Monatsarchiv: Juli 2009

Tour de Okinawa – Nov. 7th

Application for the Tour de Okinawa starts pretty soon on August 1st and probably it is advised to register fast. There are 370 slots available each, for the 200 km, 130 km and 85 km races and they will sell out fast.

As almost every year, the Okinawa races are hold on the same weekend in November as the JCRC Saiko race and the Giro de Hotaka. That will limit participation, I guess.

And looking at the results from last year, the Okinawa race is, considering the distance and the elevation profile, quite fast. A lot of riders didn’t finished and I guess this is because they didn’t made the time cut at several checkpoints? Who has done the tour before and can give me any advise?

I made a similar post at the TCC web site.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Tour de West

The town of Ituskaichi froze in awe. Older people remembered a day in September. 1945, when an large US army convoy drove through the town, but since then this has been the biggest gathering of foreigners ever. TCC, Yokota USAF-CC, Half-Fast and Positivo Espresso had called for a mass climbing of Kazahari.

I met James aka „FarEast“ and his beautiful Pinarello FP3 bike at Nakayama station and together we took the train for Hachioji. So we had enough time to talk about the important things in life: war in Iraq and Afghanistan, global warming, hunger crisis in Africa and upper house elections in Japan. Actually the only thing I can now remember from the conversation , in which we most certainly came to precise solution for each of the mentioned problems, was that I should spend 10 times the amount of a very good Shimano DuraAce bottom bracket to buy something which, unlike me, has ceramic balls inside.

It took us only 30 minutes to ride from Hachioji to Itsukaichi, overtaking red traffic lights and orange clad „You can“ riders.

When we arrived at Itsukaichi station there were already about 10 riders present but more and more came. I chatted here and there and got to know many of the riders which used to hide on the TCC forum behind names such as „Chazzer“, „Eloy“,“Morlock“, „Alan Willi“ and „Shimano Sora“. Many nice people.

The Positivo Espresso team was able to muster three riders, Tom, me and Thomas, how, against payment of a handsome fee, had come in full Positivo Espresso wear.
I think the new jerseys are very well looking, also the bright orange color prevents car drivers from simply ignoring the PE rider. Another, not intended side effect is, that the color scheme offers a irresistiable attraction to butterflies who are mistaken us for beautiful flowers and try to copulate with the jersey or something. Sorry, I don’t remember all the details that my father told me, when I was thirteen years old.

The problem with large group rodes is, that it takes so long to organize things and it is so nice to chat with everyone; it took us more than half an hour to get started, but once we were, the tempo was quite fast from the beginning. In the front were the very fast riders and I was in a second group of the „fast looking“ riders.

In no time we were at the Motojuku T junction, the official Positivo Espresso Togebaka TT start point and I accelerated even more to ride up to Tomin no Mori as fast as I could. It took me only 18 minutes the reach the Y junction and that is quite fast; there a group of 5 to 6 riders was waiting to regroup. I shouted some excuse like „I think I forgot my wallet at the top“ and off I went taking the first climb at full speed (13 km/hr or so). My devilish plan was to be first on the top, not waiting for anybody else as all the polite and social riders were waiting for the slower ones at the Y junction.

Unfortunately my very good plan folded within 3 minutes when Alan, Sergey, Tom and some other riders overtook me as they had plans on their own. And were very much faster than me.

So I ploughed my way up getting overtaken by David and later by Naomi. But at least I could stay within visible sight of Tom. Then Sergey overtook me on the last one hundred meters. I don’t know why I was so stupid to give already everything on the first climb, but to set a new togebaka record is always a good motivation. Barely I managed to stay below 1:03 hrs. It’s a long way to go under the hour, but with more training and better (cooler) weather, it should become possible in autumn. Anyway on the top I felt like Floyd Landis on the climb the day before he drank his wonder beer.
Long break at Tomin no Mori, more riders arrived but by far not all. Out of the original group of 30 – 40 riders, I met perhaps less than 20 back at Tomin.

Perfect summer weatehr. Hot, humid and blue skies, all performing draging factors.

This was also the end of the „How manly are you?“ competition, the remaining elevation to Kazahari Toge I took at a much slower speed. Tom and Thomas had agreed that we continue to Matsuhime and return via road 35, instead of joining the party people and close the day already at noon with a heavy dosage of beer, soba and yakiniku.

