Monatsarchiv: Mai 2008

A day at the races : Tour of Japan Tokyo Stage

When does a race start? Only after the bikes are lined up on the start line and the starter sounds the bell? Or even earlier, yet perhaps the hour we were born? Well in case of the Tour of Japan Tokyo stage my definition of a the race start would be: When I started to drank glass after glass of good red wine and smoked some cigars at a friend home the evening before. A good start indeed, for a nice evening that ended at half past one in the morning. Yet the next morning I was supposed to attend this race at the Tokyo Oifuto harbor.

When I opened my eyes (please note that I did not write: „when I woke up“) and looked out of the window it was raining. I was tired, not completely sober and there were many reasons popping up to stay in bed; but I decided to dress up in my white NFCC racing gear, pack my things, jump into the car and head for the Tokyo Oifuto. I made a stop to buy something for breakfast and then I was lucky that I could still find a parking place at the race. I don’t know about you guys, but drinking a lot of alcohol definitely influences my bowels and the next morning I am usually glued to the toilet seat. Insofar the choice of the pure white NFCC bib shorts proved to be a source of constant potential embarrassment.


I had the chance to do two training rounds on the track and already I was almost soaked (I thought).
The race is on a public road, one lap 7 km long, 3 laps. There is one U-turn immediately after the start and about three more sharp turns, otherwise it is pretty flat and easy to maneuver.

I noticed further that a city of Tokyo standard issue 45 liter transparent garbage bag can we tailored into a very effective rain protection gear for the average 55 kg / 45 liter upper body Japanese amateur rider. I would be probably be in need of a 90 liter bag, not yet available here.

Last year there had been many crashes and I was even more afraid of crashes under these conditions. Then it was time to line up at the start – some other NFCC riders were also there: Alain, Eric, David and Dean. We looked great in our white team jerseys and bib shorts (I found also a toilet just before the race). Some of the NFCC riders have not come to the race, Stephane was there but choose not to race.

Start. The race was very fast as usual, despite the rain we reached an average speed of 42 km/hr. Within seconds I was more than wet from the rain and the water coming from the wheels in front of me.

I was double careful in the corners and try to maneuver them as careful as possible, definitely slower than the rest of the riders. So I was in the rear of the peloton and then I had to speed up not to loose contact, but this harmonica principle worked very well. I was in good shape and I had enough power to overtake some riders on the straights.

With about 3 km to go I tried to get into position in front for the last series of three turns. I managed to come to the front and on the outside of the curve I started to corner. Suddenly the guy riding parallel to me on the inside said something to the effect of „Ups“; when I looked he was already on the ground and his bike came sliding in my direction, I damn near shit a brick. I managed to avoid to crash in the first instance but instead of taking the corner I had to go straight and I was heading for the guiderails. Deja vu; Just like the crash on the Chichibu trip. I managed to get my feet out from the cleat and somehow to get the bike more or less parallel to the guiderails without crashing into them.

But I lost a lot of time and speed – unfortunately just at the very beginning of the only upward slope on the track. I then gave everything to get in contact with the peloton again. I somehow managed to end in the rear of the peolton with about 1 km to go, but then the sprint started and I had exhausted all my energy to close up. Tough shit.

So in the front the NFCC guys were fighting for the win while I had no chance at make a good result and I continued to go at 40 km/hr to the finish, ending up in 35th place. Ok, after the disaster last year when I avoided a crash in front of me and lost contact to the peoloton, this was a much better result but it could have been even better, if not for this ass-wipe who crashed.
I hope the limp dick wore a 45 liter rain protection and was mistakenly disposed off after the race.

Anyway, the NFCC team had a good result with Alain winning the race an R.C.H. in front of another Japanese rider (as usual) and Dean in third position. Kurata from the Veloz team ended up in 4th position as well, so I knew half of the people on the podium.

I was soaking wet, quickly changed my clothes and drove home. In the afternoon we got a new car. In the evening we had family dinner at Kappa-Sushi – our favourite hang out. I was finally sober again and with growing enthusiasm I read a new book called „English as Second f**king language„. A must have for all of us who are still lacking familiarity with the finer details of the English language. I tried to upgrade this blog with many of the new expressions I have learned – in italic.

