Archiv der Kategorie: Stephen

Blogpause. Ende.

Die letzte Woche haben wir in Spanien in der Sierra Nevada verbracht. 

Wir das sind meine alten Freunde aus Positivo Espresso Zeiten in Tokyo, die es mittlerweile in alle Welt verschlagen hat: Juliane und David leben mittlerweile in London, Stephen ist derzeit in Hong Kong, ich lebe in Bremen und einzig und allein David ist noch in Japan verblieben. Wir hatten uns eine kleine Villa hoch in den Bergen gemietet auf fast 1.700m Höhe, dort wo die asphaltierten Straßen bereits aufgehört hatten. Höhentraining sozusagen und Einsamkeit. Eine Woche sind wir (fast) jeden Tag Rad gefahen durch die Berge der Sierra Nevada und selbst kurze Strecken von 40, 50 km hatten meist 1.000 Höhenmeter oder mehr zur Folge.

Abends sassen wir auf der Terasse oder vor dem Pool, tranken Rotwein, rauchten dicke Zigarren und quatschen aus die Seele aus dem Leib da wir uns lange nicht mehr gesehen haben und uns viel zu gut kennen. David  hat bereits auf dem Positivo Blog einen ersten Beitrag darüber geschrieben.

Radtechnischer Höhepunkt war die Tour auf den Pico de Veleta, mit fast 3.400m der zweithöchste Berg in Spanien. Wir starteten inPino Genil, quasi ein Vorort von Granada auf Höhe 750m und fuhren recht langsam die verkehrsarme Straße hoch. Ziemlich langsam, denn auf uns wartete ja ein längerer Anstieg, den niemand von uns kannte. auf 2.500m Höhe gibt es einen Parkplatz und die öffentliche Strasse hört auf. Es folgt eine verfallene, schlecht asphaltierte Straße die einen dann fast bis zum Gipfel bringt und die sukessive immer schlechter wird. Auf Höhe 3.300 muss man dann mehr schieben als man fahren kann. Wir hatten den Gipfel vor Augen, das reichte uns.

Vom Parkplatz oben ab zurück fährt man quasi mit 50, 60 Sachen konstant zurück bis zum Start. Das macht Spaß, ist eine schöne Belohnung für den Anstieg und nach 45 Minuten bereits wieder vorbei. Auch hierzu gibt es bereits einen netten Post von David. Es bleibt also wenig zu schreiben. Die Qualen des Aufstiegs von 1.000m Höhe bis zum Gipfel lassen sich aber gut visualisieren.




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Eingeordnet unter 2013, David, Juliane, Mob, Stephen

Positivo Tourmalet

Während ich hier in Bremen rumhänge und der Sommer langsam auf den Bremer Saisonhöhepunkt zusteuert (Bremen Challenge: 120 km durch die Stadt fahren) sind meine alten Radbuddies in den Pyrenäen unterwegs gewesen und machen mich mit Ihren Fotos neidisch. Na wartet – bald bin ich im Harz oder sogar auf Malle!

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Eingeordnet unter 2012, David, Freunde, Jerome, Juliane, Nishibe, Stephen, Touren

Unexpected Visitor

Arriving in Ischgl today after a long, hot day in the saddle we met old Positivo Espresso Hand Stephen who drove here from Zuerich.
Geschäftsführung der BVL Campus gGmbH: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Josef Decker, Sven Möller, Uwe Peters, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wimmer

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Eingeordnet unter 2011, Rennen, Stephen, Transalp


Can somebody remember a more cycle-intense Positivo Espresso weekend, than the one which has just passed? I must say that I am mighty impresses by the achievements of Sunday.

James is hanging out in Kyushu with the guys from WSA I know only to well. It seems that they are covering kilometer after kilometer will reducing the wildlife in wild dinner courses.

David, Jerome and Ludwig made some pretty impressive rides with many kilometers and elevation meters, supporting Tom to achieve eternal stardom in the Itoigawa race. He came in sixth overall according to his blog, which is very, very, very impressive. I am also happy that he survived the madness in the tunnels between Hakuba and Itoigawa.

Tom [left] taking a sharp turn down from Otarumi.

In the meantime I finished on Sunday morning in forth place of the 2A race in the Tour of Japan Tokyo stage. Well actually not me, but my alter ego Thomas Flindt who raced instead of me and even told the organizers that he is not me. But they didn’t change the name anyway. I am lucky that this race does not promote me to C class ranking.

And in the afternoon I finished even better with the TCC Team of Phil, Alan and Naomi: 10th place overall and 2nd place in the mixed category at the Bike Navi Hitachi Naka 7 hour endurance race. Wow – cool guys. At least I was the investing hand behind the team’s success.

Hm, I should really do more rides on the hometrainer to fulfill future expectations. But it is just too boring. I am totally envious of what you have done, guys.

Thanks also to Ryoko and Stephen who faced a sport challenge of a different kind; attending my marketing lecture at the ICU for hours. You were too kind.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, James, Jerome, Mob, Stephen, tcc, Tom


Woke up in time, had prepared the bike already the night before and was ready to go out and ride based on a grand master plan. But would we be able to stick the plan? I mean, for perhaps the first time ever?

Weather was just fabulous, as David used to say, „world records are achieved under these conditions.“ But weather is one thing. Leaving the house at 6:45 AM another. And then dragging the bike through boring but unfortunately hilly Yokohama before finally arriving at the Tamagawa. I was too early, had splendid time to drink my coffee and waited for James, David, Graham and Jerome to arrive. They brought Jon and Craig with them who needed to do some more training before cruising Kyushu in mid May.

Up the Kan-One. Somehow I was very much in competition mood. I tried to climb up the hills as fast as possible and if there was any rider seen on the road I tried to catch up with him. That was maybe a little bit stupid in view of the long climbs we had in front of us, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Then along the tank road and through Hashimoto for the first break.

The „Tank Road“ from David Litt on Vimeo.

A break gave me ample time to explain the merits of my gravity-zero wheels to Jon and Craig. By chance they are also for sale.

Jon and Craig had to leave us – strict mongen imposed by their better halves were given as reason – but Stephen was on his way to Aihara to add to our team.

So I phoned Stephen, who, to my surprise was on his way in his car, plus 30 minutes late as he had forgotten to take his cycling shoes with him. Plus travelling from Ome to Hashimoto is never a good idea (it is anyway not a good idea to get to Hashimoto in any fashion) plus that Stephen had no idea where he was, where to go and never ridden in the area. But hey, he has an iphone and Google maps which is as much compensation as life can offer.

But anyway, I thought I would never see him.

So the rest of us rode along our favourite Tsukui lake North road (thanks, Hiroshi)

Short descent on N. side of Lake Tsukui from David Litt on Vimeo.

… and then a short stretch along Doshi Michi towards Miyagase Lake where we made the first of many serious stops.

Miyagase Lake rest area from David Litt on Vimeo.

At one of the many soba shops we had a good meal of soba, Jerome had in addition some fish which I would never have eaten while on a bike trip. David had a „Kalbi“ steak-kebob (kushiyaki) — also not mid-ride food. We waited for Stephen but we couldn’t reach him on the phone any longer. I recommended him to pack his car in a car-bag and take the train, as in Japan anything can be taken on trains provided that it is properly bagged. The amount of bags you can buy at Tokyu Hands is just amazing ; Bike bags, car bags, children bags, garden bags and of course Louis Vuiton bag bags.

And off we were to Yabitsu. Ah, Yabitsu one of my favorite climbs which never makes me tired. The wind was good and I was in good moos, so I started to go up fast. Within no time I was alone and started the real climb which leads to places like „hell swamps“. In my head I was humming „highway to hell“ but my body was slowly running out of steam. But what was that: „A rider with a yellow Wachi shirt was forcing his way up just before the final teahouse at the river – Stephen has made it and was attacking Yabitsu obviously to surprise us at the top : „Hey guys, finally here?“. He has left his car in Aihara and has taken the short road to Yabitsu while we took the more beautiful and much longer one and had a long, long soba lunch at Miyagase lake.

The valley to Yabitsu from David Litt on Vimeo.

Middle stretch on Yabitsu climb from David Litt on Vimeo.

So I talked briefly with Stephen and then I accelerated again, my motivation now on the top and the goal only some three kilometers away. There is one stretch after the tea house which is a little bit steeper and harder, but after that it is OK. Although one thinks constantly that the pass is just around the corner, but it is not.

And up I was a final sprint : 51:39 min new record and 10 minutes faster than last year at the same point in season. Cool. I felt like Lance Armstrong winning his eighth tour.

Stephen came in second, followed by James, David, Jerome and Graham. Then again, no one else was racing against a clock (or each other). We didn’t spend too much time on top and only briefly surveyed suicide opportunities. This is a famous love double suicide spot, you know.

The group (Graham, Stephen, David L., James and Michael K.), stopped for the view and a photo just onto the Yabitsu S. side descent:

Our own personal team photographer, Jerome:

Then a fast downhill to Hadano where Graham left us while the rest of us, believe it or not stuck to the original plan and proceeded to Ninomiya and then long route one further to Odawara and Hakone. Now we were on familiar Ekiden turf.

At the 7-Eleven before the start of the real climb in Hakone I tried to stop David, who just went on, and then James, who signed that he would continue to ride. But with Jerome and Stephen I could convince them to take a break.

And then we started the 850 meter Hakone climb. I used to do this once, in the peak of the season and after a ride straight from my home. This was already the third time this year, including two times after Yabitsu. But nevertheless with so many km in the legs it is a hard climb. We lost Stephen already at the start and up to elev. 600 Jerome and me were going roughly at the same pace. Then I was getting faster, maybe because of the food and finally I arrived at the top. Not in a good time, but at least without a stop in one go. I hate to give up in the middle. I hate to stop. I don’t care if I am slow but I want to ride up in one go.

Up on Hakone the weather was still good but very cold. I met David and James at the Hakone 7-Eleven (I knew that they were waiting there – we always rest at 7-Elevens!) and shortly afterward Jerome came as well. Where was Stephen? After a few minutes I gave him a call at he was still at elev. 700, about 20 minutes to go. David was pushing that he needed to catch a train home and it was getting also cold and dark so we told Stephen to return while we went through with the original plan and continued to Hakone Pass and then to route #20.

Oh, beautiful route #20 (not to be confused with Koshu Kaido National Route #20 or Yaen Kaido Tokyo route #20). Many true things have been written about this extremely beautiful road, mainly by myself, rarely by others. But this is really my favorite road in Japan, slightly curved like the unshaven legs of Juliane, with a nice and steady gradient moving down like the underbelly of Jerome. Perfect views to the West deep into (no comparisons any longer, I am not Raymond Chandler), Shizuoka and via Fuji and to the East to Kanagawa-ken.

The bike is running smoothly at 40 km/hr plus and one has to navigate the curved but never ever to brake. David is so fast on this road, it is almost impossible to catch him. James is also fast, but sometimes he is overtaken by crazy mini cars who threaten to take them of the road.

The driving skills of mini car drivers : Mini cars – mini brains.

So with the first 8 km or so one descents on road 20 from elv. 850 to 650, along Jukoku Toge and then to the legendary Atami Toge. Then there is this brutal stretch where it goes down from 650 to basically 0 with 5 or 6 km. The hands are on the brakes constantly and white clouds are ascending from the brake pads. The rims can be seen glowing lightly in the night as they are becoming hotter and hotter. One moves his behind further and further back and finally touches the back wheel to add braking power. Only with this advances method it is possible to navigate this road downwards. Basically it is a free fall.

So we arrived before 5:30 PM at Atami station, bought more than enough beer and took the Shinkansen home. And who happened to join as in Odawara? Stephen who has managed the long way home from the Hakone climb back.

One beer was not enough to do all the trip justice and recount all the wonderful adventures we had. Also this post cannot do it. So I am hoping that James and David will add some photos, data and videos to show the full extent of this glorious trip. [I’ve added some videos and photos — though my skills as a videographer obviously need improvement. David]

I mean there are many things you need in order to fully enjoy a ride out. A good bike, strong legs, perfect weather, a nice road, not too much traffic and good company. Only when „Set“ and „Setting“ are right the result can be perfect [The older of you may remember that this is original a concept by Timothy Leary]. This ride was a close to perfection as it can get.

A little more video..

Wed Apr 28 Ride from Knotty on Vimeo.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, David, James, Jerome, Mob, Stephen

Championship Reflections

Someday in December, when JCRC will send me the champion jersey for 2008 and I will be the official recognized winner of the „2008 Road serise“, I will definitely invite for a party, possibly at the Positivo shop and then close by. Until then, some reflections on the 2008 JCRC racing season:
For sure I had a lot of luck. Also persistence and power, but most of all luck. Out of the 14 JCRC races I have attended this year (counting the actual races, not the events), 10 have been hill climbs or similar elevation intensive races. And I am not a fast hill climber at all. But luckily some of the strongest contenders this year have given up in the midst of the season, or where promoted to C class. Like fourteen year old Nishimura – who continues to beat me at every single race.
And I was also lucky that the JCRC rules were in my favour. 60 points for attendance of a race and arriving at the goal without getting lapped. And in addition a maximum of 30 points depending on the race result. One could virtually secure championship by just attending. At one point I was at risk to be relegated to E class. That happens if one finishes three times in a row with a time 10% slower than the 10th place rider in a race. But miraculously after finishing 10% lower in the races at Gunma and Shuzenji, the next race (hill climb at Shiobara) was exempted from this rule and the race afterwards (again Gunma) as well. Finally I made the cut in Yokkaichi. But the most luck I had with the weather and that I didn’t encountered any crash or mechanical problems. Weather conditions were good at almost all races, except for Hitachi-Naka and somewhat for Yokkaichi. My competitor and later friend Ishii crashed at Hitachi-Naka almost in front of me and I had to ride over the grass in order to get out of the danger zone. At the Tokyo race (not part of the JCRC series) also in the rain, a guy riding next to me on the inner side of a curve slipped and started to slide in my direction. Instead of cornering I rode straight and straight into the guiderails, barely managing to escape the crash as well as the rails. Is Saiko, at the last race, a rider crashed 30 meters in front of me during the finish sprint and again I was lucky that he felt on the left side and I could pass on the right. At the hill climb in Shiobara, I rode over a chestnut which punctured my back wheel tire. Luckily that happened only 200 meters away from the finish, so I was able to walk to the goal.

And I was lucky that I had no injuries, no colds, nothing. If anything, the JCRC series has told me something about the meaning of luck and that a tiny mishap can ruin the hard work of a complete season. This is not a single race where one can have a good result or not and then again try next year. This was my once in a lifetime chance to achieve something extraordinary in the field of sport and if I would make only one small mistake, I would have wasted my chance and never get a new one.

And this is actually the dark flip side of riding for championship series: I was very worried all the time. Worried that I will crash, get a cold, don’t know the JCRC rules or simply do not race very well and that killed a lot of the fun associated with racing. At Saiko I thought that it might be too risky to ride along with the main group, and just cruise behind them at 30 km/hr in order just to finish and not to get lapped. Because this would have been enough to clinch the title. Just because I was worried, I would have given up to enjoy the race and sprint for victory. I did not in the end, but again I was lucky that I did not crash.

It is less fun to race when one has to race, in the rain or in races where one finished in last place, just because one needs to gather the points. This has been what I have learned this year and I have now much more respect for sportsmen and women who achieve their goals over a long season, be it bicycle riders, soccer teams or figure skaters. I will not try to repeat this again, one season of worries have been enough.
From a point of performance I am a miserable champion I guess. How where my results over the season?

  1. Kawagoe : 30th place out of 38 riders in the goal. Got dropped in a flat course race. Early in the season I was in miserable shape.

  2. Shuzenji : 25/25 Last place, of course at Shuzenji. Couldn’t even keep the pace of the pacemaking motorcycle at the start.

  3. Gunma : 37/37 Last place again. Was lucky that I didn’t got lapped and disqualified.

  4. NATS: 15/22 That was OK, however I also got dropped by the main group in this flat course race.

  5. Miyakejima : 8/9 A lot of points for me because there were only 9 riders in D class. The 9th place was Stephen who I forced into this race. So basically last place again. The solo race the next day was cancelled due to a high poisonous gas concentrations.

  6. Hitachi – Naka : 32/53. A little bit unlucky. First I needed to avoid a crash and temporarily lost contact with the main field, than I choose the wrong wheel to hang on (Alain), although that wheel normally finishes strong.

  7. Gunma : 28/28 Last place again. But I was getting stronger; would have been lapped with my earlier Gunma performance.

  8. Shuzenji : 47/48 Second last place. First indication of performance improvement!

  9. Shiobara : 32/33 on the first day hill climb, 36/37 on the second day hill climb. Apart from the result, this was one of the best races this year.

  10. Gunma : Disqualified. Got lapped shortly before the end of the 8th lap, despite being pulled by Tom.

  11. Yokkaichi : 15/20. Could stay with the main field one lap on this hilly course, but not a second one. Was happy not to end in last place.

  12. Saiko : 14/34. Best performance this year.

In summary, out of 13 races, I finished 8 times in last or second last place or got disqualified.I am not sure how others would judge this, but I think this is not a very champion like performance. My best finish was an 8th place in Miyakejima. Counting from the front, because I left only one ride behind me. Counting from the back, I was good in Saiko (20 riders behind me) and Hitachi Naka (21).
On the other hand I felt that I became stronger and stronger through the season, thanks to a lot of racing and long training rides. In Saiko I felt at the peak and I still had much power let at the finish.

I am really happy, relieved and whatever that everything is over. I am so tired as well. So what is in for next year?

If time allows, I would like to attend some of the races which are either fun to do or where I have at least a chance to make the podium:

  • JCRC / ToJ Kawagoe in March, a 15 km point race
  • Tokyo Tomin race in Oi Futo, a 21 km solo race
  • JCRC / ToJ Hitachi Naka in June, a 30 km solo race
  • JCRC / ToJ Saiko in November, a 20 km solo race

Then I would like to so some of the really challenging races in terms or elevation or distance:

  • Fuji Hill Climb – 1.200 meters up with 5.000 riders
  • Itoigawa Fast Run – 290 km, if we are allowed to start.
  • Tour de Okinawa – 200 km solo race

I also enjoyed the endurance races, such as Tsukuba, Motegi, Fuji Speedway, Yokohama and Tokyo. Preferable in a team. And finally I would like to try some track racing. I hope that a lot of PE guys will join me next year as well.Much of the fun this season and much of the next season as well depends on the good composition and mutual support within the Positivo Espresso team. I am very proud that we have built up a team with very few constraints and rules on the one hand, but a lot of support from and to all riders. I always hated clubs, because one has to go drinking with club mates after the training and there is always this „Are you a member?“ feeling which distinguish the good riders (team members) from the rest (not team members). There is so much time spend on club-activities and less time on the real purpose, the sport itself.

But Positivo Espresso is different, we have of course some hard core riders, some hard core bloggers and maybe some hard core drinkers, but in general we are open and inviting to new team members and try to integrate them. Sometimes I feel that this and that could improve and some things disappoint me, but all in all this is probably the best set-up I have ever been in. We recognize that all our members have their weak points: Juliane? Always late, or not there at all. David: Starts at 210% of his performance level when riding out, finishes at 21%. Tom? Demands too much from us non-hill climbers. Me? always too competitive, cannot loose. Jerome? Sleeps too long. And so on. But again, as a group compared with other groups we are doing very well.
This year was hard in particular, because many good riders left us. david went back to England; Marek moved on, first to Southeast Asia, later to Australia. Juliane will leave in December. Alain from NFCC who was a fabulous sportsman moved back to France. James and Ian from the Irish rovers went to Hong Kong and Singapore respectively. To loose such good riders and friends was hard. On the other hand, some new guys were joining us as well. James did a good job to encourage his friends to make even smaller trips out with us together, so did David. Laurent and Stephen joined us again. Jacques was another funny addition. Ludwig succumbed to the bike bug within record time. And Tom’s daughter should be ready every day after conquering Wada.

So, in a way I guess we are all champions on our own and Positivo Espresso is therefore the team of the champs. I hope that I could make myself somehow understandable without being too melodramatic. I also do not want to write funny posts all the time.

Team Time Trial Performance at Saiko

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, 2009, David, James, Jerome, Juliane, Mob, Stephen, Tom

sayonarA daviD, Zaijian Marek

On Friday last week the Positivo Espresso gather under the arks of the Yurakucho Yamanote Line. Older members might remember the place as the location of the black market after the war, where we tried to trade HED 4 wheels against bags of onigiris and vice versa.

We gather there because we wanted to say Sayonara, Goodbye, Zaijian undZisch ab Du Arsch“ to some of the venerable and esteemed riders of our renowned club who will leave us in short time to head for foreign shores. david, who is heading the black market division of one of the financial giants of yesterdays, is heading to London, whereas Marek decided to continue to travel in Asia which, if we understood that correctly, boils down to visiting his new girlfriend in Shenzhen.

I think it is not appropriate here to list up all the achievements and memorable moments both riders presented to the club, I am sure that the whole storage capacity of Google would not be sufficient to capture only a fraction of their marvelous deeds. OK, let me start anyway:

David did many impressive things and I am not getting tired to tell everybody who likes to hear it or not, how he crossed THE ONLY RED LIGHT in the whole district of Okutama in front of the assembled police force and their voluntary helpers during the high season of traffic safety week. I still believe it requires a very rare combination of courage and fine character to engage on such splendid adventures. Obviously it does also require a complete lack of understanding of Japanese culture and basic etiquette combined with the inability to speak and understand the language.

Marek join us on many fine racing events, notably Motegi, provided that he made it out of bed in time. Almost all members of our club were waiting at one point for him during the early morning hours here or there. Marek was then still in his favourite drinking hole in Shibuya, where the beers were cheap and mates easy to made. I know, because I have been there as well.

He decided to leave the capitalistic shores of Japan to head back to a country full of the political system of his new defunct motherland .

For the last gathering Juliane and david have selected an exclusive restaurant with very good food and beer. But I should stop here and let the pictures speak for themselves. Those who were there know. Those who weren’t will never be able to understand.

Juliane and Jerome revisiting their transalp roots.
david, Knotty and two beers.
Everybody started to engage in signing david’s shirt. Here we see Ryoko doing her part.
spontaneously some by passers wanted to join. Like this guy.
Here we can see him scribbling right-wing paroles on the brand new shirt. We let him do this to contribute to international peace.
Please also note the tight trousers.

Here we see Marek forming the „O“ for OstDeutschland (East-Germany), while mob is showing the „W“ for West-Gemany and Ryoko make the „I“ for Ireland. Stephen makes a smile for smiling.
Here we changed the signs. Marek is making his „I kill that asshole“ face, which he does every time somebody is overtaking him on the bike.

We will miss you guys.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, David, James, Jerome, Juliane, Mob, Stephen

Tokyo Hill Climb Nariki ALLSCRAP PHOTOS

Just checked by chance my e-mails and noticed that I got an urgent request from Tom. The IT department of his company asked him to check, if the Allscrap site (for reasons of security the name has been changed) is well protected and if it is still not possible to make screenshots from the photos posted there. Well equipped with the relevant software [Quick Screen Capture] I made a few test hacks and sadly I need to report that there is a huge security problem with this site. Virtually every information can be freely copied from the screen. It is a scandal, a disaster and a national disgrace. Of course there are lingering doubts with all of you, that my claim is not true. In order to free you with this doubts I have attached some randomly selected photos from a recent event at Nariki to proof the fact that indeed countermeasures should be taken immediately by Allscrap to prevent further leak of valuable data.

Juliane at the start. Clearly, there are no dogs nor penguins in sight.
Mob at the start.In the front Mr. Ueda [Alphahawk] experience his first climax of the day.
Tom, still going strong after approximately 26.74 meters.
Astroman during the race

Hill climbing can be even more fun when one is carrying his camping gear to the top.
Dennis during the race in normal shorts.
Juliane, first followed by the other girls, then on her own..
Mob followed by his group, including Mr. Ueda….

… and here he comes. Virtually.
Stephen not so much enjoying the race after very much enjoying the party the night before.

Tom strong as usual. His photos are here by pure coincidence.

In case you wanted to know:

1. That’s how a winner looks like.
2. That’s how an envelope with 100.000 Yen inside looks like.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Juliane, Mob, Stephen, Tom

Tokyo Nariki Hill Climb Race Report

Rain. The sound of rain. Rain. I turned around and tried to fall asleep one more time. But unmistakenkly it was already after dawn and pouring outside. I stood up and looked out of the window, mist was covering the slopes of the nearby hills. As usual, when staying with the Coadies, I was involved in some serious drinking the night before and I didn’t felt too well. I could still remember saying „No way“ when Stephen offered me another glas of wine, however I also remember that the glass in my hand was nevertheless moving in direction of an open bottle. Why am I wearing this ridiculous pajama?

Tom has arrived already, he just came back recently from his trip to Belgium and is still jet lagged. He tried to beat the rain, but couldn’t and is now relaxing on a mat downstairs in the house. It is Sunday, 7 AM in the morning in Ikusabata, close to Ome, and three hours before the Tokyo hill climb race, where the winner can collect a handsome price money of 100.000 Yen.

Finally everybody is up and Ryoko is providing us generously with coffee and a good breakfast. Still, with the exception of Tom, we do not look like a bunch of hungry young riders on the way to collect a fortune, but more like a group of middle-aged salarymen the next morning after a company party. Anyway, we grow accustom to the fact that we will race today.

It is drizzling when we leave the house. Somehow Juliane cannot get the shoes out of her speedplay cleats and it takes some time to somehow fix that problem. We give the cleats a good lube with the only lubricant we have: sunscreen. Not needed today. Stephen is nowhere to be found so we continue to ride to the race. First we go over the hills between the Route 411 and Nariki Kawa, not so easy if this is the first thing to do in the morning on a bike. Amazingly we see some other riders and they have are walking up the hill. Is this the competition?

We arrive at the registration, get some goodies and take cover under in some kind of barn. Julianes, davids and my bike are arranged in a pattern which is called in German „ein flotter Dreier“ and where there is unfortunately no equivalent English word which can describe all the wit, beauty and deep meaning of this expression. In any case, we have hope that in some days we will see small Italian race bikes with 20 inch wheels coming out from this. I think that perhaps I should do some warm up, but I really don’t feel like this. I look at all the other riders and bikes around me. It is just amazing, there is not a single „bad“ bike, famous brands only, a lot of carbon, expessive wheel sets everywhere. 90% of the riders are looking young, slim and if they could beat me everytime at any race. But I know that it is not like that. I will overtake a lot of these guys on there fancy bikes with their 60 kg body weight and I will be overtaken by 50 year old chubby guys on mountain bikes. There is really no relation between the price of a bike, the look of the rider and the chances he has in a race.
Finally Stephen arrives as well. I never asked him where he has been so long and as I am getting excited close to the start of the race I don’t need to know. I give up the plan to start in my Chinese silk pajamas and collect a price for best dressed rider.

There are some other foreign riders arround, all in all perhaps 15, so this is most likely the largest number of foreigner riders I have seen at one event. Tom starts a conversation and I later join briefly. Astroman looks pretty fit, he should be able to make a good finish.

We move to the start area and then we see Jacques, Stephan and Kenichi from the NFCC team. They have choosen this day for a club tour to Shomaru Toge and for some reason they are now at the start. Jacques recognizes me and comes up. I ask him if he would like to race, at this point I would gladly give him my Sekken, but he doesn’t get the joke. But he is one of the most funny guys I know and immediately everybody arround him is laughing and relaxing.

About 400 riders have assembled at the start area and are now taking off in groups of 50 riders. Later I find out that more than 80 riders have not showed up [Hello Knotty], most likely because of the very poor weather. But then, the temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees and that’s better than to race in the heat. Now it is getting exciting. But before coming to the race, some information about the race itself. I don’t write what I thought the race would be like, but what I learned AFTER the race about it:

The original plan nevertheless, called for two runs of 5 km each on the same road. The first run was supposed to be leisurely and one has to make it to the top in less than 45 minutes. The second run then was supposed to be the real race. However because of the poor weather, the first run was cancelled and the first and only run was the real race.

The road runs up next to the Narikigawa. It is a typical paved mountain road, about 2 to 3 meters wide and 4.14 km long. The elevation difference is 383 meters, that comes to an average gradient of 9.3%. One has to take care because there are many metal drains on the road [Hello david] and some slopes are much steeper than the average, my guess what be up to 15 – 18%. Once out of the saddle one has to balance properly, so that the back wheel is not loosing traction. Or, if staying seated, one has to take care that the front wheel still touches the ground.

To cut a long story short, it is basically a copy of the Wada Toge +10%. Fast guys can do it in 15 minutes. I checked the Wada Hill Climb Time Trial website: Fast guys can do Wada in 13:39 min.
Precisely 10% difference. Tom’s best time for Wada is so far 18:18 min, thus Nariki should be 20:08 min. My best Wada time is 21:56 min, I should aim at 24:08 min.

The groups are taking off now. david and Stephen are already gone, Tom is one group behind me, Juliane another one. Off we go, there are maybe 30 riders in my group. The first part of the race is not too steep, along the river and some houses. I can keep a good pace and I move up, taken over some of the riders. Thanks to the good training by Alain, I am not afraid of getting into physical contact with the others any longer, so I rechlessly overtake. But after 500 meter there is the first steep climb and I fell back. From there onwards it is a succesion of very steep climbs followed by steep climbs. But the steep climbs offer some room to relax. I loose contact with the fast guys from my main group and my heart rate goes off to 170+. Now the first riders from the previous group come in sight, mainly mountain bikes. They are suffering. And now I am getting overtaken by the first riders from the group behind me – oh they are fast. Yoshinori in his Belgium jersey is the first one. But he is way ahead of the other guys in his group. There is a second guy coming and Tom is then right behind him. I shout: „You are in third place“ and he answers „I know“ and keeps sprinting after the second guy. Astroman overtakes some time later.

I have now given up any hope to go fast and go into survival mode. I am used to this, after the excitment of the start, the next 10 – 15 minutes are the hardest one. However, I overtake some more riders from the previous groups and even some of my own group. There is a guy in a Yellow Alphahawk jersey how groans loudly all the time. I screen my memory, but I do not recognize his face from the Japanese AV’s I have seen in my life. I am down to 10 km/hr and still HR 170 but I am managing one steep slopes and one hairneedle curve after another. Sometimes my back wheel is slipping on the ground but so far no critical situations.

More steep slopes and more hair needles. My cadence is going down and I am more and more relying on brute power than on spin. I feel like giving up, but somehow I manage to stay focused. A mountainbike on 1:1 gear ratio is passing by, the rider spinning like hell. I catch up on him again and see some riders who have gotten off their bikes and moving them up the hill. No way, that I will do the same thing I think and move on.

I have now covered about 350 meter of climbing and I mistakenly think that there are 150 meters still in front of me. Behind me, I can hear #396, Ueda-san, aka the rider in the yellow Alpha Hawk jersey. It seems that he is now experiencing his seventh orgasm of the race. He overtakes me, I think let him go, or come, I will catch him later when he has his cigarette after.

But now there is a group of people standing on a corner, one foreigner is shouting: „Only one more bend“. I can’t believe it, I thought the race would be longer. So I asked stupidely „Really?“ and he is answering postive and I think OK, I go into sprint mode. I quickly take up speed, but Ueda-san is already too far away. Obviously he has done his research and mapped a good strategy. I can still overtake one more mountain bike rider from my group (#374) and which substantially improves the result from 269th to 268th place out of 403 attendants. The time is 25:16 min which is less than I have expected (after making the Wada calculations after the race, without the calculations I was aiming for less than 30 minutes).

Stephen has come in slightly earlier, so I did not manage to make 2 minutes time on him. he finishes in 318th place with 27:05 min. Tom is already there since a long time, he has made 2nd place in his starting group and overall 77th with 19:37 min; clearly better than his Wada benchmark. He should try to set a new Wada Toge Baka record. david is also hanging arround, waiting for Juliane to come. He has finished in 24:35 min, 245th place. He also seems to be 36 years old, according to the result list.

We are waiting for Juliane. There she is. Amazing. I mean, how good she looks after such a hard race. Oh yes, and she also felt good, she says, she could have even gone faster but was also unsure about where the goal would be. So she finishes overall #206 in 23:10 min, but more important, in 2nd place of the women category. Unfortunately the second place does not receive 100.00 Yen, but zero. david is looking happy as well. The expected outcome, Tom clearly better than everybody else, and Juliane, david, me and Stephen very close together. I don’t know the TCC riders so well, but Astroman made finished with 20:07 min in 90th place. Most impressive is Dennis, who managed an incredible 36th place with 18:15 min.
So we hang a little bit around at the goal area and I speak with some of the other riders. There are some Cervelo bikes and some nice guys from a club in Kamakura. I am happy that this race is over and given the fact that I am not a hill climber, I am also satisfied with my result. I guess I would have made first place, not in my age, but in my weight group (> 100 kg with bike, I have some pretty big water bottles). The general atmosphere on top of the mountain is not really inviting but it is easy to speak with many riders. Water melon pieces are handed out. Juliane has just eaten one and as this is organic, 100% natural stuff I think it is absolutely politically correct to throw this over one’s shoulder into the scrubs. She does it, turns around and the next thing I see is a hailstorm of water melon pieces flying in the same directions. Obviously some other riders had the same problem and looked for directions. Japan.
We then move down to the start area are the last riders have arrived. The winner had a time of 15:01 min, and there were only two riders with times over 45 minutes, so the cut is very generous indeed. The complete results are here.

We don’t wait for the ceremony and the free potatoes to be handed out. Potatoes for Germans, really, I could think of nothing more practical. So we go again over the hills and head back to the house in Ikusabata, where the house warming party is already in full swing.

There are a lot of nice people and a lot of good food. Dennis shows up and clearly, he is not only a very skilled rider and generous person, but also the best dressed guy I have ever seen at a after race party.Apparently he have picked up his new line of clothing during a recent trip to Equador. I am not 100% sure if I should believe this, but the combination with davids trousers on the left would have been even more vivid and colorful.

We are in good mood but after all the suffering it is time to go home. It is however raining hard. Later I see in the news that this has been a very rainy day for the Kanto area. But again, we were lucky that we didn’t had to race in the heat.

All in all a very nice racing day to remember. A special thanks to Ryoko and Stephen for organizing the entry to the races for all of us and providing us with food and shelter.

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Eingeordnet unter 2008, Juliane, Mob, Stephen, Tom

The 2nd Enzan-Odarumi Slowrun Classic in pictures

for the story, check out Tom’s blog:

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Eingeordnet unter David, Mob, Nishibe, Stephen