Monatsarchiv: August 2008

Last Summer Ride

Met David at his house at 8.30hr, full raingear in my back pocket. Juliane and david as well as James decided to take it easy on Sunday. The sky didn’t look very promising, but nevertheless we were eager to give it a try and add some junk miles. As usually we speeded down the Tamagawa, taking changes in the front. Today was „No matter in which direction you go, strong headwind will always be there“-day. Then we met another American, Michael on his Cervelo Carbon Soloist. How impressive, three Cervelos riding side by side along the Tamagawa. As two of them were still equipped with Wolf SL forks, we were also a potential road hazard.

Michael left us somewhere along the Asagawa and we headed on to the 7-Eleven at Takao station. The Asagawa was full of water and at one point we saw a flooded underpass. I said „Let’s pass through“, and so we went on, but soon discovered that the water was up to the axle of the crank set. Both got wet feet. We then decided to take the road through Hachioji rather than to continue along he river. When we arrived at the 7/11 to our surprise the sky was blue, it was also more humid then the last days and many many fire engines, fire motorcycles and ambulance cars were passing us in direction Otarumi. A lot of the guys from the Ouvest team came down from Otarumi heading back to town. We were a little bit worried that the road would be closed because of an accident. We decided that we would take on Yabitsu today. I put some sun screen on, didn’t bother to do so when I left home. I did not enough and now at home I am looking naked like the Austrian flag (red legs, white body, red arms and face).

Nevertheless I gave a time trial up Otarumi Toge a try. Speeded ahead right from the start and felt OK. But there must have been some headwind. From the start to elv. 270m I was going at more than 20 km/hr, but for whatever reason I finished in 19:54min. A sub 20 min time is good, but not good enough to update the Toge Baka. David came in at 23:40min, obviously because of his fork. Never saw any fire engine again. We then took it easy down to Sagamiko and further on road 412/413/513 to Miyagase Lake. There are no particular points in this route and it is only the approach to Yabitsu, but nevertheless, one should not discount it.

We then took a very long break at Miyagase lake before we continue towards Yabitsu. Took it also easy up Yabitsu. Took as almost 1:07 hr. When we reached the top we were afraid of rain showers, but the other side looked good again and we immediately started the descent. Met another fast guy on his bike going down. Some cars stopped to let us pass. David was first a little bit reluctant to speed and I could easily keep up with him, but once he saw the other guy he became more competitive and neither the guy nor me were able to follow him. We made it quickly to Hadano Station where we parted, David took the train home whileas

I was feeling still pretty strong and wanted to do some mileage before going on a slow business trip to KL. Also the 200 km plus ride to Shimoda paid off. So I went along route 62 to Hiratsuka and then took a shortcut to the road along the coast, route 134. The weather was just beautiful and I felt like 1965 in California with all the bikini girls and surfers around me. Plus finally a nice, strong tailwind so I was going at 40 km/hr plus all the time. Now I started to feel even better. I felt like 1981 and the Barracudas were singing „Last Summer“ in the background. OK, they don’t have that on YouTube so take „Summer Fun“ instead.

Oh, the Barracudas, they have passed the test of time. I love almost every single song of them and if I ever will be dropped on an island and I can take only one ipod with me I will load it to the brim with every available Barracuda song. Even if the island is Japan. And the Best of Album of David Hasselhoff (who, despite his name is not on a rider recall). Sorry, I deviated, I was lost in nostalgia.

Where was I? Oh, yes, I was approaching the shores of Shonan. This was actually the last day of summer 2008, because there is officially no summer in Japan in September. So the last chance to see the beach bars of Kamakura.
Here is a nice statement from Gaijin Tonic about them:

„I’m also looking forward to hitting the beach bars of the Shonan area of Kanagawa, around Enoshima, Zushi and Kamamkura. Many of my female friends hate these beaches because they are dirty, cluttered with gaudy wooden beach bars, and overcrowded with drunk university students in swimwear, setting off fireworks. I, on the other hand, like these beaches because they are dirty, cluttered with gaudy wooden beach bars, and overcrowded with drunk university students in swimwear, setting off fireworks.

Well said, Gaijin Tonic.