The descent was fast as usual, but when I came to the T junction (Matsuhime pain left – Party right), there was nobody there. I thought that they would went ahead already to Matsuhime so I speeded up on the road to Kosuge. I was tempted to take the shortcut, but this is against unwritten Positivo Espresso rules. I arrived at Kosuge – nobody there. I tried to call Tom and Thomas on the phone, but they didn’t answered. So what to do?

OK, I thought let’s stick to the very original plan and climb over Matsuhime, then try O-toge and take a train home from Otsuki and I started to climb up.

And there, where the shortcut joins the Matsuhime climb again, where Tom and Philip waiting – what a nice surprise. They had seen me going ahead at the Okutama T junction (thanks to the bright orange of the PE jersey and the clouds of butterflies around it) and went ahead to catch me. When they came to the junction, they were wondering if I had passed already or if I would still come. But rightly considering my poor performance they waited – and there I was.

Together we started the climb up to Matsuhime in the heat. We rode together for the first 30 meters, then Philip and Tom went ahead and I only saw them again on the top. So, the second had climb of the day was done.

A fast decent with an empty stomach led us directly to the gates of a big supermarket close to Sarubashi, where we went on a shopping spree in the bakery section. I bought two much and had to carry a piece of applecake in my back pocket for the remains of the ride. When I unpacked it four hours later it looked more than baby food.

Anyway, we started the third hard climb of the day which was Suzugane, taking us from road 20 to road 35. Also this one we climbed in no time, although some tectonic movements in the last two months must have made it much longer, higher and steeper – this was not the Suzugane I remembered, crossied with Ludwig in the snow during this winter.

Then we had to climb over Hinazuru, which was a much shorter climb and somehow, despite the heat, I also felt that some power come back and it became easier to climb than going up Matsuhime.

Philip had his wedding anniversary this very day and was desperately trying to get back home before 6 PM. So we rode down the road from Hinzuru as fast as we could until we came to the crossing with road 76 {If required I can act as a witness to state that he was giving his best effort to be back in time}.

There we had a discussion about the fastest way home. Tom was opting for Otarumi and Hachioji, Philip was in favor of riding to Hashimoto. In the end Tom rode alone over Oatarumi and Philip and me continue on route 76 over Makino Toge. Looking now at the map it is very well possible that this was the shortest way, but it also included some serious climbs over Makino Toge. I was slowly running out of power and I started to curse this climbs.

But finally we had made it into Hashimoto and after a short break at a 7-Eleven (Philip, already in full compliance with Positivo Espresso rules), I showed him the way to the One-Kan express road so that he could find his way on his own to the Tamagawa.

I was really worried that he would not make it back and time. And also he was getting faster by the minute, either because just like Jerome he is such rider that he develops more strength during long rides, or simply because of panic and fear in view of his wife’s reaction when arriving late.

I really hope he made it in time. And if he made it, I wonder if he would be able to enjoy the evening, or if after all the exhaustions of the day, his body would simply by an empty hull, waiting to be refilled with meaning and power.

Also I became faster at the latter part of this ride; most likely the reason is very simple: Having lost all fear of my wife a long time ago, I go on this long rides and dehydrate to the biggest extend possible. Yesterday I lost 4 kg of body weight AFTER I drank and ate at home and compared the weight before and after the ride. So getting lighter means less weight to carry up the mountains, which it turn makes my performance better. I should consider also to cut off some riding-irrelevant body parts to make it even better.

Anyway, I drove back to Hashimoto station and took the train home where my body hull arrived at 7 PM and was unable to contribute in a meaningful way to family life.

Later in the evening I watched the second last stage of the Tour de France 2009 up on Mt. Vendoux. Contador crossed the finish line and I felt asleep immediately. Woke up late the next morning, still not fully recovered and with no wish to ride a bicycle for the rest of the day.

Blogging is therapy.

