Tagesarchiv: 7. April 2008

Assos Product Review

Outside it is raining and the last cherry blossoms are falling to the ground. The complete atmosphere is somewhat melancholic and there is little reason to spend time with work related matter. Everything can wait until tomorrow.

However this winter I bought a lot of stuff from Assos through David Marx and I promised him to write something about this stuff on the Positivo web site. As the winter is gone by now and all stuff was thoroughly tested I can finally make good on my promise :

So the most important Assos gear I bought was this yellow Fugu jacket. Only the jacket, not the yellow trousers. Also I noted that in my jacket I look completely different – but it would be hard to blame the jacket for this.

But it is in fact a very warm jacket. According to the Assos website in should be worn at temperature from -4 to + 7 degrees. Please note that the temperature should be measured INSIDE the jacket. Really, I was wearing it one day when I crossed Otarumi with Tom and the temperature outside was around 3 degrees. We made a break at a Soba shop close to Takaoguchi and when I undressed from the jacket it was completely wet on the inside. Tom can confirm that. So every degree more than seven will extract 500 ml of sweat from your body. But nevertheless it is a very nice jacket and it has this huge one pocket on the backside for all kind of stuff and this nice collar and it really feels good. It is expensive yes, but it brought me well through the winter season.

There is little I hate more than riding on a bike and having cold ears. I used to be sensitive against rain but after riding last season almost completely in the rain (10 hours in Sadogashima, one hour home from lunch with David, david and a summer associate in Tama Jiman and and and) I lost that arrogant attitude. So I always wanted to have this robo cap from Assos and in fact it is very comfortable and warm. Again it looks different on my head, but I am not working as a model in Switzerland. This was a very good purchase and I threw away all other kind of winter bandannas, caps and tutus after getting this wonderful piece of gear. David Litt has the same one in red. Of course he had one in red so I wanted on in orange,my but then I had to compromise on the yellow one which might not fit so well in the color scheme of new Cervelo bike.

Oh yes, I also hate cold feet. So I bought this Assos shoe covers which were neither available in orange nor yellow. I have bought Pearl Izumi and Shimano in the past, but they do not have a long life duration when used by someone like me. These things are good, they keep the feet warm (OK not dry, but which shoe cover really does?) and they are easy to put on despite my initial judgement as the zipper cannot be opened fully on the back. The only drawback is, that the zipper is made out of metal and in the shape of the Assos logo. Therefore it is really hard to pull the zipper up and one of them has been lost already. David was so kind to send the shoe cover back to Assos in Switzerland for repair, but honestly speaking I would prefer a small strip of plastic attached to the zipper as in case of my old Assos airblock jacket rather than to have this fancy logo which hurt my sensitive manager fingertips. But nevertheless, these are the best shoecovers I ever owned.

But the most wonderful items I bought from Assos are these early winter gloves. They are available in yellow and red, among other minor colors. They are just wonderful warm and it is hard to imagine that you need anything else for winter in Japan (at least in the greater Kanto area). What I particular like about these gloves is, that they have no velcro fastener. They are very long so they can be worn over the sleeves of the jacket and it is so easy to put them on or off. Really of all the items I bought from David this year, I like these gloves the most. By now you might think that I am getting paid by David for talking so much good about Assos. I really like the gloves, shoecover and the robo cap and also the fugu jacket is nice. It is not the fault of the jacket that it just didn’t get cold enough in Japan to wear it. But I bought some more items which are just standard or even sub-standard :

This lycra shoecover from Assos is what I wore when racing in Kawagoe in March this year. It has to take part of the blame that I finished in 25th position. No, I was just joking. But in real life the color is not as half as nice as the photo to the left shows it. I mean, in the photo it looks like your foot is filled by divine yellow light. No, this is not the case. And after using it only once, it has now two holes. Maybe I should have bought the red version.

The Thermic socks socks have also a problem : They are just not warm. Maybe it is my feet, but after the experience with the fugu jacket I expected something hotter than 1.000 suns protecting my feet against the cold – and I was disappointed by these socks. So I almost exclusively wear them at home with my blue slippers which provides a nice color matching.

