Monatsarchiv: Dezember 2010

Rapha Rendezvous group

Rapha Rendezvous Group “Positivo Espresso“ *CHANGED*

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Economic Emergency

A new economic crisis struck this weekend.  No, not the possible collapse of the Euro, or the prolonged high unemployment and sloppy home mortgage foreclosures in the U.S. — swimming in a vast ocean of debt — but something even worse:  The end of 30 years of seemingly endless growth of the Japanese convenience stores, one of few bright spots (until now) in Japanese retailing.

The CEO of Seven & i Holdings, Toshifumi Suzuki, summoned his counterparts at Family Mart, Lawson and Daily Yamazaki to an emergency meeting for Sunday evening to discuss countermeasures against these developments.

What triggered the sudden sense of crisis?  On Sunday afternoon, Suzuki received reports from the automated monitoring systems of franchisees in western Tokyo of a cyclist who rode about 150 kilometers without a single stop at one of their stores.  No ham and cheese burritos, no crappy sports drinks, not even yogurt products or a Snickers Bar.  Numerous stores recorded the cyclist passing (first picked up by the RFID chip in his train pass, and confirmed by automated camera footage of him passing nearby, on the same route he had taken only 8 weeks earlier (Tamagawa, Akigawa, Tomin-no-Mori and back).  A quick check of the POS databases of the other chains confirmed he had not stopped there either.  How was it possible?  What to do?  Perhaps another new flavor of Kit Kat was needed to lure him into the store (Jalapeno and cheese Kit Kat)?  Or maybe it had been a mistake to double the ham in the ham and cheese burrito — making it sit heavily in the stomach of a cyclist well onto the next climb?

Apparently, the cyclist survived on High5 products, a combination of energy bars, two gels on the last stages of the climb to Tomin no Mori.  He filled one water bottle with a 4:1 carbohydrate/protein mix drink, the other, larger bottle with water.  „Bootleg imports“, as Suzuki referred to the High5 products.  „How can Japan meet its food security goals if people can order this stuff with free shipping from Wiggle and get it at their doorstep the next week?“  And the cyclist was able to refill his water bottles at public faucets, avoiding even the need for a 2 liter water refill from Seven Eleven. He did stop for a bowl of mountain vegetable (sansai) udon at Tomin no Mori, but no economy ever got wealthy off of mountain roots and tubers!

Anyway, it was a beautiful day for a ride, warm for mid-December as I basked in the sun at Tomin no Mori.  I made the round trip as quickly as I have ever done, and improved my former „toge baka“ time by about 2 minutes — 1:08:43, down from 1:10:38 in April 2008, just before Itoigawa Fast Run, and almost 6 minutes faster than when I did this climb on October 17 this year (1:14:36).  This time I used the Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels with tubeless tires — a bit slower on the descent and a bit more work to maintain speed on the flats, especially into headwinds, but also 200 or 300 grams lighter than the HED Jet 6’s, so noticeably more spin-worthy on the climb.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David

Shimano Golden Arrow

There was a time not so long ago, when the rank order was not Dura Ace, Ultegra and 105, followed by names serious cyclists spell with the same intonation as „leg cramps“ or „Daily Yamazaki“. Yes, that was the time of Dura Ace, 600 and Golden Arrow. Golden Arrow was the lowest (serious) road racing group set produced by Shimano between 1983 and 1986. 

Still I believe it is one of the most beautiful designs done by Shimano ever. An arty touch, but not too much, so much nicer than the apparently pure functional parts of today. Although, while writing this I think of these ugly Hollowtec crank sets of Shimano from today.

Of course, if you really love to have pieces of art on your bike, the Shimano Arabesque series is even better. Unfortunately it is politically incorrect to use them these days. If you are more interested in such details, there is no better place to look than Velo Base , but be careful, if you like that stuff the site is highly addictive.

I was looking for some old parts to built up the Peugeot bike under the working title „The Galibier Project„. I have spend thousands of Yen for bike mechanical services, mainly with Nagai-San from Positivo and given the long winters in Bremen I thought I could learn to do this as well. I think this is a habit of people lively in harsh environments and  I am just happy that I don’t have to polish and paint wooden nutcrackers.

For very little money (less than 700 Yen, to be precise) I bought a pair of shifters, a front derailleur and a rear derailleur for the Galibier. The parts were anyway in good shape, but nevertheless I spend some time to de-assemble them, clean each of them thoroughly, greased and oiled them and assembled them back into shape. They still looked used, but for me they are fine enough.

The wonder word in vintage cycling is: „N.O.S“, meaning New, old stock: spare parts that were never used before but produced in the seventies or eighties and kept in stock somewhere when inventory level was not equal cash flow equal financial performanace equal quarterly report for the share holders. I just bought another set of Shimano 600 AX shifters in NOS conditions. Not sure what I will do with them but they were too cheap (550 Yen) and too beautiful to be ignored.

These are racing components from the first aerodynamic-crazed wave, long before Cervelo jumped on the train and compared aerodynamic adavantages against weight advantages. 35 seconds overall on one of the hardest stages of the Tour de France for an average rider. Thank you very, convincing. Already in the eighties components were constructed in such way as to produce minimum drag. My Golden Arrow shifters, for example are located on a clamp above the lower tube instead of left and right on the lover tube for precisely that reason. 

An even better example to eighties aerodynamic design are the Dura Ace AX brake calipers which sell today in the range of 20.000 to 60.000 Yen a pair.

So I will continue for a while to buy stuff here and there and hope that I will be able to learn to fit all pieces of the puzzle together in the garage later.

I also bought a nice piece of tableware from the Edo-period while visiting the Maeda mansion in Komabatodaimae with Juliane some time ago. On the left we see a cyclist engaged in stretching exercises for the forthcoming stage of the Transalp, while his wife to the right is urging him to stay home and play with the kids. Heartwarming. 