[Stole some pics from the TCC site, please let me know if not OK]

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob, tcc, Tom

Saturday Ride July 25 – Nagano Shinkansen Touring

As I said on Friday, „I’m thinking of getting up early again and trying something a bit different — maybe hop the Nagano Shinkansen to Karuizawa (or better yet, one stop beyond to Sakudaira and from there a local train to Koumi), and then ride back over the intervening hills into Chichibu — Manfred country — or head west toward Utsukushigahara/the Marchen Line, the Venus Line, etc. …“

It worked, mostly! Nagano Shinkansen is a great option. It is easier and faster for me to get to Tokyo Station than to Hachioji, and a very fast trip from there–just over an hour to Karuizawa, a few more minutes to Saku, or if you prefer, on to Ueda and Nagano–much faster than getting to Enzan. A great way to extend our riding area to another climate zone in the summer, when needed. The cost is 5250 yen from Karuizawa back to Tokyo, but well worth it.

I was on the 6:24 train from Tokyo Station, at Karuizawa by 7:30. I continued to Sakudaira, and by local train up the valley (Koumi-sen to Koumi), assembled and was on the bicycle by 8:45. The major climb of the day was from Koumi (Elev 850) up through Matsubara-ko kogen, past Koumi Re-Ex Ski Resort, and eventually meeting Rte 299 (the „Marchen Line“) up and over Mugikusa-Touge (Elev 2130 meters). The climb gets easier (flatter) higher up and there was almost no traffic, so it was quite relaxed taken at a leisurely pace. After a few nice vistas on the climb, there was no view to speak of from the top as the morning clouds blocked most of Yatsu-gatake and everything to the West (where the South Alps should have been).

A photo of the sign marking the pass, which is fairly broad and flat, as seen in June edition of Cyclesports:

Over the top and starting down the other side, I rode into the clouds and some wind and drops of rain.

For the first time in quite awhile, I was riding on the Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels with tubeless tires (rear rim replaced by Nagai-san). I had forgotten how plush and fast the ride is … extremely comfortable, and I looked down at the speedometer and was surprised to see that I was going over 50 kph on the first slight downhill, though it felt more like 30.

The road descends to the Tateshina area on the West side–a huge wooded vacation area many miles across, homes hidden away on what looked like reasonably generous lots. I headed North on the „Venus Line,“ going up and down between 1350 and 1700 meters.

After a quick early lunch stop at a ski area’s ramen/soba shop (NOT Positivo approved–they make a fairly poor excuse for a bowl of ramen), the weather became increasingly sunny, but the area is high enough to be blissfully cool.

… Somewhere I got off the Venus Line. I missed the road to Utsugushigahara and ended up going straight north and starting a descent. I was on a great road, and there were fields, horse farms, lakes, and more vacation homes (almost all shuttered or otherwise looking deserted).

I headed down a valley toward Mochizuki, eventually reaching the point where the last thing I wanted to do was climb back toward Utsukushigahara — its mountains not even visible. A nice descent, very gradual descent down the lower valley–what could be any one of a hundred similar landscapes in the Japanese mountain countryside:

Rte 152 from Tateshina toward Mochizuki, Nagano from David Litt on Vimeo.

I reached Rte 142 (The Naka Sendo) and took it east toward Saku, completing the loop to where I had left the shinkansen in the morning. … but my ride was far too short because of the wrong turn, and not enough climbing, so I decided to keep going East and took a route through southern Saku and up a small valley to (Nagano Prefectural Rte 44, though not marked.

I was off the map that I had brought with me, but remembered that there was a connecting road toward Karuizawa. The road had no traffic and climbed from 700 back to 1300 meters. It was hot and sunny, lots of blue sky. I finally got to the marked turn-off for the „super forest road??“ toward Karuizawa. The road started through a ghostly area of unsold vacation home plots (I can imagine the ads „secluded paradise … only 20 km to the nearest supermarket, conveniently located only 1 hour to the nearest expressway entrance; road not plowed in winter“).

From the ghost town, only 20 km winding through the forest to Karuizawa, with ups and downs, twists and turns, but mostly downhill the last 10 km. In the middle of the forest, equally far from either end of the road, there was a toll gate — an old guy sitting in a trailer in the middle of the forest who came out and opened the gate for me (bicycles free!). He must need to get up and open the gate at least once or twice an hour.

