19 June 2017

Olympic road race course proposal revised


Start in Chofu near the Tamagawa ... and go to Mt. Fuji Speedway via Doshi and Yamanakako.

Much, much better!

New Stop along the Tamagawa Replaces 7-11 At Y's Road in Fuchu

A new stop along the Tamagawa. Highly recommended. Bicycle cafe and coffee roastery.
This was one of the best iced latte I can remember having, ever. Super smooth coffee.
The master wanted to speak English, so don't be shy. Next to Y's Road in Fuchu.

New Beauty in Marunouchi; Electric Monster in Azabu

Sometimes the bike parking lots are the most interesting parts of the commute!

Last week I had a lunch in Marunouchi and happened upon some mouth watering titanium from Merlin, ... in a small package. A mini-bike commuter. Very impressive.

Later in the week, a stop at another parking lot, a 500w electric bike - Ride Scoozy.  From what I can find, it has a 20MPH (32kph) top speed with the electric motor only ... and does not seem to have an automatic cut-out like the Japanese models. So not street legal!!!  Great unless you get stopped by the cops, or in an accident.

Beautiful June Day - Ride with Didi

 Didier was in town from Hong Kong this weekend, so I joined him for a "flat" ride on Saturday. We took his normal route to Hinode and back ... though we got separated a few times when he went someplace I was not expecting, and I stuck to my well-ridden roads or the path. It was a bit hot, but generally really nice weather for June. Later on, in the early evening, was incredible -- a cool breeze, dry air. Not Tokyo June! Of course, Sunday was much more sticky, and rain started after noon.

I felt lethargic, but I think that had more to do with the cold I got a week earlier than anything else. At least I got in 92kms and was not totally knackered. And good to catch up with another former Tokyoite returning to town. Seems to be a theme in recent weeks.

Still, I am not in the shape I was in 2015. I need to train!

11 June 2017

Training for Velothon Berlin ... in Tokyo?!?

Fabian, one of MOB's close friends and a former Japan resident (for 3 years quite a long time back), was in town this weekend. He brought his cycling gear and got a pass from his wife and daughter so we could go for a ride, as we did the last time he was in Tokyo several years back (more years than I would like to admit).

Fabian said that MOB will come to Berlin next week from Bremen for the annual Velothon event. Some of you will remember reading about the massive Velothon event on this blog from 2011 or 2010. I think for more recent news, you can find reports on MOB's blog, "there is no "I" in cyclyng."

This was an important part of -- perhaps THE MOST important part of -- his training regimen. Seriously, Fabian does ride regularly, but said he tends to stick to short, after work rides, typically 35 kms.  Today we made it around 110 kms - the classic Otarumi/Tsukui loop. I promised him if he comes back again in the next few years, we will definitely put bikes in rinko bags and go to the countryside for something different and a bit more impressive. Still, for a return to Japan after many years, riding out along the river and through the sprawling suburbs may not be so bad.

Anyway, I have had a cold and am not yet fully recovered, but was happy to try to "ride through it" on this special occasion, as today was rare, remarkably decent cycling weather for June in Tokyo. Not too hot. Dry. Not too humid. Mostly overcast to keep the sun from being to harsh. A bit of a wind from the E/SE so a headwind on the return, but not as bad as sometimes.

Fabian borrowed the Renovo -- his first time on a wood frame, and first experience with Di2 and hydraulic disk brakes. All good.

I rode the sky blue Parlee.
I thought the color went very well with the blue hydrangeas along the Tank Road.

We went out Onekan, then took the tank road, the North side of Lake Tsukui, then up the west climb of Otarumi Pass, stopped at the ramen shop for ramen (me) and chahan (Fabian), then back via Takao and Hachioji.
Fabian Escobar outside the drug lord's house
Bikes welcome at the ramen shop near the top of Otarumi Pass. They treated us like kings, as usual.
Incredibly nice people running this shop, who are delighted at repeat visitors.

View from our garden table.
One stretch of path was closed off along the Asagawa east of Hachioji. It was easy to get over the barriers and ride along the nice new pavement. The other end was a bit more difficult.
I went around the fence first, then Fabiand handed over the bikes and joined me.

A tight fit for Fabian.

An even tighter fit for me!
A very successful outing.

10 June 2017

Nice Article about Ken Bonner, the "relatively fast, old guy"

There is a nice article about Ken Bonner of the BC [British Columbia] Randonneurs here at Road Bike Rider.

As I have mentioned before I had the privilege to ride the first few hours of the 2012 Cascade 1200 with him, starting out with the fast group, but both of us eventually trailing off the back as, at one point, they powered ahead at an unsustainable pace. Then another half hour or so, we got to a short climb, and Ken kept going at the same pace, while I slowed!

Of course, that was the first morning of the 1200kms. He finished the event a day or more ahead of me.

