Monatsarchiv: September 2010

Big Ring

via La Gazzetta Della Bici

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Aka Shingo ya ….

Melbourne police upset by Worlds riders‘ road training habits

By: Cycling NewsPublished: September 26, 15:02, Updated: September 26, 15:24Race:UCI Road World Championships

The cycling elite has gathered in Melbourne for the world championships, and the Australians are aghast at the athletes‘ behaviour. “World cyclists running our red lights” read the headline in the Geelong Advertiser.

Former world champion Paolo Bettini talks to Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) while stopped at lights in Geelong. 

Photo: © Cyclingnews
“Daredevil cyclists running red lights in Geelong and risking life and limb have alarmed organisers of next week’s UCI cycling titles,” the newspaper reported, while the organisers “fear serious injuries to cyclists blatantly running red lights around Geelong.”

Traffic policeman Senior Sergeant Shane Coles said that those who break the law would be booked. „If they are detected they will be booked, it doesn’t matter if they are the world champion, the law is the law and they’ve got to comply with it,“ Sgt. Coles said. „We’re going to have a huge influx of bikes in the next week or so and for all my members on the highway patrol no one is having a day off so we are going to have a massive presence in the area.“

Michael Palmer, the general manager of the organising committee, confirmed that many riders ran the red lights and violated other traffic laws while training.

„Stopping at red lights is something they don’t spend a lot of time bothering about,“ Palmer said.

„We’re working with the teams to make sure they understand they’ve got to abide by the road rules, but there’s plenty of examples … there goes another one.”

Palmer noted that in the time he was talking with the reporter, at least three riders had run the red light. „We’ll be talking with them to make sure they stop doing that.“

via cycling news

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Attention Wealthy Weight-Weenies: 6lb (sub 3kg) bike.

A $45,000, six pound carbon road bike assembled by Fairwheel Bikes

Nope, there’s no “teen” missing from that “six” in the headline. You read “six pound carbon road bike” and that’s exactly what the wizards at Fairwheel Bikes in Tucson assembled about a week ago for the Interbike trade show.

The six-pound bike.
Six pounds barely qualifies as a healthy weight for a newborn baby, let alone a complete, rideable bicycle. And you might well argue that this baby was born a little prematurely. According to a Fairwheel representative, the nearly 100-percent carbon machine was quickly assembled. He mentioned that the build was hasty and they’re planning to revise some of the spec.

To get the scoop, I talked to Rico de Wert, builder of the bike’s aluminum cranks. He said that most of the parts are available from small, boutique manufacturers, but some key pieces are fully custom and might never again be built. But de Wert himself plans to bring his crankset and a new stem he’s working on to market sometime in 2011.

The SPIN Custom frame was built by Marc Siebert. As far as we know, it’s the same one built for Günter Mai and profiled by VeloNews in March 2008. But according to de Wert, it was purchased by “some American,” and now wears a few new parts to further drop its weight. De Wert says the frame itself is completely rideable and has already logged nearly 20,000 miles under its former owner.

To view photos:

Spec highlights include:
Customized AX Lightness brakes (we didn’t nail down if they’re the AX3000 or Orion model)
A 281-gram (with bearings) machined aluminum crankset built by Rico de Wert
Hubs by Dash Cycles of Boulder, Colorado
Custom 24mm carbon rims by AX Lightness laced with Pillar titanium spokes
AeroLite Lite Pedals, custom drilled to shave a little extra weight
NoRa CfK carbon stem, built by Oliver Grest of Germany and his Grest & Hanke GbR company
Schmolke custom TLO road bar by Stefan Schmolke
Carbon downtube shift levers by BTP
Custom one piece Tune Speedneedle saddle integrated with a Schmolke post
A heavily modified SRAM Red rear derailleur

To give you a sense of how insanely light the parts of this bike have to be in order for the machine to make weight, De Wert said the wheels alone weigh just 585 grams. That’s both wheels together.
Sure, it’s totally ridiculous. But it’s the kind of bike porn we all live for, so enjoy.
And even if you have an extra forty-five grand burning a hole in your pocket, don’t hold your breath. We’re sorry to report that it’s not for sale.

Source: Velonews

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Carbon Deep Rim Clinchers?

I’ve been thinking about getting some new wheels this year.  Birthday coming up soon.

–The Fulcrum Racing 1 Tubeless (2 way fit) from beginning of 2009 have had enough issues so that, even though they seem fine now and ride very nicely — light and comfortable … I still don’t trust them much.  (A little loctite on the spokes seems to keep them from loosening and the spoke nipple from falling into the rim, where it is almost impossible to dig out.)

