Monatsarchiv: Juni 2009

A Fine Day Out

112 km, 1900m, avg. spd 21km/hr.

More to follow…

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The 2009 Team Kit has Arrived

Thanks, Michael, for the effort to get these designed, ordered and delivered! They are a big improvement on last year’s model in design/style, sizing, and safety (the orange is very safe/bright — even my mother would approve)!

P.S. — please someone replace this photo with one taken in better light, with less haste, and with a more attractive model! No time for perfection — gotta pack!

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705 update

For those with a Garmin 705..

„The Garmin 705 has just gotten a big update, with the Firmware bumped to up to 2.8. This big update fixes lots of things, including the recent bug where the history folder became unreadable. The update is so large, in fact that it wipes all of the data off of the device, so be sure to back up your Garmin before giving the 2.8 update a whirl.“

Garmin 705 Update Fixes Boo-Boos –

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Peeing in the rain with the Tenno Heika

Two parties on Saturday and Sunday night and no riding on Sunday forced me to leave the house today despite cloudy, threatening skies.

I took the train to Hachioji and rode up to the Takao station.

Where I didn’t took a break at the 7-eleven. By the way I am so glad that David clarified which restaurant one has to visit at Okutamako finally. Many times I rode by with empty stomach and no power left but as I didn’t know which restaurant the Positivo Espresso approved one is, I mumbled „shikata ga nai“ to myself and kept on pushing to the Western most convenience store at the entrance to Okutama village.

I guess what we need is some kind of stickers, which we could take with us on rides, paste here and there and which clearly state:


Of course we would need to do also marking for roads and passes. To climb Kazahari by Ura-Kazahari with 15% plus inclination is OK, also Ura-ura Kazahari Rindo and Ura-ura-ura Kazahari boro boro Michi is OK, but the main road is not.
So who is going to take the lead ?

Anyway. The weather was miserable, always a light drizzle in the air. And so many policemen on the road, was there another traffic safety week I have missed?

I took the road to Jimba Kogen from Takao and was going up the second slope which leads just right through the huge Hachioji cemetery when I noticed that my climbing performance was not good – so what to do? As I didn’t took a rest at the 7-eleven, I thought that draining some ballast water from my bodily vessel would help and I was looking for a suitable place along the road to do this quickly.

About 2/3 of the slope up I found a nice looking innocent bush and no people around so I stopped and was just ready to unzip when out of the said bush a young Japanese guy appeared and asked me to ride on. To be more precise he said:

„Our majesty the emperor will pass by in a few minutes and I would like to ask you to kindly walk with your bike on the sidewalk until he has passed.“

I guess I was mighty lucky that the emperor, probably returning from his morning ride up Wada Toge, hasn’t seen me with my bib shorts dropped in full exposure. And as I am a law-abiding subject of his majesty, I decided to push my bike along.

For a few meters.
Until I was out of sight.

As I wanted to give the emperor and his buddies a good show I climbed up the next slope at full speed in standing. Every 50 meters there were some undercover policemen with small earphones, I was starting to feel like being transferred into THE MATRIX – Agent Smiths, or perhaps better Agent Suzuki everywhere.

So here they came, first some motorcycles, then some black Toyota limousines with the characteristic doilies everywhere on the seats and on the windows.
Wow, my first encounter with the emperor since many years – and definitely the first time on my bike. I just felt sorry that I couldn’t show off our new Positivo Espresso 2009 jerseys.

After this very motivating event and now free again to cross one or the other red light I moved ahead in direction Wada and started the long climb. I wanted to take it easy, but this is a contradiction in itself, Wada is never easy. And I still don’t have the strength to climb fast for extended periods.

The road was wet and slippery and my new 105 rear derailleur was not well adjusted so I tried to move up steadily and without putting too much power suddenly on the rear wheel. At the steeper parts I was back into single digit speed; but in the end I made it up in less than 23 minutes despite my best efforts to go as slow as possible. I am still puzzled why it took michael 33 minutes to ride up (best time) – if I would go that slow I would probably fall off the bike due to it’s instability.

I then went down the road very slowly, in the meantime it had started to rain a little bit more and I was trying the Positivo Espresso approved strategy in case of sudden rainfalls: ignorance.
After arriving at road #20 I continued along road 76 as I wanted to climb up to Hinazaru. But the rain was getting harder and harder and I had to give up and rode back to route 20.

But I wasn’t completely wet yet and the traffic on route 20 was relatively light so I rode to Sagami and continued then with a reverse Otarumi approach. I wanted to see how bad I am.

