Archiv der Kategorie: Jerome

Crazy Frog – Franzose.

What’s So Funny about Dark, Fog and Rain?

This was a difficult weekend to plan a ride in the Tokyo area.  On Thursday, it looked as if Friday overnight into Saturday early afternoon would be dry, with Typhoon 14 passing off the coast late Saturday into Sunday.  I talked with a colleague about a REALLY early start (5AM?) Saturday to get in a good ride, work permitting.  By Friday, the typhoon’s approach had accelerated, with rain to start Saturday morning and landfall possible in Kanagawa/Chiba — no point trying to beat the rain.

On Saturday morning we got bands of heavy rain and typhoon-like low thick clouds, ahead of the storm, and the predictions were for strong winds and rain — real typhoon conditions — in early evening.  I watched the storm from my office, during a lengthy mid-day conference call.

Many people (my wife included) canceled their evening plans.  But not Jerome.  He had arranged a dinner, with Nishibe-san and me, and Senju-san, their friend and Beeren teammate from Kobe, who recently moved to Tokyo for work-related reasons.  The four of us met at Yotsuya San-chome station and wandered the back alleys of Araki-cho, finally locating Tsuruya Vino, the wine bar run by Jerome’s long-time friend Serge.  Like Nishibe-san, Senju-san does not only ride, but also runs, and swims.  He is a very strong tri-athlete, and is already commuting by bicycle from Ichikawa, Chiba to his workplace in Tokyo (Odaiba).

After a delicious, very reasonably price meal and numerous glasses of French sparkling, white and red wines, talk turned to the possibility of a Sunday ride. The typhoon had passsed — another „near miss“ as Tokyo escaped with only a few umbrellas turned inside out.  Earlier Saturday afternoon, the forecast had suggested a spell of good weather to follow, even sunny on Sunday until the next weather front would arrive Sunday night.  But a quick check of mobile devices during dinner suggested the break in storms would be very brief, with rain possible any time after Noon on Sunday.  Hmmmm.  How would we ever get in a good, dry ride this weekend?

Inspired by the food and wine, Jerome and I thought, „NIGHT RIDE!“  „If we leave at 1AM, we can ride over Matsuhime or Yanagisawa, ride in dry conditions, return by mid/late morning and sleep at home in a warm, comfortable bed, before the rain starts.  We each had taken a liking to the Brevet night-time stages, and had the necessary equipment.  So why not?  We each were well-enough rested to try this, and we would enjoy the ride, without traffic or interruption, and have the pleasure of a hot bath and a deep sleep, total physical exhaustion, to await us at home in the morning.

Jerome rolled up to my house a few minutes before 1AM.  Max, our poodle, demonstrated his worth as a watch dog, barking as if on queue as Jerome approached, while I completed my preparations.

Glows in the dark … making pictures/contrast difficult!

We made good time to Oume, stopping at 2:45AM at a 7-11 a few kilometers west of Oume Station — no point in trying Aurore at this hour.  Jerome tried to rest in front of the convenience store, but I urged him to continue, as I was getting cold while waiting.  There was a chill in the air now, a real change from the shorts/short sleeves weather at our start.  Worse, I realized that I had brought two pairs of arm warmers and no leg warmers.  Fortunately, one pair was big enough fit over my legs and double as „knee warmers“, leaving only an inch or two gap at the bottom of my shorts.

Next stop was Watanabe-san’s cafeteria at the west end of Okutama-ko.  Here we confirmed our plan for an ascent of Matsuhime Pass. Of course, the cafeteria was closed at 4:45AM.  Our only company were some young hot rodders, whose 3-4 cars were parked on the bridge to the road up to Kazahari — it seems the signs warning of highway closing on that road until 9AM after a heavy rain — were accurate.  The gate across the bridge was locked.

That really was a very filling dinner!

„We are here.“

We continued on Rte 139, toward Kosuge-mura and Matsuhime.  The air got colder, and a misty rain started.  I stopped in the light of some vending machines to put on my glove liners to cover my fingers in the cold.  At least 3 dogs in the nearby house started to bark, so I moved on quickly.

