zaterdag 30 januari 2010

215km V-REN

What was supposed to be just another "asaren" morning training turned out to be a mighty long LSD trip! 215km at an average of 28.2km/h. Four VLAAMS and two FITTE boys gathered at the usual Koremasa Bridge spot at the "winter-time" hour of 6:30. We started on our standard V-練 route leading almost all the way to Odawara. From here we were only four and we decided to ride direction Miura and visit a restaurant (Yuuki Shokudo、(ゆうき食堂) near the entrance in Zushi Marina 逗子マリーナ- first turning to the left side before the two tunnels. Unfortunately, this place only opens at 11:30 and it was only 10:15 or so. I proposed the Maruyoshi canteen near Misaki and gone we were! For me this was the fourth visit to Maruyoshi this winter...the food is great but the roads are pretty much congested...I swore to myself that this had to be the last time this winter to ride on the is about time to attack some serious mountains again! All four of us ordered the "habanori teishoku" set meal with an extra portion of rice. We finished our meal in no time and everybody looked satisfied. A bit further down the road, I left my mates as I didn't want to face all the ugly traffic again between Yokosuka and Yokohama and beyond. Instead, I went for my half loop back to Enoshima and from there, I mostly followed Machida-kaido. Got back home at 15:15...happy to find a good speed average for this long a distance. Itoigawa, here we come! Ogawa-san' story here (in Japanese).

zaterdag 23 januari 2010

Barracuda lunch

Third Miura "loop" of the year....arrived at the Enoshima Bridge RdV spot at 9:50 and took a 10-minute rest half-hoping somebody from PE would show up.  Of course nobody did.   Exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes later, I reached Maruyoshi Shokudo.  Today I treated myself to some broiled "kamasu" barracuda and a bowl of ramen.  The kamasu tasted fantastic and I was enjoying my lunch all by myself until an entire TV crew and two noisy talentos entered the canteen...(to be aired this evening from 8:55 on TV Kanagawa....).  I left Maruyoshi behind at 12:00 and got home at 15:15.

zondag 17 januari 2010

My mini-cyclocross loop: Daigo-rindo

Some pictures I took along 醍醐林道 today.  Daigo-rindo connects Itsukaichi to Wada-toge via Iriyama-toge and has graveled road sections not really suited for road bikes.  As Ludwig had warned us, there was plenty of snow and ice above 400 or so meters.  While the 35 tires handled the snowy & leafy parts on the side of the road without noticeable difficulty, I decided to dismount from my X-fire whenever I saw ice...

zaterdag 16 januari 2010

The Sound of Feathers

音羽丸 Otowamaru...a ship named Sound of Feathers...what's in a name!   Went LSD-ing again today - usual Miura-route with a little detour around 城が島 Jogashima this time.  When I reached Misaki, this little boat with a most beautiful name struck my eye.

Instantly my thoughts drifted away Marcel Proust-like to old memories of my first ride on a "real" road racer my father had bought me in Gent for my ninth birthday...a bike with a French name..."Plume Vainqueur"...Victorious Feather !  I still remember my very first ride trying to outpace my father.  We were riding along flat Flemish country roads through turnip and corn fields until we were about to reach the Damse Vaart, a picturesque canal connecting Bruges to Sluis in the Netherlands. 

It happened as I was looking behind me to check on my first accident!  Frontal collision with a telegraph pole!!  I will never forget my father swearing at me in anger!  It was not and still today it is not in his nature to show the slighest sign of compassion.  I was completely dumbfounded and there was no more conversation for the rest of the ride.  Many years later, my father confessed that he was trying so hard to keep up with me that he had not enough strength in reserve to talk...

I rode up to the park on Jogashima only to discover one has to pay to enter it...on the island itself, I did not see much interesting...many of the souvenir shops and restaurants were shuttered and I was turned down by the few ones in business with "ponbiki" obachans calling "onichan!"...didn't even check what the local speciality was....

Let's see, what's on the cycle computer?...all right!   202km at 28.1km.h average...feels good - Long Speedy Distance...

Took my Ridley to Nakatani-san's shop right after I got home.   BB was sounding like some grinder...out with 105 in with Dura-Ace.

maandag 11 januari 2010

Resuming indoor training

Went to O-Vest yesterday to have Nishitani-san readjust the shifting mechanism on my steel bike.  I was not too happy with the downtube tensioning barrel which would often completely lock up and become useless.  I like to fine-tune the rear derailleur in the midst of a ride whenever the chain starts rubbing against the guide rail which mostly only happens when going in highest gear.   Nishitani-san immediately knew what I meant and began digging into one of the many plastic boxes laying around his workstand.  There it was!  Don't know what the technical name for it is but here you can see this four-step tensioning lever pictured.  This small device seems to be rather rare and hard to come by lately.  Mid-ride fine-tuning should become less stressful, I hope! 