Now, actually I was feeling good, just like Lance Armstrong after his battle with cancer, which he so skillfully described in his book „It’s not about the bike“ (an affront of a title like no else, because if the performance is not there it is ALWAYS the fault of the bike). So I started to think about this book and about one story in particular:
So when he has had his cancer surgeries and it was going better, he started to train again on the bike, riding out with his friends. His friends were constantly telling him how great he was doing and how quickly he came back into shape. Then one day, while the group was riding out and started to climb at a small hill, Armstrong was overtaken by an old lady on her shopping bike who happened to take the same road and he realized that cancer has hit him much harder than he ever thought and that the return to pro sport would take much longer than he has realized so far.

I like this particular story very much, it is one of the few things I remember from this book which is otherwise uninteresting for normal human beings. I like this story because it has a small flaw: „Who would believe that Lance Armstrong actually has friends?“

I mean, think about it, well he probably has, yes, but isn’t that the same „probably has“, as in „Adolf Hitler probably had a barber.“ or „Josef Stalin may have had a priest.“ or „The mathematic teacher of Mao Zedong“?

It took me some time to understand, but now I think that his so-called friends dressed up a female pro-rider in old lady clothing on a shopping bike and made the whole situation up.

Anyway, as I continued to feel like Lance Armstrong on the slopes of Otarumi, I had a very nice tailwind that pushed me forward and I was up in 18:19 minutes which is respectable.
The fast descent on the other side brought me in no time through the rain to Takao station where I was finally so wet that I decided to give up riding for today.

Only 60 kilometers, but hey, I have met the emperor on my bike.

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On Wednesday, June 24th 19.30hr we will gather at


東京都渋谷区広尾1-11-2 AIOS広尾ビル 1F
…. ebisu 1-11-2 tel 03-5447-5553

to celebrate the various events which are obviously being made, or being made up to celebrate:

  1. The forthcoming departure of our Transalp team consisting of David „Stiftser“ Litt and Jerome „Stelvio“ Bouhet who will represent our team colors at this gruesome event where not only riders are forced to climb more than 3.000 meters per day, but also must sleep in cramped sport halls along the way.

    Read more about the Transalp Tour HERE.
    [Corrected link … David L.]
    (See especially the 2008 Review – Pictures and look at the slideshow of Stage 5 — really spectacular! Or see the suffering cold and wet riders on Stage 2.)

  2. The arrival of the new POSITIVO ESPRESSO 2009 TEAM WEAR
    Yes, finally they are there. So you can pick up your jerseys and bib shorts directly here.

  3. Me back on the bike after a forced four weeks break with a broken hand

Jerome was so kind to organize the event, so please let him know by Monday afternoon latest, if you will attend the party so that he can make the appropriate reservations.

Please contact Jerome directly.

See you on Wednesday.

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A Charming Tradition Since Before Positivo Espresso

Before P.E. — A tradition since 2005. That is how long founding members of Positivo Espresso have been stopping at the charming little reservoir-side cafeteria at the far end of Okutama-ko. (Well, at least I was there in 2005 with Jerome and Juliane; it is mentioned with a photograph of the exterior in a post from one of several earlier 2009 visits; Tom refers to a visit from April 2008 as stopping at „Juliane’s favorite okutamako cafeteria„. Archeologists report visits by foreign road cyclists dating back to the last millenium, as well as entire busloads of Japanese tourists stopping there in the decades after it was first built).

Actually, the off-white (beige? grey?) stucco exterior of the restaurant is not so charming, and not nearly as nice as the much newer, but quaint-by-design, Japanese-style wood building down the street. In fact, from the exterior, to the uninitiated–such as the typical gang of motorcycle riders, ready to gorge on some food before heading up Kazahari who joined Jerome and me mid-meal on Saturday–OUR restaurant is virtually indistinguishable from the one next door.

(Note to Michael H. and Manfred — PLEASE be careful not to step into the wrong restaurant. This would be even worse than going to the wrong convenience store, as the restaurant proprietress is far more likely to take offense than the convenience store clerk if you should excuse yourself to go next door. And if you should happen to make a mistake and stop at the wrong shop, just be sure not to record the error in a blog post!)

In any event, Jerome and I stopped at The Restaurant on Saturday for some well-deserved nutrition. We noted to the proprietress („Mrs. Watanabe“) that we would be in Europe next week at a famous bicycle race, attempting a nearly impossible crossing of snow-capped mountains together with the tall German woman who used to frequent her establishment. After some urging, Mrs. Watanabe agreed to come out of the kitchen for a photo so that we could send her best wishes to the „bijin“, as Juliane is known at The Restaurant. (The word „bijin“ was used more times than I could count.)

