Archiv der Kategorie: Hiroshi

Besitzer des C-Speeds Laden in Yokohama/Kawasaki. Fanatiker.

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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Eingeordnet unter David, Hiroshi, Mob

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

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

Kawasaki Pista Track

Hiroshi kindly invited me over to the Keirin Track Training today in Kawasaki. I was late and the start was rather unusual.

As I left home in a hurry I had no time to take a look at a map and find out the precise location of the Kawasaki Keirin Track called URBAN BANK. I have been there in January and I thought that I would find it easily, but I found myself wandering aimlessly around before I could find a map. Ah, there it was, the characteristic oval on the map, just a couple of corners away …. and there I was at the entrance and between the track and me was only an older guard man. Who refused to let me in. I insisted. I explained that the club of my friends was training inside. I strongly pointed out that I need to go in now. He didn’t budged. I said:

„Look, I have been riding with the club there on my bike already in January!“ „On the horse track?“

Oh. One look at the signpost at the gate and I had to admit that he was right, I didn’t rode to the Keirin track but to the nearby horse racing (keiba) track.

So I was very late for the training.

Hiroshi was already there and in good mood. We rode some laps at low speed, then went up and down the banks until we gathered a group of five riders and started to draft around the track. The speed was picking up and after a while we have lost almost all riders. There was a group of three left and Hiroshi was already pulling his third lap in the front when I had to give up as well.

There were some obvious reasons for this:

a) a strong headwind on the finishing straight
b) my legs were still tired from
1) The Hitachi Naka Four Hour Endurance Race
2) My venture up Dosaka some days ago
3) Playing squash the day before
c) neither Hiroshi nor anyone of his friends provides adequate draft for me while
d) I provide draft for a line of riders which would stretch almost over one lap.

After that we took some more slow laps, I tried some more high banks and fast runs and then we did some other fast laps but I couldn’t outdo Hiroshi today. But I will train hard.

I did maybe 80 km on the track today but my legs are extremely tired afterwards. When I went on the scale at home afterwards I was finally below 90 kg for the first time since …I don’t know….and as a non-smoker perhaps for a first time since 1994 (When I was working in China. There were no cigarettes available except for some very nasty varieties and there was almost no edible food there as well.)

I like the track riding very much. I really have to make an effort to follow Hiroshi and I feel that I am getting stronger by riding hard. This has probably a better effect on my body than some of the longer trips.

Thank you Hiroshi for taking me there. we also spoke about a road which branches off from the (Sagamiko) descent of Otarumi Toge and goes first to a place called Bijotani (Valley of the beautiful women) and then further on to the backside of Wada Toge. Must go there.

So I am now very tempted to apply for the JCRC „Try the bank“ event in Omiya in August. Anybody interested to join me?

Photos courtesy of Hiroshi. I tried to rotate them into correct position but in vain. Please note that my new Positivo Espresso bib shorts are still in the washing machine. I have to speak a serious word with my better half.

UPDATE. I rotated them for you.. Jimmy Shin.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Hiroshi, Mob

Kawasaki Keirin Track

After staying in Shibuya late yesterday night with my son and doing the things young people usually do in Shibuya [to be precise: playing table tennis and eating cheese fries at Outback], I decided that I should not go through all the hassle of riding out to Chichibu or some other mountainous place just to end up in piles of knee-deep snow. Instead I had an invitation from Hiroshi to join him and his clubmates for a training session at the Kawasaki Keirin.

I got ready at home after checking the way to the track and packed the usually things plus, as this was the first time and Japanese customs requires to be polite and bring some presents, I took a handful of Haribo Lakritz Schnecken with me. These are tycpical German sweets which look like rolls of low grade Pakistan made industrial cables and taste alike.It takes only 30 minutes from my house on route 140 to Kawasaki station, I arrived on time. The road is not too bad and there is even a river, Tsurumikawa where one can ride stretches of the ride on a cycling/pedestrian way just as in case of the Tamagawa. I was surprised how big and well developed the area around Kawasaki station is, completely different from my image where I put Kawasaki in the file lettered „insignificant“.

Actually for a very long time I have not been in Kawasaki at all. I mean, yes I have been in Kawasaki but the purpose was not to go to Kawasaki but to pass through, either on the way to Yokohama or to Tokyo. I have exactly three roads through Kawasaki, Dai-Ichi Keihin or Dai-San Keihin, if I am riding a car, the other one Nakahara Kaido if I am on my bike. This is my whole experience of the town which is insignificant indeed.
Apart from that I have been in Kawasaki one time and that was in 1991 or 1992, going to Club Quattro to watch STAR CLUB, a Japanese Punk Band which a friend from Switzerland called Urs (all male Swiss are called Urs, that is similar to Kims and Parks in Korea) recommended to me as the Toten Hosen of Japan. After watching them, I believe there were more the Plastic Bertrands of Japan [Thanks Tom for reminding me of this guy when you wrote your blog recently].

