Monatsarchiv: November 2008

More Chichibu!

Twenty years from now, when most people are asked what they remember about the Fall of 2008, they will answer with some story about the greatest financial crisis since 1929, the election of Barack Obama, or maybe a international political crisis set in motion by Pakistani militants‘ attack in Mumbai on luxury hotels, train stations, restaurants and a synagogue. But for Positivo Espresso members and fans, the dominant events will be, first, David J. and Juliane Prechtl’s relocation to London, and (a distant) second, the discovery and expansion of our riding territory into Chichibu, in addition to Yamanashi, Kanagawa and the far western reaches of Tokyo-to.

Tom led the way, Michael followed, and now Jerome, Juliane and I are catching up. Even David J. managed one sortie before leaving the country to help save the European financial system. But we owe a special debt of gratitude to Ludwig, who actually discovered Chichibu in 2108(?) and mapped many of its passes, before leading the only road building crews ever seen in Chichibu that did not place unnecessary barriers in places that were likely to cause a cyclist to crash, or at least flat his/her tire.

Sunday November 30 it was Jerome’s, Juliane’s and my turn.

Jerome and I rode up the river with James Knott and his group of merry men, who were headed toward Takao/Sagami-ko on their fast pace/early curfew trip. James was on his spectacular 2008 Cervelo SLC-SC, and stayed with us as Jerome took off. … something like 5 km later we noticed that the three of us had ridden away and the rest of James‘ group was nowhere to be seen (flat tires caused the delay). Jerome and I said our goodbyes and pushed ahead to meet Juliane at Aurore Bakery in Oume just after 9AM.

The road was quiet, the air crisp, and the fall colors were spectacular after we left Oume.

On the descent after Shomaru Toge, despite explicit warning signs …

Someone wanted to go faster than everyone else:

Fortunately, a cyclist had left a spare road bike nearby, so the driver could become a rider, and join us for the rest of the day.

Jerome and I celebrated our victory about 2/3 of the way up the hill to Karibazaka-toge, after stopping to change a flat tube and enjoy the view.

We did get to the top without other problems, and the vista to the NE was spectacular.

After riding along the ridge and climbing some to Shiraishi Toge vicinity, we turned left past the Ken-min no Mori parking lot (Saitama’s version of Tokyo’s To-min no Mori) and then took the Maruyama Rindo („forest road“) all the way down the hill into Yokoze/ Chichibu-Shi, a route that allowed us to get to the Seibu Chichibu train station with only 150 meters or so riding along the crowded stretch of Rte. 299, then had an almost civilized lunch and hopped the 2:25PM express train to Ikebukuro.

*The title to this entry, „More Chichibu!“ is to be said loudly, in the tone of Christopher Walken addressing Will Ferrell in the 2000 SNL sketch „More Cowbell“.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Jerome, Juliane

Can I get you an energy bar ? Some water ?

Maybe not that new, but new for me.

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I would like to ride this Sunday, proposing Takao and back on the following route.
Ebisu stn. 7am, 120km, back by midday.
Any takers?
Obv. can add or subtract to this as you see fit.

via Bryon, read this.. John Korioth Shares His Thoughts (and SRM file) About Racing with Lance at The Tour de Gruene ..inspired or awed?

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I promised my family to be back from cycling by 1 PM. And I was back at 1:15 PM, which is unprecedented and breaking every existing Positivo Espresso tradition. So what went terribly wrong – how could this possibly happen?Well it started with all the ingredients of a typical Positivo Espresso tour at David’s home at 7 AM. I needed to devour my 7/11 breakfast and delayed our start. Juliane didn’t show up at all and couldn’t be reached by phone. Jerome was assuming that she might be on her way to Ome, so we even didn’t had a clear plan where to go. I had previously discussed with David, that we will ride to Wada and then return through route 76 to Doshi and back into town through one of the amazing maze roads David was able to identify in the mess of Western Tokyo.

We started to ride along the Tamagawa and immediately tried to make up for the lost time. Three quarters of the members of our superior Saiko race time trial team were present and we rode a fast pace line which went exceptionally well. At Seikobashi we made a last phone call to Juliane, finally giving up on her and then deciding to do the original plan in reverse: First riding out to Tsukui, then travelling along the Doshimichi road 413 until the crossing with road 76, which then leads back to the notorious route 20.

The roads selected by David were very good, it was still early in the morning and even the traffic on the big roads was light. He led a through all the shortcuts with sherpa-like qualities. There were some fast downhills and a lot of climbs.