I called my family, to show them the beach and the dirty, cluttered beaches, but they refused to come out. I told them I would take a coffee at my favourite shack, the German restaurant seacastle, proud defender of German tradition on the beaches of Kamakura since 1957. I rode there and when I stood in front of the restaurant, it looked so dark and uninviting an I was so afraid to go inside that I could not muster the courage to ask for a coffee there. Instead I run for the station of Ofuna, where the good trains of the Tokaido and Toyoko lines took me home. I am looking now like Mr. Krebs from Sponge Bob, but it was a very nice riding day and well, it was also the last day of summer 2008.

„It was his last summer, and he started to think / and we stopped surfing and started to drink.“

Of course from the Barracudas.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Cervelo Soloist, David

Google Streetview

Pretty amazing, Google streetview had made in to Japan. The previous link connects to the help page, where one can get acquainted with the basic functionality of the software.

Now we can find out, if small white lines on a map are asphalt roads or dirt tracks and we do not need to rely on the self-confidence of Juliane alone.

Let’s see, here are some cycling highlights from our weekly tours and long tradition. It is easy to copy and paste links on a blog page. See here:

One of our Positivo members used to live here.
Our bakery in Ome.
Approach to Okutamako.
A common target.

It is also possible to paste photos onto blog sites. Let’s see if Tom is already waiting at Sekidobashi.,224.49437504970433,,0,5&cbll=35.655183,139.456353&panoid=OoEZyvphj-rg8fXLpw6VcA&v=1&hl=ja&gl=jp

I read about Google street view perhaps one or two years ago and found it rather uninteresting. I have to change my mind. I am feeling like Alexander Bell, inventor of the telephone, who said about his invention along the lines: „I believe I do not exaggerate, if a telephone will be installed in every major American city within 20 years.“

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Beijing Olympic Bike Photos

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M back in T

I got the following mail from Marek:

"hallo michael.
wie gehts wie stehts !?
ich komme naechste woche wieder zurueck nach tokyo.
hoffe dass ich bald wieder ins geschehen eingreifen kann,
aber erst einmal muss ich sehen wie fit ich bin ,,,
habe seit 5 monaten nicht mehr auf dem rad gesessen ..."

So, Marek is back in town after cruising around in the Far East for almost five months. I am not sure if I should be envious of five months holidays in a row, but I would sure have loved to stay at some of the places he went to and see saw of the things he has seen.

Let’s give him a big welcome. A very big welcome. A huge welcome ride. My suggestion would be the WTTIK welcome.
Or, Wada-Tawa-Tsuru-Imagawa-Kazahari. Short stop after that at the Maison Paul Jason.

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My new idol Robert Foerstemann

I thought my bike race idol would be Wim Vansevenant, as he has managed to finish in last place in the Tour de France at least as often as I have ended up in the last place during JCRC races this season. I was wrong, I have to admit.

My new bike race idol, discovered at the Beijing Olympics this year is Robert Foerstemann. He is perhaps the only guy who looks even more bulky and out of place on a bike than I do. With a body weight of 90 kg and being 1.74 m tall, I almost feel a slight chance to beat him at the Tokyo hill climb.
Please also note the very creative name of his home team : XXL Erdgas.
And finally, for the Germans among us, he has a very creative theme for his life as well:„Jedenfalls ist es besser ein eckiges ETWAS zu sein als ein rundes NICHTS!“ (Friedrich Hebbel)

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Mob

Positivo Espresso Club Rider Voluntary Recall

All bicycles on alert

The Positivo Espresso safety committee has identified a potential safety issue involving one of its riders, David L. If ridden by David L. and under certain conditions, bicycles, frames and components can crack, disintegrate or simply disappear in small white clouds, which may cause the bicycle or its components to end up in the trash can, completely loosing any previous affection by its owner.

According to his own statement, he „managed to break — various ti [titanium] and steel frames, seatpost collars, wheel rims, etc.“.

To date there have been some reports of bike-injuries in the field, resulting in major damage to the used bicycle. Though David L. completed visa procedure when entering Japan and properly obtained his alien registration card, this issue was not uncovered during these standard procedures and the damage on bike components only showed up in the field.