Again I bought some other socks which are good but nothing special. Please take a look at the socks photo gallery below.

All in all I had a very active winter season thanks to the support of David Marx. He also provided an excellent service, exchanging the fugu L size jacket against XL size when I was too confident about my body measurements and taking care of my all too many whims.
Thank you David.

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Gravity Zero Wheels

When I met David Marx at the Tour de Noto last year, he used this nice gravity-zero wheels on his bike which were really sharp looking. Later I visited his booth at the cycling fair in Makuhari and I could make a test ride with these wheels. They come from Australia and you can read all about them on the official web site, but there are two main points :

  • First, the rear wheel hub, called X-hub, as it comes directly from the x files, has a special kind of clutch, which eliminates any form of backlash/lag at the hub or pedal. The pedal power is transmitted directly to the rear wheel as if pedal and rearwheel are connected by a fixed gear – but with a free wheel.
  • Second, the levers on the tensioners can be removed so it is harder to steal the wheels and you can shave off another 10 grams of weight (provided you leave them at home and do not carry them in your repair kit as I do.
  • Third, they look sharp and the have a nice logo, although not in orange but in red.

So I wanted to have them for my new Cervelo bike, but David didn’t had clinchers on stock and it was doubtful when they would arrive so I opted for something else in the first place. But just like a miracle I had the sudden chance to purchase one pair of 50 mm carbon wheels with aluminium rims through an obscure channel and I couldn’t resist.

After fixing the wheels yesterday, I took them on a test ride to work (30 km) this morning. They feel very good. Once you ride them you notice just how often you stop pedaling and re-start again. Every time you restart pedaling you have the full power at your command, this is particular nice if you shift gears (and you apply less torque during the shifting) and even more when you accelerate exiting a curve. This wheel should give an old man like myself an unfair competitive advantage against all the thirteen and fourteen years old riders kicking my ass at Shuzenji.

Of course, to be fair, there are also two disadvantages : There is no clicking of the clutch of the back wheel hub audible any longer, I am missing this clickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklickclickclickclickclickcklick sound when riding in a group. When I hear it I know I have to be careful and prepare to brake.
And these wheels need a high degree of maintenance The rear hub needs to be de-assembled at greased after every ride in the rain.

Really I would like to spend as much time on the bike as possible and not spend too much time cleaning it and so on. even to update this blog cost a lot of time, but luckily I can do it at work.

In any case, they really look sharp.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Cervelo Soloist, Mob

Izu Weekend Ride

Juliane, david and me met early in the morning at Shinagawa station as planned and off we went by Kodama Shinkansen to Mishima. Nowadays even Kodamas are running on the basis of 700 series Shinkansens which were previously only used for Nozomi services. This is what I would call a nation in progress. Unfortunately one cannot fail to notice that the roof of the Shinkansen is not well cleaned. In fact, it is not cleaned at all which is a national disgrace.

[Comment: Later after the event it reminded me of something else as history is repeating itself, something you can verify when you reach the age of 45. When I was working in China on a construction site and our head office top management came to visit as, the site agent decided to paint the eastern and southern walls of the site office, as only those could be seen from the approach.]

We had not only a good time but also breakfast in the Shinkansen and were rewarded with a beautiful sight of the northernmost south-west side of eastern mount Fuji, still splendidly covered in snow.

In Mishima we found out that we were not the only cyling guys with the idea to ride out: About 20 – 30 cyclists, all in very competitive gears, were assembled at the station exit and got ready to ride somewhere. Quickly we assembled all bikes and rode in break-necking speed the first 230 meters to the next 7-Eleven where we took our first break. In fact we needed maps to navigate our way down the Izu peninsular and we continued our argument where to go. We decided not to go along the western coast road as we had done this some time before; instead we opted for a straight approach through the center of Izu bypassing the Maginotline and the main French defenses and heading straight for Dunkirk. We made good speed riding down south on route 136 and 414 respectively then turned left on route 50 at Yugashima Onsen, a sleepy small down located on a river.

