounted

We gave up and returned toward Tokura, and within a kilometer or two of the U turn, each of Peter and I had flat tires, leaves and other debris on the road hiding some sharp rocks, I think. We passed several Japanese cyclists doing solo rides up. When we told a man on a road bike about the blockage, he turned around. A woman on a mountain bike continued to get in a bit more climbing and see for herself. We no longer had enough time to do the Kobu Tunnel alternative. But we headed up the Akigawa Gorge (秋川渓谷)to the Hinohara Village Office, then did another U-turn for home, stopping at a couple of the gorge's classic photo spots.
Across from the Hinohara Village Office

The typhoon damage still makes it a bit difficult in places along the Tamagawa. The park south of Mutsumibashi (睦橋), Fussa Minami Koen (福生南公園)was blocked off. Again, we could get around the barrier and ride half way through the park, then walk a bit, then ride the remainder. Others were doing the same. The weather was just about perfect for riding.
I walk my bike in Fussa Minami Park
All clear once we passed this footbridge/debris-catcher

Hinobashi near Tachikawa (日野橋), closed for major post-typhoon repairs.
My total distance was around 140km. Almost exactly the same as last weekend's Fuji ride.  That was a tougher ride by far, with more climbing. Is 140km that the "new normal" for me? I really need to do another 20km or even 30km to enjoy many of the Positivo Espresso traditional rides starting from Takanawa -- to get to Tomin no Mori or through Kobu Tunnel or out over Matsuhime Pass. Other classic rides are even further away. Still, my legs felt strong most of Sunday. I feel as if I am getting into good cycling shape again.

And it was great to ride with friends instead of solo.
Out and back

11 November 2019

Four Views of Fuji - South, West, North and East

First view -- South side. On my approach, on Shizuoka Route 72 after the climb up from Shin-Fuji Station to around 450m elevation.

Second view -- West side. Taken from a small road that connects Shizuoka Route 71 with National Route 139 just south of Asagiri Kogen.

Third view -- North side. From Lake Shoji at midday. Spectacular!

Fourth view -- West side. From Lake Yamanaka as I head back toward Tokyo. (If I had waited another 45-50 minutes here with many photographers, I could have taken the "diamond Fuji" with the sun setting directly over the summit ... but that would have meant a cold and dark descent down Doshi Michi).

All in all, an excellent ride. Doshi michi is completely blocked below the Route 76 turn off, and so there was a line of sitting cars several km long on Route 76 trying to get onto Route 20 at Fujino. ... and another line of cars on Route 20 beyond. So I rode cautiously past these cars, then hopped the train from Fujino.
Even Rte 139 near Fuji Yoshida looked nice on Sunday.
A bike alone at the Doshi "michi no eki" with its signs welcoming the Olympic Road Race

Fall colors in fading daylight on lower Yamanashi section of Doshi michi
Endless traffic as Route 76 approaches Route 20 (Koshu Kaido)

The day's route. As you can see, not QUITE straight no S, W, N and E views.
More like SW, W, NNE, ENE?

27 October 2019

Classic bikes in MOB's shop

MOB told me that he is selling lots of good quality city bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, and even some electric scooters.

But the other bikes around his shop that I really noticed were the "Eroica-eligible" classics hidden here and there.

You can find the rules for Eroica bicycles in Regulation 6.1 of the Eroica -- an annual 200+ km event on the bianca strada of Chianti in Tuscany. Basically, the bicycles should be from before 1987, or more recent ones that are "historically inspired".  No brifters, etc. I realized that MOB could easily outfit a team of tall Bremen-based riders to join the Eroica.

Here are two of them. First, a Pegliaghi.

Is it for sale?

Next, a Cinelli Supercorsa with gorgeous components.

Beautiful Campagnolo downshifters

Holes drilled ... for grip? Save weight?

A Peugeot ... too large a frame for Jerome.
Nagasawa track bike -- MOB bought this Keirin frame with me in Tokyo!

You can learn about all of these and more on MOB's blog.

Gute Fahrt near Bremen

Ferry plank signage
On Monday afternoon MOB and I took a ride in the countryside along the River Weser northwest of Bremen. The ferry (ferry company?) was the Weser courier, and they wished us and all the other vehicles a "good ride" as we rode off the boat. I explained to MOB that "gute fahrt" sounds to a juvenile American like "good fart", which is not really an appropriate farewell greeting, but is nonetheless very funny.