The crazy Tsukui climb. Almost as high as the offical approval rating of Kim Il Jong in North Korea [close to 120%]

I have done some of this roads before with David, but always in the opposite direction. Now going there it felt less than going downhill, but more like „reverse-climbing“.

We continued to pull each other through at a fast pace; David also has improved compared to the last Chichibu trip. And finally we took a break a a Daily Yamazaki Conbini where not only us, but also other customers of the shop could witness a highlight of the day:

It was cold outside and we were sweaty, naturally we rested inside the Combini at the adult magazine corner and ate our replenishments. All three of us were wearing high quality, overpriced Assos jackets in the colors of the German flag, but what was hidden beyond that jackets was quite different.

When Jerome peeled off his jacket, his space-technology grade high-tec underwear was revealed. As he explained, this garment was originally developed for the Usbekistan army as a full body condom for contraception of male army members. One cannot see this on the photo, but it fully encloses every possible boundary of the human body, starting from the toes on the neck. It also provides labour to the rural knitting community of Usbekistan, having much free time during long winter hours.Unfortunately after extensive testing by the army, for unknown reasons, it failed to shown the expected contraception functionalities, upon which it was sold to France as cycling gear. Jerome swears that it keeps him warm and the amount of sweat emitted by his body should proves him right.

We then continued along road 413 and finally to road 76. Beautiful ups and downs in the autumn scenery. When we reached route 20, Jerome decided that he would try to ride over Wada as originally planned (again, clearly against the Positivo Espresso tradition as we never ride as planned), whereas David and me decided to go home along road 20 and make it back home by lunch.

With a nice tail wind in the back we went fast to Sagamiko station where a big truck lorry, coming up the hill, wanted to turn left and almost crashed with a minicar. I stayed on the scene to watch the whole tragedy unfold, while David moved on to climb Otarumi. This was the second time in three days that I encountered a crazy truck driver.

On Saturday when David, Ludwig and me rode into Chichibu, we made a fast downhill ride at 40 km/hr + on road 299 where we were overtaken by a very long speeding truck. He left ample clearance with us, but by doing so he occupied more than half of the opposite lane and as the road was winding along the valley, there was no way to tell if cars would come up or not. A motorcycle coming in our direction was barely able to squeeze in between the truck and the guiderail, and another white family van could just do the same. I remember all the details, as I was expecting to hear the sound of a crash any moment.

So David was ahead which gave me the motivation to start the reverse Otarumi time trial. The first part is mostly flat which even some descents, but I got blocked by traffic congestion three or four times. But I was feeling good and when the real climb started, a tried to stay at 20 km/hr spinning at a high cadence. Finally I saw David in front of me and overtaking him at elevation 300 meters. He was shouting encourageously:

„Come on Michael, keep going, PUSH IT!“

which gave me the neccessary extra motivation. The last thing I heard of David was:

„Ahem, I am keeping it easy, don’t wait for me!“

I arrived at the top at 17:17 minutes, which is fast, but not my best time. But it is OK I guess.

I nevertheless waited for David on the top and together we made the fast downhill from Otarumi, which was blocked by traffic at the entrance to Takao. But after that the roads were OK and we continued at 35 km/hr towards Sekidobashi, first along road 20 and then later along the Asakawa. Where we went into pace line again.

After a last break at the Y park 7-eleven we started another fast pace line at 35 km/hr along the Tamagawa. Clearly it was starting to rain any minute and there were less people on the pathway as usual. We were really fast and that brought as home so early.

Much earlier as expected. Of course my family has given up all expectations that I would be back on time after many disappointments and subsequently no lunch was prepared. The Saturday trip to Chichibu must have been the last nail in the coffin, I guess. Everybody was out and they came home at 4 PM only, much surprised seeing me showered and neatly dressed.

Jerome made it over Wada, as usually excelling late in the ride. He was also home by 1:30 PM, so on his own he rode on the last stretch very fast as well.

Last 30 minutes are cut off, as the Ciclo stops after 6 hours recording.

