31 July 2010

Swimming Hole

I awoke later than expected at 5:55AM and quickly checked my email for any responses to my "call to ride".  Jerome had left a note that he is off to France this weekend.  Ludwig had left a  note inviting me to join him and Tom at Koremasa Bridge at 6:15.  They would be on cyclocross bikes, giving me a fighting chance to keep up ... until the first hill or offroad section, but I was way too late to make the rendezvous.  Instead, I took my time and left home a little after 7AM.  The air was heavy as a ton of bricks as I stepped outside, and it did not get any better along the Tamagawa.

But I made decent time to Itsukaichi, stopped at the traditional "last convenience store" 7-11 for food and water, then rode to Motojuku (Honjuku?), the "T" intersection where a left turn heads up the S. Fork of the Akigawa toward Tomin no Mori and Kobu Tunnel, and a right turn takes one up the N. Fork toward the infamously steep Kazahari "rindo" climb, or the road over Nokogiri-yama and down to Oume/Okutama.

Just 50 meters after the left turn, there is a perfect swimming hole in the S. Fork of the Akigawa.  There are 40-50 stone, then metal steps all the way down to the water, and it is possible to take your bike down the first few steps and leave it resting against bushes/grass, out of sight from the road -- this to avoid the experience Jerome had in Hyogo Pref. outside of Kobe 2 weeks back, when his Look 585 was stolen while he bathed in a river.

The water was incredible, and it was easy to walk up a shallow stretch of the stream to a 1-meter deep pool where I could soak for a few minutes -- a better coolant I cannot imagine.

I remounted and made it up to and through the Kobu Tunnel and back down to Uenohara, then hopped the train home.  Too hot for much more.

30 July 2010

Call to ride - Saturday 6AM - Kaminoge

There are many people out of town, few posts this month ... I'm tempted to check out the TCC site, except I'm clearly not ready to ride with the big (thin) guys yet. ... I rode home from work today on the fixie and felt almost strong ... I think it was a tailwind. 

Some people at my office saw me with my cycling gear as I readied to leave.  I got a few cheers from staff who were happy to see me looking happy.  One of my partners practically screamed "what do you think you are doing" ... incredulous that I have not learned my lesson and stopped riding after 2 crashes in 6 months.

Saturday the weather will be dry and we will get some major relief from the heat -- predicted high in Tokyo of only 34 degrees C (instead of the usual 35).  I need to work on Sunday, so I will be heading out early on Saturday.   6AM departure if I can stand it, back by mid-afternoon.  Tomorrow I'll take a rinko bag for the train so I can hope to get a little further out of town than on my rehab rides so far.  

Leave a comment or try my mobile or email if you want to join or meet en route.

25 July 2010

Michael H. v 2.0

My "rehab ride" series continued today heading out with Michael H. on a nice half-day ride.
We went via Takao, over Otarumi, then back along the forest road on the North side of Tsukui-ko (past the "drug lord compound" -- complete with palm trees and beat-up Land Rover), then back via the "tank road" and One Kan-sen.

This was not the Michael H. who started riding with the Ebisu crew not so long ago, but the new, slimmer, stronger version (v 2.0) that showed up sometime last year and is still very much with us -- the one that waits for me at the top of Otarumi, reading a copy of "Dune" that he pulls out of his back jersey pocket.

Indeed, this Michael H. seems to be in "desert training" mode.  He enjoys the early morning start and the hot weather, knowing that in a few weeks he will be in Dubai and riding at a very high pace with the Dubai Roadsters -- with an early morning start and in even hotter (if less humid) weather.

In any event, we made decent time, and my back muscles (and legs) were a bit stronger than last week.  Michael had a Noon return deadline, and I waved him ahead at the Odakyu Line underpass on the Tamagawa, since I needed to stretch and get rid of some numbness in my feet for a few minutes, before limping home in the mid-day sun.