I don’t think I will use it very often from now on. On Monday I had to travel to lake Biwa and Hikone to visit a factory there. A very scenic area, I found myself constantly thinking of how to ride with the bike on one of the nice roads I seen. Someday.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Mob

Before Positivo Espresso Had Team Jerseys

A Classic Tradition, Since 2006

It is difficult to remember, it seems so long ago, but there was once a time when Positivo Espresso had no team jerseys. Ever resourceful, they would improvise — this photo shows three domestiques of „the Express“ of the classic era forming the German flag from their collective colors, just before lining up at the start of a TTT on their 2006 Asia tour, at Saiko in the Nakano Koji Memorial Japan Cup Series. The team leader warms his hands in the background.

Many questions remain:
Why is it called the „Nakano Koji Memorial“ race when Mr. Nakano is still alive and gives out the trophies every year?
Is that little girl in the background looking at the flag-shaped phalanx of giant riders, or at the team ace relaxing as he visualizes his acceleration toward an explosive finish?
Why does Assos still use models in their „luxury body“ ads when they could use real riders in real situations like this?

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The true Tokyo (- Itoigawa) Monogatari

It took me some time until I could fully recover from the ordeal of this race but finally I an now able to move my limbs again and write some lines about the event we had last weekend.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

Of course I was delayed in the office and couldn’t leave on time. And once I was home my son showed me a note from his teacher who was less than pleased with his recent performance which required additional time. And of course I forgot to print out all necessary infos for the race and pack my gear probably. And then I als went to Nagai-Sans shop to show him the new POSITIVO ESPRESSO shirts which have just arrived in time. So when I finally rode along the Tamagawa in direction Hachioji it was already 19.15hr. This was the first time for me to ride during the night along the river, there were still a lot of people and even more people with dogs on the road. And one had to go slow and remember where the potholes and other obstacles are. But it was definitely interesting. The opposite side (Kawasaki etc.) of the Tamagawa is not fully civilized yet – there are parts without light and I never noticed this during the daytime. An almost surreal experience.

I finally arrived in Hachioji and immediately found the Rhythm & Blues (R&B) Hotel. I avoided any discussion with the clerk and took my bike as it was to my room. As the room was barely bigger than my bike, I had some difficulties to enter. Yes, the R&B Hotel belongs to the Washington Hotel group which is famous for their small rooms. They own more than 10.000 hotel rooms all over Japan, however all together their size is only slightly bigger than the typical expatriate living room in Denenchofu.

This is a business hotel and business hotel means that the hotel is doing brisk business, whereas the customers are doing not – otherwise they wouldn’t stay there. I cannot understand why they have smoking rooms. I mean it is anyway forbidden to smoke in the bed – but where else can you sit, if not on the edge of the bed. But it was cheap and David made some efforts to organize the accommodation so I shouldn’t complain. But the next time, if there is a next time, I am going to stay in the Vanilla something love hotel on the opposite side of the Takao-guchi station. I am ready to share a double bed with whomsoever.

We had a very nice dinner in the gold room of a very nice restaurant in Hachioji. We would have stayed longer, but all of us were nervous and wanted to go to bed early.

Unfortunately what looked like a bed in the first instance, turned out to be a massive steel mattress with a brick-like cushion on top. Everything in this bed was as soft as Stalin and I could barely sleep. But perhaps I should stop here writing about the hotel and focus more on the race. Which actually started the next day.

THE START AT TAKAO-GUCHI

So basically we left poorly prepared in the morning, but we had our team jerseys on and we really looked like a team. Juliane and david had forgotten their invitation postcards, only Tom and David had a description of the roads with them. Later it turned out that Juliane was supposed to start at 6:00 AM and not at 6:30 AM as all other Positivi riders. We had however plenty of food from a bakery raid the night before.

I think the new jerseys are pretty nice and I noticed three things about them which I didn’t realized during the design phase:

  1. The jersey design emphasizes the shape of big bellies
  2. When filled with stuff, the orange bag pockets look like a life jacket.
  3. We need to add a slogan, either 信号虫 or 東京警察信号無視許可756B-1

So we looked like a group of non-swimmers on the way to the pool. We made our way to the start area quickly, Tom was already there since April 19th or so. Then we started.

PART 1 : TAKAO TO SASAGO TUNNEL

We were in the last starting group departing at 06.30hr, about 20 riders I would guess. Among them Greg, a guy I did not remember when I saw him, but when I saw his BMC bike I remembered that I talked to him in 2007 at the 7-Eleven at the Honjuku – Kazahari approach. So we started and rode already at a brisk speed. When I later checked my CICLO data, I found out that it took us only 16 minutes up to the Otarumi Pass – so already a pretty fast attack time. This would have guaranteed an entry in the TOGE BAKA list on this website. Nevertheless a lot of the Japanese riders rode away already on the ascent. David provided a lot of draft for the peloton and Tom in particular. I guess Tom could spend about 2 of the total 294 km of the race in the draft of his fellow Positivo Espresso team members and I am sure that this laid the foundation for his excellent result. On the top of Otarumi I felt already like puking and seriously considered to give up. The weather didn’t look good. There was some strange pain in my left ankle.

