29 December 2014

Last Big Ride of the Year

As in 2010, 2011 and other past years, Jerome was planning a bicycle ride to Kansai at year end to join his friends from Team Beeren and witness the January 1st sunrise from the top of Mt. Rokko.  He was going early (Dec 28th instead of 30th) to spend 2 days in Nagoya with friends.  I told him I would be happy to ride the first leg from Tokyo with him, as long as I could be back home in time for a long-planned family dinner.  In the end, I rode 185 kms to Shizuoka-shi, then another 15 kms home from the Shin Yokohama train station.
Our Route.  We parted at around the 175 km mark, Jerome continuing along the coast.
Ti Travel Bike and Bette Noire rest in the sun along the Suruga Bay west of Numazu
As usual, Jerome wanted to take an interior route.  Last week, he suggested an early (2AM?) start, going over Yanagisawa Pass and descending to Kofu in late morning, then getting over Fujimi Pass and into Nagano/Chino before dark.  He had said he did not want to take Kiso Valley, so I suggested maybe he could go via Iida instead -- from Okaya or even via Tsuetsuki Pass.  After our ride on the 26th over Yabitsu, at the height of early afternoon temperatures, revealed black ice and quite extreme cold at 500 meters elevation, he dropped the idea of 1475 meter high Yanagisawa as unrealistic. Likewise, slightly lower Tsuetsuki seemed more appropriate for skiing than cycling.

I sent Jerome a note early on the 27th with a report of the forecast temperatures if we took Koshu Kaido (Route 20) in the morning.  Otsuki -6 (C) at 7AM.  Suwa in Nagano -8 (C) at 7AM, -5 C at 9AM.  I urged him to try a coastal route, despite the traffic, and in an accommodation he agreed, this year, that it would be more realistic.  They say this has been the coldest December in Japan in recent years.  No doubt there will be other, warmer years ahead when we can try the mountainous internal route at year-end.

We met at Marukobashi, a bridge over the Tamagawa, around 4:45AM, and crossed into Kawasaki, then Yokohama.  Jerome had mapped a route via Shin Yokohama, then for 12 kms on a limited access road that I had not used before.  I think I noticed a bicycle with a line crossed through it where we entered the road's elevated portion just beyond Shin Yokohama (I believe it is "Yokohama Kanjo Ni-go" -- Yokohama Main Route #2).  Anyway, at 5:30AM on a Sunday morning at year end there were generally 2 or 3 lanes heading south and barely any motorized vehicles, so no harm, no foul, and a very fast route to the intersection with Route 1 -- just a little before Route 1 merges with the end of the Yokohama Shindo at Totsuka.  Do not try it on a normal day in normal Yokohama traffic. Once we joined Route 1 we were on the Hakone Ekiden route as far as Odawara.
Early on the climb toward Atami Pass, Mikan trees and sea visible.
After a first quick 7-11 rest stop 35 kms into the ride, we pushed on to just before Odawara, where we stopped for a relaxed breakfast at a "Gusto" family restaurant.  Then on the coast road toward Atami.  Traffic had picked up and this coast road is crowded, especially on sections where there is no toll bypass.  But the sea and hills can be beautiful, and were this morning.  I had suggested to Jerome that instead of descending past Atami Station and taking Route 20 or 11 to Atami Pass, we might try the crazily steep alternative back roads to the Atami museum of art (MOA). This saves a bit in terms of elevation gain, and is a much nicer, lower traffic climb.  But it still a hellishly steep climb, and does involve stretches where walking is faster than cycling (as I proved, passing Jerome twice off the bike as he stayed on).
A flat ride, with one big exception. ...
As we turned off the coast road to start the climb, we pulled off to strip off our sub-zero layers and prepare for the heat we would generate on the climb.  A policeman walked by with his New Year pine boughs to decorate the front of his police box around the corner.  We greeted each other "Yoi Otoshi Wo Mukai Kudasai".  He came back a minute later bearing a box with lots of small chocolates -- mint, almond and white/dark mix.  We each took a mint.  He insisted we have one of each type. Japanese community policing at its best!  ... Must be nice to be in the police in a country where the citizens do not bear arms (guns).
Reward at the top of Atami Pass -- Mt Fuji comes into view.
Spokes glisten in the sunlight.  The wheels are new.
But the bike (and I) were here back in September on the R-Tokyo Ise 1000km event.
 ... in pitch dark well after midnight.
On this trip Jerome was riding his touring frame, the"bette noire" or "black beast".   He tells me that it is a very comfortable ride, but very heavy, complete with rear rack and bags, fenders, heavy tires, etc.  Not a climber's bike.  Not quite the climbing handicap of a broken rear derailleur such as Friday, but still a considerable one.  Indeed, I waited several times on the climb, and was up the pass at least 5 minutes ahead of him, riding my Ti travel bike.  The climb was painful, especially on the lower stretches which had some nasty 15-20% grades, and many sections that were more than 10%. The reward was a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji, which stayed visible to our right over the next 3~4 hours.  And then we had a great, low/no traffic descent down Route 11 to Kannami.  Then we slogged through the sprawl and traffic South and East of Numazu, before enjoying the relief of the coastal road, Route 380.
Mt. Fuji as seen from Tanna, on the western descent into Kannami.
Jerome and Mt. Fuji as we approach Numazu.
We joined Route 1 briefly to take a bridge over the Fujikawa, then again traveled on side roads I know well from brevets past.  As we passed though Shimizu, I said farewell to Jerome.  He continued along the coast line, while I took Route 1 to Shizuoka Station and the train home.