As we approached Kosuge, we saw many signs for „Kosuge no Yu“ onsen.  It looked like a day hot spring bath (hi-gaeri onsen), and we thought „what if it opens early, for the locals?“  If it opened at 6 or 7AM, it would be worth killing some time to get a hot bath.  A slight detour up a side hill brought us to the entrance of an impressive facility, in the middle of nowhere.  The only visible signs listed the CLOSING time („last entry into facility, 5:45PM“, „building closes, 7:00PM“).  Nothing about opening time.  We rested on benches under a trellis and grapevines near the entrance — a good cover … unless the rain really picked up, as it did at times.  The survival sheets helped and we actually got 30 minutes or so of partial rest — enough to revitalize me for the climb and plenty of time to take some photos of the scene.

Finally, around 6:20AM, a neighbor came by walking his dog.  We asked him what time the onsen opened.  „10AM.“  We quickly packed up and headed for Matsuhime.

As usual, Jerome climbed a bit ahead of me, but I kept close to him, my body telling me it was morning now.  The mist and rain grew thicker as we climbed.  Jerome pulled off to have a snack at the 1000 meter level — bonking from lack of food.  I kept going and was pleased that the climb seemed easy, easier than I remembered.  I was not sitting in my lowest (34-27) gear, but most of the way had a gear to spare, or 3-4 to spare when out of the saddle, a bit of extra motivation as I looked back to see if Jerome was visible behind me.

As I rounded one corner in the dark, I came across a deer about 30 meters up the road.  Not just any deer, but a big, noble looking buck, with what seemed like huge antlers, longer than my arms, and dark brown, heavy wet coat of fur.  He was more startled than I, and took off, his hooves clattering as he went further around the corner.  By the time I could get up the road and see the next stretch, he was gone, I assume down into the trees on the hillside below.  I thought, I might be the first person — on bicycle or in car — to come up the North side of Matsuhime today.

On top, as I waited for Jerome, I was joined by one car that came up the South side and parked, a man getting out and heading out on a walk or hike.  Otherwise, all was quiet, no view in the clouds, as I waited for Jerome to emerge from the mist.

That pass on the right shoulder of the next mountain is O-Toge.

Here comes the refueled Jerome!

The rain picked up and I started to get really cold as we started down the South side, going very slowly because of the wet, leaf covered surface.  But eventually we made it to the wider, clear road, the tunnels and reservoirs and picked up the pace, getting a chance to show Jerome how my nice new HED wheels can slice through the air, given a straight-away and downward slope.

After a stop along Route 20 to refuel, a nice fast ride back in toward town, zooming on the many flat and slight downward stretches), and a quick breakfast at the „Gust“ at Sagami-ko, just below the Sagami-ko train station (the „Jonathan’s“ has closed since a group of us sought shelter there back in 2008), we parted.  I hopped the train home, ready to rest after 150 kms of night riding (and managed to doze off, if briefly, on each stretch of the train ride: Sagamiko-Takao, Takao-Tachikawa, Tachikawa-Musashi Mizunoguchi, and even Mizunoguchi-Kaminoge).  Jerome continued home by bike as is his tradition — passing Tom and his daughter as they climbed Otarumi on their morning ride in the „mizzling“ rain.

Mission Accomplished.  Really!

I slept very soundly Sunday afternoon, evening and night.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome

Joint PE Father-son / Father-daughter event ?

The thought just occured to me after another beautiful ride with my daughter this morning…how about organizing an all-PE father-kid and/or an all-PE family (with spouse) ride sometime this autumn? David? Laurent? Jerome? anybody else?

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Eingeordnet unter David, Jerome, Tom

Laurent Fignon

Velonews and others reported today about the death of Laurent Fignon at the age of 50.

Laurent Fignon followed by Greg Lemon(d)
My first thoughts when I read he news were: „Oh, he is not that much older than me and he has won the Tour de France twice AND died already.“ I guess this is what happens when one get older and people one know are passing away to the right and to the left. Until, those who are still standing on the right or on the left will say: „Oh, mob has passed away already!“
I never watched cycling races on TV when I was a kid or later as a student, but for some reason unknown, I remember same names from the Seventies and Eighties: Diddi Thurau (noboby could escape the hype that was created in 1977 when he was leading the TdF), Raymond Poulidor, Joop Zotemelk, Freddi Maertens and of course Eddy Merkcx. And Laurent Fignon. Poulidor and Fignon I just loved for the sound of their names.
Moreover, Laurent Fignon wore this big oval glasses which made him look rather like an intellectual than a road racer. One could imagine him in the Sixties on the barricades in Paris leading the student unrest, agitating with a megaphone.

