31 March 2013

March Showers Bring April Flowers

If last weekend's ride was full of positive surprises, this week was the opposite.  Saturday morning  looked like perfect riding weather as I left home -- cloudy, cool and with a tiny hint of precipitation in the air -- just enough to keep one cool, but definitely dry pavement.

It was, however, one of those days when the weather gets worse near the hills west of town.  As I headed west out along the rolling hills of One-kansen-doro, it got damper and damper, the pavement wet.  I wore arm warmers, a decent cap, and even (very thin) full finger gloves.  I slipped on my rain shell, ... but was still chilled and with damp feet by the time I made it out near Machida Kaido west of Aihara.

The roads were very slippery.  Perhaps it is the pollen dust, cherry blossoms or maybe just oil slicks after a few dry days.  In any event, my rear tire was well worn and lacked any tread, even on the sides, and the rear wheel seemed to slip as I braked.  Extreme care was required near any metal surfaces.

I made the short climb up to Shiroyama reservoir/dam area, my rear tire slipping on the steeper parts of the ascent, forcing me to spin lightly, remain in the saddle, and pick a line on parts of the road that looked as if they were the most free of moss, sakura blossoms and other slimy organic material in order to avoid falling.  At the top it looked like this:

My original plan of "riding the rindos" did not seem workable, so I turned around and headed for home.  It was only a 83 km trip, but together with another 25 km round trip into Tokyo for an early evening event, pushed me well over 1000 kms for the month of March, and over 3000 so far for 2013.

24 March 2013

Sunday Ride: Happiness is ...

Happiness is ...

... setting out on a morning when the weather forecast is "cloudy" with an increasing chance of rain, and enjoying perfect riding weather, with blue sky in the afternoon.

... heading up Tomin no Mori and Kazahari Pass for the first time after my 50th birthday, having not gotten in decent rides the last few weekends and eaten a huge piece of cheesecake at lunch yesterday, without pushing the pace, and still getting within five minutes of my personal best.

... enjoying piping hot "oyako donburi" at Yakyu-tei cafeteria at the far end of Okutama-ko.

... Yamanashi Route 18 over Tsuru Pass back to Uenohara, with the Steve T. side route around Tawa Pass.

... hopping a train back from Hachioji thereby avoiding the sakura crowds.

It was a great day for a ride, and I was happy to get in one of the Positivo Expresso classic routes.  There were almost no motorcycles on Kazahari and surprisingly few cyclists.  Route 18 over Tsuru was deserted as usual.  The first ride I have done with over 2000 meters climbing in many months.  I would like to put together a string of these in coming weeks.

Sakura out the window on Saturday evening.
Sunday's steed - the Ti Travel Bike, with dynamo hub/light, 32/36 spoke wheels, 2 x 1-liter bottles of water, underseat bag and fastback DLX fenders ... which on this bike work fine with 700x23mm tires but rub with 700x25mm.

11 March 2013

Not Weather for Riding

On Saturday the pollen was incredible in Tokyo.  On Sunday the wind kicked up and raised dust clouds throughout Kanto.  I rode to and from Tokyo station for a Sunday morning trip out of town ... but had no desire to go further in these conditions.  Some photos from the train in S. Tochigi/Saitama area are below.

03 March 2013

Sunday ride and stop by local bike shop (Cherubim)

Jerome and I took a morning ride today, heading out past Takao over Otarumi and to the area around Lake Tsukui, then back.
Early March -- almost Spring.  The brown looking trees toward the left on the hillside are fir trees heavy with pollen.  The pollen level is VERY high this year, so thick you can taste it.
Jerome had a slow leak in his front tire tube -- he can be seen in the distance where he stopped to pump up the tube.

On our way back into town, we stopped by a local bike shop and Jerome borrowed a tire floor pump.

It just happened to be the Cherubim store in Machida.  Of course, Cherubim is home to the most decorated framebuilder in the world in recent years, Konno-san.  So the bikes on display are all custom, and spectacular.  I think I will need to order a randonneur frame here while I am living in Japan.

I think I saw this one at Cyclemode 4 or 5 years ago.

Classic Cherubim road frame and colors

NAHBS award winner

Old school

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Detail -- NAHBS award winner

wooden rims, retro design, nice high flange hubs

All decked out in chome and leather bags