A very enjoyable mid-length trip, just the right ride for autumn.,139.385824&spn=0.122163,0.504986&output=embed&s=AARTsJoBnhnw44Ojb7PO4unDVb7-f1pMYA
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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Jerome, Juliane, Mob

A comment to Southern Chichibu

I want to scribble down this thought before I forget it and as there is no new Chichibu post in view for the immediate future, I rather do it right now: Imagine that you were born as a piece of rock millions of years ago in Southern Chichibu. As you are embedded in a gigantic puzzle with billions of other pieces of rock in the inside of a mountain, you feel safe and you have no idea what is going on in the world. However, chances are big, that you will end up tomorrow in concrete as part of a residential tower in central Tokyo.
The amount of dumper trucks, transporting to Tokyo what has been blasted, excavated and scraped away from the landscape of Chichibu is just amazing. Every time one rides out from Ome over the hill parallel to the OmeOkutama railway line and enters into greater Nariki, one is overtaken by many dumper trucks and one can see the quarries lining up on the left side of the road to Ikusabata.
This is just crazy, because otherwise Southern Chichibu would be the perfect place. It is like travelling in time, or changing the set of mind by taking special medication. Ome still has the sounds, smells and the general feel of hectic of Tokyo, but once the hills are crossed one feels like entering a different part of the country, many miles away from the big city. The contrast is just mind-boggling. Sure, this is still Japan, but one rides through it very much like through rural Japan of, say, Noto peninsular and not like on the dog & Obasan infested pathways along the Tamagawa.
The impression of the time travel is just distorted by the dumper trucks. So one has to travel some more kilometers along road 53, before one has finally left allTokyoisms behind.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Mob

Fuji Five Lakes

On the holiday Monday before the Saiko race, I did an exploratory tour of the area. By train to Kawaguchiko, then by bike around all five lakes, and on by bike down Doshimichi back to Tokyo (up to Hashimoto where darkness forced me onto the train).
138km in total, only modest climbing here and there and quite a bit of descending down Doshimichi where I reached a new top speed of 67km/h. If only the weather had been a bit nicer – it was overcast all day, but at least the clouds where hanging to high that Mount Fuji was always fully visible, as the below photos from all the five lakes show.


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Saiko race

MOB has already written about the Tour du Japon/JCRC race around Lake Sai at the foot of Mount Fuji: D as in „Done“ and Championship Reflections. Let me add a few short impressions of my own.

The best thing about the race is probably the scenary. Where else do you get such a beautiful view from your hotel room on the evening before the race?
My goal in the actual race was to survive: most importantly by not crashing (which is a distinct possibility when racing at 40km/h in the middle of a large pack of riders, mostly less than half a meter apart), secondly by not losing the peleton and thus the benefit of the windstream created by others, and thirdly by not doing anything else embarrassing in what was only my second race (MOB wrote on the first one in Gunma a few weeks earlier).

At the start – I’m in fifth row at the outer left.

I’m happy to report I did not crash and felt surprisingly comfortable in the tightness of the pack. Even better, I managed to stay among the top group of riders throughout, and arrived in the finish only 6.5 seconds behind the winner.

The final sprint in my E-class.

Unfortunately, another 20 riders managed to do even slightly better and I ended up only 22nd. (That’s why I can’t be seen in the above picture.)  Still good enough to earn me the official qualififcationto race in the E-class in future. Strictly speaking I had qualified only for F-class with my performance at Gunma, but somehow I managed to convince JCRC to let me race nonetheless in E-class (which I chose upon MOB’s recommendation as being probably slightly safer than F-class).

The race itself are two rounds around Saiko, 20km in total. At an average speed of 39.33km/h, the race was over after just over half an hour.
One of the rather wider bends (photo is of another class). Some curves are nastily narrow.
At a heartrate of just over 160, the 7 degrees Celsius didn’t feel that cold, despite relatively light dress.
After the race, in increasingly miserable weather.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Mob

紅葉その2 – Kazahari Pass at the end of October


182km in total, with a pretty steady climb to and then descent from 1,140m.
The temperature after 45km is due to a 1h phone conference for work, for which I took a rest in the sun.
A nice round trip, marred only by a countless number of roadworks. I got most of my rests in front of roadwork stops and coudn’t help wondering whether this was 1945 and Japan was in the phase of reconstruction. If only it wasn’t our tax payers‘ money that wasn’t being wasted like this…

View from the parking space on the south side of Kazahari Pass
View of Tamagawa Lake from a parking space on the north side descent from Kazahari Pass

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Finally after some wait, JCRC has sent me a confirmation about the registration of the POSITIVO ESPRESSO club in their membership rooster. This year I was officially racing for NFCC Peugeot Calyon, but as I have resigned with the team recently, next year I would like to start for the Positivo Espresso team, thus registration became necessary. In case you would like to attend a JCRC race next year as a member of Positivo Espresso, please write CID (Club Identification Number) 311 on the application form. (There is no advantage whatsoever).

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Eingeordnet unter 2009

Addendum to Mitsumine Shrine pilgrimage: Photos

155km distance, something like 1,700m climbing in total

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Mob