In this atmosphere of being among old friends, international fellowship and goodwill, Mrs. Watanabe comp’ed us some extra cucumber salad with special mayonnaise sauce, and a large Aquarius sports drink each. And her friend and helper („Mrs. Tanaka“) even joined one of the photos as they let Jerome put his arms around their shoulders, even as the sweat glistened.

Anyway, I’ve gone straight to the highlights, but let me offer a brief trip report.

Jerome, chastened by last week’s humor regarding his insistence upon, and failure to show up at, the ridiculously early start time, made me promise to call him at 4:45AM to make sure he was up and ready for a 5AM start. Before I could do so at 4:44, he called me and the start was confirmed. We made it to Takao in decent time, stopped at the traditional 7-11, with time for a photo of my new Assos gear — I’m told that the white bib shorts are really FAST, passing like a flash of light, and I wanted a photo since they will never be quite as white again as on this maiden ride.

We went over Otarumi and along Route 20 to Uenohara. Uneventful so far, but I was not enjoying the Route 20 traffic or the increasing heat, and I was still convinced that this should be a relatively easy, „warm down“ ride before our departure for Europe. Jerome still wanted to go over Matsuhime Pass from the long southern approach. So we parted ways at Uenohara, Jerome headed for Sarubashi then Matsuhime, and I headed to the Northwest up Routes 33/18 along the beautiful, deserted „Uenohara-Tabayama-sen“ through a valley and up and over Tawa Pass and Tsuru Pass.

I just cannot get enough of this road, and leapt at the chance to ride it on my „warm down“ day, somehow forgetting that Tawa and Tsuru can be pretty miserable in the sticky heat.
I made it over them (no rest except at the traditional covered rest area table/water faucet/toilet between lower and upper Tsuru, around 700 meters elevation), and then down to the base of Matsuhime. I stopped to wait for Jerome, pondering the near future when we (and the occasional motorist) will have a choice between the beautiful climb over Matsuhime (right fork), and a multi-hundred-million dollar series of tunnels and bridges (left fork).

I took the right fork and had climbed about half of the remainder to the top of Matsuhime, when Jerome came heading down at me. I turned around so we could both descend to The Restaurant and then head home.

… After several hours of suffering in the heat riding into a stiff head wind, a 185 km+ ride (more than 200 km for Jerome) with „only“ 2000 meters or so of climbing, and a brand new tubular tire going flat on Yoshino Kaido, replaced by Mr. Wachi himself of the Wachi Cycling Team, we finished our warm-down ride.

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Bike fit at HiRoad

Over the last few years I know I have tweaked and fiddled with my bike set-up to the point where I am no longer 100% confident it is correct set-up anymore. For this reason I wanted to get a professional bike-fit done.

Some internet research led me to Aoyama-san at Sports Bikes HiRoad today. He is an ex-employee of Y’s bikes in Akasaka, but branched out on his own 2 years ago, setting up his shop in Koyama 18 months ago. He provides professional bike-fitting analysis and advice using

Firstly, he completely readjusted my Look cleat positions after measuring my feet and checking the exact position of the ball of my foot whilst wearing my cycling shoes. The result was to move the cleat forward and in. This in itself was probably worth the visit to his small store.

He conducted a short interview to learn a little about riding style, then did a set of very precise body measurements. This data is sent to the database in Holland, after which it returns the optimal bike geometry measurements.

He then sets this ‚perfect‘ bike on his simulator. On the simulator you can try out the set-up. Aoyama-san uses his experience to talk you through cycling technique, lower body physiology and upper body position. He then ‚tweaks‘ the simulator to try a few different positions, eg. lower bars, more forward, higher, etc.

Before the „shoulder“ explanation

After the „shoulder“ explanations

The set-up. Gripping firmer. It is a bit too far and we revised it.

Revision 1. Slightly easy. 0mm vertical and 20mm closer on horizontal slides.

Revision 2. Slightly agressive. 20mm lower vertical and 10mm closer (10mm further than revision 1) on horizontal slides.

Once comfortable he measures the rig and then produces a comprehensive pdf file for your reference and to adjust your bike to.

The whole process took 3 hrs. The outcome was to raise the saddle significantly (very surprised), move it backwards a touch and drop the bars.

It feels great. Noticeably less weight in my hands and definitely a feeling of more power transfer and control. I am looking forward to my ride tomorrow!

If you are interested Aoyama-san speaks excellent English and his website is

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Pinchers from Hell

On Friday I tried a mid-distance ride with a lot of climbing, leading me to various places previously unconnected by one continuous ride.

