Monatsarchiv: August 2009

Tokyo Cycle Messenger World Championship

It is raining and Tokyo is just grey and ugly. My mind wandered and I just registered for this one. Anybody else interested?

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Valley of the Beautiful Women

… a few weeks ago, Michael and I took the forest road (rindo) that goes North from Rte 20 just after finishing the descent from Otarumi, west of Takao toward Sagamiko, and I wanted to post a few photos — see below. This was a weekday very early morning ride during O-bon. A jet-lagged Jerome came along as far as Otarumi.

The road leaves Rte 20 and goes under the Chuo Expressway and up a valley, past bi-jyo-tani onsen (the „valley of the beautiful women“ hot spring resort), and climbs up to around 600 meters elevation. Unfortunately, we did not see any beautiful women — no women at all in fact once we got into the valley.

There are lots of hiking trails through the area.

The road is passable by road bicycle, but there are stretches where it is getting overgrown, with no traffic, cars blocked by gates at either end.
Michael’s Kanji reading skills failed him, as he was completely stumped by the sign at one end of the closed road:

Michael and I headed back over Ura-Wada. I stopped for a conference call from a 7-11 on Jimba Kaido and hopped the train from Hachioji to my office for a late-morning arrival.

TOM: It is a nice alternative climbing route, moreover it is so „close to town“…some more related reading here. Thanks Hiroshi for introducing this one!

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Nokogiri-san and Kazahari-rindo Up-Conquered

Jerome and I met Ludwig just past Komae and rode together to Ome where Michael joined us, having come by train. After the P.E. obligatory breads/pastries at Aurore we headed upriver and then over Nokogiri-san (*not to be confused with the other Nokogiri-san in Chiba) from the North side. As Ludwig and Michael had heard, the landslide that blocked the road (and the Ludwig had carried his bike over) earlier this year has now been cleaned up and the narrow forest road was in better condition than the last time I tried it a few years back (though still not great — Nokogiri-san never will be). Traffic on the ascent — exactly one motorcycle climbing past us.

Jerome arrives at the summit–suffering up the first hill as usual, but somewhat the worse for wear after a week with his boss in town and not enough sleep Friday night):

On the way down, we stopped to soak in a cool pool:

Then it was up the N. Fork of the Akigawa and onto the Kazahari Rindo. The road was blocked on the lower slope by a paving operation, but we could carry our bikes a few meters and continue up — again with no traffic beond that point.

We did find an ambulance just before the start of the TCC-approved timed portion, a convenient place for Michael to collapse:

Ludwig and Michael climbed ahead, but Jerome and I also made it up to Kazahari pass, suffering in the heat on the lower slopes and on the many 15%+ stretches up to the Kinoko Sen-ta (the „mushroom center“). Ludwig made it in 27 minutes, a personal best. Michael followed, and Jerome and I were 15 (16?) minutes back. But at least I made my goal — up both Nokogiri and this slope without a foot down. After replacing Jerome’s rear tube, which flatted at the top, we quickly moved on to Tomin no Mori for some sustenance.

Food first:

Conversation later (including more details of Ludwig’s successful effort to „talk his way through“ the no-bicycle tunnel from Chichibu to Enzan):

After a descent down the Akigawa, we parted ways at the turn off for Kobu. Michael and Ludwig wanted to go via Kobu Tunnel (then Ludwig via Wada and Michael … not sure, maybe by train from Uenohara?).

In any event, Jerome and I went straight down the valley and home from Itsukaichi. Ludwig and Michael will need to tell us what happened on the Kobu/Uenohara route. The humidity along the river was oppressive, but less headwind than normal for the afternoon trip home, and we averaged just under 33 kph over the 80 kilometers from Tomin no Mori to Futakotamagawa, wrapping up a classic Positivo Espresso ride of 175 km and 2000 meters of climbing.