–The Open Pro/Ultegra hub 36/32 spoke training wheels are bombproof, but heavy and not aero.

–Then there are my Reynolds DV cyclocross carbon tubulars — my first tubulars, still serviceable after 4-5 years, not used for „everyday“, and very strong with extra spokes, but the rims are not as deep as true TT wheels, the spokes are not bladed, and tubulars are inconvenient for longer, unsupported events where a flat is very possible.  They did not work out well on Transalp — but that was mostly due to tire issues, I suspect caused by overheating of the rims on the descents.

What is the solution?  Is it time for some deep rim carbon clinchers — James M. almost had me convinced earlier in the year?  Which wheelset?   How many cyclists have asked the very same question?

Today I was thinking about perhaps the Reynolds Strike all-carbon clinchers — my current Reynolds have been, well, more reliable than any other wheel I’ve had, and these 66mm rims are the real thing — deep rim all-carbon clinchers.  They weigh in at just over 1700 grams and are available online from the UK for approximately $1250, or around JPY105,000 (no VAT and free shipping to Japan). 

Or I could be an early adapter go for something more expensive and exotic.  How about the 1085 gram Mad Fiber tubulars (no rider weight limit)??

Or maybe just some Shimano 7850 C50mm clinchers … about the same price as the Reynolds strike, nice Dura hubs.  But I worry about a 50mm rim with 20/16 spokes for me.  Though with a 66mm rim like the Reynolds Strike, and its shorter spokes, 20/16 seems quite reasonable.

Or I could splurge and consider some Lightweights (!) in honor of Juliane (but got to go with the tubulars, even though they do make a clincher now for even more money).

Or there are the new Zipp 404/303 models, with a much wider tire bed, lower pressures, more durability, and in general a much better design for someone large/heavy like me (according to all reports).  If they could support Cervelo Test Team on the cobbles of Paris Roubaix with 100% reliability …

Zipp seems to be following (copying?) some things that HED has done with its C2 rim/wheel bed — a much wider rim design that actually helps the aerodynamics and rolling characteristics of a 23mm tire.  And HED has the „stallion build“ for riders over 190 lbs.  Maybe a HED Jet6 — 60mm rim?   MSRP $1600 … I see one place that is offering 15% off. 

I really like what I read about the Zipp and HED new designs. …  and so must a lot of other people, since I don’t see them available online in many places.   Hmmm.

I’m leaning toward the HEDs, if I can find them and get the „stallion“ build.

Any suggestions?

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Sky After Rain

Tokyo had rain off and on over Thursday and Friday, very heavy at times including early Saturday morning. The skies cleared today and by mid-day it was sunny and nice, not hot, really nice. The morning rain and work kept me off the bike this morning, but I took a spin out to C Speed to visit Hiroshi in the afternoon.

We had a nice talk — he was readying a bicycle for shipment to Hokkaido — one of his blog readers had ordered a Fuji track bike.  Hiroshi said he is getting decent business from blog readers.  (Yes, MOB, Positivo Espresso now has 30,000 views.  Hiroshi’s blog has over 200,000).

A couple stopped by to browse, but the shop was otherwise quiet.  We talked about the need to break through the traditional importer/wholesaler („tonya“) structure in order to provide good imported products at competitive prices.  He showed me a Focus Izalco bike on the Wiggle site for about 360,000 yen, with Mavic Cosmic SLR Carbon wheels and Campy Super Record components, and said in Japan the wheels and Super Record gruppo alone would exceed that price.  He sees lots of products offered online overseas for much less than the price Japanese wholesalers offer to him.  He is thinking about teaming up with a small European brand that does not have a presence in Japan, to import direct — a great idea.  MOB is suggesting that Hiroshi import and fix up old steel frames from Europe — there are plenty of beautiful ones to be had, and they would probably be a hit in Japan as long as you could find the smaller sizes.  And he is thinking about maybe doing something in the nutrition area, though „proper“ imports (as opposed to mail order by individuals) require various testing, labeling and other requirements.

At this point, with the yen stronger than any time in the past decade against the dollar and the euro, a direct import model might work very well. 