The Japanese government feels that David L. meets the immigration standard, that it is therefore acceptable to let him ride bikes and that no further action is required. Positivo Espresso does not share this opinion and therefore, is proceeding with a rider recall of David L.

However, please note that this does not affect riders named David in general, such as David J., David M., David D. or David N. in any way, as all of them have a completely different structural body design.

For some reasons, defying logical explanations, David L. is not able to break or destruct bicycles components which are already on product recall by the manufacturer, such as Cervelo SL forks or Look Keo pedals.


The recalled rider normally wears a Positivo Espresso team jersey, sometimes also an ASSOS Kachastan national jersey. Bicycles should be alert if they here the sound of a bell accompanied by a male voice shouting „torimaaaaaaaaaaaass“.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David

Weekend Tour Sunday August 30th

Looking at the Tokyo weather forecast, the prospects for a weekend ride or not that good on Saturday but might be better on Sunday. Now that it is not that hellish hot any longer, I feel more confident to go out for longer rides and climbs, but this is not a must for this weekend.

Would be anybody interested to ride out on Sunday, route and time still to be decided?

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Mob

Shimoda : A triology in four parts. PART 4 : The Day After

Just for the record: The next day, Juliane, david and me went out riding at noon around the Southern tip of Izu peninsula. We headed for Jaishi Toge and Matsuzaki, then went along the coast all the way until we were back in Shimoda. We were lucky that despite the forecast we experienced not too much of rain, virtually nothing. Juliane and david, both with fresh legs and properly agitated after all my talks of the wonderful ride I had the day before, went into racing mode up the hills and I had difficulties to stay with them. I went at my own pace up, all in all we did another 1,000 meter plus of climbing. It was a nice ride, with a lot of new explorations along the coast line. We had a coffee at Bistro Bear, the refined English coffee shop in the very Southern part of Izu and we did also great shopping there. The landscape is nice and it‘;s a pity to note all the dilapidated and deserted houses there. The guys at Bistro Bear told me that the primary school of their village will be closed next year – no children left. It always leaves me speachless when I see how fast the countryside in Japan is moving down towards extinction. It used to be concrete and bulldozers which ruined everything there in the past, but now it is simply the fast that there are no young people any longer. Despite screaming lovehole the country is moving down on the spiral of death.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Juliane, Mob

Shimoda : A triology in four parts. PART 3 : The Spiral of Death

After reaching the highest point on route 1, I continued to ride fast down to lake Ashinoko and then further to Hakone Toge, which includes another 100m plus climb. Normally I take then route #1 down to Mishima, which is a very fast descent. But Mishima is not exactly in direction and Shimoda and I would have lost the chance to continue on the East coast road down the Izu Peninsula, so I decided to take route 20 from Hakone Toge through Jukoku Toge to Atami Toge.

This was one of the best decisions I ever made. This statement is limited to the selection of routes for riding out, naturally I made some other good decisions in my life. Some of them were even better than taking route 20. I just cannot recall one right now.

So on route 20, there is virtually no traffic, their is a 2-3% gradient downwards, just the right amount of fast curves which allows you to go in the 40 – 50 km/hr range all the time. The view is nice to the left and the right as the road is located on the top of the hill basically for the next 10 km or so. Really, this was clearly one of the best roads I have ever ridden on and it would be nice to go by Shinkansen to Odawara the next time, make the climb to Hakone and then take this road just for the fun of it.

I came to Atami Toge where the Izu skyline tollroad starts. Juliane, David and me went up there in 2005, coming untrained directly from the Shinkansen and immediately starting a 600m plus climb which had four interesting results:

  1. I had to stop in the middle and walk up.
  2. When we finally reached the toll road and found out that it was closed for bikes, david threathens the guys at the booth to sue Japan Highway Corp.
  3. We made a photo on top next to a map, showing where we are and where we want to go. Suddenly we started to realize that the goal was far away.
  4. We nevertheless made it to Shimoda, even crossing Kazehaya Toge and we completely exhausted and almost sleeping in the train home.