Route Map:

<a href=“″>2009-08-29 Futako Ome Okutama Nokogirisan Kazahari Rindo Akigawa</a><br/><a href=““>Find more Bike Rides in Tokyo, Japan</a>

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Saturday ride 6:15AM departure

Jerome’s family is away this weekend + my family back into school year weekend routines + hot weather with rain forecast for Saturday evening/Sunday morning =

A long ride starting early on Saturday.

We leave my house in Kaminoge at 6:15AM (Futakotamagawa 6:20AM), and could liaise with others upriver.

We want to go out at a reasonable (not too fast) pace, keep stops to a minimum, and get over some higher climbs — hopefully Otoge, Kamihikawa, Yanagisawa or something similar. I’ll do some map study tonight.

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Cycle Square Kitasando

Today I visited the Cycle Square Kitasando as part of my ongoing research about this and that in Tokyo. To cut a long story short, this is basically a cafe/restaurant around a cycling theme with some extras. If you go there as a (serious road) cyclist, you might be a little bit disappointed as this is not so different from thousands of other places within Tokyo and the bikes on the wall look somewhat forcefully placed. But nevertheless I found it a nice, sunny and spacey place and I hang around forever with my netbook and wrote the previous post. It wasn’t crowded at all, the tables were big and the food and drinks were OK, although on the expensive side.

The highlight hang on the wall of the toilet.
Only open until January next year.

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Tour of the Dam(ned)

Since a few weeks Laurent and me wanted to ride out together and although the original plan was to ride to Horst’s EX BAR in Roppongi. After having a substantial misunderstanding at my barber (I meant centimeters not milimeters, damned!) and not being able to go out in public without a helmet any longer, we finally settled on a more demanding trip in Chichibu.

I am not an early riser, but as the trains from Yokohama to Hachioji are very crowded in the morning hours I left the house at 6 AM to meet Laurent at 8 in front of the Ome station. I was very tired and not fully awake when I dressed up in full ETXEONDO gladiator cycling dressing which so favourably emphasize my body contour in hues of bronze. And when I was sitting in the train I wondered what happened to the ETXEONDO logo on the shorts, where has it gone? Then and finally I found out to my absolute dismay, that I had dressed in inside-out bib shorts and was running around like a complete idiot.

A short visit to the McD at Ome station could rectify the problem before Laurent saw me who came appropriately clad in new Positivo Espresso wear.
Immediately we were riding out in direction Chichibu. The weather was „ma ma“, to state it positively. It had rained on the train ride to Ome ()luckily not inside the train I mean) and the streets were still damp. It seems only a matter of time when it would be raining again and we were not confident at all that we could make a long ride.

On the way on route Ken 53 we took a left turn in direction Naguri dam, where I have heard that there is a road leading over Arima Toge to road 140 close to Chichibu city. This is a beautiful rockfill dam and should be the first of three spectacular wonders of civil hydraulic engineering we were going to see on this day. We stayed on the North side of the lake until we came to a Y fork and decided to take a right turn and stay at the river.

We always take right turns if we don’t know what to do, where we are and where to go.

This was the beginning of a long, long climb on a wet and slippery road which used to be in not too good of conditions. With the road being wet after the rain and many metal drain cover it proved to be a special challenge to ride up while chatting erratically about general life in Japan.

And going up into the clouds when we passed the 1.000 m elevation, the mist became even foggier and I was really worried about rain going to start any minute. It also became cold, the day has started with a miserable 25 degrees Celsius temperature when I left the house – hey, I thought we have August in Japan! And out there the temperature dropped to 16 degrees, like the average summer day in Germany, but we had less rain luckily.

And then suddenly before we reached the top, Laurent crossed a drain precisely at the location where the two drain covers should have met but didn’t; his front wheel fell into the hole and he had a flat (tubular) tire glued to his Lightweight wheel. From all the locations we could possibly have problems, this was the one where help was the far most away. But together we managed to remove the tire and glue a new one on, which all went rather quickly. After we had said our prayers and buried the tire on the slopes, we went on and reached rather quickly the top.
At first the view from the top was somehow obscured by the mist, but then suddenly, like a miracle, the clouds opened and we had a fantastic view on the Japanese mountain called „Shiroyama“ which by chance resembles so much a French moutain of the same name.
This miracle was followed by the miracle of a fast decent in which Laurent was almost killed when sudenly a huge truck came up the road around a corner. This and the car behind where the only one we met riding down and it is still a mystery to us what the truck was doing there.

