Archiv der Kategorie: 2009


To my great surprise I found out today that Nagai Sans Positivo Shop has it’s own website or blog :

Also, while visiting the shop, I saw some pamphlets from CATTENI POSITIVO, announcing a longer training camp in April as preparation for the Sadoshima Long Ride (210 km) in spring.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Three guys under blue skies

Jerome, Ludwig and me decided on short notice to do another ride before Christmas, O-Shogatsu, family dinners and business trips will take their toll on our bodies and ultimately on our performances.

I left the house almost in the dark on my newly outfitted Cervelo bike. Nagai-San upgraded everything except for the crank set and bottom bracket at the beginning of the week after my forced conversion to single speed on the weekend before. I could convince him that I do not need a new crank set as I do not want this ugly piece called „Hollow-tec“ on my bike which looks like the DuraAce crank set. I could not convince him that I can also live with my old Ultegra brakes so there were replaced as well with the more bulky looking 6700er brakes. When everything is new everything shifts fine, so I guess the good performance is more to the newness of the groupset rather that to the improved design. The front derailleur works perfectly now. The rear works fine when shifting into lower gears, but shifting into higher gears is a little bit tricky and one needs to get accustom to the levers.

Whatever, design-wise the bike is hugely improved and this is much more important then vulgar activities such as „shifting gears“ or „braking“, the later normally resulting in less speed.

Jerome an me met shortly after seven in Shin-yokohama, mounted Shinkansen Kodama 633 to Odawara which was way to short a trip. We met Ludwig at Odawara station and before eight we were on the way to Hakone. I showed Ludwig and Jerome the old Tokaido road which was pleasantly quiet and we made it up through the hair needle curves at a steady pace. It was quite cold and there were some icy patches on the road in the shadows. After waiting for Jerome some minutes on the top, we continued along Ashinoko road 75 when suddenly Jerome got pestered by official telephone calls: A Japanese customer has found a bolt in a package of cheese he bought from Jerome’s company (I cannot tell the real nameof his company, but let’s call it „El Shacho“ here). He opened another package just to check and found another bolt in this package as well. Of course he was furious and demaned an explanation from El Shacho why the nuts were missing.Meanwhile we continued to route 138, but instead of going this boring road down to Gotemba, we continued to climb up to Nagao tunnel where the pinchers of hell were waiting for us as usual. This is a very gradual climb with almost no traffic and a dilapidated restaurant close to the tunnel where I would love to eat some day.We then went down on the other side, slowly as parts of the road seemed to be icy. Then we made our way through this urban mess and sprawl of Gotemba and Oyama until we came to Fuji Speedway and to the starting point of the Mikuni pass climb.

Urban sprawl and chaotic city planning brings up another topic: As we have already December 23rd and I do not plan any bike trips until the rest of the year in the route 20 area, I can now finally write that 2009 is the first year in serious cycling where I didn’t crashed in the (ugly) city of Uenohara. This fine tradition (since 2007) is finally disrupted and perhaps I should stay away from the city for the complete year of 2010.

After taking a short break at the foot of Mikuni we started finally the climb. The break is not required for anything useful in preparation, I guess we just do it because we are afraid to start anyway. Mikuni is pretty hard. It is about two times the distance and more than two times the elevation difference that the Wada challenge (Takao side) has to offer. It doesn’t offer much resting places along its first 4 km and even stretches with 8 or 9% slope are considered nice recovery places. I was also pretty tired after the Hakone climb and felt the beginning of a bonk (as opposed to bonking) so I barely made it up to the top. To be honest, I was zigzaging on some of the steeper parts.

Just looking at the „Hall of Fame“ website of TCC, it amazes me that Clay can ride up there in less than 33 minutes.After that we made a short break at the approved Yamanakako 7-Eleven where we met another older Japanese rider who was much engaged in brevet activities. He told us that one need to attend at least 3.500km of Japan Audax sponsored brevet events before you are even considered to be registered for Paris – Brest – Paris and that Japan has the largest population of brevet riders worldwide. We spoke about the Itoigawa fast run and David’s heroic attempt of the 400 km brevet this year. He said „Oh yes, I was up on Yanagizawa and I saw a colored (黒人) rider coming up during the brevet.“ We said, that was probably not David. But thinking it over now, perhaps one may look colored after 400 km of riding and it was David indeed.
And off we were on Doshimichi in direction home. Ludwig and me were in front and crossed over Yamabushi pass, then went almost to the Michisaka pass road where we waited for Jerome at a Daily Yamazaki combini.

