28 March 2012

Hatsu Nori -- First Ride on the Yamabushi

April Update:

I've decided to name this bike the "Yamabushi".  Not only do we ride over two Yamabushi Passes -- one in Chichibu/Saitama and the other near Yamanaka-ko at the top of Doshi Michi -- but Yamabushi were, according to the most definitive of sources, Wikipedia,

"mountain hermits, ascetics, and 'holy men', who followed the path of shugendō, a search for spiritual, mystical, or supernatural powers gained through asceticism. ... [They were] renowned for their magical abilities and occult  knowledge ..."

And they became highly skilled and feared warriors, fighting alongside or advising some of the most well known warlords (e.g. Takeda Shingen) in the battles to unify Japan of the late Sengoku period.  I think an appropriate name for a bike that will travel off paved roads through the mountains, and may even race through the mud and sand of a cyclocross course.
Yamabushi training at Shugendou.  Endure suffering -- withstand hot fire and cold water!

The frame is now built up into a bicycle!   I had to wait an extra 3 days to get the bracket that holds the front outer brake cable housing in front of the fork crown/headtube above the cantilever brake, but could finally fix that and wrap the bars in tape.

It is one sweet ride.

The build is a SRAM Rival groupset, Kore cantilever brakes, Ritchey stem, bars, tires and cyclocross fork, and a used Fizik Arione saddle and FSA seatpost.

I hand built the wheels (Nos. 00002 and 00003) -- Velocity A23 rims, Chris King Classic hubs, 32 DT Swiss spokes front and rear (Revolution, except Competition on the rear drive side), and Ritchey 700x32 cyclocross tires.

I love the SRAM double tap shifters.  Then again, I usually love a brand new, clean and properly adjusted drivetrain!

The canti brakes ... were chattering a bit at first, but within the first kilometer seemed to smooth out nicely.

The Chris King hubs have their trademark "angry bee" buzzing sound.  The tires ... are noticeably slower than road tires.  I'll probably use another set of wheels for in-town riding, and save these for settings when they will provide maximum benefit.

Now I just need to add some decals/graphics.

Smash and Grab Bike Theft at C Speed

Japan does not yet require bike locks that weigh more than our bikes, but even in Japan property crime does happen, sometimes serious property crime.

Please keep a look out for the three distinctive bicycles that were taken from C Speed very late last Saturday night/very early Sunday morning [CORRECTION -- Friday night/Saturday morning].  If you happen to see them around Tokyo, or Japan ... or somewhere else in Asia that a bike theft ring might ship them, contact the nearest policeman or C Speed (hiroshi@cspeed.jp).

1.  Avedio titanium bike -- Avedio frame, seat, stem, fork etc., and Campy record components and what look like Campy wheels, all in color-coordinated red accents against the silvery Ti frame.  Very expensive ... and distinctive.

2.  Nakagawa yellow steel lugged frame single speed/track bike.  Who would steal something like this -- immediately recognizable, distinctive,  ... and loses 80%+ of its value if you try to disguise the fact that it is a Nakagawa frame!

3.  Avedio Venus carbon bike ... with immediately recognizable "C Speed" labeled deep rim carbon tubular wheels.  Shimano build (Dura Ace) with FSA compact crank.  A similar black frame with red accents.

26 March 2012

Le Velo Avec J.J. et DiDi

DiDi and J.J. at the rest area before the last climb to Tsuru Pass
Today we enjoyed a classic Positivo Espresso Spring training and fun ride on le velo.  The trip was just over 175km from my house, with the highlight being the trip up Yamanashi Pref. Route 18 from the Uenohara area to Tsuru Pass and beyond.  This road continues to be one of my favorites -- a climb through a quiet valley with a river that runs through it, and traffic limited to some locals and a very few people who need to get to and from Kosuge village on the North side of the pass.

We left my house at 8AM (actually, a bit later, as Jerome was running late), and joined James, Dominic, Shane and Tim for the ride out to Hachioji.  They were headed up Jimba Kaido toward Bonbori Rindo, while we planned to go via Route 20 and out over Otarumi.  We did not have a clear plan after that.  In classic Positivo Espresso fashion, the ride had been agreed at the last minute, with no clear goal except to go far and climb high, or at least higher than in the winter months.