24 July 2010

C Speed Soft Open photos

I stopped by the C Speed "soft open" Friday evening. Hiroshi and Mrs. Hiroshi, Tom and Mrs. Tom, James M., Fumiki (in business suit), Tim and James (of fixie fame) as well as many of Hiroshi's friends and Keihin Pista Clubmates were present. Michael K. sent a kind of email shuku-den from Bremen.

The shop is beautiful, the bikes are beautiful, and the audio system is very nice (for the customers or the staff?). Now we just need to do our part to help make the business nice. I was pleased to learn that Mrs Hiroshi works at W in G, so they will have one steady paycheck until the bicycle shop takes off.

These photos are a bit blurry, as the Blackberry camera phone does not do very well in low light. Then again, there was plenty of sparkling wine in a cool room on a hot evening, so the photos reflect the mood.

We will be the #1 shop in metropolitan Tokyo for high end road and track bikes:
... were these lights just out for the party, or are they for sale? I want one.
James shows Fumiki the Nakagawa craftsmanship.

James M. telling Tim a story, complete with plenty of hand gestures. We got some nice High 5 drink tablets and water bottles to take away from the party.

I have a hard time recognizing everyone without the kit, helmet and glasses, but I'm pretty sure this is Fumiki-san.

The good stuff. Track parts. Tim tells me that Hiroshi has some pretty cool components for single speeds -- some of those parts you cannot get anywhere outside of a few shops in Japan.
Hiroshi's previous job was in the fashion biz. WWD (Women's Wear Daily?) in a bike shop, as David Bowie's "Fashion" plays on the audio system?
Lugs, by Panasonic.

More lugs, by Futaba.
There is only one "tetsu chunen" frame (tetsu=iron; chunen=middle aged guy).

21 July 2010

c speed ...Japan's coolest bicycle shop about to open!

- press release -

Positivo Espress(i)o-(n)ist Hiroshi
a.k.a. Tetsu Chunen
launching his own
bicycle shop
this weekend !!!
c speed ... the coolest
bicycle shop in all of Japan!

c speed soft opening this Friday evening 18:00~21:00!


(we're proud of you!)


Tokyo's Hot Spot For High-End Bicycles

Specialized of the U.S. opened a concept store in Aoyama in 2008 - its first direct-run store in Japan.

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The Akihabara district -- or Akiba for short -- is the place to go for electronics in Tokyo. For high-end bicycles, however, the city's Aoyama neighborhood is where it's at. In fact, people are calling this posh area in the center of the capital the "Akiba of bikes," as it is home to about 10 shops offering upscale models.

This spring, bicycle shop operator Nalsima Friend closed two smaller stores around Aoyama in order to open a plusher, larger one in the same neighborhood. The new outlet offers an extensive lineup of bikes as well as components ranging from tires to wheels to drivetrain parts.

Most of the staff are cyclists with racing experience. The shop even has a courtyard decked out with tables and chairs where visitors can relax and talk about their two-wheeled steeds.

Nicole EuroCycle Co., a dealer of high-end bicycles, last year opened a shop in Aoyama that focuses mainly on Italian road bikes, offering such brands as De Rosa and Colnago. Models priced at about 200,000 yen sell especially well there.

Before being converted into a bicycle shop, the store was a Nicole Group dealership for luxury import cars. Yoshinori Sato, who heads the shop, says sales have grown 100-200% since opening.

Bridgestone Cycle Co. opened its first-ever showroom in Aoyama last year. At Bike Forum Aoyama, visitors can test ride the company's latest models.

Specialized Bicycle Components, a California-based manufacturer of high-end bikes, launched a concept store in the area in 2008. The outlet, Specialized's first directly run shop in Japan, offers a wide range of models for men, women and kids.

So why has Aoyama become such a popular spot for selling high-end bicycles? "The number of people who ride such bicycles is increasing particularly sharply in Aoyama, because of the high concentration of wealthy people and foreigners here," said Sato of Nicole EuroCycle.

Another likely reason is that because Aoyama is home to scores of fashion- and design-related businesses, there is a larger number of people there who are attracted to products that are en vogue, including fancy racing bikes.