Jerome reported headwinds on the next stretch -- not unusual for winter on the Shizuoka Coast.  The wind let up before he made it to Hamamatsu.  After it began to rain, he stopped for the night at a business hotel in Toyohashi, over 300 kilometers from Tokyo, and leaving just a short ride to Nagoya for the following day.

UPDATE:  Jerome completed the ride to Nagoya, some local spins in following days, and went on to Kobe as planned on December 31.  Around 600 kms for the trip!  On the evening of December 31 it snowed in the Kansai area.

26 December 2014

Epic ... or at least Spectacular Winter Ride - Hakone/Gora, Ashigara, Yabitsu and Home

The Litt and Bouhet families stayed at an onsen hotel in Gora, Hakone, on Christmas night.  This morning, after breakfast and an asa-buro (morning bath), we each checked out of the hotel.  The Bouhets got into their car for the drive home, the Litts planned to explore Gora a bit more before returning by train ... except for Jerome and David, the fathers/husbands.  We got on our bikes and started to climb.

The plan was to ride back to Tokyo, and to find a more interesting route than just descending to Odawara and going along the coast.  Instead we took a mountainous route.

We climbed up along Route 733 to the Pola Art Museum, warming up from the climb despite sub- or near-zero (C) temperatures.  Then a quick descent to Sengokuhara and eventually onto Route 138.

On Route 138, instead of going through the long tunnel at Otome Pass and descending to Gotemba ... we turned off onto a rindo I had never taken but remembered reading about years back, carried our bikes around a locked gate, and climbed up the road around the shoulders of Kintokizan. The road, of course, was deserted and nicely paved.  Highly recommended.  We passed only a few workmen and one or two cars over the next 15 kms, first climbing several hundred meters elevation to a tunnel/pass, then descending, eventually to meet the course of the Nishi Tokyo brevet I rode in October, near Yuu-hi no Taki.
Spectacular conditions ... on the rindo climb.
Another photo of Jerome on the rindo climb
Just past the tunnel -- start of the descent
Looking toward the lower areas around Odawara
We followed the Nishi Tokyo Brevet course to Matsuda/Shin Matsuda, then joined the trucks on Route 246 for a brief stretch to Hadano, before the climb to Yabitsu.
Minami Ashigara - Home to the Kintaro folk legend?

Riding the Gokisos again today!
Great all-around performance.  A joy to ride.
Looking down at Hadano, from the Yabitsu climb
Jerome seems to have regained his cycling shape over the past week.  He did more than his share of pulls on the flats.  No he was not staying with me on the climbs, but who would, with a broken rear derailleur cable and "fixie" gearing for Yabitsu Pass!  I suggested we call off the mountain stage ... but Jerome would have none of it.

There were only very few cyclists today on Yabitsu, and none on the North side as far as Lake Miyagase (and beyond)!  We passed no cars on the Yabitsu descent until the car camp areas near the bottom.