Anyway I continued and began to feel better. Even the ride through Uenohara on route 20 was without any incidents. This city I despise so much. Also the weather became better.

We had a fight with a big dumper truck who was constantly blowing his horn. By the way, if you want to file a complain, his number plate was 八王子100は9-16. Still remember this one.

So we reached the first checkpoint after the modest ascent to Sasago tunnel after 57 km and 2:07 hrs with an average speed (all inclusive) of 27.0 km/hr.

I have no idea why we stopped at the checkpoint. There was reall
y nothing, in particular no food, except for some chocolates. And so we made a photo and vanished into the Sasago tunnel.

PART 2 : SASAGO TUNNEL TO NIRASAKI CHECKPOINT 2

We had heard a lot of bad things about Sasago Tunnel, the new one. In contrast to the new tunnel, the haunted old one on top of the mountain looked like a bikers paradise. So we carefully vanished into the black hole. But the traffic was light and the tunnel well lit and not as long as we thought it woube be. In particular when compared to what was waiting for us between Hakuba and Itoigawa later on.

Then we had a fast descent into Kofu town. Kofu – why had we never been there before, this gem of a city! Well, the first reason is, that this bloody town is too far away from Tokyo. But it is a beauty indeed. When coming down on route 20 from Otsuki, one is overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of love. Love is in the air …. somehow. I guess that this feeling derived from the huge, round love hotel on the left side, which is appropriately named LOVE. But also Kofu is very international. And it even becomes more and more international. There is already a pachinko parlour called PACHINKO KOKUSAI MORE AND MORE which is appropriately flanked by a booth of the NO LOAN credit shark company. In my head I was rearranging the signboards to form new sentences:

„He gave me NO LOAN to play MORE AND MORE PACHINKO at KOKUSAI“

was the best I could came up with. And Kofu also has the CLUB RUDE. This is a very famous hiphop club and it seems that they have even a video on You Tube. Actually people line up for this club in long lines which reach until CLUB WOMB in Shibuya.

And then Kofu has all this wonderful steel girder structures which used to look like abandoned gas stations and reminded me of this famous quote of William Gibson, „of a future that never became one“ when he commented on the SF designs of American gas stations in the fifties. But in fact these structures are used to cultivate grapes which in turn are made to wine ??? from Japan ????

Sorry, I was distracted from the race again. Otherwise Kofu was ugly and the traffic was messy. We were forced to ignore some red lights and as a result we pretty soon overtook some other riders. Then we arrived at the second Check Point after 49 more km and at an average speed of 30 km/hr (for the second stretch only, all inclusive).

At least there was something to eat there and david used the occasion to rearrange the mess in his bib shorts.

PART 3 CHECKPOINT NIRASAKI TO CHECKPOINT ODASAKA

After this checkpoint the long climb to Fujimigaoka or so started. We stayed pretty much together as a group on the approach; however I was afraid that I would run out of carbs and bonk; Juliane was so kind to give me some of her maple syrup soaked pastry. There must have been something wonderful inside – my hands were almost glued to my handle bars and I started to pedal constantly up the slope. In fact my hands WERE glued to the handle bar due to the adhesive superpower of the maple syrup. It took me considerable time to clean up the mess the next Sunday. So I was on top at elevation 950 very fast and overtook a lot of riders, among them a girl from the ASPEN team and a guy in a blue ASSOS jersey (hello David Marx!).

I felt a little bit bad about leaving my team mates alone on the ascent and anyway I needed something to eat. So I stopped at the next Lawson bought some food and a big bottle of water which I intended to distribute to all of my team mates. When they came down from the top, I waved with the water bottle and signalled in sign language „Hey guys, I bought some water for 210 Yen to make up for all my previous sins. Stop and refill your water bottles.“

But they were not very much interested and I could barely motivate them to stop for me. On the other hand, we made a stop at a convenience store only 11 km later and before the next checkpoint. Before we arrived there we overtook the Aspen girl and the Assos guy. And after the stop we overtook them again. Then we finally arrived at the next checkpoint after another climb which brought us to elevation 1.020m . 64km distance in 21.8 km/hr average speed. The average dropped a lot because we had one long break and we need to do a lot of climbing. At this point we have already climbed almost 2.000 meter up.