In this sense he was similar to Günther Netzer, the leading blond soccer revolutionary from my home team Borussia Mönchengladbach. Much adored even in these days. In the end nobody started any revolution but even years later one has the feeling, yes, these were the guys who could have managed it.

As Laurent Fignon was riding during a time when sun glasses were not popular and helmets not wore, one can remember his face and hair style well, they cast a well-known shade. Today, riders are almost anonymous when racing. Would you be able to identify say, Pettachi in a police line-up? Nibali? Tyler Farrar? Rudi Project. Oakley. Addidas. Rh+, Giro, Bell, Specialized, Mets and Catlike.

I am not sure when exactly, for sure not the first time when we met, but Jerome’s glasses plus hairstyle reminded me of Laurent Fignon. Not to mention his riding style. So I am happy to see Jerome alive and kicking in Japan: riding on the right, or riding on the left side.

3 Kommentare

Eingeordnet unter 2010, Jerome, Mob

Sci Fi Movie

Sunday offered near perfect temperatures for riding.  As planned, Jerome and I headed out a little after 6:30AM and met Tom at Koremasa-bashi.  Tom, having done another monster ride on Saturday, over 250 km and some big passes, still managed to pull us at about 35 kph along the first stretch.  With Tom („the Cylon“) in front, Jerome second, and me in the back, I could still see reasonably well, but had an almost perfect wind block.

Just before Tamagawahara-bashi we passed a group of 25 or more cyclists in team kit assembling for a morning ride.  We later passed a group of about 12 Catteni Positivo riders in a line on the Tamagawa path.  They have new uniforms, looked younger and fitter than last year’s Catteni group and were moving at a good pace … but were still easy to pass with Tom pulling at 35 kph. The Catteni leader looked like a real racer/climber type.  We also passed a group of Ovest riders from Fuchu, heading at warm-up pace to a rendezvous at the end of the path … with another huge group of riders, waiting around, mostly in Ovest kit.  Tom uses the Ovest shop and swears by it, and we have seen some very fast Ovest riders flying before — putting in top-five times on the Tokyo-Itoigawa ride, at least.

We rode out via Itsukaichi (where we passed another large team in „Hotstaff“ jerseys — I could not have passed them but for a lucky traffic light at a minor intersection where they stopped and I continued), and then Umegaya Pass (aka „Jerome Hill“) and up Yoshino Kaido, parting ways with Tom at the 7-11 at Kori, where Yoshino-Kaido ends and we turn left onto Rte 411 (Ome Kaido) to climb up to Okutama-ko.    We took as second quick rest at the end of Okutama-ko in front of the recommended cafeteria (still too early for a meal).  

These teams — yesterday Catteni, Ovest and Hotstaff, plus the first group we saw, are a big change from the days when the only group of more than 10 cyclists one would ever see was Nalshima.  And while these groups may not be riding as far as we do, they seem to be more serious than in the past.  This is only a good thing, as far as I am concerned.  Drivers will watch out for road cyclists.  And it is almost never these cyclists who do the stupid tricks on the Tamagawa path that risk injury to us.

On the Tamagawa there were flowering sakura (cherry trees).  On Jerome hill there were a wide range of flowering trees, including one in a spectacular purple.  At Okutama-ko (540m elev), there were more sakura and ume (plum trees), and we could see them on many wild hillsides later in the day. We headed up Rte 139 toward Kosuge, cut over to the base of Tsuru Pass and then to the base of Matsuhime.

The 500m elevation main climb up Matsuhime (from 750m to 1250m elev) was not bad, and at least made me feel that I am starting to get back in shape as a result of the past month’s rides.  Then again, I had put on the compact (50/34) crankset, so it was only expected that I was able to spin up the hills better than in previous weeks.  There was only one other cyclist at the top — far away from the morning crowds.