Laurent has properly trained for the ride by scaling Odarumi the day before, so he was in the best of all possible shapes when we reached the second dam of the tour, the Urayama dam.

And so we decided to continue on road 140 in direction Chichibu lake. The road was nice and curvy, leading as gently upwards, the sun was coming out occasionally and we rode at a good pace to the lake, finally stopping at the tunnel before the dam.

This is very special tunnel. It is not as scary as Sasago tunnel or the one on Otoge, and by far not as dangerous and long as the new Sasago tunnel, but it is very small in diameter so that a traffic light in front controls the one-way traffic flow; plus it has a Y fork inside where one can take a turn to the left to come out just on top of the main arc dam.And from there onwards we started to climb up to the Mitsumine shrine. This again is a long but very steady climb on a big road with almost no traffic. Laurent and me could ride next to each other and chat about this and that and before we noticed we had done again more than 600 meters of climbing up.

This was my second time up there, the first time was with Ludwig in autumn, in miserable cold climate and running out of daylight. So I showed Laurent around and we went to the platform to have a better look at the mountains of Chichibu.

There was already one guy there with his girlfriend and I asked him to take a photo of us. I told him that he just needed to push the bottom, but he was not satisfied with taking a simple photo. He varied the positions constantly, was complaining about the natural light and did this and that with the result that he took three beautiful works of art of Laurent and me which I can not possibly withhold from the public.Stunning beauty indeed. Another family of four came up the platform and he was in his artistic mood he asked them if he could take their picture as well. I guess in their case you will see four shadows instead of two, otherwise everything identical.

After that both of us where of the opinion that we did our fair share of work for the day and we went on a fast downhill to the dam and then further on to Chichibu city.

We had just missed the express train to Ikebukuro, so we hurried up and packed so that just in time we could also miss the local train to Hanno. Checking the train schedules, we decided to part, I took the train over Hanno to Hachioji, while Laurent went to Ikebukuro and we were all home after dark.


There is a nice road over Arima Toge which is rideable.
There are many dams in Chichibu.
Miracles happen.

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Surviving Shuzenji!

Michael was very kind enough to help me get sorted for the race on Sunday, getting me signed up, kitted up and picking me and Tsukino up on the Saturday for the race…. It all felt very nice to have a manager and driver and it must be how pro riders feel.

The van was an old beat up Toyota, but with a Lockheed Supersonic jet engine powering the thing we flew down the express way and too our horror through the mountain roads to CSC Shuzenji. As you can see from the speed blur and the look of horror on my face and Tsukino in shock we were traveling at about Mach 3 in an attempt to get to CSC Shuzenji before they closed.

To Michael’s credit we arrived before closing time and all in one piece and Michael was able to intimidate the staff in to letting us do a practice lap.

On the way to the hotel we discussed how drop bar style steering wheels and disc wheels could have shaved seconds off our time to the race venue the following morning. The hotel was a great place and I kicked myself for not bringing the rollers so we could do our own TT events in the room, we could easily fitted 10 riders in there!

The next morning with the Van kitted out with aero bars, disc wheels and an orange go faster strips we rocketed to the event with plenty of time to get the bikes ready and do some warm laps.
With the duty of official cameraman, phone watcher and baby sitter waited for the races to begin, along with the rising tension and apprehension of my race to come, slowly becoming worse as crash victims and DNF riders coming into the staging area.

I was starting to get worried!

Ludwig had kindly agreed to look after Tsukino while I was racing and kindly gave her his professional wisdom which she used to great extent and proceeded to fall of her bike…. But this saved her later on as a lesson well learned in her race, when a young lad decided that he wasn’t going to lose a placing to a girl and rammed her, shaken up by the attack she stayed on the bike .