From there on we started to climb about 700 meters up. To my surprise our climb came to an end at Kazahaya Toge, a pass I reached barely alive in 2005 with Juliane and David, after we have traversed Atami Toge before. It is the place where the Japanese authorities erected a cross in memorial of the cyclists who have given their lives in the vain attempt to reach the top.
„Put the Belgian waffle back in my month“ is inscripted on it, in memory of Tony Simpson.

It was a very nice climb and we were still full of energy, so david did not hesitate to provide special excerpts from the customer relationship training he has received at his place of work. We were very impressed while a couple taking photos in the vicinity left in panic.

We then went another 130 meters up to come to Nika Toge at elevation 900 and then started the descent towards Nishi Izu. In 2005 we opted for the wide road down, but this time the small road branching to the left was not closed so we took this one. It was a very nice descent through the forrest, not too steep. Suddenly at app. elevation 350 m I saw david sliding on his bike in a curve – he stopped and I checked the pressure on his backwheel – almost flat. But no problem, david had two spare tubes with him and Juliane 3 and me 2 CO2 cartridges to inflate them. So he exchange the tube and we found out that one of my cartridges was almost empty already. Four left. So we took the other one to inflate the back wheel which went well. Three left. Until the tube exploded and blew the tire off the rim. david took another tube and mounted it on his back wheel while I checked Julianes repair kit for the forecasted 3 cartridges. I could only found 2 in a mess that reminded me of a typical women handbag, but without the cosmetics and instead repair stuff filled. Two left. One of them was empty. One left. Juliane mounted that one on her valve adaptor but forgot to check if the valve was closed. So when connected the CO2 content evaporated in hot air. Zero left.

Let this be a lesson to you : This happens if you do not properly bury your used tubes in the backyard of your house as taught by ancient Japanese tradition !

Ok, it also happens to you if you do not take enough cartridges with you on your rides, or at least a pump.

Anyway, it was time to say goodbye to david as nothing could be done and Juliane and me rode on. We went to Nishi Izu to collect help and on the way we asked some black clad guys with black polished cars wether or not there would be a bicycle shop in Nishi Izu. They said something I did not understood which sounded like that we need to go to „DANMOTA„. Hm. On the way to Nishi Izu we got a phone call from david, a car gave him a lift and he arrived at the town almost at the same time as we did. At a gas stand we were not able to fill his tube with sufficient amounts of air, so I asked if there would be a bicycle shop in town. The answer was, yes there is, and it is „DANMOTA“ right on the left around the corner.

I rode there and it turned out that „DANMOTA“ is actually DAN MOTORS, the local machinery shop supplying the farmers with all kind of agricultural machinery. The guy running the shop was the typical grumpy farmer mechanics who had the most wonderful things displayed in his shop. After searching for quite a while he did not only find two cartridges which he sold to me, but also a Presta adaptor which we could use at the gas stand, so all our problems were solved.

We then rode on to Matsuzaki, where we had lunch and then further via route 15 to Shimoda where I said good bye to Juliane and david. They staid at the Ozawa Onsen close to Matsuzaki while I headed back by Super Odoriko to Tokyo.

All in all a very pleasant trip with some good climbs and very nice scenery, sometimes relaxed, sometimes very exciting. Should be redone with the other team members as well this year.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Juliane, Mob

Tour de Donut

It’s simple. Race 21 miles and see who is the king donut! In circuit style, ride 7 miles, then eat as many donuts as you would like. No limit. Then, ride 7 more miles, eat more donuts, then ride the last 7 mile lap. Glory and adulation are waiting for you at the Finish Line. Proceeds benefit the Utah Amber Alert ID project.

For every donut you eat, subtract three minutes from your time! Ten donuts? 30 minutes right off the top. Finally your appetite and your pot belly are your greatest assets!

My kind of racin‘.. 🙂

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