We descended quickly from Matsuhime (1250m elev) to the South, stopping at the park at Fukashiro Dam (650m elev).  We filled our water bottles at a (temporary) stream close to the top of Matsuhime.  A few people had stopped at the Fukashiro dam rest area.  These were the last humans we saw for the next several hours.

And this is where our science fiction movie started.  We crossed under/over the gate and through the tunnel for the long climb up the road to O-Toge (Big Pass -around 1550 meters elevation).  After what seemed like a few hundred meters, there was a loud „bang“, a „hiss“ and it was as if we were transported in time or space.  I thought I saw a blue flash.  Jerome’s sidewall tire had clipped one of many rocks on the road surface, pinching his tube.  He was able to patch the tube quickly and we were back on our way.

The road surface was terrible, as last year, but there were only two spots (above 1100 meters) where there was so much debris as to require a dismount.

Complete solitude greeted us on this climb and the following descent — two hours at least, from 650m to 1550m and down to around 1000 meters, not a single person.  What had happened?

Had we gone forward in time, with one of those devices the Terminators use to come back and kill John Connor … to a day (say, the year 2075) when there are no more Japanese people left, except for old people in nursing homes?

Or was this „I am Legend.“  Had all the people been wiped out by a terrible (unintentional) genetically engineered plague, leaving behind only zombies who would come to get us if we could not make it to safety by dark?

We got our answer soon.  There were some kind of animal droppings at various places along the climb.  Then we saw it — a monkey came down noisily from the brush above and onto the road ahead.  It detected us and took off running down the road away from us, rounded the corner and plunged into the wooded slope below.  This must be Planet of the Apes.

We picked up the pace, in case a group of armed gorillas should be sent out to look for us.  This is a beautiful climb, spectacular vistas, varying grade, and the road gets better once you pass 1250m elevation.  The descent on the South side, with no traffic (closed road still above 1000 meters), and not too cold to enjoy it, was spectacular, memorable — to anyone asking the question, THIS is why we ride.

As we did last week, we hopped the train from Otsuki and were home for dinner.
http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/29756956

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome, Tom

Sunday Ride — Route TBD

Jerome and I will be leaving my house (let’s call it the corner of Komazawa Dori and Kanpachi Dori) at 6:30AM.  We will pick up anyone who wants to join at Tamagawahara-bashi at 7:00AM.

The route thereafter is open to debate and depends somewhat on who joins, on the weather forecast (rain Sunday night … or starting before our return time in the afternoon?) and any individual time limitations.  But make no mistake, it is prime training season and we are hoping for a classic Positivo Espresso ride.

My vote is for Matsuhime (1250 elev) from the North side, then the gated-off Northern approach to O-Toge (1500 meters) and quick drop down to Otsuki … but I could be persuaded to do just about anything other than Yanagisawa Pass, which we just did last weekend.  I could probably be persuaded to do even Yanagisawa again — they’ve got two newly opened sky bridges so the descent to Enzan is even faster than before.

Please show up and get ready to make a persuasive case for your favorite* ride!

*Must be within day-trip distance of Tokyo.

9 Kommentare

Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome

The Wild Sheep Hunt

Yesterday, Tom rode the giant Yanagizawa Loop, consisting of the climbs to Yanagizawa, Kamihikawa, Sasago, Suzugane, Hinazuru und some other minor ones. Today, David, Jerome and me did the same loop. Almost.

Well, at least that was the plan, when the three remaining Positivo Espresso founding members gathered at Tamagawahara-Bashi at 7:30 AM. The (former) Tamagawa bicycle path, now a major walking path for the hanami-crazy, was full of people so we decided after a while to ride the normal road up to Ome.

Which brings me to the discussion about the Tamagawa path and the recently added obstacles (see for example here). Honestly, I don’t care. I don’t even want to put the argument forward that riding along the Tamagawa is boring and not very challenging and that I have been there a hundred times. Yes, all true but not of general interest. The point is, in my opinion, that the sum of total obstacles doesn’t increase too much, if some fixed obstacles are added to the enormous number of moving ones.

There were simply not that many people when I started to ride along the Tamagawa about ten years ago: people, people with dogs and bicycle riders on the path. It was a fast and simple way to get out of metropolitan Tokyo. But by now, this has changed dramatically: too many moving obstacles. Even if the speed bumbs will be removed, that wouldn’t change too much.

So, riding the (normal) road to Ome was comparatively much more pleasant and we were speeding towards our target like a fusillade of human bullets shot from an AK-47. Or perhaps more like a set of RPGs, given the shape of our bodies.

And so we arrived in Ome in 2 hours and 5 minutes – from my home in Yokohama that is. It cannot be done faster (today). And after a short break at Aurore bakery, we continued our fast ride towards Okutama and further up to the Okutama lake, without any longer breaks. This was the first time that I did the stretch between Ome and Yanagizawa in one go and as you can see on the right side this has now become the CHO TOGEBAKA (cho, in the double meaning of 長い and 超える), given the distance and elevation conquered. This is the mother of all Toge Baka (so far).

Now, when we made the turn at Okutama lake, Jerome was shouting from the top in front of me. Actually he told me, that we should wait for David who was further behind. But I didn’t understand that properly, plus I didn’t saw Jerome waiting, so I was assuming that he would be still riding in front of me. Now, as I don’t wanted to be beaten up Yanagizawa, I accelerated and went quickly around the lake, supported by a nice tailwind. No sign of Jerome. „Jesus“, I thought „He must be in really good shape.“ So I tried harder and exhausted myself completely on the climb. No Jerome came into sight. I had this vision that I was so slow, that David would overtake me with double my speed from behind.

So I run up Yanagizawa at full speed; until 200 elevation meters before the pass when I finally was convinced that Jerome must have been behind me. And I had run out of power. The climbing started to become really, really hard after being in the saddle for almost three hours. All the houses up there are deserted and all the curves looked alike and finally, well, there was the final one and I arrived at the restaurant on the pass which was also luckily opened. Jerome wasn’t there.

I had a bowl of Soba, when Jerome arrived about 10 minutes later. We waited for David, who joined us after further 30 minutes, looking pretty wet and exhausted. In the moment he entered the restaurant, Jerome and me got up from our chairs in good, old Positivo Espresso tradition and said „OK then, let’s go!“.

But the truth was, that I was also pretty much done and I wasn’t fully hydrated and recovered after some days of sickness last week.

So I made the following proposal: „We can do now Kamihikawa, Sasago, Susugane and Hinazuru, so about 34.786 meters (BBiT) of climbing plus an estimated 6.732 km (BBiM *) of distance, or we ride down to Ensan (now Koshu, by the way) and jump into an Onsen.“ Surprisingly enough, all of us opted for the Onsen visit, so we mounted our bikes and made the fast run down to Ensan. There it was pretty hot. The sky was blue, the thermometer showed 17 degrees and after all the cold weather before, we suddenly didn’t felt in the mood any longer to linger in hot water.

So we rode the Fruit Line to Route 20, climbed up again and then took a right turn up to the haunted Sasago tunnel. We took it really easy, at least David and me, while Jerome was frolicking around in faster speed-hemispheres.

Shortly before the gate we met a woman who asked us, if there would be an old hotel further up the road. No, only a haunted tunnel with transparent octopuses living in the vaults. Later David said, that we should have taken a photo of the women in order to check if her body and face would show-up on the print, then perhaps she was only an epiphany of a Fox deity.

The old Sasago Tunnel was filled to the ceiling with maximum horror as usual.

Here we can see David and Jerome, still not suspecting anything, while entering the tunnel from the Ensan side. And here we see David and Jerome and me coming out on the other side, after we have experienced pure terror in it’s most terrifying form in the darkness inside.On top of that there was also a strong wind and it was extremely cold inside the tunnel. And the weather on the Otsuki side of the tunnel was about 10 degrees colder than on the Ensan side.

So we made a fast run down to route 20 and almost froze to death. Then we made another superfast run down to Otsuki station on route 20 which was even more fun. And then we had a superfast express train from Otsuki home; all in all it took me less than 2 hours from arriving at Otsuki station to the door of my house.

A very nice trip with 167 km distance and more than 2.500 meter climbing (mapmyride checked). Could have been warmer, though. The last two rides (Chibchibu and this one) were some of the coldest rides ever. I enjoyed reading about the other rides on the weekend by Ludwig, Tom and the large PE group as well. It is good to know that so many activities are going on and there are so many groups to join.

Notes: I wrote this post yerstday after the ride, but didn’t had the time to edit it and include the photos. So, please take this as an addition to David’s post on the same subject.

(*) BBiM : Blind Believers in Me

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Cervelo Soloist, David, Jerome, Mob

Into the Heart of Coldness

„I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky–seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.“ (1)

And so our trip to Chichibu began on that fateful day of March 31st in the year of the Lord 2010 as we assembled along the shores of the river Tamagawa. The air was humid and cold and despite several layers of clothes wrapped around our moribund bodies we froze as if we had entered eternal purgatory.

Considering the conditions of the roads, we made good speed along the Tamagawa until we reached this hotbed of modern decadence, the sixties Saigon of Yamanashi-Ken, the city called Ome on the fringes of metropolitan Tokyo, this last outpost of civilisation before time comes to a final, sudden and grinding stop.

Luckily our friends and loved-ones did not catch us red-handed as we engaged in an orgy of absolute evil at Aurore bakery. Shamelessly we indulged in the indifferent consumption of „Royal Milk Bread“; the only king we are loyal to being the master of pain in the upper calves, waiting for us behind the passes into foreign Chichibuian land. But we needed to fill our stomachs thoroughly, as we would enter civilisation again only after a long journey through the impervious jungles and hills of the land to the North of us.We mounted our trusted gear the next morning and after a while we reached the holy fountain, a place where mysterious powers would emasculate the prejudiced riders.  A group of young riders from a minor educational institution (Waseda Univ., that is) came back from a trip surveying the edge of the known world and greeted us heartily.  Never will they know the horrors of life, until after graduation.

The first test of manliness awaited us at Yamabushi Pass. A German expedition led by Colonel Manfred von Holstein has conquered this hill some time ago and their unbelievable deeds have been engraved in the cornerstone of cycling forever (in plain language: see Togebaka # 12 to the right). Jerome, our svelte French cook, Dominic, the ruthless colonel of the aborigine regiment, David, the American maverick of unequivocal lineage and myself, all (seven) of us charged ahead with full speed:

„Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred:
‚Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns‘ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“ (2)

Even after I had climbed up for what seemed to me an endless amount of time (15 minutes, to be precise), I could still feel the warm breath of Jerome blowing in rapid convulsions against my neck. I gave all I could and conquering the last bends of the road I was finally on my own and arrived at the lofty heights of Yamabushi in respectable time. So did Jerome, Dominic and David as well, as they are brave and respectable fellows indeed.

But in the cold no break could be made: the sweat we produced so plentiful during the climbs became solid slabs of ice on our bodies within no time. There was no choice but to continue to the next hill of Shomaru Toge. A strange place where coffee is served (but no tea) to the travelers who bode no ill. Where water is a priceless commodity, photos celebrate the visit of Prince Takamatsu and Princess Chichibu in 1953, and people hover over bare holes in the grounds to get finally rid of the remains of Royal Milk Bread and other lustful offenses of the past.

Again, down into the valley of the death (route 299) we charged while the cold got almost unbearable. And up again we clambered towards the heights of Karibazaka, a place talked about in whispers on stormy nights when the one-legged and the crazies gather around the fireplace to tell the lore of times long past (in plain language: see Togebaka No. 17 to the right).

A yellowed photo taken on the pass may give the curious reader an impression of the hardness the men endured.Along the ridge we proceeded until we came to the hedonic temple of Takayama Fudo and again made a charge into the valley of the death (Route 299). As the strain of the journey mounted, the men were beginning to show their nerves: „It is the 10th birthday of my daughter today – I must go home!“ cried one of them in an uncontrollable rage, before jumping through the bushes into the wild never to be seen again. Or perhaps he made it indeed, but as the distance to home was long, he surely did not make it before the 11th birthday of his little princess.

What remained of the men, now reduced in strength by illness and desertion to about 3/4 of their former and full force, continued along the road and then made a fateful left turn towards the center of hedonic worship: The temple of Nennogongen, guarded not only by two fierce deities but also by steep slopes with ridiculous gradients.

„Surely the way straight is shorter and will lead back to civilisation. I must go there!“ uttered one brave man when finally faith abandoned him. With all earthly powers spent and not one grain left to keep him away from his foolish deeds, he disappeared in front of our eyes up the road toward doom. Our once glorious platoon had by now lost 50% of its men, and the thin French cook and I readied ourselves for a last, long and dangerous climb up to the temple awaiting in the mist ahead.

After a while the Frenchman showed his nerves as well; aimlessly he was wandering from the right to the left and barely could he keep his gear under control. I did all I could to keep him away from fate, telling him stories about the beloved left behind. How surely wonderful the places must be that we were certain to reach at any minute. Waiting for us behind that last curve. That turned out to be the second last curve. No the third-last. Not even this. And with the last drop of power almost spent, we arrived at the parade ground in front of the temple and rode up the last few hundred meters. Everything that was told about the place is true. The curious reader may wish to find out for himself.Now riding down in small numbers the bends of the unbelievably steep slopes, we headed for the last and ultimate goal of our journey: The temple of Takedera, where according to our secret assignment, Mr. Kurtz was supposed to hide.

What seemed to be quite an enjoyable ride along a stream turned out to be a hellish ascent for the last 500 meters. Who would have thought that this would prove to become the most difficult part of our journey? While we Christians are punished for our earthly deeds after death when we are judged by our lord, the pagans are punished already on the way to their places of worship.

Arriving finally at this wonderful place we were informed that we were too late: Representatives of the colonial powers of Singapore and Australia have already come and taken samples of the place. Surely it was a most beautiful place and the climb up to the Honden provided us with some compensation for the things we have been through. But nothing was left but to return to our world after we have seen:

„The Horror! The Horror!“


So brought to senses by the foolishness of the things we were chasing after in vain, we made the run for home. Just like speeding human bullets, faster than ever before did we rode along the roads that would surely bring us back to civilisation. There, finally a light along the road. No, this time it wasn’t a fee fire but the illumination of this wonderful place called Tamajiman where only too soon more social events will take place.

And there, to our great joy, David greeted us, holding out for the last few days he had even managed not to touch the remaining two slices of pizza lying so temptingly in front of him, and bearing the names „Jerome“ and „Michael“.

Yes, we all made it back into the lap of civilisation, with its warm toilet seats and glass washing basins, and I am here to tell you the story of our adventures. The rest is shortly told: In the darkness we rode back along the shores of the river Tamagawa and all of us arrived between 7 and 8pm that evening at home. Great was the joy there when we could re-unite with our loved ones (unfortunately 2/3 of my loved ones were at the ice skating rink and the remaining 1/3 experienced a sudden and powerful attack of puberty- one may think about reinstating proven, good traditions).

More than 200 km of riding and far more than than 2.000 meters of climbing (excluding barometric tolerances).

PS By the way, in many ways this was also a very classical Positivo Espresso ride. We started very fast, slowed down considerably and were equally fast in the end as in the beginning. The only non-classical element was, that 50% of us stuck with the original riding plan.

(1) from „Heart of Darkness“ by Joseph Conrad, 1902
(2) from „Charge of the Light Brigade“ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1854

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome, Mob

Mid Week Ride Announcement : 31. March (Wed) Chichibu Hills and Sights

For tomorrow, we have scheduled a nice criss-cross ride through some well known areas of Chichibu, including medium climbs and some temples and shrines along the way:

http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/chichibu/234126991531058203

Meeting Points are at 7 AM on the Komazawa Dori / Kanpachi Intersection and at 7.30 AM at Tamagawahara Bridge, Tokyo side (km 0).

From there on we will proceed along the Tamagawa towards Ome and have a second breakfast at Aurore bakery (km 32) where we need to pack enough food supplies for the climbs to come.

We will then follow the road to the holy foundation and start the first hill climb time trial up to Yamabushi Toge (participation optional). This will be followed by the short climb to Shomaru Toge and a fast downhill to road 299. From where we will start the second time trial to Karibazaka (again, optional). Eventually this will lead us to Takayama Temple and back to road 299, where we will turn North again and start to climb up to the famous Nennogon Temple (from the non-steep side).

A quick, pointless ride will lead some of us for the first time to Takedera. After everything hard is done, we will make a second rest stop (km 112) and continue back to the Tamagawa and ultimately home.