Now I had the choice: East cost along route 135 would be the most boring but also most shortest route. Through the middle of Izu on route 136 and 414 would be also short and it would include the „spiral of death“, which I always wanted to ride anyhome. But there was no train station in case I wanted to give up. The west cost road on route 136 would have been the most beautiful one, but there would be still massive climbing involved and again no alternatives in case of failure.

So I decided to go through the middle of Izu and headed down route 11 and then later along route 136. I have taken this road many times by car with my family and I remember it as something like an up and down thing.

Of course I was completely mistaken. After a certain time in the flatlands of inner Izu, the next climb started at Shuzenji and again it was a very long one, almost 600 meters up. Then I finally reached Amagi Toge, or better to say the new tunnel below it. From there on the descent starts to the spiral of death.
Wow. I was a little bit afraid, that this wonderful engineering masterpiece would be off limits to bikes, but there were no signs in this respect. Then I was also afraid that there might be spiked in the extension joints as in case of the rainbow bridge but again there was nothing like that.
I followed the road until the town of Kawazu, where I found out to my dismay, that it would be another 19 km to Shimoda. I had already done more than 200 km this day, including more than 2,000 m of climbing and even going only another 19 km seems like really stretching it.

But I had no choice, took it easy and arrived just before the darkness at the Sunny Side shack in Shimoda [the dog wasn’t there]. Great day. I have covered quite a distance in the horizontal as well as in the vertical, I done my Hakone ride of the year plus I did the spiral of death for the first time.

I than enjoyed a lot of good food, even more cold beer, some cigarettes and the pleasant company of Juliane, david, DaviD and Stephan.

I wouldn’t do the trip the whole distance again, although. Riding out by train to Oadawara and starting there is enough I guess.

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

Shimoda : A triology in four parts. PART 2 : The Hakone Climb

The Hakone climb starts at the Asahi bridge, conveniently located after another 7-11 and then continues for 14.2 km and 745 meters up to the highest point of route #1 at elevation 874 m. It is a very long and demanding climb and it definitely feels like more than the average 5% grade on which one would arrive mathematically. I never took somebody with me on this climb as well, as the traffic is heavy on this road and you also need to go 90 km before even starting to climb. So for years that used to be the hardest climb I did within a season. I normally did it only once, and until 2007 I was not able to climb up in one go. But today the weather was nice and cool, I was fresh as I have enjoyed a good tailwind up to Odawara and I wanted to go on an aggressive attack after the Tokyo hill climb race with a much steeper gradient. I started at a good speed and constantly checked the altitude meter. I continued to feel good and pedaled at a high cadence with 15 km/hr up. When I reached Miyanoshita I had to continue on the sidewalk for a while, as the road was clogged by cars and buses. But the higher one comes, the lighter the traffic gets. By the way, there is also a shorter backroad, but as the elevation difference is the same, a shorter back road means an even steeper gradient, which cannot possibly be balanced by a lighter traffic. I recognized all the places I have had breaks before, the small shop before the Fujiya hotel, the curve where the cable car is running close by, a Lawson along the road, and finally at elv. 600 this huge Yunessun spa, where I go sometimes with my family. There are large swimming pools and a series of outside onsens with different themes and different tastes, like tea, wine and other liquids one what not necessarily consider to take a bath in. Sometimes it seems to get crowded. I completely forgot how much the maximum elevation is, so I had no idea how much I would need to further continue. But I still felt good, although I switched from cadence to brute force and my speed was now more in the 10 – 15 km/hr range. But I made my way up steadily and finally I recognized the last curves to the top. There are two important lesson I learned about climbing: 1. As long as you see a river on the side of the road it is still a long way to the top. 2. When there is no water but wind, you are coming close. Temperature on top of route #1 was around 17 degrees, I started to feel cold as I didn’t brought any windbreaker with me. And then I reached the very top: Oh, wow, cool, in less than an hour for 14.2 km and 745 meters up! I never did this before. That gave me a very boost of confidence for the forthcoming races in Shuzenji and Gunma. I took some photos and then prepared for the rest of the ride. I also introduced this climb as Togebaka #11 on this site, knowing that none of you will ever try it. So I included all my annual results since 2003.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Cervelo Soloist, Mob