We waited quite a while but then Jerome rode past and we went in pursuit of him. There was a nice tailwind, Ludwig and me worked together and in addition the weather was still sunny and the road was in good and fast shape. But nevertheless we were not able to catch Jerome. Ludwig finally caught up with him after 18 km, close to Aone, but it took me another 7 km or so before finally the three of us were together again.

The rest was more or less boring riding on the South side or Tsukui lake and through Hashimoto. But we were incredibly fast: We did the 52 km between Yamanakako and Hashimoto station in 2 hours and this included some climbing plus riding through urban congestion.

There we split. Jerome and Ludwig took the Onekan to the Tamagawa, while I took the train home form Hashimoto. For me 130 km or riding, about 2.300 meters up under blue skies in fabulous Japanese winter weather. It is hard to get out of the bed in the morning, but once on the bike there are no regrets.
Tomorrow is Christmas (I promised my family not to do any bicycle riding) and after that I Will be in Okinawa between 25th and 28th (with son and bike). Perhaps I will do another trip before the end of the year, but that’s it before the new season starts traditionally with the Ekiden ride on January 2nd.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Cervelo Soloist, Jerome, Mob

Positivo Espresso Gobal Domination

O.S. at Encino Velodrome, California, December 2009


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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Lost among mikans

Today was the day of the monster ride MOB had proposed a few days ago, and which I had endorsed. Maybe it is not a good idea to be overly ambitious – fate might just punish you for that.
MOB, James and I arrived literally simultaneously at the appointed meeting point on Kan One at 7:30am. No sight of Jerome, and as it was very cold (zero degrees to be precise), MOB didn’t wait long before calling him. He had just woken up… Oh well, off we went without him.
It was a beautiful day – crispy clear air and sky. We had splendid view of Tsuiko as we took the back road on the northern side of the lake. But suddenly – a big bang, a shout. What had happened? MOB’s chain had landed between hub and spokes, and this had torn the rear dérailleur apart. The second time this has happened to him this year – how annoying! This time it seemed to have been caused by a small wooden stick that had entered the dérailleur rather than bad adjustment. Worse – so this could happen to any of us!
James was quick to convert the bike into a fixie, so MOB was hopefully (awaiting confirmation!) able to make it easily back to Hashimoto station – mostly downhill from where we were.
James and I went on. Somehow I didn’t feel in top form. My heart rate shot up above 160 at almost every hill, no matter how minor or short. Did I leave so much heart yesterday at the health check? Was it the skipped breakfast yesterday morning? Or just the very cold weather? Or maybe simply James’s speed? He was zipping up hills as if they were down hills. No doubt he should go for C or even higher class in the next JCRC season.
The view from Yabitsu was stunning. Thanks to the extremely clear air, even Oshima was clearly visible, and of course the full coast line.

Needless to say, we were also spoiled all day by perfect views of Mount Fuji.

Down in Hadano, the plan was to head to Odawara and then start the ascent to Hakone, on the same road MOB took the other day. I wanted to avoid taking the easy option of heading straight down to the sea and taking busy route 1 to Odawara. Much better doing that on 2 January, with the roads cleared for the ekiden relay marathon. So I had found a series of roads that led from Hadano through the hills to Odawara, hopefully with relatively little traffic. That turned out to be true, in fact very true the further we got. I had missed a turn down the small mountain into the valley lying before Odawara. We kept climbing up and up instead, eventually ending on a mountain (Fudosan) that turned out to be one big plantation of mikans. The only traffic there were farmers heading into the hills for harvest, and actually truck (mini-van) loads of them.

We could not resist tasting some – very fresh and nice indeed!
By the time we had finished this picnic detour and finally arrived in Odawara, it was past 14:00, so we gave up on the idea of climbing up to Hakone and descending in the half dark and with likely very strong headwind to Atami, and called it a day.
A modest 121km with 1,300m of climbing.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, James, Mob

Call to ride : Saturday, December 19th

Start :
FUTAGOTAMAGAWA STATION 06:25hr (Jerome and Eric)
later meeting points possible

Route :
from Futago along the Tamagawa to Tamagawahara and then along One-Kan and Tank Road to Hashimoto Station (Second meeting point at 8 AM)

Tsukui North road to Doshi Michi at the Yabitsu entry and up to Yabitsu Pass.

Down on the other side to Hadano, on a Rindo branching off from the main road at the observation parking space (not ridden yet).

First escape point :
Hadano station, return with bike bag by Odakyu Line

Through Hadano and the like to road #1 in direction Odawawa and Hakone. Up to Hakone on the old Tokkaido.

Second escape point :
From Hakone over Jukoku pass to Atami, back with bike bag and Shinkansen

Along Ashinoko lake to Gotemba and up on Mikuni pass to Yamanako.