As per new riding doctrine, I rode up to Nakayama station on the Yokohama line and took a train out to Hashimoto. This helps me to avoid the boredom of the Tamagawa, the Kan One and other roads ridden so often, so far. It is only 7 – 8 km through Hashimoto and then one is at the Tsukui Ko North route which is a good start for a longer ride.

I decided to give Doshi Mishi a try, it has been a while since I have ridden there with Ludwig and it has this continuous but not too steep climbs which I was looking for in order to improve my performance. And also I wanted to start a new Toagebaka which leads from Mikage crossing on route 413 to the entry of the tunnel on Dochi Michi at it’s highest point just before Yamanaka lake.

I was not very fast. In fact I overtook a hobby rider on his Cannondale bike and was overtaken by him again after 5 kilometers or so. My legs are OK and I have stamina to function on longer rides, but the speed is much too slow. In short, a performance disaster and the wore humiliation since michael and me got (almost) dropped by a one legged rider on Kan One.

So it took me almost 2:40 hours for less than 40 km of distance and 900 meter elevation which is now recorded as Togebaka No. 13. Please try to break this record, it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Luckily there is a 7-eleven at Yamanaka lake so I could take a break there, the first one since starting in Hashimoto more than three hours before. I continued to ride along the lake and then rode down in direction Gotemba on road 138. Please take a note:


Boring, a lot of traffic leading to the Tomei highway. Moreover, because of the nearby SDF training camp a lot of military vehicles on the road.

My plan was to ride up to Lake Ashino / MotoHakone from there and as I still felt OK I gave it a try. Luckily there is road #401 forking off from 138 so I gave it a try. This was a good decision as the road was almost empty and the climb very gentle, hardly more than 5% slope in any location. And so I made it to the top at Nagao something tunnel where I discovered a monument to traffic safety in sorry state.

For some reasons, and we must leave this to future generations of archaeologists and anthroposophs, many traffic safety related monuments have this shape which you can see in the photo below. It seems that there were mass fabricated by an unknown company in the seventies or eighties and distributed in strategic locations where passing car drivers would marvel at their beauty and zen-like composure. The company that made them has probably met the fate of so many previously famous companies (Wedgewood, Karman, Maerklin, Commodore …) so we cannot ask them for a logical explanation any longer, but for me the symbolism is very clear:
When you are driving your car, autobike or bicycle, you should always be aware that if you act against traffic rules, there is a slight chance that the ground will open next to you and that these pinchers will appear, screaming and shaking in anger and they will grap the sinning you and drag you down to a place deep below the surface of earth where you will be tortured to no end by retired police officers in traffic psychologic training classes. For a first hand experience I recommend the lectures at the Samezu driving licence office.

Anyway, I rode along further, back to road 138 and then to road 75 which should have brought me quickly to the shores of lake Ashino. So a last climb and then I would coast along the lake. Hm, I was already way higher than the lake but I thought, OK, this is the ridge I need to take before coming down to the lake and finally I did. The road there by the way looks like a sign monument to corporate Japan: Nissan, NEC, IBM Japan, Kawsaki Shinko Ginko … a lot of famous companies seems to have their resort or seminar houses up there. Judging from the state of some of the resorts, it seems to me highly probable that the company itself will be in a similar shape pretty soon. Maybe this would make a good indicator, similar to the idea of the McDonald index for countries.

Anyway, so I finally descended to the lake and was looking forward to a short ride to Moto Hakone. But what was that? The road made a 180 degree turn and led me up to the ridge again! From there it was a constant up and down and down and up until I have finally reached known ground at route one.


I ten took a final break in Moto Hakone, please take a close look at the attached Mapmyride link to check WHERE exactly I have made the break.

So finally I decided to take route 20 down to Atami. Of course it was wonderful, route 20 is so beautiful, so nice and gentle, it seems one can ride there forever at 40 – 50 km/hr an hour and never brake. The bike moves perfectly through all the curves, rarely disturbed by traffic and it feels like moving your hand slowly down the spine of your girlfriend a long time ago.
Sorry, couldn’t come up with any more actual example.
But all this comes to an end at Atami Toge where the final kilometers to Atami have to be conquered in almost free fall fashion. I am still lacking power and grip in my left hand so it was a real torture.

The beauty for me is that the Shinkansen takes me home from Atami to Shin-Yokohama in 30 minutes and then I assemble the bike an ride home which is perhaps another 30 minutes.
So I just made it in time for the dinner.

Looking forward to the Sunday ride now.

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Weekend Rides

As you may know, Jerome and I are training for the Transalp. We will take our last training ride (really, honestly, this is the last one) leaving my house at 5AM Saturday — heading toward Matsuhime (South approach) or Kazahari (front/East approach) pass, route to be confirmed after departure. Let us know if you want to join at the beginning or somewhere en route. Stephen C. — hope we will see you later, coming from Oume direction?

