Tagesarchiv: 16. April 2008

Sunny Tuesday

After the epic ascent of Enzan on Saturday, I felt rather restless. There is a race scheduled at the Gunma CSC next weekend and I definitely had not trained enough; I wanted to go into the mountains again before the race. So on Monday afternoon when I looked up the weather forecast for Tuesday and found out what a lovely spring day that would become (most likely) and then checked my schedule and found out in addition that I had no appointments for the day and that all things considered, all things could be postponed to Wednesday anyway, I decided to take a day off.

As my wife started to work this month, I have now to take care of my daughter and prepare her in the morning to withstand the forces of the Japanese education system. Getting her out of the bed is not easy. Getting her into clothes is also not easy. Usually the first question is: „Has Mama picked this shirt? Are you sure?“ Yes I am, if I wouldn’t be sure it would be refused immediately. We then continue in a lighter mood with Yogurt eating competition and making toasts for each other (She : Salami and cucumbers, me : cherry jam). Combing and fixing her hair is a real challenge for me. But I like this moments alone with my daughter and it is good to learn something new and challenging. Sorry, the last paragraph was about my life outside of cycling. Yes, there is one. I shall refrain from blogging about it too often.

So, with my daughter out of the door I was next on the Cervelo + GravityZero wheels plus Assos jacket (but not the Fugu one). I rode in one stretch the first 50 km to Ome station, I could hardly wait to get some more of the Royal White pastry there – simply delicious. I took only a short break and continue to ride to Okutama station, Okutama lake and then over the bridge towards Kosuge and Matsuhime on road 139. It was still „traffic safety week“ and many tents were erected at crossings and many, many policemen and volunteers were sitting in the tents and … well, were basically chit-chatting and drinking tea. But this caused many undesired stops.

At the crossing where david ignored the light and the subsequent shouting of the assembled West Okutama police force, the tent was empty. It can be reasonably assumed that all of them committed suicide to take the blame for not being able to stop a gang of four ignorant foreigners on arguably fast bikes.

The landscape was wonderful and so was the weather. I came home sunburned and to take the Assos jacket with me was a mistake – in the back of my head I still remembered seeing snow on Enzan the previous Saturday. Unfortunately the beautiful landscape is under further threat as many public works construction site were under way. Why – it is only April, the fiscal year has barely started. Should this give us some secret hint; could we use this information as an indicator of increased Japanese government budget deficit for 2008? Shall we sell this information to MorganStanley and the like? Financial analysis and hill climbing were never so close.

I continued to ride to Kosuge where I took the second break of the ride in front of the town hall. Kosuge is a nice village and Tom is right to propose to go there in summer and jump into the Onsen, perhaps even staying the night there. The boys day is coming closer and a long wire with many carp streamers was swaying in the wind over the river.

I then started the attack of Matsuhime, made the 571m ascent in about 52 minutes and added Togebaka No. 8 on the blog. There were almost no cars on the road and the views from the road are spectucular. From a landscape-point-of-view, Yabitsu and Matsuhime are my favourite climbs. I felt pretty OK going up, never it doubt that I would make it in one go.

I went down on the other side – more construction works, mainly slopes and some tunnels. Why should there be tunnels in this part of the country? There is no traffic anyway. There are hardly any people living there. There are plenty of good roads. The only reason I can imagine is, that these are not real tunnels, but that this is in fact a miner and tunnelling engineering primary school and that tunnels are built for education and training purposes.

My legs and lungs felt pretty OK on the descent, but my back starting hurting – I used too much arm muscles on the ascent. So going along route 20 back towards Sagamiko against a string headwind was a drag. Then I entered Uenohara. From my previous posts you might know that I hate Uenohara. There is absolute no reason to built a city in this ridiculous hilly terrain in the first place. All this unnecessary ups and downs leading either to nowhere or to country clubs. But again, perhaps I am wrong and this is not a city, but a city planing school for juvenile delinquents.

Also I crashed in 2007 in Uenohara and was almost killed by a 7-Eleven delivery truck who suddenly started to move in reverse direction on the main road.

This time I crashed again and now I really, really hate Uenohara. When I passed some cars on the left, waiting for the lights to turn green [„blue“ for Japanese readers], I did not saw the level difference between the asphalt surface and the curbstone and there I was falling over to the left. Luckily only my body touched the hard ground, preventing any damage to my beloved new Cervelo bike. Bruises can heal – scratches in the frame are much more costly to cover up. I only had a bloody knee, that was everything. But my GravityZero rear wheel was not running straight any longer and fixing that will be a complicated exercise. The spokes can only be adjusted once the tire, tube and rimtape has been removed. I need to use my Campagnolo wheels again and get used to the slacking.