The call for the X-class riders was called and they kindly allowed us to ride through the most technical part of the course that had claimed several riders already and many more through the course of the racing.

Finally we reassembled at the start line with the 3 minute call going out.

There were 58 people in my race and everyone was looking very professional and serious about doing their best in the X-Series and straight as the starting gun fired everyone one set off at a very fast pace up the first mountain climb of the race.

I managed to break away with the lead group of 10 riders as we crested the first climb and into a very fast and dangerous descent with a lot of tight turns. The lead rider was a little way ahead with 2 others, when all of a sudden his front tire exploded sending him crashing off his bike at what must have been 70kmph!

Because he crashed across my line I had to break hard and swerve to avoid crashing and lost valuable places and worst of all speed for the climb up the next mountain. By this time I must have dropped to about 20th place and the next descent down the mountain I was able to catch a couple more riders. It seemed that a lot of them were taking care on the downhill’s to avoid crashing and I knew If I risked everything I could make up some serious time and catch many of the riders that over took me.

Lap 2 was more of the same and there were several more crashes that I didn’t see and although my pace slowed down to just over 28kmph hour I was still catching riders on my Kamikaze runs down the hills.

Lap 3 I picked the pace up again to 30kmph for the lap and really went at the downhill’s hard…. the final climb is the hardest and by this time I had overtaken many riders and was trying to place in the top 10. I managed to catch another rider but he was proving hard to shake off and on the climb I was on his tail once more.

He was not happy and darted from left to right trying to shake me and make his break thus preventing me from taking his position. With 50 meters to go and me still on his tail, he made a critical mistake and darted infront of another rider.


He just touched the front wheel of the rider and although no crash occurred he did have to apologize and for the split second that he turned his head to look at the poor rider who he hit i took my chance. Exploding out of the saddle and rapidly changing gear, accelerating up the remaining part of the hill climb. The hapless rider tried to pursue but realized that I had out smarted him and the few seconds advantage cost him my tail.

Summiting the climb there was one last downhill and I took every chance I could. Tucked down low over the saddle I went wide on the final bend almost in the grass and then twitched the bike tight over into the apex of the bend rocketing into the final climb at over 75kmph.

The finish line is on a hill and after my speed from the downhill subsided I was back to pumping up the final climb to glory. I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t be too happy that I was almost at the line and took a look under my saddle to see if anyone had used the last hill as i did and as I predicted 2 other riders were sprinting hard to close me for the finish line.

So once more i gritted my teeth, got out of the saddle and thought of Cavendish pumping hard I felt like I was stomping down on jelly and my legs were screaming at me that there was no way in hell i was getting anymore out of them. But ignoring the pain I raised my speed back up to 30kmph.

Again peaking under the saddle and behind, I saw the gritted teeth and look of defeat on the two riders that had tried to deny me of my glory and slowly drawing back as know that their attack was futile.

Crossing the line in 11th position I punched the air for my own for the small battles I had won on the course and my own personal victory! Rolling in to the post race area and mechanic zone I realized that I had a manic grin on my face and was looking forward to doing it all over again and soon!

Many thanks to Michael for setting everything up for me and coaching me from entry to driving us home, without him this weekend probably wouldn’t have happened!

Also a big thank you to Ludwig who kindly looked after Tsukino during my race as I know he was eager to get out and adventure around Izu!

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Yabitsu Fabitsu

Glorious 5 hrs of riding of 120km and 900m vertical (UPDATED from 1400m via the Elevation Police) today.
Michael, Graham & I headed over Yabitsu, meeting Tom on his way down, whilst David & Dominic headed back to Tokyo along Route 20 after joining us along Tank Road first thing.
Took some video with my ContourHD camera throughout the ride, although using the bike mount there was far too much vibration. I took a 12min clip from the descent into Hadano and my Mac needed 2 hours to „Analyze for Stabilization“. You can see the results below. We returned via Shinkansen from Odawara which added a useful 20km along the coast to our ride plus was far more time efficient in getting home. Thanks guys, good day.

First ‚Tank Park‘

Second ‚Yabitsu Descent‘

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Seven Eleven and a Twenty Two Eleven

Big racing day at Shuzenji today. James in X class (3 laps), Ludwig in D (5 laps) and me in Z class (2 hour endurance) plus James daughter Tsukino in the kids race and some other riders we know (Greg, Sky Blue and Goro) racing as well. Good and bad news.
James, his daughter and me started Saturday afternoon, we had a big rented van and we sat all in the front row while behind us our bikes were suspended from the ceiling. Some congestion in Mishima led to a late arrival at the CSC Shuzenji but we could somehow convince the shopkeepers to let as do a trial ride on the race track.

After that we retired at the ryokan, the wonderful NANSANSO, with the staircase
just right out of a Miyasaki animation movie and rooms as large as gymnasiums.
And the best thing is that you can stay there for about 6.000 Yen per person outside of the holiday season. We had a Sashimi dinner at a local restaurant which was accompanied by some Origami show from the old ladies serving us there.Next morning the big day. We left for the race track early but arrived just in time to do some warm up laps. I was first to start in the Z class two hour endurance race, followed by Ludwig in the D class 4 minutes later.
Of course the pace was fast at the start and I hardly managed to stay in the field on the first climb (clockwise racing direction) and hang on on the downhill. Then the long climb starts and I was left behind with some other weak riders. The first lap is of course the hardest and I was wondering how I would survive this day. But I had a very good lap time of 10:15 min, probably the best I ever did at Shuzenji.

In the second lap I was in a group of three riders and we rode together for most of the time. Somehow I had found my rhythm now and I from there on I had quite steady lap times between 11 and 12 minutes. I was starting to battle it out with a guy from the Fast Lane club. On the third long climb I was overtaken by Ludwigs D class field. And after 33:40 min I completed the third lap. Much better than last year, where it took me more than 38 min in the D class race, but this was also at the start of the season and the race was hold in the opposite direction which I do not prefer.

So I continue my battle with the Fast Lane guy and after completion of 5 laps I clocked 57:05 min, also faster than my last year result in the D class of 58:38 min. But, to put all this good results in perspective, with the 3 laps time I would have made second last place in this years D class race and with the 5 laps time I would have ended up second last as well in the D class race yesterday, in both cases not making the 10% time cut. There is still a long way to go.
If I want to go this way at all.

After the first five laps the Fast Lane guy gave up the battle with me and I moved ahead of him and being almost alone on the track I started to slow down a little bit. While the first 5 lap average was 11:25 min, the next 5 laps took 12:33 min in average. This is the price one has to pay there.

Also I started to lap some of the other Z class competitors. There is one guy I see quite often at races, long colored hairs, looks like the killer in Silence of the Lambs (not Anthony Hopkins), lapped him as well.

Lapped some of the women rider for the second time.

On the 9th lap I overtook the last rider from the O class field, which meant that I could do another lap as the race was supposed to be stopped when the last O class rider crosses the finish line. Also the Z class field was hot on my heels, and I was afraid to be lapped a second time by them. But they didn’t, so I entered the tenth lap, now completely on my own and then I did the last climb up to the finish line. There was one rider 50 meters in front and I gave everything to catch him before the line – which I did, I was just 0.061 seconds in front of him. Later I found out that I have lapped him already one time.

Overall 22nd place out of 35, not bad for a field full of S and A class riders.
Ludwig had finished by now his D class race and I also made a very good 11th place. As well as James who run in the X class field and made an eleventh place as well in his first race in Japan.
After our races we sat down in the grass and watched some of the other races. Goro san was putting up a good show in the A class, leading the field and then he was suddenly gone. One rider approached me and asked if I am a teammate of him, he has crashed on the downhill and was in the emergency room. I went there and there he was with some flesh wounds here and there but looking quite OK. If compared to the other guy who crashed with him and had bandages all over his body. Nevertheless, Goro San broke his collarbone as I could read later on his blog. Hope he will recover soon.