James, Dominic and Michael are meeting at Ebisu stn at 6:30am for a ride of about 130km(ish), 6hrs (ish) on Sunday morning. Usual routes, unless we become inspired and brave enough to go somewhere new. Thinking Tank rollers, reverse Otarumi, front Wada, Route 20 and river home. Yawn? Let us know if you want to join at the beginning or somewhere en route.

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Ask Dr. Evil

Dear Readers, the following piece of correspondence from a desperate fellow rider has reach my desk in the afternoon (obviously it has been written during work):

Sate, I was plodding up Wada last Sunday (on my own) and realized again, as I slowly turned the wheels up the hill, that my big dura ace 52 crank is not designed for me! I bought my bike 8 years ago and so it only has a cassette of 9 gears on the back so I am very behind the times.
So, I am wondering what to do without buying a whole new bike (which is delayed until my wife thinks there is no chance of me being laid off at work).

  • Option 1. Buy a new dura ace compact crank only. If I do this, will all the other dura ace bits on the bike work with this new crank without me buying anything else?

  • Option 2. Do option 1 and also buy a nice new 10 gear cassette. If so, will I need to change gear levers and all?? (If so, this is probably not cost effective for one more gear.)

Any thoughts much appreciated. Good to hear that you are back cycling again.

First I would like to write that I am glad that your problem are not punctured rear tires because I should be considered the last person on earth to give advise on this problem. Now, I think you have given the answer to your problem already. As any decent 40 year plus amateur rider from Positivo Espresso will tell you, you need a new bike, preferably with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 and an investment cost close to the defense budget of Mozambique. It should have however one small flaw on which you can blame any lack in performance, for example that the handle bar tape is not matching with the saddle leather. But this is probably not the answer you would like to hear.

Also, the other reasonable advice, that you should leave everything on your bike just as it is and get up your butt, finally do more training and loose some weight so you can fly up Wada like a mini car driven by two gays would only be honored by your lovely wife and not by your good self.

OK, let’s try something unreasonable :

It would be my educated guess that you can combine Dura Ace 9 speed components only with other Shimano 9 speed components, such as Ultegra and 105.

You can probably not combine them with any components from the newer Dura Ace with 10 speed (7800 series) (different chain width) and also not with the new 2009 Dura Ace (7900 series) (one way chain). The same is true for the newer 10 speed Ultegra and 105.

So if you are looking for an economic solution which would give you more choices on steep climbs my advise would be to upgrade with older 9 speed dura ace components, which are still plentiful available as they were replaced only in 2004.


Obviously you would like to exchange your standard crank with a compact one. Perhaps there are also other options in the market, not only from Shimano. Check also the crank length; all lengths in 2.5 mm steps from 165 mm to 180 mm are available. I am using a 175 mm crank, so perhaps a 172.5 or 170 mm should work well for you.

Of course you can also consider a very uncool triple in the front, not sure if there is one with dura ace specs although.


I do not know what you are using now, my guess would be 11/23 or 12/25? If you just change the standard crank into a compact one I don’t think you will need a new rear cassette if the biggest sprocket is 25 or bigger. Anyway, the biggest one available from Shimano for road bikes is 27. But I believe that in order not to loose too much on your maximum speed in the flats or downhills, the smallest sprocket should be 12; 11would be better.

12/21, 12/23, 12/25 and 12/27 9 speed cassettes are available here.
The alternative would be 11/21 or 11/23, but that’s nonsense for climbs.

Don’t laugh, my first pro bike had a default 10/21 9 speed – I was suffering in the mountains and I had no idea why.

If you have a standard crank and a 11/21 rear cassette mounted on your bike, I would guess that just changing the rear cassette to 12/27 would be good enough.

I am not convinced that a 10 speed offers so much more advantage over a 9 speed system. In most cases it seems to me that the smallest and biggest sprocket mounted are the same, so you have more variety in between with a 10 speed system. But you also need to do more shifting when you want to move from a climb in a low gear to a downhill stretch in a fast gear.

If you desperately want to move to 10 speed, my suggestion would be to change to Shimano 105. In this case you would need no control levers, new front derailleur, new crank, new chain and a new rear cassette. With 105 compared to dura ace this is somewhat affordable and I don’t believe that this will have any substantial impact on the performance of your bike. Except for the weight, perhaps 300 gram more. So take less coins with you in your wallet if you decide for this solution.

If you have tons of time, you can also take a look on what the authority is saying:

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob