Monatsarchiv: November 2010

The Heat Is On

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Leaning against…

Didn’t realize I have been into this „leaning against“ act for so long until Dominic rekindled my fetish…here’s right against the drug lord’s arches. Next time, I will use the cacti as a support.

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"It is an ill plan that cannot be changed" – Latin proverb

In true Positivo style, there was no plan other than to meet to plan at Starbucks at any time on Sunday morning so long as we were ready to roll at 7:30am. Shane, James and I left promptly at 7:43 without a plan but with a plan to plan the route along the way. There had been vague talk of Yamanaka, Saiko, Odawara, Yabitsu. As a precaution we had bike bags which, contrary to plan, were not used. The plan was finally hatched at the bridge near the 7-11 & Y’s Road on the Tamagawa. In the interests of full disclosure, although we had stopped for several minutes while I fiddled with my cadence sensor, the plan was not actually finalised until we rode across the bridge very gently as the plan was coming together slowly. Up Route 20, passed Drug Dealer House (pictured at top), around Tsukui-ko and then turning off by Paddington Bear Land which is also known as Picnic Land, turning right at the house with the huge red chili on the roof and along this beautiful road to Route 20 again right by the road that leads to the backside of Wada.I had never ridden Wada Toge from this ‚easier‘ side. It is certainly longer than the front side, beautiful, but steep nevertheless. The gradient is regularly at 10% and in several parts it kicks up to 12%. Not knowing the finishing elevation (my usual way for gauging climbs for planning my attacks) I asked a kindly elderly couple who had stopped to enjoy the wonderful views how much further to the top. „20 or 30 minutes“ they said. Arrgghhh! That was disappointing news indeed, but thankfully was incorrect, A few minutes later we rounded a corner to see the top and the Witch House. I have never seen the witch so wasn’t sure if the person inside with a broomstick, pointy hat and a wart on her nose was her, but judging by the number of people milling around but not actually sitting on the benches in front I suspect it was.From the top of Wada we made brisk progress to the river to return home. As we were joining the river we saw Tyler and some of his friends ride by. As we turned confidently to the right onto the river we wondered why they were riding in the other direction. Doubt soon crept in to our minds. Was the plan wrong? As I was looking at the sun to get my East-West bearings Shane pointed out that we were riding against the flow of the river and that could not be correct. Good Boy Scouts work that. While Shane and I were playing native American Indians and Boy Scouts, unbeknown to us, James devoured a chocolate bar* which must have had something in it. He put the hammer down and we had to work very hard just to hold his wheel for the next 20 minutes. The man was out of control, reminding me of the story Shane had told a couple of hours earlier about how his dog went flying around after the vet administered a rectal thermometer. It took the dog a week to calm down, but rather less time for James. We made very short work of the Asakawa and were soon at 7-11 on the Tamagawa for the final refueling.It is said that after a long ride one should take the last few kms gently as a warm down. It makes perfect sense. While stopped at a red light (yes) two little girls in the back seat of their parents car were waving and smiling. Why I decided to ride right behind the car at 45km/h while they continued to wave and giggle I have no idea.** And then closer to home, I decided for no good reason other than to hunt down James to sprint up Elvis Hill. That finished me for the day. I arrived home just as my family were returning from a weekend up in the mountains. Humphrey (the dog) was excited but no comparison to Shane’s dog after the encounter with the vet I would think.
After a long drive back from the mountains my wife announced she wasn’t cooking so I went shopping to buy ingredients. On the way back from the supermarket I stopped in the pub for a recovery pint of Guinness. I was after all, Guinless. Guinness has vitamin B and iron and used to given to patients recovering from operations in the UK. I’d rather have a Guinness than a vitamin B12 shot that pro cyclists have after a hard ride. Did you know that a pint of Guinness only contains 200 calories? That is less than orange juice or skimmed milk. In the pub I met a woman who had just had a blazing row with her husband and was having a few drinks to calm down. Back at home, inspired by Tom’s blog of last week, I cooked the ultimate recovery dinner (bangers & mash) while listening to Thelonius Monk.
To help recover from long rides I recently purchased a pair of Skins compression tights (y’know, black with yellow stitching). I wore them last night in bed. I wonder if my wife realised she was sharing a bed with SpiderMan***?

150km and almost 1600m of climbing. I’m still hungry.

*Cadbury’s Boost. Actually consumed at the bottom of Wada waiting for my compatriots to navigate beyond the bus stop. Highly recommended, provided enough oomph to overtake buses, and still get us back to the Tama at a decent clip. As my friends used their Boy Scout skills, I used mine and checked Google Maps on the iPhone.

**Neither did two bemused and thoroughly tired riders left behind. This was all rather odd. Our writer neglects to mention the yumminess of the yummy mummy driving perhaps. There can be no other reason?