In summary, my image of Kawasaki developed through the years like this:

  • 1977 : „Hey, these are the cool green motorbikes that my hero Yvon du Hamel is riding
  • 1991 : „Star Club is playing there too!
  • 1992 : „The environmental problem between Tokyo and Yokohama [Tokyo Journal]“

followed by a long time of nothing and which has now completely changed again.

Hiroshi waited for my at the parking place. I gave him some Lakritz for welcome, he managed to eat them well. The parking space was packed with cars of the spectators, did they come to watch us? Was I am going to race immediately? Of course not, a lot of people come to the Keirin stadium, owned by the city of Kawasaki, to watch the Keirin races at other places on the big screen and place some bets.

Why would anybody wanted to do that, if one can sit at home, have a glass of beer, a bowl of octopus on sticks in front of you and a nice warm blanket over your feet and one can place his bets over the Internet? Well, I guess the answer is that one also have a wife, kids in the midst of puberty, things to do and and and and at home so it might be better to escape and spend the day in freezing cold on the stands of the Kawasaki Keirin and watch TV. I guess this is called „public viewing“ today, a phenomena almost exclusively experienced by males in their forties and fifties.
Hiroshi was so kind to show me around, so I could take a look at a hall with rollers, where the Keirin pro warm up before the races, including ventilators in front and ashtrays on the bench. I also took a look at the parking place where the pro bikes were standing; I saw a Kalavinka bike, so nicely described in this wonderful book : „The accidental office lady.“ He also explained to me the basic differences compared to road bikes. Not the obvious things, but the finer details, such as there is almost no distance between the lower tube and the front wheel.

We then went inside and met some of the other guys. About 20 or 30 riders were presented from various teams, the atmosphere was relaxed and there was not much club mood. No exercising, no long pep speeches, no long explanation of the rules. Very nice indeed for a change. Juliane and me have some experience with Japanese club riding and we didn’t like the set of rules prevailing there.

We then started to ride on the track. Tracks in Japan are either 333.33 m or 400 m long, this one being the later type. The direction is always counter clockwise, which fits me well as I am much better in left corners than in rights. From the inside to the inside, there is a green marked part and a red marked one which is for warming up and almost flat. This is followed by a small part in green which is enclosed by two white lines. The inner one of these two white lines is precisely 400 meters long. This is the normal racing part where one rides during the race, mostly in a draft line. There is a slight inclination on the curved banks but not too much. Then further up is another yellow line, about halfway of the width of the track.
First we went in a group of seven riders, starting slowly at 20 km/hr but accelerated equally slowly until 40 km/hr. We took turns in the lead after each lap. The pace was fast, but I could follow almost until the end. The last laps were at 46 km/hr and there it became increasingly difficult for me to hang on. It takes some power to concentrate on going at the same speed all the time, not faster, not slower, not to leave any gaps to the rider in front and keeping the same distance. It is not allowed to shift gears or to brake, so everything has to be managed with pedal power.

As I had no fixed gear bike, I could brake while continue to pedal but I rarely did. When I was in danger to overtake somebody, I climbed up on the bank in the curves only a little and that decreased the speed sufficiently.

The level of concentration is similar to riding in a a group during a race. I tried my best to keep pedaling all the time, not to use the brakes or shift the gears.The general feeling is a litle bit like on a home trainer, there is no change in position on the bike which I generally dislike because my butt starts hurting after some time. As long as one goes at the same speed I managed well, but sometimes there was some confusion when we overtook other groups and I started to brake or to shift out of habit.

After 40 minutes or so we made a break and after that we tried it again. This time we moved up to the highest point of the bank. When looking to the right, everything is normal, just riding along a fence. But when I looked down to the left and I saw the inclination and the height I didn’t felt too good. But I got used to that. Hiroshi showed me how to get down from the high line in the curves to the two white lines and accelerate, taking all the momentum. One can easily go up to 50 km/hr.

I then felt strong and stayed with another group making more laps. Then another break. I talked to some of the other guys and everybody was very friendly. I spotted also Ms. Takamatsu, JCRC women champion of 2007 from Maglia Rosa, who I have seen at some JCRC races here at there this year.

Then I did a last try and went as fast as I could, followed by some laps to regain power, so some kind of interval training. Just for the fun of it I did 1.000 meter time trial and with flying start and I could do below 1.30 min which would be more than 40 km/hr average, but there is still a long way to go to achieve a good time with standing start, which should be around 1:15 min a guess.

I must say that everybody was very friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was nice, just the right balance of being taken care of but also left in peace. I personally felt much more powerful when I left the venue and I thought that this would be a good training to gain more stamina and absolute speed, something which comes in handy when thinking of the races I would like to do in 2009: endurance and flat course short races.