PART 4 CHECKPOINT ODASAKA TO CHECKPOINT HAKUBA

The weather was still good and we started the decent into the Matsumoto valley. First we overtook the Aspen girl and the Assos guy. Then David and me waited for Juliane and david to catch up as we have left a little bit earlier and we needed to turn right at a crossing. We started again as a 4-team and within no time we had overtaken the Aspen girl and the Assos guy. The ride through Matsumoto was very boring. I have never been to Matsumoto before, but my image has been that of a city with a huge castle on top of a mountain and some very large temple. But there was nothing, only boring suburban streets clogged with cars and trucks. In addition we now faced a severe headwind and could proceed only at a 20 – 26 km/hr speed. And I realized that I am completely frustrated when I can see the road ahead for miles to no end. I just don’t like to see where I am going; this is also why I do not like to ride the last stretch of the Noto 400; it is not because I have to ride against a full fledged taifun coming up from the South (2006) or because I have more alcohol in my body the other body fluids (2007). No, it is the view of these endless roads in front that is frustrating me. I thought about what makes me go faster and what makes me go slower in more detail:

FASTER

  1. The view of small red LED lights attached to cycles in tunnels in front of me.
  2. The [usually wrong] idea that the mountain pass is just around the next bend of the road
  3. The royal milk pastry at the shop in front of Ome station
  4. If I can stay on Toms wheel for more than 3 seconds on a slope

SLOWER

  1. Long straight roads through boring Japan suburbia

So Matsumoto is unfortunately like any other town in Japan. Long roads from the center fanning out with pachinko parlours, car dealers and other facilities I do not frequently visited. Boring. I thought about when I travelled the first time to Shikoku and arrived at a construction site in Tokushima where one of my previous company elevator was being installed. So how to roads in Shikoku, this backyard of Japan look like? Just like in Tokyo, Saitama and Matsumoto is the answer. Pachinko parlours. Car dealers. Yamada Denki. You know it – you name it.

But we also had here one of our best performance as a team, everyone was willing to share a portion of the drafting work in the front and we frequently rotated. We also frequently lost our way. That led to the interesting fact that we overtook at least three more times the Aspen girl and the Assos guy (from now on, shortcuted to Assos GAG). Then the ascent to the Hakuba valley started. We were all looking forward to the next checkpoint and some fresh food which was supposed to be at km 225 or so, just outside the town of Omachi. So we passed happily through Omachi, ignored all 7-Eleven and Lawsons on the way and were anticipating a nice break. Then someone of us asked one of the Japanese riders who was with us for quite some stretch and who attended the race for the 12th time, how far it would be to the next checkpoint. And to our dismay we found out , that the Omachi checkpoint had been reallocated for some unknown reasons some 22 km further down the road to Hakuba station.

We were pretty desperate for food at this point and afraid that as we have almost crossed Omachi completely, we would not find any convenience store on the open land between Omachi and Hakuba. Of course in Japan these fears are irrational. In average there are more conbis on Japanese roads than cars. Sometimes they are even piling up on the left and the right side of the road, trying to overtake each other and blowing there horns. OK, I am exaggerating. But some of them have flags with slogans like „ODEN TO THE PEOPLE“ (see below) – which is equally stupid.

Of course we found a nice LAWSON on the outskirts of Omachi. When I was young, I used to complain about McDonalds and similar establishments where you can find the same food all over the world – how boring. I wanted to mix with the locals, have local food and I hated to become recognized as a German tourist. In fact one time in South Italy, I felt confident enough to state that I am from Liverpool, as anyway nobody would speak English there. It was only unfortunate that this was just a few weeks after the Heysel stadium tragedy
where many Italian soccer supporter were killed when they were attacked by (liverpolian) hooligans. The Italian knew that, I didn’t and the atmosphere became rather frosty – perhaps I would have fared better if he would have said that I am from the East German Stasi. Anyway, I am so happy that in Japan I can go to any Lawson or 7-Eleven just everywhere in the country and buy Weider Energy Gel, a raisin bread, shoecream pastry and I do not have to rely on local specialities such as jelly fish ingestines.

Sorry, I became distracted again. But this is how one’s thoughts are going when one is riding long stretches on a bike. So we took a long and nice break in front of the Lawson. We all looked pretty deranged. Juliane and david in particular looked like Amy Whinehouse and Pete Doherty after a big party night.