Perhaps it was the black ice that kept people away?  We descended the North side between 2 and 3PM, but could already see the ice starting to form on damp areas of the upper part of the road.  A bit later and it would have been extremely treacherous.  Down below in forested areas there were a few ice patches, as there had been on Kintokizan in the morning. I was glad that, after around 500 kms with the incredibly light-weight low rolling resistance Conti Supersonics, I had switched to the grippier Vittoria Open Pave 25mm tires for this ride.  I rolled right over a few icy patches without incident, noticing far too late to stop, but careful not to turn or push at all. Jerome later reported that he had slipped and tumbled once, at slow speed, on the Yabitsu climb.
Deserted parking and turn around at Yabitsu Pass, in the shadows already before 230PM!

The Miyagase Michi No Eki -- only one shop open, and done for the day serving anything hot.  We did get some mikan.
I asked Jerome which way he wanted to get home from Miyagase.  "The fast way," he responded.  In any event, we took a straightforward route past Tsukui-ko, and then eventually took Yaen Kaido back to the Tamagawa.  We were home in good time, a bit after 530PM, having traveled 140 kms.

Was the trip really 3311 meters of climbing, as Strava reports?  No.  I would be surprised if we climbed as much as 2000 meters.  300, 300, 700, and lots of little bumps along the way.

Does this qualify as an epic ride?  A close call.  But it felt epic, leaving our families at the start, heading into the cold weather that kept nearly all other cyclists off the roads, the spectacular rindo stretch and deserted North side of Yabitsu, all the normal services shut down, and Jerome doing most of the ride without a functioning rear derailleur!

24 December 2014

Festive 500 ... Makes it 13941 kms for 2014

It is again time for the Rapha "Festive 500" challenge.  Unlike the other Rapha challenges, which just entitle you to an "opportunity" to buy commemorative cycling gear, this one actually has a prize -- a small sew-on patch!

500 kms to ride from December 24 to December 31.

I am off to a good start, as today I rode to my office, then to Keio Shonan Fujisawa Campus to teach a class, then home from SFC -- 98 kms total.  Tomorrow no riding plans, but I hope to get in another 100 kms or so on the 26th.  And on the 28th I plan to ride out with Jerome as he heads for Nagoya ... I should be able to get in well over 100 kms before hopping a train home.  So that would leave under 200 kms left over the 27th, and 29th, 30th, 31st.

I was on the Canyon Shark today with the Gokiso wine red hubs/wide carbon clinchers.  So I set a bunch of "personal records" on the Fujisawa commute.  The bike is fast, and the wheels are really fast, I think my fastest yet for this kind of rolling ride.

I was especially pleased with this one segment.  Ranked 15 out of 369 riders over a 5.6 km TT, one second ahead of professional rider James Machin, aka "Far East".

Yes, I had a bit of tailwind on the trip home ... but that does not explain the other fast times on the way out of town with a bit of headwind!

UPDATE (Dec 31):  With another 201 kms ridden on December 28 ... to Shizuoka over Atami Pass, the Festive 500 was within easy reach, except I caught a cold and was off the bike (except for errands) the next two days.  On the morning of the 31st, I rolled up the Tamagawa to Hino-shi and back, with a few minor loops added in, to stretch my legs and clear 500 kms without, I hope, delaying my recovery from the cold.

Total riding for 2014 -- 13,941 kms.  This is consistent with the past several years.

The basic 4 or 5 days per week bicycle commute of almost 24 kms round trip to Azabu has given me a base of 96-120 kms per week, which adds up over the full year.  The year started slow, with my 2 early season brevets cancelled due to snow and its aftermath, and January through March each below 1000 kms.  April and September were big months, over 1600kms/1000 miles each.  April featured MOB's visit, the Fleche and Nishi Tokyo 300 Brevet.  September featured the R-Tokyo Ise 1000 Brevet.   But really each month from July to December I rode more than 1150 kms.

For 2015, I will get in plenty of mileage, so need to focus a bit more on actually training a bit for specific events.  That said, my main goals are endurance focused:  (1) PBP in August and (2) an SR600 in June.  I would like to add something more speed focused -- if I can get set for Giro delle Dolomiti with MOB and friends, then I will add that at end of July.  Otherwise, maybe some domestic Japanese races with JCRC ...

22 December 2014

Hybrid Que and Salopette Long Tights from Q36.5

I have now had a bunch of rides over the past two months wearing my new early winter garb -- the Q36.5 Long Salopette bibs and Hybrid Que long jersey/jacket.  This is by far the most comfortable, the ideal clothing for this season that I have worn.

The "Hybrid" in the name is because this garment is half way between a long sleeve jersey and a real winter cycling jacket.  It is very much cut in a cycling-specific shape, not baggy, but perfectly comfortable while in a riding position.  The material is like magic -- very thin, but blocks the wind and cold as well as much thicker, multi layered jackets.  Excellent moisture transfer so that I stay dry -- the key to keeping warm during rest stops.I end up far warmer while riding with this very thin material and a simple inner layer than with many thicker, heavier and "warmer" rated jackets I have tried in the past.

Yesterday's ride was in temperatures between 3 and 11 degrees C.  Last weekend was similar, but with very strong winds.  The Saturday coffee run a week before was a bit colder.  Kobu Tunnel ride Nov 30 a bit warmer.  Nov 16 ride to Yorii and back in Saitama started around 2 degrees and warmed to the mid-teens as I passed through southern Saitama on the mid-afternoon return.  On all these the jacket and tights have been perfect -- just moderating my choice of cap, gloves and socks/shoe liners if it is a bit warmer or colder.
After the Kobu Tunnel descent, NW of Uenohara, still warm even after a long descent
To my pleasant surprise, the Hybrid Que even works well in the rain.  Last month I got caught in a nasty, cold driving rain as I left my office for the ride home.  I happened to be wearing the Hybrid Que, with no rain gear.  I feared hypothermia, and was resigned that I might need to seek shelter on the way home.  Over 30 minutes later, as I arrived home, I was still essentially dry inside the jersey.  The same very tightly woven material that blocks wind ... also holds rain at bay for quite awhile.

The long salopette bib tights have the same material, and similar wind-blocking, moisture transfer properties.  They are a "compression" garment like the Salopette L1 bib shorts, fitting as tight as a glove, but extremely comfortable.

My Hybrid Que jacket is black with green accents.  At first I worried about visibility of a black garment, but the green swashes are located where they will always be visible, and large -- from any angle of approach.

Again, ideal early winter  cycling wear and better than anything I have used before.

For more about Q36.5, see their Japan facebook page.

UPDATE (Dec 28, 2014):  I wore the Hybrid Que and Salopette long bib tights again today on a 185 km ride from Tokyo to Shizuoka-shi, then another 15 kms from Shin Yokohama back to my home at dusk.  The temperatures were sub-zero (C) from leaving my home at 4:25AM until after the sun came up and out in between Odawara and Yugawara on the North Izu coast.  Then things warmed up rapidly.  It was cold again on top of Atami Pass (over 600 meters elev), then warm again along the coast from Numazu to Shimizu.  I added a very thin neon green wind shell layer for the coldest stretches of the ride, but otherwise managed to adjust simply changing head coverings, gloves/glove liners and at mid-day removing shoe covers.  Again, very impressed with how thin and light this gear is for something that works so well in the cold!

Winter Solstice Ride ...

In some U.S. cycling groups (okay, crazy Audax riders for the most part), there is a tradition of evening rides on the winter solstice.  We did not try an evening ride, but we did get in a great daylight ride today, December 21.

Jerome and I took one of the classic near-Tokyo hill routes, heading Northwest up the Tamagawa then out past Itsukaichi and on up the Akigawa, through the Kobu Tunnel, South to Uenohara, back East over Otarumi and Takao, and home.  140 kms, and an easier alternative than the true "Reverse Paul Jason", which would add more hills near Uenohara and the "ura Wada Pass" climb instead of Otarumi.

The weather was great for late December, far better than earlier in the month.  Yes, it was a bit cold at the start with roads still damp from overnight rain, and still only 5 degrees C and 95% humidity (!) according to a sign as we climbed on the Akigawa.  But it warmed gradually in late morning and toward midday as the sun burned off the clouds, with the high temps bumping into low double digits. This was MUCH warmer than a few weeks ago, and MUCH calmer than the winds of last weekend.

After we stopped at the Togura 7-11 before entering the hills, 2 Japanese riders arrived on bikes that were obviously set up for Brevets.  Once helmets and caps were off, we could recognize them -- Kato-san, the leader of Velo Club Randonneurs Aoba, and another Aoba member.  They recognized us, as well.  Of course, Jerome and I made an impression with Aoba as far back as the April 2011 very cold and wet 400km Brevet we rode with them -- Jerome riding in shorts and short sleeves, with a rain poncho flapping in the breeze, as smaller, lower body fat Japanese riders struggled with all their winter/wet weather gear on to keep warm enough to avoid hypothermia.

After the Togura 7-11, I pulled ahead of Jerome on the climb up the Akigawa, and waited in the sun at the south side of Kobu Tunnel.

Bike leaning. At Kobu Tunnel on the border of Tokyo and Yamanashi 
More bike leaning ... this time with the tunnel and the Gokiso wheel logos visible

Finally blue sky and sunlight, just in time to dry the road before we descend at high speed.
Jerome arrives!
Jerome has had a heavy travel schedule in recent months with his new job and Asia-wide responsibilities.  Indeed, he missed each of the Ise 1000, Nishi Tokyo 200 and Chiba Minami Boso 300 events I did this fall, and nightly eating and drinking during travel have taken a toll compared with his shape a few months ago. But it looks as if his travel will lighten up over the next few months, and no doubt he will soon be zipping up the hills again ahead of me.
Looking back up toward Kobu Tunnel NW of Uenohara
Meanwhile, I felt great today.  The Gokiso wheels really do seem EASY to drive and hold a higher speed.  I guess I may just be in good shape, or maybe it was the lack of significant headwinds, but today I only pushed myself only to a very limited extent (really trying to drive it on the last few hundred meters of the climb to the mouth of Kobu Tunnel), but still set Strava "personal best" times for the overall Akigawa/Kobu Tunnel segment, then again on the climb up the back side of Otarumi. This is encouraging, very encouraging, as I plan for 2015.

Jerome wanted to stop for some liquids before the Otarumi climb, and we happened to pull in to the "bike and walking station" at Ohara, near Bijotani.   They are set up for cyclists -- including tires, tubes, a floor pump, and a relatively full set of tools one can borrow as needed.  As we parked our bikes, a young lady came out of the shop carrying a piping hot bowl of ramen on a tray and disappeared down the hillside,  She later returned and was chatting with the folks in the shop.  She was introduced by one of the men (who might have been her father, given the pride in his voice) as At-chan, a police woman on her day off.  We joked a bit with her, Jerome asking if she rides a "shiro bai" (the large, white police motorcycles), I if she was an "omawari-san" (beat patrol cop).  No, the man responded, she is a detective, part of an anti-drug crime unit based in Atsugi.  Impressive. Maybe her "I'm just a normal girl" style is just an act for an undercover operation?
Cycle and Walking Station Yumeya -- formerly a 7-11 here.
Plenty of tire and tube choices in case of a nearby mid-ride difficulty
The shop master shows us the tool collection
Basic foods on offer -- ramen, soba/udon, Gyu-don, etc.  Coffee 100 yen.
Across the street is the historical building used as a resting place by Daimyo (feudal lords) en route to and from Edo (Tokyo) during the Tokugawa period.  The building was shared by Daimyo from Iida, Takato and elsewhere in Shinshu (now Nagano Prefecture).  I have done the tour before, and Jerome did so today.  A very nice local feature.

All in all, a very nice ride not just for late December/winter solstice, but for any time of year!

19 December 2014

Cycling in Pollution - the Beijing Solution (?)

Last weekend riding out through Kawasaki and Yokohama on a cold morning and busy streets, I felt as if I was breathing in diesel fumes at times as the trucks accelerated from traffic signals, the cold engines not burning as clean as after they warm up.  It was a relief to get further down the Miura Peninsula and into the clean sea breeze ... at least it was great until the sea breeze turned into a swirling gale force wind.

Today, I saw an online article in The Guardian on air pollution in Beijing.  Yes, everyone living in Asia knows about air pollution in Beijing, so nothing new.  But still it was a well-written article that conveys what it must be like to live in such an environment ... and makes one glad that Tokyo air is much, much cleaner.  Of course, Beijing pollution creates huge problems for outdoor athletic activities -- especially school activities, runners and cyclists -- all of which are discussed in the article.  According to the article, the British School has an inflatable dome, so that tennis, basketball and other sports can be played in filtered, relatively clean air.