I guess I really should be keeping track of my randonneuring mileage, if only to measure what fraction of events I have done compared with some of the giants of this type of event. ... Ken has now ridden 230,612 kms in 422 official events (as well as lots more "permanents". Of course, he also ran 173 marathons before calling it quits. That is 173 more than I have.

22 May 2017

Wednesday - Giro Meets Stelvio

I have been enjoying Beardy McBeard's daily photo report on the Giro D'Italia. Stage 15 ended in Bergamo on the cobbles/marble flagstones. Tomorrow, they rest, and on Wednesday, they will climb the Stelvio Pass.  Will they beat MOB's and my times from 2015 Giro delle Dolomiti?  Can they do it in 50% of the time? 40%? Well, on today's 199 km flattish stage, the average speed was 46.5 kph. Wow. And with 7 riders within 5 minutes of the lead, entering the last stretch of the race, Wednesday should be an interesting day.

Beardy's rest day ride over the Stelvio last year offers some really beautiful photos, here. And Tuesday he will do it again. I recommend subscribing for his daily update photos.

This year's rest day photos are here.

21 May 2017

Pollen and heat

Today I headed out for a morning ride with Jerome. I wanted to do the Tsukui / Otarumi loop.

It was HOT today, at least 30 degrees C, maybe hottest day of the year so far in Tokyo. But I drank huge amounts of water, and the heat was manageable.

But by the time I got out of town, my hay fever was really kicking in -- eyes watering, face itchy. I have been off any anti-histamine since March and managed okay, even on the Tohoku trip over GW. But today, it hit me. What was the pollen source? Well, my distress increased as we rode the Tank Road around Machida toward Lake Tsukui.  I noticed none of the grasses have been cut. No wonder.
grasses all along the Tank Road
I doused my head with water just past the end of the Tank Road, and again at a convenience store nearer Tsukui, then turned around and came home.  I took more urban roads home, and made it back to Setagaya, and an anti-histamine, eye drops and a nice shower, without trouble.

Despite the pollen distress, I set a personal record (on Strava) for my return down Onekansen Doro. Why? Well, I realize that the "segment" starts just at the traffic signal by Tamasakai Ave (near the Starbucks at the far end of Onekana), so when I usually ride back from the Tank Road entrance, ... I am not completing the Strava segment. 

Around 85 kms, so a bit over 150 for the weekend. Not bad, and my weight is finally, slowly, dropping.

19 May 2017

Van Moof rolls out new "Smart City Bike" for Japanese Market

Dutch cycling/lifestyle company VanMoof has announced a new "smart urban" bike model for Japan. It seems aimed at the Tokyo urban market.
-- Built in front and rear lights, dynamo powered.
-- A really nice front hub electric assist power - 24kph up those hills with barely any effort.
-- Mechanical disk brakes.
-- study front rack to attach a briefcase, purse or small shopping bag.
-- Anti theft features to dream of. ("Find my bike" GPS, etc. And, as I understand it, a "Lockout" feature so the bike stops working if it is reported missing, and even a guaranteed replacement if the bike is not recovered in 2 weeks.)
Pieter Franken reports it is a joy to ride.  As he notes, it is "Piet Mondrian meets mama chari":

This kind of product moves away from mama chari "bicycle as disposable item" to bicycle as urban transportation alternative. For a stylish Tokyoite who can only have one bike, mostly for getting around town, and who wants electric assist, looks like a great alternative.

I stopped by the event, but needed to head off before I could do a test ride (and the size is for the Japanese market anyway).

07 May 2017

Golden Week - Isabella Byrd's "Unbeaten Tracks of Japan" 1500kms #tohokudeyokatta

Jerome and I joined many friends for the AJ Kanagawa-sponsored series of rides in Tohoku over golden week.

The ride was a spectacular series of events -- 300, 400, 200 and 600 kms in length.
I did all but the 200 km one (instead I rode 125 kms to get to Aomori and do a short side trip). Jerome rode all 1500 kms.
The route offered a great mix of mountains, seacoast, farmland and everything else. Beautiful weather except for rain the first day.

I rode the Renovo Firewood -- it was extremely comfortable and fast, and the Di-2 shifting worked without recharge for the full event, while the hydraulic disk brakes worked like a dream. One flat rear tire (clincher) and a creaking BB (grit in the threads) were the only extremly minor hiccups.

You can see my photos here on Flickr.

You can find the routes on RidewithGPS.

First 300 kms.

Next 400 kms.

Third event - 200 kms.

Final leg -- 600 kms.*
*We were offered the alternative of going up through Oirase Keiryu to Towada-ko, and doing a short extra loop later that evening to make up the distance.

My favorite areas:
(1) Ouchi Juku
(2) Mogamigawa and Shinjo at dawn
(3) Kakunodake and the long climb and descent over Ani Pass
(4) the sea coast of western Aomori (Fukaura)
(5) the small peninsula east of Aomori-shi
(6) Oirase Keiryu, Towada-ko, and the descent to the South
(7) climb to Appi Kogen
(8) early morning stretch in the hills just above the plain of Ichinoseki, and along a river toward Ishinomaki
(9) gentle climb up the Abukuma River in S Miyagi and N Fukushima.