We then started the last stretch to Hakuba. David and me were riding alone in front and we arrived first at the Hakuba checkpoint. As usual we overtook Assos GAG. We had discussed previously that we would make only a short break there as it was slowly getting dark. And cold. But then it took much more time. Again, we were getting slower, for the last 79 km since the 3. checkpoint we had an average speed of 21.6 km/hr only, mainly due to the long break at Lawson. I was afraid that we would not make it before dark and also not within 13 hours.

PART 5 CHECKPOINT HAKUBA TO ITOIGAWA FINISH

David asked a more experienced rider at the Hakuba CP how many climbs would be still in front of us. He answered that there would be only one – but one should never ever believe such statements.

Indeed there were no long climbs waiting for us but several small ones. And we entered the land of the long tunnels almost immediately. Tunnel after tunnel, it became really scary. Of course we overtook Assos GAG again. So we were moving at a very fast pace, first in order to catch all the red LED lights that were riding in front of us in the tunnels and second and most important, because we were terribly afraid to get killed by one of the big trucks that were overtaking us in the tunnels. The pure terror and fear of getting overrun was giving as incredible superpowers.

I was really, really afraid. At one point I was trailing about 30 m behind my teammates when a long car transporter truck overtook me with minimum clearence and I was first moved towards the tunnel walls and then I swung back into his line and the truck was so long that I could barely keep a paralell line to him. Also I forgot to stuff away my racing sunglasses and wore my normal glasses. It was very dark in the tunnel already and sunglasses do not help to get a better vision and more confidence.

So once we were out of one tunnel I asked my team mates to stop, so that I could exchange my glases and all of them gracefully complied.

We then had a very fast run towards Itoigawa, two other riders tried to jump on our back. I guess at the last stretch of 45 km we overtook more riders than we did the previous 250 km. Ok, if we count them single, because in the meanwhile I personally had overtaken Assos GAG about 56 times.
Anyway, the last stretch then saved the day. We were running fast at 37.7 km/hr average and I still felt that I had some reserves.

And then suddenly it was over, we arrived at the goal after 12 hours and 27 minutes – so very close to our time goal of 12 hours. Tom was already waiting for us for a long time. He had grown a long beard and was accompagnied by a guy he used to call „Friday“. Perhaps we were not so happy that he already speeded off at the approach to Otarumi, but in the end he officially finished in 6th place within less than 10 hours. The best rider, actually a foreigner, finished in 8:34 hr. Even more interesting is the fact that he (the winner) was off the bike only for 20 minutes all together. Now look at our team : 12:27 total, off the bike:1:51, on the bike : 10:36. So if we skip all breaks next time (we need a support car !) and do a little bit more training and effort we can keep up with Tom. On the bike we had a speed average of 27.9 km/hr, which is not bad at all for this distance (plus traffic conditions). We finished all around place 130. Juliane became unofficially the 5th fast women. If she had only started at 6 AM.

Ok, so after a beer we retired to our minshuku hotel in front of Itoigawa Station. We were really tired and drank some sake in the onsen pool before we had some o-bento and assembled for a last round of alcohol in our room. The people from the minshuku were very nice and gave us a big room.

I was not as tired as I was after the Sado Long Ride race last year – only 210 km but all the time in the cold rain. But I was tired and I was also proud that all of us made it in the end. The sad part about all this is that just now, when we have equally strong team members, a good intiutive understanding between all of us, yes, even team jerseys and an idea how to rotate, that this will most likely be the last season that we will ride together. We had a lot of fun and we got used to this and while some of us will move on to more exciting parts of the world and interact in new adventures, some of us will continue to stay in Tokyo and have to find
new riding mates.
Anyway, it is as it is and I should not amy whine about.

I rode home the next day with David and Tom. On the train – in order to avoid any misunderstandings. I got a haircut finally. This is another funny story which I will tell another time. I made a photo of Tom on the way home in the train which very well displays how we felt after the race: marked by desitution and happy that this one in over. And somewhat proud of oursleves and the silly achivements we made with no real purpose whatsoever: „NO EXITS THIS WAY“ A good slogan we should add to our jerseys.

And today my behind has finally recovered so that I jumped on the bike again and commuted to work.
The 1:05 hr for the 31 km stretch was probably the fastest I ever did, 68 km/hr down the country club road was also not bad. So I should be in good shape for the Tokyo Oifuto race on Sunday. Hope it will not rain. And on Thursday I went up to Kazahari, achieving a respectable time. But I felt sooo tired afterwards. I really rode to much this week, I counted all in all 600 kms in 7 days.