The good thing however was, that shortly after the crash my metabolism must have released a huge amount of endomorphine or whatever as a result of the shock of falling plus hatred for Uenohara and after the crash I did not feel any pain or any fatigue any longer. I decided that this must be the perfect race strategy : crash first – race later.

So I continued to Sagamiko and then took the train to Jiyugaoka where I paid a visit to Nagai-San. He fixed my bike and I showed him the GravityZero wheels and explained in all glorious details the advantages of the hub, like I did already to almost everyone of you. Like everyone of you he was not very impressed.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day out in the nature and I felt somehow gaining form and loosing weight. If I pass the pass/fail racing criteria in Gunma next weekend I should be happy.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Cervelo Soloist, Mob

The art of pass/fail racing

Taken from the Bike Snob NYC website, another good advice.

Cycling should be an enjoyable endeavor. However, sometimes despite our best efforts we wind up in situations on the bike that are simply no fun. Such situations include: having accidents; getting caught in severe weather; and, perhaps worst of all, becoming involved in an amateur road race. Of course, the first two circumstances can be avoided or mitigated with caution and preparation. As for the third one, though, chances are that if you find yourself in an amateur road race in the first place you’re the sort of person who seeks suffering rather than avoids it. If you simply must participate in amateur road racing, here are some tips to help ameliorate the adverse effects:

Know Your Limits

There is a fine line between ambition and delusion. The former is the fuel for success, and the latter is the way to ruin. I believe it was either Sheldon Brown or Ben Franklin who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This is especially true when it comes to road racing. Basically, if you’ve never won a race before, you’re not suddenly going to start winning them now. So settle down, pick a wheel to follow, and stay out of trouble.

Unfortunately, though, too many people fail to realize this, especially in the lower categories, where everybody stupidly sees him-or herself as a potential winner. When everyone’s going for the podium the result is a pile-up. It becomes like some moronic slapstick routine where eight people bend down to pick up the same $100 bill and just end up bashing their heads together as a gentle breeze carries the money down the street.

The reason the higher categories generally see fewer crashes is not because they’ve acquired better riding skills over the years; rather, it’s because higher-category riders have been psychically beaten into submission. Their wills have been broken, they’ve admitted to themselves that they don’t have a chance, and they ride accordingly. In real life, if more than like 50% of the country believes it should be running it, you’re going to have a civil war. In a race, if more than half the field thinks it can win you can expect carnage on wheels. So don’t be part of the problem.

Race Pass/Fail

So you’ve admitted you’re a loser. Congratulations, and welcome to mediocrity! Please come in and make yourself comfortable. Would you like a Shasta? Believe it or not, embracing your inner “meh” is one of the most positive things you can do as a cyclist. And now that you’re coming to terms with this, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals. Clearly, winning is out of the question for you, so the next best thing is helping someone else win. Well, that’s all very nice, but what’s in it for you? More importantly, once your job is done and the winning break is up the road what’s your motivation for staying in the race?

In this case we can look to the halls of academe for an answer, and that answer is to race “Pass/Fail.” This simply means finishing=passing and getting dropped=failing. Over the years, I’ve learned that riding for a place is discouraging. However, if you treat simply finishing the race as success you can strive for—and attain—something close to perfection. Remember: success is how you define it. And when it comes to defining things in a manner that suits my own purposes, I’m like Robert Cawdrey with an Erasermate.

Employ Tactics

Road racing is all about tactics. Unfortunately, the tactical advice you get from books and magazines is intended for winners or for people who aspire to be winners. As such, it doesn’t apply to you. Using that stuff for pass/fail racing is like trying to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture by following Mapquest directions to Chuck E. Cheese. You’re not interested in winning, you’re interested in surviving. Here are three key pieces of advice for the survival of the pass/fail racer:

Go Where The Most People Are

If you see a group of people go up the road that has less people in it than the group you’re in, stay where you are! What’s happening is that a selection is being made, and trust me when I tell you don’t want to be a part of it. The first rule of pass/fail racing is to avoid breakaways. Being in a breakaway is like going from a cushy job at a big company with a regular paycheck to a really hard job at a tiny company where you have to work 16 hour days on commission only and people are always yelling at you. And trust me—someone will yell at you. Every break has a self-appointed driver who is really mean and constantly shouts stuff like, “Short pulls!” and “Rotate!” and “Pull off into the wind!” and then gets indignant when you say “But I don’t wanna rotate!” since just want to sit on the back crying because you miss those fun cubicle days when all your friends were around and you didn’t have to do any real work. I mean, seriously, if you want to suffer do a cyclocross race.

Conversely, if you’re in one group and you suddenly realize the group up the road has much more people than the one you’re in, that means you’re probably being dropped. If possible, get back to the group with more people in it. (Shouting at someone else to “Close the gap!” can be helpful here.)