***Such a black costume rather than the original red one would indicate that our intrepid writer has been taken over by a Symbiote as seen in Spiderman 3. This may explain the extra accelerative powers witnessed yesterday on Komazawa Dori. You have been warned.

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Saiko – The Obligatory Photos, of Fuji, Fall Foliage and My Cervelo

Ludwig and I attended the JCRC final stage at Saiko, both staying Saturday night at a very nice bungalow I arranged through a colleague, adjacent to his second home, on a hillside above the village of Oishi („Big Rock“) on the less crowded, less developed North shore of Kawaguchi-ko.  Luxury accommodations, with a very tasty from the grill and filling dinner prepared on the charcoal grill, complete with ample wine (including from the local, Kawaguchi-ko, Oishi vineyards.  Motto:  „Oishi da kara Oishii“).
James Machin (racing for Fuji Cyclingtime.com) was there with his family and pro/semi-pro teammates to claim the overall JCRC series championship/S class championship.  James finished in the bunch sprint, sustaining 44.51 kph over the 60 kilometers, but voiced some frustration at the tactics of Team Bridgestone Anchor, which joined by „special appearance“ as an 8-person team, giving them the ability to control the race by working together as the other, mainly individual, entrants could not.  He ends the season as the JCRC overall and S-Class points champion.
Recovering from a cold, without any racing this year or preparation, forced into C class (30 km) due to early overbooking in D and E (20 km) groups, and joining with some much faster, stronger, better teammates, I was nervous about my prospects, to say the least.
We joined together for the early morning team time trial, with Kawaguchi-san, the TT champion of Fuji Cyclingtime.com subtituting for Yair, who could not attend due to injury (see the Tokyo Cycling Club bbs for details — fortunately he is on the way to recovery, though it will take awhile).
In any event, I volunteered to „lead out“ the TT team, and gave it my all for the first 1 or 1.5 kilometers, then pulled off and let James, Kawaguchi-san and Ludwig go ahead.  The cool morning air and brief tough effort had left me gasping for air, but I was happy to accomplish my 2 main goals for the event.  (1) a strong lead out — at times going 45-50 kph (or more) on the straight away and gentle downslope, and (2) not crashing in front of James M. and bringing him down, ruining his hopes for a finish „in the points“ that would assure/improve his position for the various championships.  James, Ludwig and Kawaguchi-san cruised to finish in 6th place — just a warm-up — as I trailed far behind and pulled off, mission already accomplished (sort of) after finishing only one of two laps.
In our main event of the day, the C-Class 30 km heat 2, Ludwig did quite well … 6th in the heat … a podium finish and an average speed of 41.96 kph.  Not bad for someone who swore off all racing a year ago after winning the D Class championship here a year ago.
I did less well, 43rd out of 60, but was happy nonetheless with how things played out.  The pace was blistering on the first lap — often above 45 kph, it seemed.  I rode near the back of the pack, keeping a little distance for safety sake … but lost the peleton at the „usual“ place — the 90 degree turn on a short uphill stretch 2 km from the finish/end of each 10 km lap, where the faster riders spring ahead and the rest of us struggle to accelerate and get over the crest.
Some others had dropped already earlier in the first lap, but I had no idea how many, and I found myself with two riders in my sights, and the main group fast disappearing up the road.  Panic set in and I tried to push back toward the group.  As I passed the two, I hollered „let’s ride together“ in Japanese.  One took the challenge and hopped on my wheel … but he could not pull, or keep up, and I left him behind as I accelerated on the downslope early in the second lap.  The field was already a few hundred meters ahead.  
Next, I saw a rider in the green „Saitama Audax“ 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris jersey riding about 75 meters ahead of me.  At last, a chance to get some benefit from my Brevet experience!  Any one who has ridden a few Brevets in Japan learns that this particular green jersey is something special.  Brevet riders tend to be „slow and steady“.  Not Saitama.  They are FAST and steady.  They haul ass over long distances.  If I could only catch him. …   Somehow I managed to do so, and again issued a challenge to ride together.  At first, he pulled me, but by the time we got to the back stretch of the lake, I had recovered some and we shared the work, somehow maintaining a decent pace, trading off again and again, each taking turns resting in back and then cutting inside on one of the sharp corners to take the front duty. 
We managed to keep this up for the rest of the race, and finished with an average pace of 38.66 kph.  I tried to come around him one last time at the finish … but misjudged the line (it was about 20 meters short of the  overhead banner) and ended half a wheel behind him.  Not too bad for a 30 km effort, 22 km of which was ridden without the Peleton and with its share of headwinds.  No one passed us, we stayed ahead of the D class group that started 2 minutes later than our heat, and we caught a number of the C class riders from the prior heat.  Yamaguchi-san and I thanked each other at the finish.  … So I may be back again next year?  Next time, I’ll train for it — intervals, sprints, etc.  Really, I will.
Now, some photos.  A few new additions from Ludwig.  
The three time trialists, plus me.