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Mob, Peugeot SB

Yomiuri V Dori

The slope from the Tamagawa up to my house offers at best 20-25 meters elevation change, and only one short stretch that requires a low gear … never even bothered to measure it precisely.  The „hospital hill“ at Sakura-ga-oka and Tama Hills, is over 15 kms away and not very steep, as the grade gradually shifts from 2-3% up to 5-6% near the top.  Most of the hills in central Tokyo offer only short stretches, mostly no more than 100-200 meters long, so you barely get going before you stop.
James M. last year mentioned the climb to Yomiuri Land as a good training spot.  I tried it once but somehow it had fallen off my radar screen during my off time last summer.  I’ve stopped by twice in the past month, each time doing the climb 4-5 times as part of a short ride.  From the train station roundabout at the bottom to the top of the main climb is a little over 700 meters distance, and a little over 60 meters of elevation change.  There is a 9-10% grade, with a bit less at the very bottom and top sections.  Little or no traffic.  Other cyclists are there doing the same thing.  There are what seem to be Yomiuri Giants baseball fans hanging out at the back entrance to the ballpark/training facility near the top  … they acknowledge your effort on your 3rd and subsequent climbs.  And a big plus for the Giants fan (not me), the roadside is lined with flags, one marking each Giants victory this past season.  Maybe even better motivation for any Hanshin fans. 
Highly recommended for training.

The hill to Yomiuri Land.  Does not look like much viewed from Tamagawahara-bashi

This view from the bottom of the climb.  It continues around a curve to the right.

Directions:  Cross the Tamagawa from Tokyo at Tamagawahara-bashi (the road to One-Kansen, Tsurugawa Kaido – Rte 19).  Continue across Kawasaki Kaido (Rte 9 – the major crossing just after going under the train tracks within 500 meters of the river), then turn left at the next signal onto Rte 124.  Proceed until you go under the Keio tracks and turn left into the roundabout on the South entrance of Keio Yomiuri Land Station.  In the photo above, you can see the station platform on the left edge of the photo.  Climb and descend.  Climb and descend.  Repeat until you wilt.

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The Y’s Have It

Jerome and I did a „scouting“ ride on Saturday, checking out the road conditions to Yanagisawa Pass as he contemplates his idea of a 2-day year-end ride from Tokyo to Kyoto (to the extent practicable, via an interior route).  Whether this is do-able will depend on the weather conditions, to say the least.
We have gotten in a very nice series of late-year rides, the weather being far more cooperative in Kanto than it has been for our colleagues in the Positivo Espresso European chapters.  Two weeks ago there was Yamanakako (via Yamabushi Pass), then last weekend Yabitsu 2X, and now Yanagisawa.  Oh Yeah!
On December 4 mid-day, as the sun cleared the hilltops and shown down warmly on the Michi-no-Eki (rest stop) at Tabayama-Mura, Jerome’s idea of an interior ride to Kyoto seemed not such a crazy idea.

It might not seem quite as smart when trying to change a flat tire at 10 or 11PM Dec 30 on National Rte 19, somewhere along the Kisogawa in Nagano/Gifu, in sub-freezing temperatures.
In any event, on Saturday I was suffering some after-effects of a Friday evening feast, did not feel at my strongest, so we just went up to Yanagisawa, stopped for Curried Udon, turned around and I hopped the train from Oume, instead of crazier ideas such as a side trip to Kamihikawa, or maybe coming home via Imagawa Pass and a soak in the hot spring in Kosuge that we missed on Halloween morning.  Still, 170+ km and over 2000 meters of climbing for me, and home by 6PM.  Jerome, of course, rode all the way home, putting his day at 230 km or so.
The climb up Route 411 beyond Okutama-ko was … peaceful, with very little traffic, as nice as I have ever seen it.  The view from Yanagisawa toward Mt. Fuji was breathtaking.

Even more so without obstructions:

On the way up the hill, the thermometer at 1400 meters elevation reported 11 degrees C.  On the way back down, after 2PM, the sun had slipped below the edge of the Southern ridge and the valley was entirely in the shade.  The thermometer at 1400 meters showed 4 degrees.
We stopped briefly at Okutama-ko, hoping to catch a ray of sunlight … but were 15 minutes late, the sun slipping across the waters and still lighting the dam and opposite hillside.

As with last weekend, this was a nice, recreational pace.
I’ll embed the Garmin data … but one complaint.  Garmin has switched from Google Maps to an MS/Bing version.  I hope they are saving money and will pass the savings on to the consumer, since it seems to provide a noticeably inferior view on screen.

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Full Gas

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Belleville Rendez-Vous

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Transalp 2011

Done. David and me succesfully registered as team Positivo Espresso 1 for the Transalp 2011 race. A confirmation e-mail from the organizers came in just seven minutes ago. We are still awaiting confirmation for our (second) team Positivo Espresso Europe, consisting of Juliane and David J.

Details about the race can be find here. In brief: 7 stages. 936 km. 20.000 meter elevation difference. More difficult than the Yamanote challenge. Jerome and Juliane in 200?. David and Jerome, Juliane and David in 2009. David and mob, Juliane and David in 2011.

De facto the European home race of the club.

Ups, I should start to train but it is already dark and minus eight degrees outside.

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Eingeordnet unter 2011, David, Juliane, Mob, Transalp

Peugeot Galibier

Steelframe, Reynolds 501 tubing. About 20 years old but still in mint conditions. This will be my winter project and I will try to built up a complete bike with used parts. As temperatures are down to minus nine today that sounds like more fun than riding. And perhaps a more meaningful activity than traveling to London to see Peter Pan.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Bremen, Mob, Peugeot SB