Then down through a vacation home area on a hillside south of Karuizawa, and another 5-7 km left for a victory ride down a main road and through town to the station. I felt as if I was finishing a big solo breakaway, put down the hammer, full gasAs I got into the more crowded streets I sat up, back straight, and tried to make it look really easy without losing speed. In the end, just under 130 km and 2800 meters of climbing, mostly at a leisurely pace and in somewhat favorable conditions. No one pushing me to ride fast or far–much, much less intense than Michael and Tom’s ride with TCC. No particular training goal for once. Just an opportunity to see someplace different and spend a sunny day outside covering some nice territory. And home for dinner.

Next time … maybe another try at Utsukushigahara? Or 2000+ meter Kuruma-zaka Touge (North from Sakudaira, instead of South)? Or maybe a longer ride out from Tokyo, take the „Crystal Line“ NW of Enzan 1/2 way up Odarumi Pass, but don’t go down to Kofu. Instead head North over Shinshu Touge and down the valley to Sakudaira, then hop the train home? Maybe all three options?
Copy Of Nagano ride
Find more Bike Rides in Nagano, Japan

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Eingeordnet unter David

The Horrors of Sasago

The legendary Sasago Tunnel – entry point to untold horrors

Tom, David and me were on the way back from Odarumi on route 20, Tom in front and me some 100 meters behind and David some 300 meters behind perhaps when we came to the road that leads to Sasago Pass and the old Sasago Tunnel.

We waited some 50 meters of the road at a Jidohanbaiki for David to arrive, when I saw him passing by. I shouted „David!“ but he just continued so I had no choice but to ride back to route 20 and follow him up on the slope, trying to catch him.

Actually, this is a very interesting probably non-linear mathematical optimization equation, or problem along the following lines:

You are following 300 meters behind a bicycle rider which rides at constant 20 km/hr towards an abyss (Sasago Main Tunnel) without knowing this. You are following this rider at 25 km/hr speed and you want to warn him, however you do not know from which distance between the two of you he can hear you.

Every time you are shouting a warning, your speed drops to 15 km/hr for a period of 10 seconds as you are running out of breath. Assuming that there is a logarithmic relation between the probability of your warning being heard and the distance between you and the bicycle rider with 0% chance at 300 meters and 100% chance at 0 meters, how would you time your warning shouts and at which distance from the start point would the rider stop ?

Not sure about the correct answer, but the maximum distance would be 1.500 meters (5 km/hr speed difference to cover 300 meter distance difference at 25 km/hr).

Anyway, David was tired and decided to ride home by train so we bid good bye and I followed Tom up the slopes to Sasago Pass. The climb is very nice, very gradual, but also more than 400 meters up. It is hard to imagine that this was the main road to Kofu until 1958 when the main road tunnel of route 20 was completed. And even the old tunnel was only completed in 1938, before that there was a pass even at a higher point above the tunnel.

Tom was fast as usual and despite all his lamenting on the blog that he has becoming an old man, not able to withstand the cycling challenges of middle-aged salaryman from Hyogo prefecture, I don’t see this decay actually happen on the road when riding with him.

Since years I am telling my kids about the horrors awaiting oversuspicious cyclists in the Sasago Tunnel. I try to fine tune my stories along the lines of old stories by H.P. Lovecraft that I read as a kid. I was also inspired by a blog entry of Tom some time ago, where he felt that something slimy was touching his legs while riding through the tunnel, having lost all sense of room and time and falling into an eternal vertigo.Wiki, now the source of all knowledge to mankind defines the work of H.P.
Lovecraft as following:

Lovecraft’s major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. […..] His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism.Lovecraft’s protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

„… momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality …“, I guess that has a lot to do with „defying gravity by speed of ascent up some semi-vertical hillock“.

So I told my son (12) and daughter (7) who were listening with horror in disbelief, that in their are giant, invisible octopus living in holes arranged at the ceiling of Sasago tunnel. Every now and then, when a stupid cyclists rides alone into the tunnel, they let down their tentacles, try to grasp him and move him up so they have splendid dinner to chew on for some days. Tom was barely able to escape and I named him as the eyewitness to this horrors.

OF course my kids didn’t believe a single word, so I had to prepare better evidence. Tom was so kind to take some photos of myself while fighting with the octopus in the tunnel. As I said, they are invisible so it is a little bit difficult to see them in the photo, but I presume that the expression of horror in my face speaks for itself.Just when he handed back the camera to me, Tom was also attached by these godless creatures.
Luckily I could take a picture of this heinous assault.