(Source : The Nikkei July 21 morning edition)

20 July 2010

Mt. Fuji is Gray -- "Rehabili" Rides

I suffered through the heat this long weekend for 3 short rides, 60, 80 and 95 kilometers, leaving home before 7AM and returning a few hours later, my energy drained completely by 95 degree (35-36 degrees celsius) heat and humidity.  The Sunday and Monday rides each wiped me out, leaving me flat on my back for the afternoon.

My last (pre-accident) ride of any length was 10 weeks ago, and I return to the bike with weakened legs, a few kgs of extra weight (all in my stomach area, to which other fat also seems to have migrated), weakened back muscles (my back ached each day), and a need to avoid putting my full weight on my left arm, which is still healing and still quite weak.  How long is the road back?

Somehow, during the time I was away, Mr. Fuji turned from white to pale gray, barely distinguishable from the summer haze.

As I took this photo from the path and munched down an energy bar, having run out of gas only 16-17 km from home, I saw two riders in Positivo Espresso kit heading down the road below me.  I remounted and headed down the path, maybe 150 meters behind them.  They just made the green light at Sekidobashi, and I needed to go under the bridge, losing them.  I stopped for a real rest at the 7-11 near Y's, and continued out toward Takao.  When I arrived at Takao, Michael H. and Graham D. were just finishing up their rest.  I followed about 10 minutes behind them up the hill west of Takao, turning around 1/2 way up to head for home.

14 July 2010

Racing while Injured

Who will win the Firenzo Magni prize at this year's Tour?

Cadel Evans continues to ride with a broken left elbow but he will have a tough time winning the prize, as he exploded on the Madaleine and collapsed in tears into a teammates arms at the finish, losing the yellow jersey and fading almost 8 minutes out of the lead.  If he can finish with a decent place, or achieve a great solo breakaway, like Tyler Hamilton's 2003 142 km solo breakaway stage victory with a broken collarbone, pass the drug tests (unlike Tyler) and hold back any more tears, then he will deserve it.  An uphill battle, appropriately.

Simon Gerrans crashed 7 km into a 189 km stage 8, made it through the next 182 km riding with a broken left arm, but could not start the next stage with his arm in a massive, full length cast.  Too late now to cut off the cast, replace it with a light splint (or better yet, some tape, like Cadel) and press on.  Sorry Simon.

Frank Schleck never got back on the bike after breaking his collarbone on stage three.  Sure, it was a nasty crash, and I was a bit relieved to see he was conscious, but HTFU, Frank!  If you don't get back on the bike and ride that pave, you can't start the next day's stage.

Lance -- it looks ugly, the gashes, the blood and the torn shorts and jersey, but nothing broken.  HTFU Lance.  You could still get the trophy!

Cadel hides the pain:

... a new candidate as Robbie Hunter breaks a bone in his arm (another elbow -- looks like the right elbow for a change) near the start of Stage 10, but finishes with the Peleton and declares his intention to keep riding, and his anger at the "tool" who dumped it in front of him, leaving him nowhere to go.  But sadly, he is not at the start of Stage 11, leaving Garmin Transitions short one sprinter.

Time for me to get back on the bike and HTFU!

07 July 2010

Home Grown Heroes

Just thought I would let you know that Rue88 has run an artical on our very our Dave. H and Dave. K and thier L'Etape du Tour challenge to raise money for the Tyler Foundation!
If you haven't already donated please head on over to the Tyler foundation and chip in! Even if it's only ¥500 every little bit counts!

Also if you can post the links and stories up on your blogs, websites and send it via e-mail to everyone you know it would really help spread awareness.

All the best to them and hopefully they will keep us updated with their efforts!

06 July 2010

The Very Last Ride

After spending two months in the German diaspora, I will fly back to Japan on July 10th/11th to pack all our worldly goods (except my family) into a container which will be shipped to Germany in due course. Then, the plane for Germany leaves on July 16th and that might be the last time I will come and leave Japan for a longer time. I will be fully busy with rejoining my family, do last minute shopping, meet friends, organize paperwork and removal preps ........