About 156 km of riding, covering app. 1.900 meter of elevation starting Tamagawahara Bashi.
So far Jerome, David, Dominic (tbc) and me have signed up. If anybody else is interested, please let us know, we can arrange further meeting points if convenient.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome, Mob

The Great Yanagisawa etc. Attack

James, Jerome an me planned to do a 250 km „weekend tour preparation ride“ on Friday which led us to some surprising places.

As it can be read on the ride announcement post, we were planning to attack Yanagisawa Toge (about 100 km away, over 1.400 m high) followed by Kamihikawa Toge and some other minor peaks. So we met very early in the morning at the Tamagawa and made good progress in direction Ome along the main road. We passed the brand-new Fussa town hall, followed by the Ome town hall under construction. What a waste of money (at least they could spend the money for road repairs). Fussa has a populationof about 60.000.

Until James rear wheel got a flat from a glass shard that penetrated his tyre. Believe it or not, it took the three of us more than 45 minutes to get his bike running again; wasting another tube along the way, ripping apart one of his tyre levers and fiddling around with three bike pumps before we got the thing inflated finally.

So we were late already. And by now it had started to fizzle as well. The general environmental feeling was rather unpleasant, so we had a long breakfast & coffee break at Ome Station shopping at the 7-Eleven, Aurore bakery and McDonalds where we had six cups of coffee for the price of three. James complained to the girl behind the counter that was speaking in a frequency band barely audible by bats, about the quality of the coffee, so we all got one for free.

Later, when we mounted our bikes, the weather has become even worse despite all nice looking weather forecasts. It was miserable. In the best tradition of Positivo Espresso we decided to give up our ambitious plans and ride to Umenoki, hoping that the weather would be better closer to the coast.

It was the first time for James and Jerome to climb up Umenoki and we were all having fun [of different degrees and magnitudes]. James was zooming ahead but suddenly I saw him waiting some meters in front: Because of the recent storms, some trees were lying on the road ahead. But not only that, the trees have fallen in a way that they have ripped off the cables of the nearby power line so we needed to be double careful when crossing all the obstacles to avoid sudden and instant electro-execution.

I made it up to the top in 23:48 min and included that time in a new Togebaka TT (No.21 see right below, James and Jerome might want to add). On the top it was cold (3 deg. Celsius), raining and we met a friendly MTB rider who told us that the weather would be more or less the same down the other side in Itsukaichi.

So we made the only possible and logical decision and headed 4 km to Tsuru Tsuru Onsen, where we bought a towel (110 Yen), stepped into the outside hot water basin and relaxed and talked for almost two hours. We were still hoping that the weather might get better, but it didn’t. Finally we mounted our bikes and rode on. It was hard, because after the Onsen my body was in a mental state of „OK, well done for the day, let’s relax.“

James wife wants to loose some weight to be even more competitive in the next JCRC race so she planned to visit the hairdresser in the afternoon. Which in turn implied that James had to come home early. We parted in front of Itsukaichi Station and Jerome and me continued to climb up to Kobu tunnel. Where the weather was still miserable.

And then we rode down on the other side to road 20 and Uenohara where we stopped to have lunch for another very relaxed hour.

Finally we rode along road 76, taking a turn to include Magino pass (read correctly: Makime pass) in our ride. Makime-toge has a very steep last part with a donut-patterned concrete road but suddenly I felt super-strong again and sprinted up the final approach to the top.

And then we made our way along Doshi-Michi back to Hashimoto where I could convince Jerome that it would make sense to jump on the train home. Most of the riding and climbing was done after the Onsen visit but even by riding until 5 PM, we only managed to go 140 km in almost 12 hours.

In Shin-Yokohama I assembled my (dirty) bike and rode home, passing the skating rink where my wife and daughter have spend the last 5 years almost every day and night. And for the first time I actually met them there outside. So we agreed on a race, who would be home sooner: them with the car, or me on the bike. I won hands down. I even had time to undress and jump into the shower before they came.

Now I guess I should also clean my bike to be in good shape for whatever my bike and me have to endure on Sunday.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Cervelo Soloist, Jerome, Mob

The Human "omes"

From WIRED magazine. Found that sometime ago on a flight, wanted to post it forever.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Jerome, Mob