I distributed the remaining Lakritz to everybody as a token of gratitude. Not sure if this was appreciated. Then I rode home. which felt strange. I mean it felt good to change position from time to time and to get out of the saddle. But I tried not to brake and not to shift gears and to keep pedaling, I just couldn’t get used fast to my usual style.

My thanks go to Hiroshi who as so kind to introduce me to track racing and to Tom who introduced me to Hiroshi. I would like to do it again in the near future. It is good to know that there are still so many things left in cycling which can be explored. Not only track racing but maybe I need also a mountain bike to do the remaining stretch of route 76 next year.

When I came home I found out that Hiroshi has already updated his blog about todays training. I got a very positive review and the Lakritz I have given him found their way into the glass heart of the family.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Hiroshi, Mob

Track Racing

This is somewhat on a short notice, but I am going to train today with Hiroshi and his Kawasaki Pista Club on the Kawasaki track race which is located here:

If you like to join, please give me a call. We meet at 12.30 hr today. It is OK to race on your normal racing bike, no track bike is required. You just need the usual stuff (helmet, gloves).

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Spirited Away

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An interesting ride last Sunday. Six riders, three different ways back and now blogs on four sites [Jimmy Shinag/ Vlaamsewielrenner / Hiroshi / Positivo]. I wish we would do all the editing on one blog and write one epic story where everybody contributes from his point of view and create a Rashomon or „Lola rennt“ like story. Champion jersey. On the way to the bridge I discovered already that it didn’t make my any faster. And then going up I came to Sekidobashi with the full intention to show off my new 2008 JCRC Road SERISEOtarumi I felt a lot of pressure, as everybody naturally wanted to beat the champion. But I was still fast enough and get stay within a distance of Tom and Hiroshi which was good enough for this state of the season.

A typical Positivo ride, very fast along the Tamagawa and Asakawa. After we split before Sagamiko station, I had a hard time to keep the pace of Tom and Hiroshi on route 20. I went my own pace and I didn’t thought that I would be slow, but they were just faster. Route 20 was surprisingly empty, as it was a Sunday there were also less trucks on the road. And going through Uenohara without an accident always feels like „the first time“.

Now, the road up to Suzugane was beautiful as always. No traffic at all, only forest and sunshine and as last year, a strong wind that moves the fallen leaves on the road. I almost felt like being included in a movie from Hayao Miyazaki: I am moving through the nature and the spirits and ghosts of the forest are moving the leaves by invisible hands to create hidden messages and symbols. I went twice to the Ghibli museum in Mitaka and one can see a short movie at the cinema there. The first time I saw a short movie about a little girl that hikes through the forest, somehow it left a lasting impression on me. My children are afraid of the movies, I can understand why. There is this nativity with whom the characters, mostly children move through their lives and one can almost smell the danger that waits for them. There is always the expectation, that something, bad, terrible will happen. But it never does. Everything works out fine just naturally.

I felt good, Tom was fast and Hiroshi was not up to the usual standard I have heard about.

We took a photo of all three of us with three cameras at the same time on top of Suzugane pass.

Then we took a break at the cycling manju shop; nobody knows exactly why we stop there, but it seems to be some kind of tradition. As we were sitting there, another cyclist joined us and we chatted about riding here and there. I noticed that he had a helmet with „Ravenello„, the name of a strong JCRC team written on it and I asked him if he belongs to that team. So he said yes and I said that these guys are strong and I often see them at races, Then he asked me, if I would go racing often.

What a splendid opportunity! I felt like Mito Komon! I ripped down my winter jacket so that the full glory of the JCRC champion jersey came into display and said: „Of course I am racing often, I am the champion of 2008.“, not mentioning D class or any other circumstances that would devaluate the full glory of this marvelous achievement. Caught red handed in an orgy of evil, the poor guy dropped down to his knees and grovel. After right and order was restored, we continued on our way.

We rode through the beautiful landscape until we came to a crossing with … route 76. I immediately made up my mind and rode further to Doshi Michi, then to Miyagaseko and further on to Hon-Atsugi where I took the train home. There were very strong gusts when I rode down route 64 from Miyagaseko to Hon-atsugi. At one time I was riding past a small bamboo forest on the left side of the road. A strong wind from behind bended the bamboo almost completely down the ground. Gusts are OK from behind, but not from the side when one is riding fast and when there are a lot of leafs on the road and they are blown into your face it hurts quite amazingly.

167 kms and 9 hours total time, but only 7 hours on the bike. When riding in a group of six, we did not make too much breaks, but later on being with Hiroshi and Tom we did. So I decided not to take any breaks when I was on my own and went in one stretch from route 76 to Hon-Atsugi. So this was the shortest day of the year. From now on it will become perhaps colder, but finally days are getting longer. Good.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, Hiroshi, James