Savor the Slowness

There are times in the race when the pace will slow for no apparent reason. This is a good thing for the pass/fail racer, as it is an opportunity to relax and enjoy. Occasionally though, you may be tempted to try to lift the pace or “make a move.” But it is absolutely essential to always remember the first rule of pass/fail racing and stay where the people are. Because if you do go off the front, nobody’s going to follow you since you’re a pass/fail racer and they are too and they know better than to get mixed up in some fool’s errand with you. Then you wind up alone in no-man’s land. If you don’t know what no-man’s land is, it’s kind of like that period after you learned what the cycling-related jokes on the Primal jerseys meant, but before you figured out that it was totally uncool to wear them, so you just rode around alone wearing a Primal jersey and looking ridiculous. And that’s what will happen if you go off the front. You’ll wind up alone, between the field and the break, looking ridiculous.

Work Only Out of Craven Self-Preservation

There is only one situation in which it is acceptable for the pass/fail racer to accelerate or attempt to move up through the field, and that’s at the beginning of any sort of incline. This is a widely-known rule, but it’s one of the few that’s actually designed for the pass/fail racer and so it bears repeating here. What you want to do is move to the front of the group at the start of the climb so that as you continue up it you can slowly drift back through the group instead of struggling to stay on. Hopefully, by the time you get to the top of the incline you haven’t already been spit out the back. This is the equivalent of periodically selling something you own for quick cash so you can enjoy a few months of easy living instead of simply working hard all the time.

Premature Withdrawal

Road racing isn’t like other types of racing. In a cyclocross race, you stay in the race until you finish or until you’re pulled, even if nobody’s near you. In a mountain bike race, you keep racing regardless of your position as well, unless you’ve got an irreparable mechanical problem, or unless you’re me and you just wanna go home. But in road racing, if you find yourself dropped and alone, you stop racing. This is perfectly acceptable, and it’s because, unlike other activities, road racing is not done for fun. It’s done out of obligation. So once your race is over there’s simply no point in carrying on.

Of course, there are times you may want to leave the race even before you’ve gotten dropped. Technically, this is unacceptable. However, there are a few ways to do it while saving face. They are:

Get a Flat

Be honest: who hasn’t prayed for a puncture during periods of extreme physical duress? If you simply want out, try to steer towards gravel or bits of broken glass. If possible, ride in the gutter, where these sorts of things accumulate. Also, if there’s any kind of neutral wheel service, be sure to start the race on a bicycle that is incompatible with modern-day drivetrains. There’s no way the mechanic’s going to be able to cram a 10-speed wheel with 130mm spacing into your 120mm-spaced frame quick enough for you to get back in the race. And even if he does, it’s not going to work with your Huret rear derailleur. Best of all, you can blame not only bad luck but also bicycle marketing and gimmickry for your failure to finish.

Unfortunately, getting a flat on purpose isn’t always easy, but you’ll just have to try your best until I start selling my Deflat-O-Mat 3000, which will instantly induce double-flats via a discreet handlebar-mounted trigger disguised as a cycle computer.

Have a Mechanical

There are innumerable ways to feign component failure. My personal favorite is the Hincapie ‘06. Remember the moment his steerer tube broke in Paris-Roubaix and he sat there for a moment studying his disembodied handlebars in disbelief before he crashed spectacularly? You can easily replicate this yourself by simply carrying a multi-tool in your jersey and subtly unbolting your stem. When it’s time to throw in the towel, simply slide the stem off the steerer tube and you’ll be out of the race in no time. (You can also do a Hincapie ’08—wheel failures can be induced by opening a skewer with your foot.)

And of course this all leads to the best but most dangerous way to leave a race:

Have a Crash

A good crash requires no explanation. Of course, it might require hospitalization, so this method should be used sparingly. If possible, steer towards grass or haybales.

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The big dude always plays the tuba. It’s a rule.

A piece on climbing..

Some excerpts..

„Hills are death for fat guys or big riders.“
„You just can’t get up even a slight incline without working much harder than a little guy“

„How you climb as a big guy has to be totally different, get over the idea that you will just grab a wheel, hang on, and spin up a hill. That won’t work for you Charlie, because you aren’t built to spin up hills. You need to whip out your Testosterone Bucket, take a drink, and really believe“

„I’ll never be good at steep, long climbs – power to weight is a tyrant. But shorter, shallower hills – the sheer power of a big guy, fat and strong or just big and strong, can be a tyrant to a small rider.“
„It’s hard to accept that you can actually do well on hills when your mental picture of a “hill” is a painful place where you get dropped by little tiny bastards, the Secret Elephant Graveyard where your races and group rides go to die. You start thinking of yourself as unable to climb.“

We don’t have ‚rolling‘ terrain here.. its flat or straight up.. „Tom-Land“ 🙂

As we approach the Fuji Hill climb again this year (June1) and I stare at the scale which will not budge below 185lbs, I wonder if I’ll ever get up the bugger in under 90 mins..

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