Goal :
Kawaguchi or Fuji-Yoshino Station
[for those who will make it]

So far in :
Jerome, Eric, James, mob

Type :
long stretches of ups and downs followed by a 400m climb up to Yabitsu (moderately steep), nice and fast downhill follows

Flat thru the wastelands

Followed by a 700m climb up to Hakone

To Atami: the most beautiful downhill road in Japan
To Yamanakako : most gruesome climb up to Mikuni pass, extremely steep & demanding

Speed :
As most of us are out of shape : competitive.

Weather :
Should be dry, but cold, in the 0 – 5 degree region.

Everybody is welcomed to join us (Positivieure, Cattenis, TCCler, NFCCeuse, anybody.
Drop a comment.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, James, Jerome, Mob


Thanks to Snoogly for this one.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

Tokyo Enduro Race Report

A team I may consider to join.

I woke up at 6.30 hr in the morning after having dreamt that my connection flight from the island of Huahua to Seoul has been canceled forever. These are the times of dreams I normally have before a day at the races.

However, for the credit of this trace I have to say that the weather was much better than for the same race one year earlier. One year earlier I decided to stay in bed after looking out of the window. This year there was no excuse. As this is one of the only four races I can actually ride to from my home (the other ones being Yokohama Stadium Endurance, Tour du Japan Tokyo Stage in Oifuto and Fuji Hill Climb), I couldn’t possibly miss it.

For some reason, the Tokyo Enduro is a jinxed race for me. The first bicycle race I ever attended, not as a racer but as a spectator, was hold in October 1990 on precisely that track in Tachikawa. I came to watch my former youth idol Joern Kinzel, inventor of the famous Kinzel K1. Since that it has always been my dream to race there, I applied in 2005 to attend the possibly first Tokyo Enduro, only to find myself unable to attend because of a very bad ear infection. In 2006 I missed the deadline for application. In 2007 I don’t recall what has hindered me to attend, but something did. And last year I registered but decided not to ride because of the weather.

So all propped up and riding against a strong headwind I made my way up to Tachikawa. There were many riders out at the Tamagawa, most of the probably heading in the same direction and it was hard to restrict myself not become to competitive as I wanted to keep some power for the race. I arrived and met Tom just by chance at the gate. James and his family got already in and set up a place and a tent at a very convenient place to the pit stop. The TCC riders were also coming in and we had a few chats but just as we, everybody was nervous and in a hurry to get ready for the race. The Catteni Positivo guys also came and set up their tent just next to our one. The first part of our strategy went very well.

That is, that James, our first rider went to the startline early and got into the top 50 or 100 rider group so that he could hang out with the fast guys as long as possible. He did just that for the first seven laps and when he made the last of his laps he sprinted ahead of the group, entered the pit and changed to Tom so that he could also enjoy being part of the fast group. After four more laps Tom changed to me and when I came out of the pit there was no fast group to hang on to. This is really the key to win the race, if you are alone on the track, there is no way that you can go fast for a longer period of time. So I did my four laps all on my own, killed some wheelsuckers and passed to Kaori who did her part and passed to James again. The president of Corratec, shooting at random riders who don’t use his bikes.

After a while I went to check the results at the monitors and saw that all of the TCC teams were doing very well and that we were in 9th position in the mixed class. We were way faster than our original plan which was based on the idea that we should be faster than the winner last year.

Well, as I mentioned already for the Motegi race: Racing has not become easier and the competition is becoming stronger year by year. We are not racing against an ever faster competition but also against age and our chances to win are very slim indeed now. For example the mixed team from Catteni Positivo, that made 2nd place last year came in 11th this year, full two laps behind us.

James made a very good run that and put us back into podium reach, by the end of his tour we were in fifth place and 2 minutes away from the third placed team. Tom made further time good and passed the baton to me with about 40 minutes to go. As the pit closes 15 minutes before the end of the race we decided that I would do three laps and then pass to James for the last two ones. Again I was alone on the track but after a while I found one guy one could keep up me and we were pulling each other until we were overtaken by a fast group of five riders to which I could hang on.

Later after moving into the pit and checking the results I realized that one rider in this group was the 4th placed mixed team. I should have stayed out with the fast group and ride to the end as I was also feeling good enough to stay with them, but I decided to stick to the plan and handed over to James. This cost as not only one minute time because of the pit stop but James was now alone on the track again which cost further time. I moved out as well, waited until James finished his first lap and then drafted him 2 km or so before I ran out of gas again.

In the end we made respectable 5th place in the mixed cat, but I am sure that we could have made podium if we would have had better race infos and reduced our number of pit stops.