I also felt strong during the race. It finally pays off that I was riding through the winter and that I changed my riding style with less emphasis on power and more on cadence. Last year it was a personal defeat for me to change into inner on a ascent. Now I can pedal faster and more constant up the slopes.

In the end I would like to thank all of my team members for this perfect event. Tom did a lot of footwork to get all of us organized; he and David convinced the rest to attend this race. david was the most photogenic guy on this tour as can be seen in the photos. Juliane, a friend now for 10 almost 10 years is a real friend. Thank You.


Example of Oden to the People!


Bokutachi, Oden Ou-endan!
We are the Oden fan club!

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Cervelo Soloist, David, Juliane, Mob, Tom

Race Schedule


I would like to give some information about some of the interesting upcoming races and perhaps some of the Positivo Espresso riders are interested to join? After all we had a very good performance at the Itoigawa Fast Run last weekend.

TSUKUBA 8 HOURS ENDURANCE RACE ON JULY 19th

A classic. The first race I ever attended, together with Juliane and Veloz in 2003. Eight hours as a team on a pretty flat, fast 2 km car racing track. If the weather is good lots of fun and camping and so. Alain Raposo, Olivier Brosse (both from NFCC) and me have tentatively registered as a 3 men team but we can expand at any time.
Please join us. Even today my son remembers the cheer leaders there.

SHUZENJI 5 HOURS ENDURANCE RACE ON JULY 25th

Again a classic. Unforgettable performance by Arndt, david and me in 2006, topped by an even better performance of david, David, Tom and me in 2007. First Team trophy for Positivo Espresso. Don’t you feel the urge to defend it?

TOUR DE MIYAKOJIMA ON JULY 5/6

The race we have been waiting for: 100km or 100 miles, as you like on the beautiful island of Miyakojima. The most beautiful beaches I have been to. Great traffic free roads and can be easily reached within 4 hours from Haneda airport. Ok, it is expensive, but this is a top event.

TOKYO HILL CLIMB ON AUGUST 17TH

Ryoko has informed me about this one. Is just around the corner and would be perfect for all of us – provided we are in Tokyo during August.

Anyway, please let me know, I will help you with the organisation and everything.

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Why it is essential to ride a very light bike

In contrast to common believe, it is not only better to ride a light bike if you move up hills. No, also in case of mechanical problems, for example a broken chain, it is much better to own a very light bike. You can do things with a 7 – 8 kg heavy bikes you could only dream of doing with your 20 kg electric-assisted shopping bikes. Also you do not need special training for your upper torso muscles.
David Millar demonstrated the advantages of a light bike at this years Giro d’Italia in a most memorable way. Of course less good-willing observers might suspect that he is on dope again. FORZA DAVID MILLAR !
[Please also turn on the Italian commentary full volume1]

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37th Tokyo-Itoigawa Fastrun 294 km — Mission Accomplished


Before

During




After

Thanks to all for a great event yesterday, Saturday May 17. We started in the last group, at 6:30 AM (teams starting between 4AM and 6:30AM). Tom said goodbye about 1/3 of the way up the first hill (Otarumi) and was waiting for us in Itoigawa, having finished in just under 10 hours. The rest of us rode as a group and made it in a more relaxed 12 hrs and 25 minutes. The hill North of Lake Suwa was painful, as was the ride up a gradual slope and into the steady headwind North of Matsumoto. Our 4-cyclist long train pulled many smaller, weaker riders in its wake! The last 52 km, descending from Hakuba to Itoigawa through numerous tunnels, took just over an hour, as we averaged better than 40 kph., and overtook many, many cyclists who had started earlier than us. Nice to pass people going a good 10-15 kph faster than they are … no chance they will try to hop on the rear and catch a ride.

Riders — please add to this post!

TOM: Thanks everyone for joining this most memorable ride! The travelogue of mine was posted yesterday…take a look when you have time. Looking forward to reading Michael’s version!

GPS map … until the battery died just after leaving the Hakuba stop:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Ftrail.motionbased.com%2Ftrail%2Fkml%2Fepisode.kml%3FepisodePkValues%3D5692135&ie=UTF8&ll=36.146703,138.590942&spn=1.102099,1.505523&output=embed&s=AARTsJr8cjfspvoQT2b-b4krdofWreuWCA
View Larger Map

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THE POSITIVO ESPRESSO JERSEYS HAVE ARRIVED !

