30 October 2016

Beautiful fall colors in Karuizawa

The sawteeth mountains of Gunma
Yesterday I was in Karuizawa having helped move some furniture for a friend Friday night.  The fall colors were really glorious.  The center of Kyu-Karuizawa and Naka-Karuizawa were mobbed with people (and the primary language sometimes seemed to be Chinese, not Japanese), but once out of the center it was actually quite peaceful.  Only a 26 km ride, but almost 600 meters of climbing.
Kyu Karuizawa Main area. Tour busloads.

My route. 2 shorter climbs.

On the way to Miharashidai

Walking up to the viewpoint -- spectacular reward ahead.

Gunma below
Peak foliage

Chinese language for this wedding photo.

At the bottom of the climb to Miharashidai, looking back to Kyu Karuizawa area
I tried to climb to Kita Karuizawa, but the toll road is closed to bikes, so I descended this very nice (gravel) rindo back to Naka Karuizawa, it came out through Hoshi no ya.

I am reconsidering my opinion of the place.

28 October 2016

Old Hero, New Hero

That's me with Le Blaireau, Bernard Hinault
He joins the "Peace Race" charity event at Chateau Chailly each August
On the way in to my office yesterday, on Meguro Dori, a cyclist caught up with me from behind -- all too common an occurrence this year. It was Laurent on his new, beautiful Eddy Merckx machine fresh from its Belgian home! We rode together until our routes separated around san-no-hashi.

Laurent mentioned that he was going to the French chamber of commerce & industry event for the Tour de France Saitama Criterium, that evening. I jumped at the information and opportunity to join.

I arrived a little after 8PM, only leaving the university after my class finished. The event was supposed to be from 630 to 900PM, so I was surprised to see that the "presentation" speeches were still in progress.  I talked my way in, with the admission charge and mention of Laurent's name--too late to join the raffle.

I went to the first of these events, back in 2013 with Jerome. In fact, I think a significant portion of the audience showed up that time because we posted it to TCC, this blog and elsewhere. But I am not on the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan's mailing list, so I would have missed this but for the serendipitous meeting with Laurent.  The location this time was OVE Minami Aoyama, a Shimano-owned "life creation space".  A nice space -- I would like to go back and see what it is like on a normal day, though it seems to be basically a cafe, only open 10AM to 6PM.

Anyway, back in 2013, we enjoyed rubbing shoulders with Bernard Hinault, Romain Bardet, and Yukiya Arashiro.  Jerome and I and families ended up dining with Arashiro and his significant other a month or so later.  This time Yukiya was not there, but Hinault, Bardet, Adam Yates and others were.
#2 at the 2016 Tour (the younger, thinner guy, not the guy with shiny forehead)
He said he remembered me (and Jerome, of course!) from 2013
Romain Bardet has quickly moved up the ranks of Tour finishers, this year ending 2nd in the General Classification, and winning a difficult mountain stage late in the event.  He is rare among pro-tour cyclists, a "fat adapter" rather than "carbo loader".  In other words, he has trained his body to burn fat rather than relying upon carbs -- a hot topic on, among others, randonneuring message boards.  He has the best hope of any French cyclist in a long time for a victory in the GC at the Tour, and at age 26, he is just entering the "window" of 5-7 years when such things are most likely to happen.

Of course, I parked my commuting bike out front of the event. I was a bit surprised that it was ONLY bicycle at the event.  Yes, there were plenty of bikes inside (part of the store display, pushed to the side for the reception), but I was the only one to arrive or leave by bike.  Maybe it was the fact that my commuting method forced me to forgo alcohol at the event?

16 October 2016

Passenger for Jerome

Jerome and I rode out to Keio SFC on Saturday morning where I had work.  He continued on over Yabitsu Pass.  An 80 km round trip for me, and much more for Jerome. Today he dropped off his front wheel for some maintenance, complete with a passenger on his bike.
Saturday was a gorgeous day for a ride.  This is within the Keio SFC campus.

As I start the return trip ...

Hoppy, Jerome's dog.

Hoppy likes to stay close to Jerome.

02 October 2016

Iriyama Pass

Today was the nicest weather since my return from the USA over 3 weeks ago.  Still a bit warm and sticky (for October especially), but nice.

Jerome and I rode a 115-120 km loop over Iriyama Pass / Bonbori Rindo.  All-in-all a nice ride. The pictures tell the story.
The route.  117.5 kms total.  Iriyama Pass / Bonbori Rindo is close to town.
so a good option for a half-day ride.
Blue sky! Familiar territory, but looks quite nice today.

Jerome's cockpit. The phone got a few more cracks in the glass today.
The view in the mirror ... best from other angles.

At the 7/11 at Tokura, Itsukaichi. The sky crowded out the traffic in my mind.

Jerome reaches Iriyama Pass.

A really nice place to change a flat tire on a beautiful day.
Just over Iriyama Pass heading south toward Jimba Kaido.
The sign reads "hou-an-rin" -- Protected forest for water resources.

We take this road back to Jimba Kaido and toward town.
Lots of water in every stream after the rains of September.