I guess this is the lesson from the race:

1. We need to get wired.
2. Four riders = three pit stops

Anyway, we had a very good time. Tom’s wife also provided us with some nice Belgium waffles which fueled us up through the race. Nichibe-san also showed up to support us. TCC had a very strong showing. I helped James to pack the tent and transport all the stuff to his car, then I went on to the next race which consisted of a 35 km ride back home which I had to make by 5 PM as my wife wanted to go out and I had to take care of the kids. I finished 5 minutes behind the deadline.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Cervelo Soloist, James, Mob, Nishibe, tcc, Tom



Winner 33 laps 3.56.38 hr
4. TCC A (Thomas, Sergey, DeeJ, AlanW) 33laps 3.58.03
22 NFCC 30 laps
36 Catteni Positivo Torino 29 laps
41 TCC C 29 laps (David, YellowGiant,…)
45 Catteni Positivo Trevis 29 laps
70 Catteni Positivo Napoli 28 laps


Winner 28 laps 3.55.02 hr
2. TCC G 28 laps 3.59.38 hr


Winner 32 laps 3.53.41 hr
5 TCC A PE (Tom, James, Kaori, mob) 31 laps 3.57.39 (=15th place in men cat)
11 Catteni Positivo Milano 29 laps

More to come. First a bath and some food.

All results are here:



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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Cervelo Soloist, James, Mob, tcc, Tom

Trailblazing five new passes into Nagano-ken

I headed out on Tuesday to explore a new route into Nagano-ken. The idea was to take as many passes yet unknown to me as possible.
It was a beautiful early morning. When the sun was rising as I hit the Tamagawa, there was still frost on the ground. The sky was crystal clear.

Discovery pass no. 1 was the small hill starting beyond Higashi-Ome station and leading into Saitama, yet without name. Shall we call it Ludwig’s belly because it is so flat?
Instead of heading straight and taking the shortest way towards Yamabushi Toge as we usually do, I went north and took Yamao Toge, discovery pass no. 2 (OK, not quite – I had done it once with MOB on a criss-cross through the area around there). At 250m, it is 130m lower than Ozawa Toge, but also amounts to a detour of a few kilometers.
Then the usual approach up Yamabushi Toge – nothing new here.
Disovery pass no. 3 was to take a southern approach from Chichibu-shi towards Ogano. Much nicer than taking route 299 or even the short-cut, but quite a bit longer and with a pass that requires some climbing.
After my first and last pit-stop for the day at the combini shuten in Ogano, I rode through the Nishi-Chichibu Natural Park with its dam up to Yakyu Toge, elevation 840m. This was discovery pass no. 4 and the first „real“ mountain pass for the day. It is my fourth pass from Saitama into Gunma, aside from Shigasaka, Tsuchisaka and Kaze passes. It is by far the nicest climb, on a small rindo-like road with no traffic and up a beautiful valley. Well, there was some traffic in the lower part – dumb trucks and other building site traffic that was repairing the road so that it would be easier to pass for other dumb trucks that would do further repairs so that more building site traffic could pass… It is sheer madness!
The descent on the other side is very steep and the road not always particularly good. It is then a long ride up a broad valley until a short climb starts to Shionozawa Tunnel. I was tempted to avoid the tunnel and do the actual pass, but adding almost 400m to the climb would have cost too much time to make it to my final destination.
Down on the other side, it was the final climb of the day (discovery pass no. 5), first through a broad valley with lovely farming houses, then up endless turns. From the border to Nagano-ken which is somewhere up on the climb it was almost 100 curves up to the top – the Saku authorities had put up signs counting every single curve (another ingenious way of wasting tax payers‘ money). As one ascends, rocky mountain tops emerge and eventually one reaches almost similar elevation to them.
Very beautiful in the setting sun.
From the moment I had entered Gunma, almost everything was frozen. It was a cold day, despite the bright sun, and the afternoon sun was not able to reach the bottom of the valley in many places. Up Taguchi Toge (1,140m) it was very cold, a few degrees below zero. My hands and feet turned into ice blocks on the way down, despite my peddling (the road is not steep at all).
I lost my way temporarily trying to take a new approach to Sakudaira shinkansen station, which cost me 10-15 minutes and meant the last few kilometers were in complete darkness.
210km in all, with 2,600m of climbing.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009

Positivo Espresso approved Jizo-Sama [地蔵]

At the start of One-Kan, just next to the Tamagawa bridge and Yanokuchi Station on road #9, there is the only officially approved Jizo statue which provides the necesary protection against all kind of traffic accidents and evil car and scooter drivers. Please make sure to say proper prayers when passing along as otherwise you will be drawn underground by the pinchers of hell.

Goggle Map

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob