zondag 26 juli 2009


It surely felt like one...riding under a scorching sun with not a single cloud up in the sky, I suddenly felt myself gasping for oxygen, my head felt dizzy and in spite of the heat my arms started to shiver with cold. Greg and his team leader immediately guided me to one of the few shadowy spots along the Arakawa cyling road. There I collapsed on my back, heart pumping like crazy for the next 5 minutes. Greg rushed off to the nearest combini (I'm sure it was not near) and came back loaded with chilled pet bottles....keep them under your armpits, Greg advised. This did wonders...slowly I recovered but my legs were still feeling like lead. Greg and his teammate really saved my life there. In hindsight, I probably should not have cycled at all in this crazy heat after almost collapsing on Suzugane with Michael and Philip yesterday. Michael had even warned me: "those two will kill you!" But then I found out that Greg also had a long and cruel ride on Saturday. As a matter of fact, Greg too was contemplating early in the morning to send me a SMS to cancel the ride. I had met Greg only twice before, once two years ago at the Takao start line of the Itoigawa Classic and once at Utsukushigahara. Greg is a very powerful, "all-round" type of cyclist currently competing in the JCRC. Another JCRC regular entrant (and future Champ - without doubt) is Positivo Espresso-er Ludwig who had graciously accepted my invitation for a joint ride. The three of us left Koremasa bridge at 7:00 and we entered Saitama via the Jerome hill and over Ikusabata O-hashi. Ludwig showed some superb bursts of accelleration once in a while - especially on the Jerome hill he was most impressive! Greg and I parted from Ludwig on top of Shiraishi-toge having ridden the largest part of "Green Line". The descent down Shiraishi was thrilling but a stupid car overrunning the midsection almost hit Greg. Thanks to a super-reflex Greg managed to keep his balance and steer his BMC back onto the road. Greg and I continued taking turns up front until I could no longer bear the heat which was also rising from the concrete beneath...the sun rays really hurted. It was then that we ran into the founder of Greg's team, a very nice guy I have spotted several times at races here and there. The two turned out to be much too powerful for me and in no time I had to let go. A few moments later, the first symptoms of the beginning of a heatstroke appeared.

The Arakawa Cycling Road is unfamiliar territory to me, however, I find it a much more-cyclist-friendlier place than Tamagawa...the road is generally wider and there are far less pedestrians. I parted from Greg where the arrow on my GPS pointing towards HOME stood at a 45-degree angle. Thanks a lot Greg (and your team mate); I mean it when I say you saved my life. Let's go again when the weather gets a bit cooler! Ludwig, the us of us should get out more often too; I will try to get into the habit of carrying a mini-parachute with me!

Tour de West Side

This weekend no morning trainings with my VLAAMS team...instead I decided to join the annual Tour de West Side organized by the Yokota Army Base cycling team and TCC. After I found out Michael, Chazzer, James, Philip and many more buddies would be riding along, I just had to go. I must say I have never ridden in such a huge group before. The pace was quite fast from the beginning and I just couldn't find the right rhythm. On the last 4 km, I saw a bright orange shirt behind me...could that be Michael? I pushed on and suddenly a sweet female voice passed by me...couldn't understand in what words Naomi was greeting me but gone she was! Just to save my manly honor I tried to hang on. This young lady is incredible though! I bet that if Naomi enters the JCRC, she'll instantly be a top-5 female rider! This is of course no wonder as her husband is nobody else than TCC ace rider AlanW! Following the descent of Kazahari, Philip and I managed to catch up with Michael...read all about it on the Positivo Espresso website (be sure not to miss the part about the ceramic balls!)

On Suzugane, my absolutely favorite little toge, I almost collapsed crawling up my way in great agony and just like with Hiroshi last winter, it was Michael who overtook me. Philip of course had crested the little toge long before. The heat was simply too oppressive but then I didn't know what was waiting for me the next day!

zondag 19 juli 2009

12 hours in the saddle...

Almost made it to the top of Odarumi-toge and back home in 12 hours covering some 260km (for some reason, iGatu only recorded the first 166km). Michael and David L. had planned a ride up to Odarumi-toge leaving from Enzan Station. I left home with the intention of doing a succession of toges culminating with Kamihikawa but changed my mind wanting to see my buddies after a quite a long time. We were able to establish telephone contact and even Hiroshi called me. Apparently he had seen the Positivo Espresso announcement and drove his car all the way up to Christal Line, leaving his car near the entrance of Karisaka Tunnel. I was too far behind schedule to catch up with them all but kept a steady pace without any breaks. With about 600 vertical meters left to the top (at 1,775m) I finally ran into David and Hiroshi who were worriedly waiting for Michael. It turned out Michael had suffered a puncture and it had taken him some extra time to complete the inner tube farewell ritual. All four united, we rode down this time via Yakiyama-toge. Along the way, Hiroshi pointed out a new road which is actually the continuation of Christal Line. I'd like to try this one! After filling our stomachs at with chashu-ramen, gyoza (and an extra bowl of chahan for me) we rode through Katsunuma where they were selling peaches here and there. Should have stopped to sample some! David wanted to be back home early and left us before the Sasago Tunnel. Michael and I were left to attack Sasago-toge. My favorite cicadas - the Higurashi were giving a spine-chilling Kankankan concert... so intense I recorded it on video. Michael for whom this was his first Sasago-toge was not too far behind. Something inside the haunted tunnel really freaked the hell out of both of us and we sped down to Koshu Kaido to briefly stop only once and take a peak at that famous, 1000 year-old arrow cedar tree which turned out to be entirely hollow inside! I parted from Michael at Otsuki and enjoyed a nice ride over Otarumi homewards.