After surviving Sasago Tunnel we rode down to this famous cedar (sugi) tree the older bike rider has told me about at Tomin no Mori some days ago. It is supposingly 1.000 years old and inside completely hollow to the top. It seems to have come out directly from a Miyasaki movie.

We then road a high speed to Otsuki. Although the compact crank is nice for the climbs, it is true that on the downhill a 52/11 gear ratio adds more speed, I was not able at all to cope with Tom here.

At Otsuki station I was lucky to get an express train back to Hachioji and then hop on the Yokohama line back to Shin Yokohama from where I wanted to ride the last 8 km or so back home.

But what did I had to notice when I just unpacked my bike at the station? Another flat rear tire. So far for the existence of the Japanese Tube Gods. I thought, OK, this is only small puncture and the air is coming out slowly, so if I inflate the tire again, I might be able to ride home. I had my small hand pump with me and I pumped as hard as I could and started tor ride as fast as I could. Which brought me exactly to the Nissan Stadium before I was out of air again. So I pumped again. Which brought me to Nippa station. So I pumped again, but his time the air would simply not stay in the tire.

I didn’t want to pack and unpack the bike for only one station of a train ride and I was also very angry so I rode home on the rim.

Where I told my kids the story of the Sasgo Tunnel and showed them the photos. They didn’t believed a single word.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, Mob, Tom

Some more Odarumi Stories

Another report on the Odarumi ride is here (in Flemish).

Some of the views from the road were quite nice, but due to the thick cloud cover there was not very much to be seen most of the time.
David was going strong, as usual I had a hard time to follow him at the start of the climb but I was becoming faster closer to the summit. I became further motivated by riding in the starting rain, I thought if I could climb fast enough I may escape over the clouds.
Arriving at the top was somewhat of an anti-climax. The road stops. Well not exactly but it becomes a gravel road, not suitable for road racing bikes. There is no tea house, mountain witch, nothing. But there were cars parked on the side of the road for the last 500 meters and it was surprisingly crowded for such a desolate place.

On the way down I had again a rear tear puncture. I was taking a curve a higher speed when I suddenly got this wobbly feeling. I thought, well perhaps a wind gust, but the next curve the same thing happened. I stopped and the rear tire was almost flat.

Now, 2009 is the year of the flat (rear) tires; I am now almost up to 10 since May. This brought memories back of the time when Juliane and me were still riding with a „traditional“ Japanese cycling club, today called Tamagawa Cyclists.
They were very, very strict concerning the rules how punctured tires have to be disposed off. And perhaps, I thought, it is because I was not following these rules that I was cursed by the Japanese Tube Gods with a series of punctures.

So once I finished the tire exchange and had the bike ready again, I lay down on the side of the road with the old tire in front of me and thanked him for all the hard work he had done on many kilometers inside the hot and tight Continental GP4000 tube (orange, of course):


Then I buried the tire along the road where he has a good view on approaching cyclists on their climbs. I hoped that this will help. It did not, as can be read in the post about Sasago Tunnel.

Many thanks to David, Tom and Hiroshi, the incredible „bunny hopper“ for this nice trip.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, Hiroshi, Mob, Tom

Positively Approved

Since some weeks I am pregnant … with the idea to customize a sticker which we could use to mark cycling routes and approved supply dumps along the way.

This will also come handy if we are ever going to publish our routes in the form of a book or a website. I checked out some websites in Japan, but the production is extremely expensive; I checked further in Germany and in the US and finally I have found a source in the States which could supply weather proofed customized stickers.

In a size of 2 inch width they would cost about 200 US$ for 1,000 pieces which is the cheapest I could found. If you know any other suppliers, in particular in Japan, please let me know.

The red frame on the bottom is interned to include arrows for indication of turns, if the road would go straight they can be turned by 90 degrees to indicate with an arrow to go ahead. Of course we can also include warning messages or other comments with permanent markers.

We would paste them on lampposts and guide rails in the most sensible way. Some of our favourite shops like the manju sellers on road #35 or the soba place at the Okutamako may also agree to have them patched to their doors.

What would you think? Would you be interested to have a set of 50 – 100 stickers and share the respective cost?

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Odarumi attack Sunday — Success!