I took Rte 246 and some local roads out to Center Minami — an unpleasant experience until I got close to the Kohoku area where the streets widen and the traffic and pedestrians thin.  On the way back, at Hiroshi’s suggestion, I took Nakahara Kaido.  I used to ride this with Jerome and Juliane coming back from Yabitsu in 2005, and was pleased to see that in parts it has been widened and now has a nice shoulder.  The last 5-6 km to Marukobashi is still slow going, with narrow lanes, standing traffic and cyclists and pedestrians.  Today, I was rewarded with a very nice sky, beautifully clear after the rains, as I crossed the Tamagawa and headed for home.  Pick your favorite photo.

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SOS Landscape and 30.000 hits

It has been a while since I blogged about cycling tours I have done around Bremen recently, but I thought that this would be appropriate to do on the occasion that we have reached 30,000 hits on the Positivo Espresso site.

I had planned to visit a congress in Hamburg which I did on Wednesday to find out the city is more advanced than Bremen as Japanese speciality stores are opening there at breath-taking speeds.

Hamburg is about 100 km away from Bremen and can be reached by regional trains within one and a half hour. If everything goes smoothly but I never does if you are travelling with Deutsche Bahn. This time if felt more like taking the train from Lumumba to Maputo as everything stopped somewhere in the absolute nothing and after waiting for an hour the passengers were forced to evacuate and walk along the rails for the next exit.
On the positive side, this gave me the perfect opportunity to escape work and spend the rest of the day on the bike. There were blue skies over Bremen which used to be common in June and July but a rare occurrence in recent weeks. There are red skies over paradise, blue skies over the Southern states and even liquid skies over New York.
But over Bremen the skies are generally grey, patched with dark grey clouds.
So yesterday could have been the last beautiful autumn day in Bremen. Yes, it is autumn already as we are some degrees closer to the North Pole and temperatures have dropped into single digit ranges during the night. Farmers are pulling pumpkins from the fields and displaying them on wheelbarrows in front of their houses and the general atmosphere is one of winter coming closer.

So I jumped on my bike and took off riding through the high-tec park close to the university, stimulated by hundred of academic brains working hard in the buildings lining up the street. A right turn brought me to the restaurant Platzhirsch, where the first climbing challenge of the day awaited me that usually brings my pulse into the 170 – 180 range: A short and brutal climb leading up to the bridge crossing the federal highway. Approximated 10 meter elevation gain. Normally I try to accelerate up to 40 km/hr on the ascent and keep the speed until the highest point so I can cruise down in the same speed range. Yesterday I felt like  Mosquera riding up the Bola del Mundo with Nibali on his heels.

The road then leads along the river Wümme and is a very pleasant ride for about 20 minutes. Not too much traffic, a wide asphalt road and many roller skaters riding along this very curvy and technically sophisticated road. Great. But very short. And 100% flat. And done already a hundred times, so this is like riding along the Tamagawa between Noborito and Sekidobashi. One knows every pothole, every speed bump and every turn already by heart.

So I took the road further on to Lesum and Vegesack, the Northern quarters of the fee and hanseatic city of Bremen. Finally some hills, not too high but at least one goes out of the saddle and the addition of cobblestones is nice as well.

Ritterhude, Osterholz-Scharmbeck, the further to Worpswede. Now I was in the middle of the lower-saxony landscape. Below is a photo taken of the landscape just out of Osterholz-Scharmbeck and then we see one of the landscape shortly before Worpswede.
Did you notice the difference? No? Well there is almost none, so it’s hard to compete against all the beautiful photos of mountains and roads in Gunma and Nagano pasted on this site. Riding on a bike one gets easily bored therefore. Out of boredom comes anger, frustration and despair. So the government has installed a series of „SOS-Landscape“ communication modules at extremely boring spots where one can dismount from the bike, pick up the receiver and start complaining about the dull environment.  Calls are picked up by the SOS landscape call center in Chennai, where a group of German-speaking Indians listen sympathetically to the flood of complains, never complaining themselves even if abused heavily and urging the hapless riders to re-mount and do some more miles…
Which I did. The good thing about riding in this stimulus-lacking, flat landscape is, that one is fast. I can easily do averages of 30 km/hr over distances of up to 100 km/hr whereas I was in the 18 – 25 km/hr range when riding even over smaller bumps in Western Tokyo. Not even riding behind David at the start of a trip along the Tamagawa I was able to go that fast. But here, there is only a wide road, nothing to look at except the speedmeter and so one goes fast. Yesterday I was averaging about 32 km/hr.

Quelkhorn, Fischerhude, Borgfeld, here is where what remains of the German emperors family is living in Germany, so the newspaper said. I was now back in the federal state of Bremen and after a few more turns I was back at the university, shortly before the 100 km mark. Not so much distance but a nice quickie, considering that the whole ride took about three and a half hour and fitted in nicely in the afternoon before attending a congress later in the evening.

Honestly, 100km is nothing to blog and boast about given the standard of the Positivo Espresso team, but this is reality in Bremen now. Today I look out of the window and it is raining again. Perfect weather to commute with my new Gazelle, but not for any longer rides. Rain is also forecasted for the weekend. I guess I need to travel more with Deutsche Bahn to get riding opportunities.

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Why I need a second bike

With Christmas ‚only‘ three months away my children have started drawing up lists to tell Santa Claus what they would like to receive. The lists are now stuck all around the apartment, including at eye level for both positions a gentleman assumes in the lavatory. So I thought perhaps I should send a letter to Santa explaining that I ’need‘ another bike and, as he is likely to be convinced by my reasoning, perhaps he could see to it that it is a Pinarello Dogma frame size 56.

So why do I need a second bike? This weekend the family and I headed up to our place in Tateshina in Nagano Prefecture. I had been there last weekend as well, driving around to map out future rides. Now was the time to try out some of these rides. Once the luggage, bike, wife and dog were in the car there would be no room for the children. Even leaving the wife behind would not have freed up enough space for both children so we had to take 2 cars. No question of leaving Humphrey (the dog) behind as he loves the long walks and swimming up there. So I reason, I need a bike to leave up there so that we do not have to exaggerate the family carbon footprint. By the way, there is something very satisfying about getting off the Chuo Expressway at 12:05am on a Saturday morning and seeing the toll is only Y1,000.

On Saturday, I left the house down a treacherous hill to join the Venus Line at Tateshinako. From here I rode up a few kms and then branched off on a road linking to the Marchen Kaido (Rte 299). The ride was an extremely pleasant 20km climb up to Mugikusa-Toge (2127m).

This is a very nice climb with only light traffic. The gradient varies between 6-8% and then becomes easier nearer the top. All the motorbikes were those of sensible middle-aged men out for a ride, rather than lunatics on hotted-up racing bikes (I would meet these the following day on the Venus Line). At the top I pulled up along side a Harley Davidson whose owner was photographing the sign to signal the top of the pass. He seemed non-plussed by a lycra-clad gaijin (why should he be?) but when I identified his bike as a Fat-Boy he was impressed and decided that despite my attire I was worth a quick chat. He explained that the newer model Harleys are much quieter and thus less interesting to him. When I then explained that I have a 1978 Ducati 900ss he became wildly excited as these bikes are well known for a great sound. We parted as buddies: he made his way back to Nagoya while I did a U-turn home to get home for lunch as promised. For some reason, on the way up the long climb I started to dream of a curry. Great descent but for the last 1-2km climb back up that treacherous hill to the house. As I pulled up to the house I was met by my fan club. Later I had that curry.

The following day (Sunday), I took the soft option and drove the 17km along the Venus Line to Shirakabako and parked. I then rode up Rte 152 and on to Rte 155. Instead of climbing up Rte 67, a steep climb up to the Venus Line, I chose a new route (Rte 142) which took me up „The Other Wada Toge“. This is a beautiful climb. About 550m elevation gain at a steady 6-7% gradient. I stopped counting the curves but a sign near the top was for Curve No. 70 – I think I started around Curb No. 20). Some beautiful views and a nice old open fronted thatched building for what purpose I do not know other than to offer shelter to cyclists and hikers.
This is no witch house!
From here I rejoined the Venus Line, turned left and rode to Kirigamine Highlands and on down to Shirakabako again. Being a holiday weekend the Venus Line was busy up here. Young bikers riding like lunatics and overtaking across yellow lines and various car clubs (a convoy of Mazda Miatas etc) took away some of the pleasure but the views were breathtaking.
When in a car one doesn’t always notice the gradient but in arts where I thought I would be riding along on a flat road I was in fact riding up a 6% slope and into a headwind. Had I had the time I would have turned right instead and gone on to Utsukushigahara Kogen. I drove this road last weekend. There is an 8km Alp d’Huez style series of steep switch-backs which look to be an interesting challenge.
These rides were for discovery purposes. Next time I will ride from the house to in a loop taking in Alp d’Huez v2.0 to Utsukushigahara Kogen and back along the Venus Line. About 110km with 3,000mm of climbing.

As I write this I strikes me that I have 2 motorbikes, neither of which I ride now, but only one road bicycle. Will Santa rectify the situation I wonder.