After clicking on the DHL tracking website in interval of minutes since yesterday, our team jerseys finally arrived at the office this noon. Needless to write that they are beautiful and well done. At least our jerseys will leave a good impression at the Itoigawa Fast Run race this weekend.So far only the five jerseys for the Itoigawa team has arrived, I will bring them to the hotel in Hachioji tomorrow night. All other jerseys are due for arrival next week, I will keep you informed.

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Fuji HC

Fuji Hill Climb June 1st.
My company took 18 entries this year and as always people are beginning to drop out. I have 11 confirmed participants including Michael, David J. and Julianne. I have 7 spare places in 3 different male age groups. I believe Tom procured himself an entry already. Anyone else fancy trying the 24km „fun ride“? I can assure you it is a great event and I will be thoroughly enjoying proving Newton’s 19th Law again – Fat blokes can’t ride up hills quickly. Let me know.

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Remember

the bike sex man placed on probation?

…this is how he got caught
in the act…..(poor guy!!)

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Some Riding Ideas

I had a telephone conversation with Juliane yesterday and we discussed some nice trips and races we could do during the month of May to July. Here are some ideas to test the feedback. Please let me know if the one or other proposal sound attractive to you.


SENGENZAKA RIDE

Sengenzaka is a small minshuku located on the Itsukaichi side of the Tominnomori approach. We have stayed there in 2004 with the Veloz guys and it was a very positive experience. They have excellent food (grilled Yamame fish) and a rotemburo so you can watch other riders struggling up the road while soaking in the warm water. My idea would be to ride out from Tokyo on a Saturday to Takao, then continue somehow along route 20, cross over to Okutama and then the reverse Kazahari to Sengenzaka. There are plenty of possibilities (Wada, Tsuru, Tawa, Otarumi, Matsuhime, Enzan…).
On Sunday morning we would rise early to be back with our families for lunch or those who like can make another tour.

KOSUGE RIDE

This is basically a similar idea, however we would not stay on Sengensaka but in Kosuge, which is on the Okutama side of the Matsuhime approach. I have crossed the village three times and there are many places to stay and an Onsen. We would also do some camping there. The idea would be to do a longer trip out on Route 20 and come back to Okutama, as we do not have to cross over Kazahari like in case of Sengensaka. Perhaps we can convince our families to go there by car and take the camping gear with them.

ENZAN RIDE

Also on this occasion I would like to reiterate Tom’s idea from 2007 to go to Enzan and then start to attack some of the high roads in this area. Tom can you provide more infos here in this post? OK, see below…2,360m


MIYAKEJIMA RACE 6/14 + 15

If I am not completely mistaken Miyakejima is the island that suddenly developed vulcanic activities in 2000. Toxic fumes were rising from the ground which eventually led to the evacuation of its 3.000 inhabitants [as Miyakejima is part of Tokyo, the refugees lived in Tokyo thereafter]. In 2007 they could return to the island and since 2007 there is a race, part of the Tour du Japon stage by Nikkan Sports. This year there will be a hill climb on June 14th and a road race (20 km or so ) on June 15th. But it can be an interesting race as apparently the ground is moving and perhaps you have moved 100 m elevation up on your bike, while the ground has moved down by the same measure. And imagine the excitement when suddenly toxic fumes take there toll on the leading peloton and you have all the time in the world to win the race! There is a tour organized which would leave Tokyo harbor on Friday night (22.30hr), then Saturday is free and hill climb (only 4km and 150 m up if the ground remains stable) and Sunday is for road racing. The boat back to Tokyo goes in the afternoon whereas the island will vanish in the sea forever and we can safely be home for a late dinner.


HITACHI NAKA RACE 6/29

Another race of the Tour du Japon event. Tom, Alain and me must go there as we have to defend our podium places from last year. The race is on a NASCAR like speed oval in Ibaragi and it is easy to go there in the morning by car and return in the afternoon. There are classical road races of shorter distance in the morning (I guess 20 to 30 km) and solo or team endurance races in the afternoon. As you can see from the course layout the race requires advanced cornering techniques plus superior hill climbing skills. In other words, if you know how to speed along the Tamagawa, you have a chance to win in Hitachi Naka – the perfect Positivo Espresso race. The race strategy is simple and follows basically NASCAR racing strategy as explained on the Onion network.


CSC SHUZENJI TEAM KENS RACE 7/26 – 5 hours team endurance –
[the above photo is from the organizers web site]

I just spoke with Tom in Tuesday about our superior performance in 2007 (Tom, David, david and me) and in 2006 (david, Arndt and me). This is a very traditional race for the Positivo Espresso Team and we need to defend our hard earned and delayed trophy from 2007. By the way, where is the damned thing?

I got again an invitatin from the organizer yesterday – I guess they want some strong teams there this time.

We can attend solo or as a team composed of up to 5 riders. This time there is also a MIXED category team award, so Juliane must attend, otherwise we have no chance. I would like to remind that last year some of the solo riders where faster than our team.

If you like one or the other idea, please let me know.

Tom: Here’s the ENZAN-ODARUMI plan….

Pleasant temperatures and perfect time for attacking one of Japan’s most beautiful “hors-catégorie” mountain passes…the Ōdarumi-tōge 大弛峠 in Yamanashi Prefecture (not to be confused with the lowish Ōtarumi-tōge大垂水峠 near Takao!). I am proposing to be your guide & organizer of what I hope will turn out again to be an unforgettable event along the following lines. In consideration of everyone’s mongen, family and other (?) obligations, I have thought of 3 plans…..

① BASIC TŌGEGOE PLAN (one overnight/one day of cycling)
By train to Enzan/one overnight at onsen/one day of pure cycling bliss
Sat. RdV (
集合):17:30 in Enzan(塩山)@ Sasamotoya-ryokan(笹本屋旅館
Onsen + dinner with excellent food / local wine / local bar / local….
Sun. : 6:30 Breakfast / 7:30 Starting the attack of Ōdarumi-tōge (total of 66km) / 16:00 return to Sasamotoya / 17:00 train back to Tokyo.

② MEDIUM TŌGEGOE PLAN (two overnights/two days of cycling)
Day 1: by train to Enzan / Day 2: attack of Ōdarumi-tōge / Day 3: ride back to Tokyo
Sat. RdV (
集合):17:30 in Enzan(塩山)@ Sasamotoya-ryokan(笹本屋旅館
Onsen + dinner with excellent food / local wine / local bar / local….
Sun.: 6:30 Breakfast / 7:30 Starting the attack of Ōdarumi-tōge / 16:00 return to Sasamotoya /
Mon.: 6:30 Breakfast / 7:30 Check-out /7:45 Starting ride back to Tokyo (less than 7-hours for those of you living in the Hiroo/Azabu area)

③ FULL-COURSE TŌGEGOE PLAN (two overnights/three days of cycling)
Day 1: by bicycle to Enzan / Day 2 : attack of Ōdarumi-tōge / Day 3: ride back to Tokyo
Sat.: RdV (
集合):9:00 at Sekidobashi / Arrival @ Sasamotoya at 16:30
Sun.: 6:30 Breakfast / 7:30 Starting the attack of Ōdarumi-tōge / 16:00 return to Sasamotoya /
Mon.: 6:30 Breakfast / 7:30 Check-out /7:45 Starting ride back to Tokyo (less than 7-hours for those of you living in the Hiroo/Azabu area)

Main event: Attack of Ōdarumi-tōge
This mountain pass/ridge boasts Japan’s paved road at the highest elevation (2,360m). The length of the climb itself is 29.7km at an average (and rather mild) inclination of 6.3%. We will start at about 500m and climb up to 2,360m…once above the 2,000m line, one feels the air becoming thinner! Views are simply breathtaking. Going down you see the entire Kofu Basin opening up in front of you.

大弛峠(おおだるみとうげ)は、山梨県山梨市長野県南佐久郡川上村の境にある峠。標高は2,360mであり、一般車両が通行できる日本最高所の車道峠である。
http://cchp.dion.jp/googlemaps/20060903_gm_route.htm

Accommodation: Max. 6 persons (expandable to more persons…) at Sasamotoya-ryokan
http://www12.plala.or.jp/sasamotoya/index2.html
Excellent food / great hospitality…
10,000 yen/person (inc. dinner & breakfast)

For the Medium & Full-Course Tōgegoe Plan, the climb of YANAGISAWA-TŌGE is on the program, a long but very rewarding mountain pass (but you know that already!)

“Must-bring-along” items: windbreaker/winter gloves (or inner gloves)…last October, it was 28C when we left Enzan…when we reached the top of Ōdarumi-tōge, temperatures had fallen down to 2C….if you add to this the wind-chill factor going downhill, your fingers will be frozen meaning no way to pull your brakes!!

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