Partial Ride Report [by David L.]:
Michael and I made our early morning train connections as planned and attached Odarumi after filling our water bottles and stocking up on some provisions a 7/11 (approved) near Enzan Station.

As it was 8AM and cloudy, the humidity and heat were still contained somewhat, and we reached the bottom of the climb without difficulty. I urged that we take the „direct“ climb rather than going over Yakiyama Touge („Burnt Mountain Pass“) since Jerome and I had already climbed via Yakiyama last month.

Just after we started up, Michael got a call … from Hiroshi, who had decided to join us and driven from Tokyo, but did not tell anyone until his arrival (delayed somewhat by traffic). Michael spoke with him as we continued to climb. We know that Hiroshi is faster uphill than we are, and it sounded from Michael’s description as if he was already near the entry to the climb, so we kept going, expecting to see him reach and pass us somewhere along the climb.

Hiroshi’s (Japanese language) report and a few photos are available here.

The climb was MUCH easier than when I did it with Jerome last month. While I would like to believe this is because I succeeded in reaching a „new level“ as a climber by participating in the Transalp, I am afraid the much more obvious causes are (1) not having started the day by riding 100km plus from home, over Yanagisawa, and (2) weather that was probably 5-7 degrees (C) cooler than the climb with Jerome and without harsh direct sunlight.

As usual, Michael climbed a bit faster than I did. We stayed together, trading front positions until around 1600 meters, then Michael pulled ahead. I could still see him around some of the bends in the road as we went through the flat-ish 5km section between 1700-1750 meters elevation, but from there to the top I kept up my plodding pace, while he accelerated, taking advantage of a slightly reduced grade of the climb, and the confidence that he could make it up without difficulty.

I was glad to make the entire 35 km from the 7/11 in Enzan to the top of Odarumi, over 2000 meters of climbing, without stopping. The only time my foot touched down was when I stood to climb out of the saddle and my cleat slipped out of the pedal (time to replace that cleat!).

The clouds darkened dramatically and the wind gusted on top. We put on our windbreakers and had just started the descent … when we saw Hiroshi coming up. After waiting for him to summit and start back down (and, in fact, going back up to the top to make sure that he was, in fact, planning to spend not too long up top), we started the descent. Hiroshi and I ended up ahead with Michael nowhere to be seen. We pulled over to wait and, after 5 minutes, had decided to head back up to see what was keeping him (tire puncture? crash? other????) when Tom can zooming up, having ridden all the way from home. These photos are mostly from Tom, and his full trip report can be found here.

The 3 of us went up until we met Michael, who had changed a flat tire tube. We descended together, turned off the main route halfway down, climbed over Yakiyama Touge and descended through the adjacent valley. We rode through light rain, but just enough to cool us down, not enough to make the road damp or slick.

After farewell to Hiroshi, and a ramen stop, Tom led Michael and me through the Enzan/Katsunuma area and toward the west entrance off Rte 20 to Sasago Pass.

While Tom was right that going through Enzan/Katsunuma saved us from the hilly Fruit Line, the air was oppressive — way too much humidity, mixed with some auto exhaust and a blend of diesel particulate. I had not gotten nearly enough sleep the night before, and was suffering from a combination of modest stomach issues and pain in my feet (really need to experiment with other cleat locations). In the end, I hopped the train home from Kai Yamato, while Michael and Tom headed up Sasago.

Michael will need to report on what happened thereafter … and add any photos of note.

David L.
(added a few photos, Tom)
David and I are finally going to climb Odarumi Toge [2.360 m] on Sunday (19). Previous attempts were unsuccessful for various reasons, including a too ambitious climbing program in 2008 on the previous day’s approach which killed 3 our of 5 riders.

Now this time we would like to do it properly and therefore we are going by train:

06:35 Hachioji – 07:50 Enzan (Chuo Line to Matsumoto)

It will take about three hours of climbing up and one hour down, so we should be back in Enzan by one. Whereas we will reassess our strength and go for some more leisurely riding in the vicinity (Yanagizawa, Kamihikawa, Sasago) or take the train home again.

Would anybody like to join (who has not refused so far) ?

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, Hiroshi, Mob, Tom

Une partie de campagne [Yabitsu]

Don’t worry this post is not about the movie of Jean Renoir as you might have suspected in the first place. And if a movie by him, I assume that you would most certainly prefer „La grande illusion“ which is equally not related with cycling.