As for cycling, one Beijing resident British artist, Matt Hope, has come up with a partial solution -- the breathing bike!  Power from pedaling drives an air filtering system.  Here is an explanation of the invention from early 2013:

The Guardian article has a nice photo of the bike in use, in Beijing traffic, riding by the CCTV tower ... next to the building that burned in a spectacular fire in 2009 when it was almost done with construction and someone decided at would make a nice place for a fireworks display.

Not something that I would ever want to use.  I will be happy if the only power I generate is for my bike lights ... and maybe a USB charger for my iPhone or Garmin.

14 December 2014

SP Dynamo -- the 9 series (SV-9) dynamo hub arrives ... and completes Paris Brest Paris 2015!

As regular readers know, I am a big fan of the SV-8 dynamo, having ridden my SV-8 on lots of 600km, 1000km, 1200km, many shorter and one even longer (1420km+ -- LEL) randonneuring events in recent years, putting in 15~20,000 kms, conservatively, with this light source.  And I use an SD-8 (disk version) on my commuting rig, and a PV-8 (greater output) as well, and have built up a number of SV-8's and PV-8's for friends.

The new model is out!  SP Dynamo has sent me a couple of SV-9 hubs.  Announced last summer, the wait is over.

I measure a weight of approx. 313 grams, down from approx 371 grams for the SV-8.  So 16% lighter.  Much smaller also.  As long as it works as well as the SV-8/PV-8 ... a major improvement just based upon smaller size and weight.
Left: SV-8, Right: SV-9.  Big reduction in size, and weight.
SV-9 fits in the palm easily.
My SV-9 weights 313 grams.  Just a wee bit more than the advertised 309 grams.
An SV-8 weighs in at 371 grams.  
I built up the hub with an H Plus Son Archetype rim -- wide, deep, attractive (black with white graphics) and sturdy enough for long distance audax/randonneuring, and Sapim CX Ray spokes -- the best spokes I have used ( ... if more expensive than non-bladed options).  The result is a beautiful wheel that should be very durable and fast.  Wheel No. 00025.

Of course, the hub's low weight (for a dynamo) means that even with a sturdy rim and 32/3-cross spokes, the wheel is the lightest dynamo-hubbed front wheel I have yet to see, weighing in at 955 grams.
955 grams for the wheel, including sturdy rim and 32 3-cross spokes.
How does it work on the road?  Well, stay tuned for updates.

The electric output is not materially different than the SV-8.  As with the SV-8, output is not QUITE enough at low speeds to be certified in Germany for use with standard 700mm road wheels, but plenty of power in practice for someone who rides at normal speeds and who uses modern LED lights.

What is the main difference, other than the lighter weight?  My first impression is that the hub's resistance/drag is impressively tiny when no light is attached (or on).  My spin test suggests it is signficantly lower resistance than the 8 series (which was best in its class).  No, my front wheel built with the SV-9 does not spin for 4+ minutes, like my Gokiso front hub/wheel.  But it does spin for 40+ seconds. That is a lifetime compared with other dynamos and suggests truly negligible drag.  First rides in the neighborhood confirm this.  On December 28 the hub will get its first real test.

UPDATE (Dec 28, 2014):  I took the first extended ride with the SV-9/H Plus Son wheel, 185 kms from Tokyo to Shizuoka, over Atami Pass, then another 15 kms back home from the Shinkansen station at Shin Yokohama.  The hub works just fine.  No noticeable difference from the SV-8, except it rolls even smoother with the light switched off (am I imagining it)?  And, of course, a front wheel that is around 60 grams lighter -- not noticeable to me except perhaps in my imagination, spinning up to climb on steeper sections of the climb to Atami Pass.

I left home at 4:25AM, so used the light for the first 3 hours or so (to Odawara), as well as for 45 minutes of the at-dusk ride home from Shin Yokomama.  I turned the light off during day, but switched it on for the 600 meter elev. descent from Atami Pass -- so cars, if any, would see me coming sooner in the mirrors on the curvy road, and for some stretches on crowded roads where I wanted cars to be more aware of me as I passed by along the curbside at stop lights or in slow traffic.  If it holds up as well as the SV-8 over time, it will be THE hub for randonneurs who want the convenience of dynamo lighting with a "normal" road bike feel and who want to complete events with fast times.

I remember reading a ride report recently from an American cyclist who rode in the "front group" at a recent PBP and commented there were few or no dynamo hubs among these folks -- pure road racing set ups.  With a product such as the SV-9, I would be curious if 2015 is different ... though I will only have a fleeting instant to check, as those folks pass me on the return leg as I head out.

My only regret ... We are now entering the coldest time of the year.  I have only one Brevet on schedule over the next 6 weeks, and it is a 200km, mostly daytime event.  Ride conflicts are cropping up on many other weekends during that period, so it will be awhile before I can get in a really good series of longer rides in on the new wheel.  That said, I am planning to ride PBP and plenty of other events this year, so eventually I will get a long-term test.

UPDATE (July 2015):  The SV-9 has done a few longer brevets, and now will be going with me to Europe and PBP!

UPDATE (Post Paris-Brest-Paris -- August 25 2015):   The SV-9 worked beautifully during Paris-Brest-Paris, and I could complete the event with lots of great memories and no more than the normal pain and suffering/wear and tear.

Lots of other riders noticed that I had a very small, light weight dynamo hub, and it got comments in the "start pen" as we waited for our wave to go.

I saw only a few other SV-9/PV-9s, but MANY PV-8/SV-8 and disk versions (PD-8/SD-8).  Jerome's SD-8 worked flawlessly as well, and I did not hear of any problems with dynamo hubs during the event.  Even riders who say that they do not usually "need" dynamo hub lighting want to have it for Paris-Brest-Paris, where they will be riding through the night for 3 consecutive nights, and will have very limited access to electric outlets for battery recharging or stores selling replacement batteries.

At this point, I would guess that more than half of the 6000+ PBP riders must be using dynamo lighting.  I guess that Shutter Precision's market share has jumped enormously, especially with riders from UK, US, Australia and a few other places.  Schmidt still seems to hold a majority of the randonneur market, but a shrinking one.

Miura Trip -- Wine Red hubs after Red Wine week

On Saturday I took an early winter trip around Miura Peninsular with Eric and Seiichi, who has a vintage bike shop in the Yutenji area.  I usually save the Miura area for late January and February when the mountains are impassable.  But this Saturday I was happy to head south and take it a bit easy after 3 nights out in a row and a trip to Hyogo and Nagoya.

On Wednesday was an annual Burgundy Christmas dinner that we have now attended the past 3 or 4 years.  Incredible food and wine as in the past.  On Thursday, just beer with dinner.  Friday, again more red wine at a farewell party for the contact at one of our business partners -- she is from Bordeaux, so yes, more good wine.

So it was only appropriate that this would be a maiden ride for a new pair of Gokiso wheels with wine red hubs.  Yes, they are fantastic, things of beauty and precision, smooth as silk and very fast.  But more about them in a later post.

Seiichi led the way.  We took Kampachi then Route 1 -- much more major roads than I would have chosen by myself.  But Kampachi traffic thinned and became tolerable after Dai-san Keihin entrance, and Route 1 was a fast way to Yokohama Station.  South of Yokohama Station, we got off of Route 16 and hugged the coast along an industrial road ... which was very fast and lower traffic than Route 16.  A great chance to get up some speed and see that, yes, the Gokisos really did make it easier to maintain a high pace.  Or was that a tailwind?

Once we got further down the peninsula the wind picked up, coming from all directions at different times.
Seiichi and Eric on the Southern Miura Peninsula

The Canyon Shark wants to go this way

Seafood for lunch, of course!  What you see in the photo, plus some Shime-Saba.
After a delicious lunch of (too much) fish, we swung back up the west side of the peninsular toward Kamakura,  The cross winds and shifting head/tail winds were vicious.  At several places sand was blowing from the beach across the road (and into my eyes).  I suffered, still digesting my lunch as I tried to keep up with Eric and Seiichi ... and eventually fell back after missing a few traffic signals, only to catch them again when they waited for me in Kamakura.  Then some cafe latte and I hopped the train back as far as Musashi Kosugi.  From there, a quick spin over to C Speed and then home.
West side of Miura Peninsula -- windy Sagami Bay
Quick stop by C Speed!
Not that much distance -- about 115 kms total -- but a nice, if windy, ride!  And great to be riding with new friends who enjoy many of the same things as I about cycling ... and start from Komazawa Dori.