31 July 2017

NYC - 450,000 bike trips per day

Nice article in the NY Times today online about cycling in NYC. Quite a difference from 20 years ago.

23 July 2017

Matsuhime Pass, ahead of the heat

View from near the top of the climb to Matsuhime Pass, looking back down the valley toward Saruhashi
Today Jerome and I wanted to ride, but the heat has been awful. I decided that I would be on a 613AM train from Musashi Mizunoguchi, arriving at Saruhashi at 746AM, meaning I would need to leave home before 545AM.  Jerome wanted to join, but was planning to go later ... but take an express from Shinjuku to Otsuki. I told him he could catch me on the climb. I missed the 613AM train, and ended up at Saruhashi around 815AM. ... and Jerome only 15 minutes or so behind when he started from Otsuki.

The strategy worked really nicely. We met at the top, and enjoyed the last 2/3 of the ride together. The heat was bearable, much more shaded roadway on the South side of Matsuhime than I remembered, a slight breeze, and little traffic (and no traffic at all on the "old road" to Matsuhime Pass, now that Matsuhime Tunnel is open and the old road is closed off on the South approach to the Pass--but still accessible for ingenious cyclists).
Leaving Saruhashi ... but this is not the famous bridge.

Beautiful empty road! Route 139.

Many types of flowers along Route 139

One of the stretches of Route 139 that has not yet been widened. Eventually it should all be 2 lanes, as most of it is.

Approaching Fukashiro Dam.

Hydrangea at the dam in the small rest area.

The reservoir is almost empty. Only generating 124kWs!
(I checked online and my Hiroshima solar project was over 450kWs at the same time Saturday morning 

Turn left just before the LONG Matsuhime Tunnel ... Then go around the locked fence and through several shorter, completely unlighted tunnels.

On the climb. Much more shade than I remember. I took it slow and easy ...

We came from down there. Up, Up, Up!
The bus driver must have been asleep somewhere in the back of this bus. No sign of activity... 

At Matsuhime Pass

Jerome arrives. Wonder why the included English on this one? ... if only they had done so where we entered below, we would have been on notice ...

On Yamanashi Rte 18 after Tsuru Pass, traditional stop for water/rest on the left.

No one is taking care of the gateball court this year. The elderly are now too few and old for gateball!

More hydrangea!
A cold beer and cold udon for recovery at a place in Uenohara complete with bike bar/rack

At Uenohara for the trip back to town. Girls in yukata for summer festivals?
The ride was only 60kms, with around 1700 meters of climbing. Plus another 10kms or so in town getting to/from the trains (and with a stop at C Speed to chat with Hiroshi). I feel as if I have "acclimated" a bit to the heat and humidity for this year, but also as if over the next month my rides will involve early starts and rinko transits to skip the miserably hot slog from and back to town and start nearer climbs that will take me to pleasantly cooler elevation.
Maybe I have reached the point MOB did, where I will no longer have the patience for a slog along the Tamagawa and through the sprawl of Tokyo suburbs? Maybe I will be a regular rinko bag user? Okay, I WILL be a regular rinko bag user, especially after I complete a planned move closer to the middle of Tokyo for the Fall.

21 July 2017

Eat Like a Tour Racer - 6000 kcals a day


How Fast was Bardet on the Izoard?

One of the fun things about Strava is comparing oneself (or one's friends) with a famous rider like Romain Bardet, now in 2nd place overall for this year's Tour, 23 seconds behind Froome.

Yesterday, on the finish climb to the Col d'Izoard, Romain Bardet was SO fast, that he took the Strava KOM ("King of the Mountain" -- fastest time recorded) on the last 2.0 kms, averaging 20.9kms per hour, this on a 9% grade after already having climbed over 3500 meters elevation and ridden 175 kms on the day.

By comparison, a strong rider in the Etape du Tour event there last Sunday ... did the same stretch in 15:25. I would be delighted to finish it in under 20 minutes at the end of such a hard day!

P.S. Did I mention that I met Bardet again last fall year at the Tokyo TdF reception?  Did I? Perhaps I dropped the name once or twice?

Dip in the Akigawa and "Sashimi Konyaku" at Michiko's Sobatei in the Woods

A hot day last Sunday, but I still got in a nice ride with Jerome to the Akigawa.

GPS off for a few stretches. Around 135-140kms total.

Faded signage along the Tamagawa.
A nice stop early on at Lohas 24 cafe and coffee roasters
It has fast become a cyclist mecca. ... like MOB's future shop in Bremen!
The roasting equipment, apologies for reflection in the glass.

In no time we were past Itsukaichi

Left at the "T", less than 50 meters, and the steps down to the secret swimming hole

Ahh, looks nice!

Sleeping Frenchman

Beached whale
Up the hill 300 meters more elevation, to Tokisaka Toge
And the Toge no Chaya Soba-tei Michiko! 

An Edo era building hidden back in the woods

Konyaku Sashimi - a Positivo Espresso favorite.

Still Ajisai here!

And these too were beautiful, ... what are they?

07 July 2017

Air Pollution while Commuting

An article in the NY Times today highlights a study about exposure to pollution while cycling in cities. In the most polluted cities (Delhi, Beijing), cycling can be hazardous for your health. Of course, in those places breathing can be hazardous to your health ... just not as hazardous as not breathing.

Elsewhere, we should avoid the most air-polluted roads and can rest assured that we are still improving ourselves.

"On weekdays, Darby Jack bicycles the 15 miles from his home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, to his office at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in Washington Heights. Unlike most people who bike to work, the 42-year-old assistant professor of environmental health wears sensors that monitor how much air he breathes in during the trip along with air pollution levels along his route.
This elaborate gadgetry is part of a five-year study that aims to find out at what point the harm done by pollution to cyclists might outweigh the health benefits accrued from the exercise."

06 July 2017

Peter Sagan's new machine?

Peter Sagan is kicked out of the Tour de France for maintaining his balance as Cavendish tries to sneak by along the rail and goes flying!
Sagan's elbow is out.  He seems, to me, to be merely attempting to retain balance after Cavendish gets too close, and as Cavendish is ALREADY on his way down.
Anyway, Sagan is out for this year. He has been offered a new sponsor, however, if he wants to make himself useful while enjoying the rest of the Tour from the sideline, if he does not mind the color scheme:

19 June 2017

Olympic road race course proposal revised


Start in Chofu near the Tamagawa ... and go to Mt. Fuji Speedway via Doshi and Yamanakako.

Much, much better!

New Stop along the Tamagawa Replaces 7-11 At Y's Road in Fuchu

A new stop along the Tamagawa. Highly recommended. Bicycle cafe and coffee roastery.
This was one of the best iced latte I can remember having, ever. Super smooth coffee.
The master wanted to speak English, so don't be shy. Next to Y's Road in Fuchu.

New Beauty in Marunouchi; Electric Monster in Azabu

Sometimes the bike parking lots are the most interesting parts of the commute!

Last week I had a lunch in Marunouchi and happened upon some mouth watering titanium from Merlin, ... in a small package. A mini-bike commuter. Very impressive.

Later in the week, a stop at another parking lot, a 500w electric bike - Ride Scoozy.  From what I can find, it has a 20MPH (32kph) top speed with the electric motor only ... and does not seem to have an automatic cut-out like the Japanese models. So not street legal!!!  Great unless you get stopped by the cops, or in an accident.

Beautiful June Day - Ride with Didi

 Didier was in town from Hong Kong this weekend, so I joined him for a "flat" ride on Saturday. We took his normal route to Hinode and back ... though we got separated a few times when he went someplace I was not expecting, and I stuck to my well-ridden roads or the path. It was a bit hot, but generally really nice weather for June. Later on, in the early evening, was incredible -- a cool breeze, dry air. Not Tokyo June! Of course, Sunday was much more sticky, and rain started after noon.

I felt lethargic, but I think that had more to do with the cold I got a week earlier than anything else. At least I got in 92kms and was not totally knackered. And good to catch up with another former Tokyoite returning to town. Seems to be a theme in recent weeks.

Still, I am not in the shape I was in 2015. I need to train!

11 June 2017

Training for Velothon Berlin ... in Tokyo?!?

Fabian, one of MOB's close friends and a former Japan resident (for 3 years quite a long time back), was in town this weekend. He brought his cycling gear and got a pass from his wife and daughter so we could go for a ride, as we did the last time he was in Tokyo several years back (more years than I would like to admit).

Fabian said that MOB will come to Berlin next week from Bremen for the annual Velothon event. Some of you will remember reading about the massive Velothon event on this blog from 2011 or 2010. I think for more recent news, you can find reports on MOB's blog, "there is no "I" in cyclyng."

This was an important part of -- perhaps THE MOST important part of -- his training regimen. Seriously, Fabian does ride regularly, but said he tends to stick to short, after work rides, typically 35 kms.  Today we made it around 110 kms - the classic Otarumi/Tsukui loop. I promised him if he comes back again in the next few years, we will definitely put bikes in rinko bags and go to the countryside for something different and a bit more impressive. Still, for a return to Japan after many years, riding out along the river and through the sprawling suburbs may not be so bad.

Anyway, I have had a cold and am not yet fully recovered, but was happy to try to "ride through it" on this special occasion, as today was rare, remarkably decent cycling weather for June in Tokyo. Not too hot. Dry. Not too humid. Mostly overcast to keep the sun from being to harsh. A bit of a wind from the E/SE so a headwind on the return, but not as bad as sometimes.

Fabian borrowed the Renovo -- his first time on a wood frame, and first experience with Di2 and hydraulic disk brakes. All good.

I rode the sky blue Parlee.
I thought the color went very well with the blue hydrangeas along the Tank Road.

We went out Onekan, then took the tank road, the North side of Lake Tsukui, then up the west climb of Otarumi Pass, stopped at the ramen shop for ramen (me) and chahan (Fabian), then back via Takao and Hachioji.
Fabian Escobar outside the drug lord's house
Bikes welcome at the ramen shop near the top of Otarumi Pass. They treated us like kings, as usual.
Incredibly nice people running this shop, who are delighted at repeat visitors.

View from our garden table.
One stretch of path was closed off along the Asagawa east of Hachioji. It was easy to get over the barriers and ride along the nice new pavement. The other end was a bit more difficult.
I went around the fence first, then Fabiand handed over the bikes and joined me.

A tight fit for Fabian.

An even tighter fit for me!
A very successful outing.