Naturally I will also want to escape from all of this and it would be wonderful if we can organize a bike ride sometime between July 13th and 15th most likely. I have spoken with Ludwig already and I might be able to put my hands on his cyclo cross for a ride with him. I would like to do one of the nicer mountain climbs I have some nostalgic feelings for, perhaps Matushime, Yabitsu, Tsuru/Tawa or Gando or O-Toge, perhaps Yanagizawa or Doshi-Michi.

If you guys are out there and not vacationing in Europe or elsewhere, please let me know.

Michael aka mob

Bike movies / Last Ride

05 July 2010

"This one goes to eleven" (and 28)

As part of my preparation for the upcoming Etape on 18th July I fitted an 11x28 cassette on my wonderful new Dura-Ace 7850 wheels. I discovered that on long climbs having the ability to shift into a 28 really helps - especially in the "disadvantaged" state I was in for Sunday's training ride. To paraphrase the immortal words of Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnell, "this one goes to 28".

Firstly, a lesson in how not to prepare for a day of climbing in summer heat: champagne, white wine from the Loire region, red Bordeaux, Sauternes, vintage port and then 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Whereas I thought upon waking up that I had miraculously dodged a bullet, reality (and a feeling of approaching death) set in on the 7:30 train to Otsuki. I was indeed in a disadvantaged state. Riding away from Otsuki station James K soon pulled ahead. Soon a problem with my front derailleur forced me to stop to have a look. The little devil sitting on my shoulder was suggesting it was damaged beyond repair and the only solution was to retreat to the station but the angel on the other shoulder reminded me of Rule 5 (harden the **** up) and take what was coming to me. The gentle ascent to the beginning of Sasago Toge was the most difficult time I have ever spent on a bike. The heat and humidity were killing me. Once in the shade and quiet of the climb itself the world began to reset back to normal. I am not yet fully used to the noise from the rear hub of the new wheels so on the descent I kept thinking there was another bike right behind me.

We descended down to the Fruit Line and rode across to the climb up Yanagisawa Toge, attacking from the Enzan side (16km). This is a long a steady climb and is ideal for our Etape preparations. Apart from having to stop to switch off the cadence monitor in my Garmin (which was going haywire) and some cramp in my toes it was an uneventful climb. At the top it started raining - this was not to be the only rain of the day. The rain falling on the hot roads made for a descent through steaming rods - very dramatic. Towards the bottom we turned right down the now infamous route 18 - y'know, the road with the "rollers" such as Tsuru Toge and the Kobu Tunnel approach. OK, you say, those are further down route 18 and we would not encounter them on this day. True, but within a short distance we found ourselves on a 16% slope which eases off to a mere 14%. This was sharp 250m climb. It was indeed a short-cut through to Matsuhime, but in future, beware when James suggests a "short-cut" or "just a few rollers". Having said that, his underestimations are not always bad. For example a quick pint after work can sometimes turn into something rather more....

The climb up Matsuhime was refreshingly cooler and then beyond refreshing when the heavens opened and it rained very hard and glasses steamed up etc. Steamed up glasses did not make too much difference on the first part of the descent as visibility was very poor anyway as we were in a cloud. We kept up a brisk pace back to Otsuki station and made the train just in time.

120km and 2700m of climbing. According to my Garmin I hit a new record top speed of 914.3km/h. I'm not sure if that is when I was going uphill or downhill. If you heard a sonic boom yesterday that must have been me.

02 July 2010

It's all Russian to me~!

Some of you have mentioned that a rival to Garmin would be truly welcomed in the cycle GPS market and it seems that a few models are slowly reaching the shelves of our LBS.

Today I was at Sagami Cycles and came across this nice little number, albeit a clone of the Garmin I have to say that for the price it’s pretty impressive as it also comes with Japanese road maps preloaded, in a nice easy on the eye package.

For me it's not so good due to it all been in Japanese but for you guys with excellent skills its worth looking into.

I have no idea what the features are or if the data can be uploaded or down loaded but like I said a very nice package.