My plan for today was to do another LSD training like the 210km I did on Saturday circling around Miura but when the alarm clock awoke me at 6:00, I turned it off...the bed felt too comfortable this morning!  What happened to my guts?  Outside it looked like a cold and overcast day and I couldn't even force myself into doing a small Wada-loop, let alone getting into my cycling wear!  My Neocot stood ready in the entrance hall and my entire outfit, socks, GPS, camera, everything I usually take along on my rides had been put in order already last evening.  One of those rare days when apathy wins over passion, I suppose.  I went grocery shopping instead with my wife in the morning and in the afternoon with the wife gone to attend some recital, I found myself home alone and to make things more miserable, the skies started to clear up!  

Enough!  I thought...time to get the dust off my Hydro-Mag.  Thirty minutes later I was inside my hobby room - naked torso happily pushing the pedals to a Carl Mario von Weber bassoon concerto with extra bass and all windows open (neighbours were gone for the day).  Rode 45km all together staying above 30km/ felt so good I've resolved to resume indoor training on a daily basis for the remainder of this winter.

zaterdag 9 januari 2010


Guts are needed to get out of bed at 5:30 and face the darkness and coldness some 30 minutes later in the saddle. I met some of the local VLAAMS boys as usual at Koremasa Bridge to exchange New Year greetings and join them on the first leg of their "bakery ride". A long-standing VLAAMS tradition is to make some fancy bakery the destination of the asaren morning training and we have already unearthed an impressive list of great, exclusive bakeries mostly in Kanagawa Pref.

Today, I did not go all the way and parted from my mates at Sagamihara Park turning South to Zama City as I wanted to do a long-awaited Miura-Hanto loop; one of those rides I reserve for the winter months. Unfortunately, nobody at Positivo Espresso had signed up for this ride but still I made a quick double-check at the Onekan (7:00) and Enoshima (9:00) RdV points. I reached Enoshima exactly 6 minutes before the appointed time. Today I did not overdress, just a couple “heat-tech” undershirts under my long-sleeve VLAAMS jersey with a windbreaker on top for the early morning hours. The coastal roads on both sides of Miura were surprisingly pleasant, not too much traffic and clear views of Fujisan.

I decided to make a little detour to Arasaki for an impromptu visit to an acquaintance of mine who has his country cottage sitting on top of the hill facing the National Park. Before knocking on the gate, I announced my surprise visit by cell phone…one never knows what might be going on inside! How relieved I was to hear the other end pronounce “welcome, welcome!” The gardener, the in-house pattisière and the kitchen princess all happened to be lucky for me! The English garden was splendid - not the tiny & kitschy kind one encounters so often in this country – with well-fed chickens freely roaming around like tame pets. In a sunny spot on the terrace I got treated to a piece of home-baked cinnamon & raisin tart, yoghurt with peaches and a cup of natsumikan & honey flavored tea all from the garden! Were it not for the tombis shrieking high up in the sky, one would imagine being right in Cotswold! One corner in the garden featured a large bird cage, which my host explained is used for feeding and letting smaller birds enjoy their food at ease without having to worry for larger predators that cannot enter the small entrance hole.  I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, bid my adieus and left for my next destination: Maruyoshi Shokudo…

Maruyoshi fisherman’s canteen got refurbished last year with the gyotaku (fish ink rubbings) gone and the brownish walls having been repainted in white…it felt more homely before I thought. For the first time, I saw among the many shikishi of celebrities who have eaten here, one signed by Lisa Stegmayer, a former (?) “talento” who is very much into triathlon racing.  I devoured my “chu-toro zukedon” set lunch in no time…marvelous! This treat really makes circling around Miura worth the effort. Took a few pictures of my Sirius silhouetted against the ubiquitous Miura Daikon drying in the sun…

zaterdag 2 januari 2010


Hatsunori...first ride of the year.  Due to a to a bad jet lag causing me to fall asleep during dinner last evening, I decided to forfeit the much-anticipated "Hakone Ekiden" ride which Michael had organized as a joint Positivo Espresso - TCC event.  When I woke up this morning at 10:00, it felt like I was in need of still more sleep.   I left home more than an hour later on a loop of Gando-toge.  The only stretch with more or less heavy traffic was Koshu Kaido around Lake Sagamiko, otherwise I enjoyed a very peaceful ride especially riding through Akiyama-mura and over Gando-toge.  Today I took the right-hand descent to Doshimichi...very steep!  Hiroshi told me he often climbs Gando-toge from the Doshimichi side...short maybe but very cruel; will try from Doshimichi next time for sure!  This year's Hatsunori was only 118km-short but my legs felt mighty grateful after yesterday's long flight home.

vrijdag 1 januari 2010