Didier passes a motorcycle at the line -- hilltop finish.
At our refueling stop in Hachioji, I was able to chat briefly with Tim, who mentioned that he had been the Tokyo-based private equity coverage investment banker at a large U.S. based brokerage, before moving to the same group's commercial banking arm.   It occurred to me a bit later in the day that I met him in such capacity back in 2005, shortly after my arrival in Tokyo. ... somehow I did not recognize him with his helmet and Oakley glasses, nearly 7 years later. Not the first time I have not put 2 + 2 together when I meet someone in cycling garb after having known them in business (or vice versa).
I gave my best Euro-cyclist imitation today -- white jersey (PBP2011!), white shoes (Scott), white arm warmers and white bicycle (Canyon).  Assos cap and formerly white Assos bib shorts ...   But black leg warmers and flourescent green  shoe covers ruin the effect.
We were blessed with near perfect cycling weather -- cool, even chilly and windy at higher elevations and on the descents -- and blue sky, dry pavement, and the scent of Spring in the air.  The plum festival was on in Oume, even though the blossoms have not quite arrived yet because of the recent cold weather.
Instead of Route 18, we took an even-more-local road, bypassing Tawa Pass -- as shown to me by Steve T.  last year.  I told Jerome and Didier about the little old lady who always is out tending her field on the steep hillside below the road ... and she appeared on cue, and even responded to a wave and greeting!
A tailwind pushed us much of the way home down the Tamagawa.

22 March 2012

Rite of Spring

The upper Daigo River -- near the forest road climb to Wada Pass
Tuesday was a national holiday in Japan, to celebrate the Vernal Equinox.  So Dominic (aka Dave), Graham and I headed for a ride in the nearby countryside.  The rest of Tokyo decided to try to visit the cemetery in the family car.  I saw many lines of traffic, standing, over the course of the day.

Dominic made it to our stop near Itsukaichi, before turning around to get home by around Noon.  Graham and I continued on and did the climb from Itsukaichi over Iriyama Pass and down to the Daigo River ... a mere stream trickling down from the hill north of Wada Pass.

Graham's and my bicycles at Iriyama Pass.  Left to Togura (near Itsukaichi).  Right to Daigo.
As Manfred was kind enough to point out in January, Graham and I took the "Bonbori Rindo" over Iriyama Pass.  At the Daigo (South) end of the forest road, Graham turned left and headed back to Tokyo, while I turned right for the climb up Daigo Rindo to Wada Pass.  Two young Japanese cyclists resting at Wada were shocked to see me emerge from the forest on the gravel path.  We chatted, and I assured them that the road was beautifully paved until the last 200 meters or so.

Hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring.  Now if only we could get some Springlike temperatures!
Looking to the Northwest from Iriyama Pass.  Spring is coming!

19 March 2012

Sunday Ride - Shiroyama, Tsukui, Otarumi

Sunday was at least dry enough for us to get a group headed out of town in the morning and up the Tamagawa.

View from above Shiroyama Dam toward the mountains around Miyagase-ko and the foot of Doshi-michi
James K and two of his friends peeled off to ride Yomiuri V Dori and then head back to central Tokyo.  Dominic and Doug peeled off at end of One Kansen Doro for the Starbucks and then a return to town.
Jerome, Didier, Graham and I went on via the "tank road", then up a hill to Shiroyama Dam, around the North side of Lake Tsukui, then back over Otarumi and home down the Asagawa and Tamagawa.   

We ducked out of the rain that started as we near the top of Otarumi for ramen and gyoza at Fujiya, the little hilltop ramen shop that welcomes cyclists.  They even had a bicycle rack, and when the rain strengthened they helped move our bikes under roof cover, and lent us a towel to wipe off the seats dry.  

It was a wet descent, but the pavement had pretty much dried again by the time we made it back to the Tamagawa.

Didier enters the steep part of the climb to Shiroyama Dam.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) is a national holiday ... and the forecast is for dry, if cold, weather.  An even better day for a ride!

Wheel No. 00002

I've finally built up one of the wheels for my cyclocross bike -- got a pair of Chris King (a Portland-based company) classic hubs at a nice price student discount while at UBI.

Velocity A23 rims, 32 spokes (DT Revolution 2.0/1.5/2.0).  Rock solid.

Still waiting on an order of spokes to build the rear wheel, and then my next dynamo hub(s). ...

09 March 2012

Painted, Packed and Shipped

Back in Portland late last night, I picked up the frame this morning at the power coating shop (Brooker Enterprises on SE Powell Blvd.), packed it up and shipped it for home International Express Mail together with some Velocity A23 rims for wheels that I will build (under $100 postage -- pretty cheap for 3~4 business day delivery to Tokyo of a large box w/ frame and rims for 3 wheels -- the Cyclocross set and my next dynamo hub wheel).

The paint job is about what I expected for $100, knowing that the places that do work for custom framebuilders charge three times as much or more.  There are some slightly uneven spots, but it looks nice and they did manage the dark color on the stays and lighter main triangle.  Very nice for a cyclo-cross bike.  I hope some day I can build a frame that is worthy of a beautiful liquid paint job.

I still need some kind of decals or stencils.  I was thinking of "Portlandia", but I see that there already is a "Portlandia" model sold by Pilen, a Swedish firm.  And looking the Pilen Lyx Portlandia, that shopping/commuter bike is really much more suited to the moniker, having a dynamo hub, front luggage rack, fenders, etc.  The whole standard rig.  I'll need a name that is appropriate for cyclo-cross, something that evokes images of victory in mud.

And now a week later it has arrived in Tokyo!
Is this Art?