Quite a lot for one week!

09 April 2017

Wet Sunday coffee ride

Not really a day for cycling, just a quick trip to Starbucks in Seijo with the Tokyo Cranks. One more chance to catch some Sakura as the rain starts to bring down the petals.

Saturday Sakura Ride

Jerome and I planned a Saturday ride. We were going to get an early start ... but rain overnight pushed our schedule back from 730AM to 920AM. Still, once we headed NW we soon found dry pavement. And we found nearly full sakura blooms. We went to the Mitake-san tram station and back. 118kms. Not bad for a half-day ride with plenty of sakura along the way!

Reflective bar tape

I just put some Shimano "PRO" reflective bar tape on the bike I want to try commuting on -- my old Canyon frame, which has a ding on the left side of the downtube, but seems to be still structurally okay ... so I can ride it in the city without getting worked up about other dings. The reflective tape works!
In indirect light, the tape looks normal:

26 March 2017

Mallorca, Mallorca! Paradise

Last week I visited Positivistas David and Juliane on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca, where they are hard at work on the 18th century (and earlier) farmhouse and "finca" (estate) that is their new home and the future P.E. Mallorca clubhouse. Stephen C. came over from London for the weekend to join us on a number of rides and catch a Saturday feast (whole pig roasted in "el horno", the wood-fired stone/brick lined oven). We missed MOB, Jerome and other friends, but had a wonderful week!
I had never been to Mallorca before. Of course, I was curious since I knew that MOB and Stephen go regularly, and David and Juliane have decided to make it their home. But I had not really been paying attention. I knew that it is a major beach vacation destination, so I guess I was expecting a kind of beach-town environment for spring break. I did not actually read the press asking, is this the greatest destination in the world for cycling? What I found was thus a bit of a surprise -- a real Mediterranean gem, with beautiful villages like Tuscany and Provence, a real European city in Palma (whose old town Juliane guided me through one morning, on foot), perfect weather  -- cool nights, warm days, spectacular stars -- and LOTS of really great cycling routes.

For cycling the island is a bit small to have the kind of "epic" rides one finds in some places -- the climbs are generally not that long (the longest we did was about 700 meters of elevation gain, and the entire island is only 3640 square km -- maybe 70~75 kms long and 60km across at the widest points.  The most interesting rides tend to involve the mountainous area the runs along the northern 25% of the island, but we also rode across the plain and rolling hills to Randa and up the climb of an isolated mountain toward the South, to the Santuria de Cura, and it was lovely.
Deià. Wow.
On many roads there were more road cyclists than cars. Most routes were very low traffic, and high cyclist. What cars there were were very careful -- no doubt they EXPECTED to see a cyclist coming at them as they rounded each corner. It makes a huge difference.

Anyway, I do not have time to report at length, but will give a bit of info on our rides, and post a few photos. Please believe me when I say that EVERY cyclist -- not just those from Germany, Netherlands and the UK, should get at least one, and hopefully many, trips to Mallorca!

All the rides were 50-100 kms in length, and none over 2000 meters of elevation gain. And the pace was usually relaxed (the return from Randa and a few of the climbs being the exceptions), with plenty of photo and coffee stops, and energy left to enjoy the rest of the day off-bike. But the cumulative effect was that I left Mallorce feeling rested and in much better condition than I arrived.

1. Ride #1. Loop from Esporles past La Granga museum, then over a climb to Puigpuyent, then a second climb to Galilea, then Es Capdella, Calvia, Etabliments, and back. 51kms and 920 meters elevation gain according to Strava. Beautiful!

2. Ride #2.  From Capinet to Selva, Caimari, up to Col de Sa Bataia, then along MA-10 and down Port de Sa Calobra, ... and back. Sa Calobra -- one of the iconic climbs of cycling, and the earlier climb from Caimari also fantastic.  80 kms and 2000m of climbing.

3. Ride #3.  From Pollença to Cap Formentor -- a spectacular jutting peninsula on the NE corner of the island. This is listed by many as one of the best 2-3 hour bicycle rides in the world.  51 kms and 1030 meters of climbing.

4. Ride #4.  The first loop again, but this time in the opposite (clockwise) direction. And an important mid-ride stop.
Top of the last climb

Mid-ride stop in Puigpunyent.
5.  Ride #5.  From Esporles to Randa and up the hill to Santuria de Cura, via Santa Maria del Carni and Algaida and back. 96 kms and only 806 meters of elevation gain, though it felt like more on the approach route we took to, and climb following, Randa.

6. Ride #6.  Loop from Esporles to Bunyola, over the old road pass to Sóller, back along the hilly North coast to Deià, Valldemossa and over a short climb and down to Esporles. 67kms and 1400 meters of elevation gain. Really incredible to have this ride on the doorstep!