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Tokyo – Karuizawa

Jerome and I enjoyed a beautiful day and, as planned, made it to Karuizawa (183 km or more distance and 2748 meters of total elevation gain) in time to hop the train home for dinner.

As usual, we started out fast and averaged just under 30 kph to Oume.  After a quick stop (too early for Aurore) we continued on to the Holy Fountain and then over Yamabushi.

Through Chichibu City, some prefer to swing SW on Rte 140, heading out to town as if their goal was Mitsumine Shrine … before cutting over to Rte 299 via Rte 37 … or going way high and way West via Rte 201.   Others prefer turning right and just slogging along Rte 299 through its congestion and following as it dips way down to cross the river and climbs the other bank, typical sprawl until clearing Ogano, when it becomes a very nice road.  Today Jerome and I tried a middle path — going straight, which took us to a big suspension bridge (which had a nice view back to Chichibu) and into the the Chichibu City „Muse“ park. 

The park is on top of a ridge that provided an extra little climb, very pleasant road, and we ordered a quick plate of curry and rested some at the „stained glass“ cafeteria before heading on our way, a fast descent down the back side of the ridge and then joining Rte 299 having skipped the worst of it.

What had been a very fast trip to Chichibu and the park slowed to a long slog, as we both started to show our fatigue.  I showed it more.  Jerome usually pulled way ahead, then waited for me.  The stops and rests grew closer together.

Jerome waited for me, resting, at Shigasaka Pass tunnel entrance.
I rested on the way up, taking a photo looking back along Rte 299 — where we had been.
The mountains of the Gunma border — impressive as always.

I thought Jerome was just being kind, waiting at regular intervals and being a good sport about it, except I realized he actually needed the rest when I caught up to him waiting at the side of the road at a nice stop at Uenomura (gifts, crafts, very nice new building with river and bamboo down the hill in back and a much better place to rest that the typical convenience store, if without much of the food — I think called the Uenomura „fureai-kan“ or something similar). 

He motioned me to the side of the road and told me we needed to stop at the rest area.  I was looking unhealthily pale and covered in sweat much of the day — my muscles okay but my body generally and circulatory system tested by the fatigue.  Here in Uenomura (just at the beginning of the climb to Jukkoku Toge and before the turn off from 299 in Gunma onto Rte 45, toward Shimo Nita („the city that Konnyaku built“) as we rested and recovered yet again, we pondered the time — somehow the hours had passed by on Rte 299 west of Chichibu City, our fast start squandered.  We still had over 50 km left to Karuizawa, and some big hills, first Shio-no-zawa Pass (not Shiozawa Pass — the next road East), then the long climb from Shimo Nita (Elev.  260 meters) to Wabi (和美) Pass (Elev 970 meters) and into Karuizawa, with some very steep short bits (13-14% or more).  We decided we would see how we were doing at Shimo Nita and make a decision then.

An unnecessary conversation as it turns out.  We climbed from the Uenomura rest area (Elev. approx 590) over maybe 5 kilometers up to 740 meters elev, then found the mouth of the tunnel that bypasses Shio-no-zawa pass.  Inside the tunnel, we continued a gradual climb for about 20 seconds, … then the road pointed downward at what seemed like a decent 2-3-4% grade.  We went very fast the next 3 km inside the tunnel, and the descent on a wide, well designed road, just beyond it, at probably our fastest speed with least work all day.  At Shimo Nita we turned for Karuizawa without hesitation.

More mountains of Gunma

The climb to Karuizawa was painful because of some very steep parts, reasonably heavy traffic for a true country back road, and one section where you go under the expressway … soaring what seemed like very far above us, cars zooming by on two bridges that appear from a tunnel on one side of the valley, and disappear into another tunnel.  At one point I needed to rest, and the most comfortable (least uncomfortable) place was the slightly inclined plane of the retaining wall next to the road.

But we made it to the top in one piece, then a victory ride down the hill and into Karuizawa … cut short by a huge traffic jam about 3-4 kilometers south of the station … everyone in Japan (well, every one who drives a late model German car or Japanese copy) was heading back from golf or out for a meal in central Karuizawa, or trying to get to the one underpass where they can go from the South to the North side of the shinkansen tracks.  We slipped through the traffic watching for car doors, but it was surreal — cars just sitting, red tail lights as far as the eye could see.  I hope they enjoyed the weekend!

70 minutes back to Tokyo station, by shinkansen.  Another successful P.E. tour, in the books.

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New Audi Commercial Mostly Shows Mountain Bikes

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