As usual there were quite some crashes also this year and I saw some riders with graze wounds and torn jerseys and shorts hanging around at the track.
At noon Tsukino made her debut in the kids race and James and me were getting very excited. She started from the bottom of the field but then made her way up. On the last lap she almost crashed with another boy she wanted to overtake and then was a little bit afraid to ride fast, but she could hold her place and finished in seventh position. James was all the very proud father.We packed up our things in drove home in the rented super big racing van, all of us sitting in the front row enjoying snacks (bought at the 7-Eleven if you want to know). A good day at the races.

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Full Reverse Paul J. Half Day Ride — with Great Rest stops

Jerome and I had a very good ride this morning. We did the „Paul Jason ride“ as a counterclockwise loop — up the Tamagawa, then to Itsukaichi and up the Akigawa, with a left turn to the Kobu Tunnel, then through the „golf course hills“ of Uenohara, up the back side of Wada Pass, and home. We were home before 1PM, and even though the heat and humidity was very oppressive for the trip home along the Asagawa and Tamagawa, it was not that bad during the ride out or the climbs. We both felt strong and lucky to be able to get in this ride (145 km+ and plenty of hills) done in a half day.

Jerome did not show for our 6AM start time at my house, and I thought if he overslept, I really should let him rest. After giving him the benefit of the „15 minute rule“, I headed out with my ipod on to fight the monotony of a solo ride up the Tamagawa … and so missed his call to my mobile phone until I checked messages at Sekidobashi. He said he was „one bridge behind me“ so I continued at a relaxed pace until we met at Rte 16. After another phone call to confirm location, I stopped to wait for him. I re-emerged from a conveniently located public rest room just in time to see the orange bullet disappear across the river, turning right at the far end of the bridge — leading to a frantic few minutes to chase him down.

We stopped at the traditional Itsukaichi 7-11 (last convenience store before the Akigawa climb), as usual resting on the pavement in front of the store, and confirmed we would „take it easy“ on the climb to Kobu Tunnel. Of course, it was not to be. At Honjuku crossing, we passed a Japanese rider who had left the 7-11 ahead of us, and he hopped on our tail. I pulled the group through the gradual slopes of the lower climb as fast as I’ve ever done that stretch. The Japanese rider (who we will call Mr. Aerobar Anchor) finally pulled ahead of us slightly on one of the last, steeper stretches before the Kobu turn off. Riding behind him, I saw that his leg muscles were a good clue that he would not be easy to stay with–plus his steady pace and lack of indicia of exertion. Mr. Anchor also turned off for Kobu Tunnel and we started the real climb. I quickly fell back, but Jerome managed to stay with him to the top.

We made it through the golf course hills (the road construction from earlier in the year is done) and took our second rest at the intersection for the Wada climb. Jerome found another comfortable place to rest–on concrete in the road.
We made it up Wada close together (I climbed without a stop, Jerome stopped mid-climb for some water, but caught and passed me again within 50-75 vertical meters of the top.) Then it was down the front of Wada and again we were together with a solo Japanese rider most of the way down the hill, until we finally pulled away about 5 minutes before Akigawa Kaido. We are definitely seeing more fast Japanese riders than a few years ago.

Once we got off the steep slope, we rode as fast (without tail wind–in fact some headwind along the Tamagawa) as I have ever done this 50+km stretch home, with the exception of a third rest stop, in Hachioji, again with a comfortable spot for Jerome to rest, complete with concrete pillow and mattress.

Yes, the astute observer may notice from the blue and green stripe on the glass that this is a Family Mart in Hachioji, rather than a P.E. Approved 7-11. In my defense, I would note that all of the 7-11’s on Jimba Kaido are on the wrong side of the street for a trip heading into town. Also I’ve been stopping at this convenience store since B.P.E. (before Positivo Espresso) and so invoke the grandfather clause exception. Lastly, as you also can see the adjacent store is a tire shop where, in a pinch, we could pick up a steel belted radial in the event of a flat.
The map:
Akigawa Kobu Tunnel Uenohara Wada Tamagawa
Find more Bike Rides in Tokyo, Japan

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