In a juvenile sort of way. Very juvenile. 

This word "fahrt" in German has a lot of comic potential. Where is Dave Barry when we need him?

I rode the Ridley with a 1x SRAM setup. Very nice. Very comfortable. Plenty of gear range.

700x40 Donnelly Strada tubeless ready tires. Very comfy and reasonably fast. 

The tire tread is just right -- some help on gravel and in minor wet patches, but still fast on paved roads.

We headed off to the north and after city streets eventually turned into an area of parks, marshlands, and agriculture. We made a brief photo stop on the grass-covered levy just as we rejoined the Weser most of the way out of town.

We soon arrived at a neighborhood facing the river, which included a road at river-level and another one along the top of the small ridge upon the side of which the houses were perched. This view must be very precious in an area of the world with almost NO hills.

We attacked the climb from lower to upper road, known as the "Mur de Bremen" or "Wall of Bremen".
The climb up the infamous "Wall".  Maybe 9-10m elev gain in a 60-70m path?
An impressive vessel, the tall ship Deutscheland. I believe used for training sailors.
(Can be rented for special occasions?!)

MOB points toward the sailing vessel.

Industrial areas -- power lines and wind turbines near the river.
LOTS of wind energy in northern Germany.
As we rode along one stretch, I could literally smell the wild blackberries. Delicious.

MOB said last time he rode by here he did not notice the berries ... something about
trying to hang on at the back of a very fast moving peleton of cyclists.

Wow, those look tasty! (They were, tasty!)
The bushes extended for hundreds of meters.
Likewise, somehow it was amusing to see an old Kellogg's cereal factory as part of the German industrial landscape.
We're not in Battle Creek Michigan anymore.
But Kellogg's is here.
Anyway, the ride was a nice exploration, and I can see the attraction of being in a place where good riding routes are only a few kilometers away.

You can see your route below, or get the Strava GPS track here.
Our route.
The blackberries were on the west side of the river ~75% of the way back to town.

26 October 2019

MOBs bicycles - Road

MOB's shop carries a large inventory of bikes. Of course, MOB rides road racers, he is primarily a roadie, and so you would expect the store to be a great place to test and buy a road bike. You would not be disappointed.

There are lots of brands, but the big three are Cannondale, Trek, and Wilier (in alphabetical order). There are a few Giant bikes around, but he is no longer handling them. And the bike I rode on our trip through the marshlands north of Bremen one afternoon was a nice Ridley gravel bike.

But Cannondale, Trek, and Wilier are the main lines of bicycles.
As you may know, bicycle manufacturers offer pricing discount/rebates to stores that sell large numbers of their machines, so a retailer needs to focus in order to get favorable/competitive pricing. The fact that he has 3 major brands ... unlike the "all Trek" store I go back near Komazawa Park, for example, is a testament to both MOB's sales volume and his customer focus.  (Of course, in Europe Trek is not just Trek, it is their subsidiary/affiliate Diamant, which offers many kinds of bikes other than road racers. And even if MOB loves to ride and sell road bikes ... in fact, there are more people coming to his shop to buy Diamant city bikes than there are high end Trek road bikes.)

MOB had very nice things to say about all three of his major brands.

MOB has always liked Cannondale bikes -- he rode an olive green Cannondale when we started riding together in Tokyo, and he also had a Cannondale "bad boy" one-armed-fork MTB as well.

As a dealer, he say that Trek's Switzerland-based team stands out for its wonderful service to its retailers in Europe. The bold colors are, well, very nice, even if not so Germanic. And the Diamant bikes fill out the line.

Aero, direct mount brakes.

Madone -- a classic name. Project One - customization.

These are new since I last bought a road bike - internal cabling adjusters.

Trek even offers subdued colors. They have everything.
And Wilier is his new love -- Wilier make beautiful racing bikes that are very fast and light. The company has revived an old Italian brand in recent years and is based in the countryside north of Venice. French Team Total Direct Energie rode Wilier Cento10Pro bikes in this summer's Tour de France.
Another adjuster for internal cabling ... on the down tube.

The Wilier HQ building -- Italian style.

Next post -- something about the non-road bike part of the shop.