At the start.
Glasses on, engines ready.
S Class start!

James and Sebastien, smile for the fans.

Now the photos from my initial post:
At Tachikawa — into the bike bag you go.
Registration Saturday afternoon.
Bike leaning along guardrail at Saiko.
Bike leaning along guard rail at Saiko #2.
Ludwig and the fall foliage at Kawaguchiko:
Bike leaning along hedge, at our accommodations with view of Fuji.

Bikes leaning along rust-colored hedge, at our accommodations.
More bike leaning, with Fuji:
Looking from Oishi village toward the Wakahiko tunnel entrance — a little after-race climb up to the entrance and then a continuing modest upslope inside the tunnel for a little more than 2 km.
One last glimpse of Fuji.

On the Upper Ashigawa (see also the photo at the very top of this blog entry — spectacular vistas here between the ridges):
At the entrance to Shin-Torizaka Tunnel, at the top of the second short climb on the way through to Fuefuki/Kofu:
And down among the fruit trees in Fuefuki, in the „fruit bowl“ of Yamanashi/Kofu area:

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Cervelo Soloist, David

Ajisai

One of the many reasons I bought the apartment in Bremen we are now living in was, is that in the garden Ajisai flowers were blooming when I took a look around the first time. This was at the end of June and I thought, great, just like in Japan Ajisai are blooming with the start of the rainy season. As it was raining hard in Bremen at the end of June. Today I went out into the garden and noticed that the Ajisai were still blooming. Not by coincidence it was also raining again. 

Great, I thought, this is the perfect weather to test my rain gear. It was still pretty warm, 10 to 13 degrees C, but just to be sure I opted for some „goofy“ (Thanks Dominic) underwear from Uniqlo and full rain protection: shoe covers, rain trousers, rain jersey, watertight gloves and, most important, Cervelo racing cap. Despite of my general looks I wanted to be recognized on the road as a true connoisseur of bad weather cycling. And of course I chose the Gazelle over the Cervelo for this type of weather, It is slower but I am now used to that. 


There was almost nobody outside once I had reached Bremen city limits and so nobody could mutter something along the lines of „true connoisseur“, I was only seen by some car drivers and some framers heading out to get the cows back in the stables. But I made good speed and within no time I reached the bridge over the river Wuemme where I leaned my bike against David Hasselhoff, pardon me, my mind was wandering, against the fence to shoot the compulsory trip photo. 


As I said, there was almost nobody outside and it seems that this condition will continue for quite some time. One of the restaurants had a notice board outside, informing the few human beings passing by, that the winter break will last until May 2011. That means 6 months, if I am not mistaken. Where am I? I mean, I was not exactly cruising up the road to Arima Toge in which case I would have understood that a restaurant along the road would 

have a winter break from September to July and closes down the rest of the time due to inaccessibility because of landslides.


Then I fast ride back and right to the office which is so conveniently located between my home and the major cycling grounds. Of course, Sunday, nobody there as well, weekend break since Friday noon which is almost compulsory in Germany. Out of the office on the bike, oh, a flat rear tire, despite Continental GP4000 (black, this time) but this are the dangers riding in the wet. I slipped and slided the 3 to 4 km home riding the bike with the flat rear tire and kept thinking of Paul Simon. „You know the nearer your destination…

The rain gear was perfect. I still head dry and warm feet when I arrived home later after some leisurely hours at the office before I had to engage in some serious children education. It’s not that I ride as much as I did in Japan but i am on the bike almost every day. With the rainwear I feel confident that this will stay so until say May 2011.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Bremen, Gazelle Champion Mondial, Mob

Gimondi Zero Gravity

Here is one idea how it could look like. See more at C Speed in due time. We have bought another Gimondi frame in green to complete the Gimondi frame offer. Hiroshi’s C Speed will become the authority on Gimondi frames in Japan.

We also purchased a beautiful Mondia frame from the late eighties. Mondia is a now defunct Swiss maker, famous for their multiple layers of fading paints. More photos will follow.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Mob

Here’s leaning against….waraji

Sabotaged work today, invested instead my time in a visit to my Saitama sanctuary…six-hundred Rakan Arhats I hadn’t met in a long time….

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Eingeordnet unter Tom

Bike, leaning against a pole

Well, it can be done.
Good luck and have fun in Saiko on the weekend.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Gazelle Champion Mondial, Mob

Don’t Hassle the Hoff!

One for ze Germans..

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Cycles of Life

„..describes the intensity and commitment that a young cyclist must have to be competitive in our sport. It’s an inspiring 5 minutes starring Jacob Junghanns.“

via Cycling Tips

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