Juliane and me rode up from Miyagase lake to Yabitsu pass for the first time perhaps in 2004 or 2005; it started to rain before we reached the top but nevertheless I noted that this is one of the best cycling roads in the Kanto area.

After this I went there many, many times. There is one point on the road perhaps 3 or 4 km from the start, where the forest opens to the left side and one has a wonderful view of the river (Kiyokawa, I assume) and the gorge meandering towards the higher hills. Every time I ride by this place I think „I should come here with my family some day“, or if I ride with somebody else, I make an acclamation to the same effect. But usually there is no time to stop as the clock is ticking and one wants to achieve a sub 50 minutes time in the togebaka records to the right.
But finally yesterday I could convince my family to go there. I set off early in the morning by train to Hachioji and over Otarumi while my family was travelling by car and we planned to meet on the top of Yabitsu.

Perfect blue skies. Incredibly hot and humid plus a strong headwind, not the best conditions to attack Otarumi, but I did nevertheless. And I needed to stop because of a construction site. No new records, no togebaka entries.

It is really difficult for me to ride during these weather conditions, all energy gets gradually sucked out from the body and I was moving really slow. Subsequently I arrived late at Yabitsu where my family was waiting already. It took them less than 90 minutes to travel by car from Yokohama to there.

I assembled the bike of my son (He needs a new one as this one is now to small and I am thinking about this or this or this) and then the both of us started riding down the slopes in direction Miyagase lake while wife and daughter went ahead by car. I taught my son the basics of rolling downhill and maneuvering curves although I think that David would have been a much better teacher.

Much emphasize was placed on a) looking into the mirrors b) shouting „car“ or „car back“ and c) crossing all red lights between Yabitsu and Kiyokawa.
We then arrived at one of the camp sites at the river and jumped into the water. Wonderful, the water was cold, clear and of turquoise color and partly it was so deep that we could jump from the rocks and swim. A most wonderful place as expected and not crowded at all as Japanese summer school holidays have not started yet.
My children then suddenly developed at interest to add further creatures to our assorted portfolio of pets at home (turtles, gold fish, spiders and cockroaches) and started to look for polliwogs.

I told my wife the story of the famous German Enka siren „Lorelei“ and she kindly tried to enact the story on a rock high above the river.And then we rode to Miyagase lake and had lunch/dinner at one of the two approved soba joints (登山) until our kids forced me to buy them french fries, crepes and soft cream at one of the not-approved supply dumps.

I then wanted to conquer Yabitsu one more time while the family was heading back to Yokohama for figure skating training. But I had a flat tire after riding for 10 minutes and honestly speaking I was not too unhappy about. My family picked me up and together we drove back.
A most enjoyable day, combining the pleasures of cycling and family life.

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Positivo Espresso Gloves

The supplier of our team outfit, F2P, has kindly agreed to supply as with some extra Positivo Espresso customized gloves. Because we are a good customer from Japan (… and only one of three besides Team Comrade [which sounds to me like a bicycle team led by Josef Stalin] and our friends from NFCC]. Because we had some hiccups for the order of our 2009 jerseys and bib shorts. If you like I can forward you my mailbox of app. 347 mails regarding this subject.

Anyway, I have no idea how the gloves will look like and how the quality will be, but I assume that they a) can be worn in the summer and b) are designed for cycling purposes as opposed to gardening, fishing or rectal cancer prevention.

After distributing them to the team members who have ordered jerseys we might have a limited number of gloves available for free distribution.

If you would like to have a pair, please let me know your preferred size (European sizing, XS to XXL) and your mailing address.

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Tour de France – a Japanese Viewpoint

Everybody seems to agree that although one doesn’t know yet which rider will win the Tour de France, he will be from the Astana team. On the other side of the spectrum, there is an article on Spiegel Online (in German only) about the two Japanese riders (Beppu, Arashino) who attend the TdF this year.

Interesting that this is only the forth TdF with Japanese participation after 1926, 1927 (Kawamuro Kisso) and 1996 (Imanaka Daisuke). This could also be the first tour in which a Japanese rider arrives in Paris. Kawamuro retired on the first day in both years. Imanaka is now the boss of Intermax and thereby also the new importer of Lighweight.

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