dinsdag 29 juni 2010

Youngest daughter aspiring to take up cycling ?

Received many pictures this morning from my youngest daughter studying in Belgium. Exams finally over, she is enjoying her vacation riding her Dutch Gazelle bicycle. If she really wants, I'd like to take her to Nishitani-san's O-Vest to get her a real "road racer"...

maandag 28 juni 2010

Team Futomomo

Official time is out: 1:18:50, good for a 29th place in my age group. One second faster than me was T橋-san of Team Futomomo ("Team Thighs"). Team Futomomo is based in Ueda-shi, Nagano Prefecture and its members were out there to defend their turf against outsiders (like me?). T橋-san did most of the pulling and tempo-setting (except for the flatter parts were I would only very briefly take over the lead in my big chainring). Naturally, I did not want to finish ahead of him after all his work and cut short the final sprint - crossing the finish line one second behind. In the picture - borrowed from the Team Futomomo blog - you can see me trailing about 10 meters behind in the inner lane desperately trying to counter yet another "attack en danseuse" by T橋-san.

zondag 27 juni 2010

Utsukushigahara 2010 ... no rain check !

Spent more time cleaning my Super Six today than completing the 2010 Tour de Utsukushigahara. It rained from start to finish but as soon as the race was over, the sun appeared.

Had a great time staying at the same ryokan as previous years. Like every year, I attended the "race queen" photo shoot (I kind of liked the Showa-esque "motepuyo" queen standing on my right side) yesterday and then did my little reconnaissance cycling up and down Lake Misuzu - once alone and once with a VLAAMS team mate. I was glad I had changed the tires back to normal 23c ones. The first part of "Utsukushigahara Skyline" up to the lake is the steepest and the rain had made it extra slippery.

The race this morning went better than I had expected and I managed to shave more than 4 minutes off last year's time in spite of the slippery and misty conditions. Near the top, visibility was at times less than 10 meters - precisely were the downhill section is... Curious to see my official time and the rankings!

Two nice videos shot by a VLAAMS buddy here: "start & gekisaka" & "misty downhill & finish".

dinsdag 22 juni 2010

Easy target ??

Younger brother Hans almost reached his average speed target of 40km/h at the recent time trial competition in Ostend. This time with a 53T standard crankset and a one-piece TT outfit, he managed to average 39.630 km/h good for a 34th place! Winner was Rudi D B on a Cervelo P4 (pictured below).
Hans is still riding a normal aluminum road bike and this obviously puts him in a disadvantageous position ! Once he reaches his goal (40km/h average), he is getting himself a "decent" flatbar TT bike !

zaterdag 19 juni 2010

maandag 14 juni 2010

Head over (w)heels

Younger brother Hans is head over (w)heels in love with time trials these days! Watch him in action at the 20.5-km long TT of Oostkamp last weekend averaging 38.280 km/h...

One of the pictures shows him with 2-time Hawaii Ironman Champ Luc Van Lierde!

zondag 13 juni 2010


Maybe I'm acting like a "mi-ha-" groupie (whisky is getting very popular again these days in Japan), but it is really "VLAAMS Ace Yamazaki" who got me curious about this beverage.

In my college years, I would drink whisky mixed with cola only to end up with a splitting headache or worse. Until recently for the last 20 years, whisky had never touched my lips.

When the two of us are climbing toges together (which does not happen very often though - VLAAMS Ace is too fast for me), the conversation invariably turns to Yamazaki-san's favorite drink.

For a couple months now, I've been trying several kinds - domestic, Canadian and Scotch. So far, I've liked Hibiki 12 years by Suntory and Fujisanroku by Kirin. Today, I'm adding to this list Laphroaig Quarter Cask...my favorite so far!

I tasted about 10 different Scotch whiskies this afternoon at Kashiwaya Fuchu - a young gentleman explaining the characteristics of each kind and it was this "Quarter Cask" that really caught me!

"Look out for a creamy, almost coconut aroma on the nose, then a soft sweetness when first tasted, then the intense medicinal peak smoke so familiar to Laphroaig comes bursting through in waves, with a long finish"

Color: full sparkling gold
Nose: burning embers of peat in a crofters fireplace, hints of coconut, gorse and heather
Body: full-bodied
Taste: deep, complex and smoky yet offers and surprises the palate with a gentle sweetness
Finish: really long, drying appropriately with smoke and spice


Visited O-Vest today to have tencho examine the mysterious "pokko-pokko" noise my BB is making when climbing or accelerating. Tencho dissembled the entire crankset but found nothing wrong with it. He then cleaned and greased up the inside put everyting back on and hocus pocus gone is the noise...for now. Will only find out when climbing in the mountains if it really is.

Meanwhile, I have ordered a special 52 chainring designed for campagnolo compact crank. 34 is great for the climbing but 50 is just too small for the flats.

Yesterday, I put all my lightest components at hand on my Super Six ahead of this month's Utsukushigahara hillclimb race. The wheels (Fulcrum Racing 3) are of course not the lightest but the rest is state-of-the-art including the quick release set I found at O-Vest for less than 4,000 yen and weighing less than 50 grams a pair.

The Continental 20c tires seemed to enhance the climbing but felt rather insecure during the downhills and tight cornering. I will only use them for the HC races.

zaterdag 12 juni 2010

Mighty Five-peak Loop

With the rainy season misery about to dawn, I took advantage of splendid weather conditions - not too hot, not too windy - for another 250km ride. The VLAAMS ride plan for this morning was to attack Kazahari-rindo; however, there was very little enthusiasm with ace Yamazaki-san even proclaiming he hates mushrooms (read: "Kinoko Center"; to quote Yamazaki-san: " キノコキライ°・(ノД`)・°・ ")! Only good old helper ("domistique") Ichiro followed me in the end. I really like the gently undulating hills leading to the T-junction before the more serious climbing begins. The Super Six recently shed some more weight and I'm starting to get the knack again of fast rotations on the compact crank. At the top, Ichiro decided he'd done enough climbing for the day already and rode back. The rest of the day was solo cresting Imagawa-toge (first time this year!) followed by Yanagisawa. Between Tabayamamura and Yanagisawa I was followed by a chap wearing the Canadian national team jersey but I did not allow him to get any closer than 500 meters. Kamihikawa-toge (1,596m) is now my absolute No.1 favorite mountain road for several reasons...little traffic, beautiful scenery and....no competition! Strangely, the only cyclists I encounter on this pass are of the randonneur-type. I had a "hiyashimen" lunch at the 7/11 on Koshukaido not far from where Rd 218 hits Koshu-kaido. The mountain roads were filled with high-pitched noise from cicadas; they must be of a different kind than the aburazemi that appear in more urban areas much later following the rainy season. I was all by myself again climbing Sasago-toge. The bottom bracket of the Super Six began to make a short dry sound with every pedal stroke...needs to be looked at. I skipped Suzugane-toge today and followed Koshu-kaido all the way to Chigira Elementary School from where I descended for a "Hiroshi Twist" and visit to the Columbian drug lord. Elevation gain today was 4,182m - probably a bit more though as my Garmin 500 froze again mid-ride and it took me a while to find out. Tomorrow, I will take it easy...rain predicted late afternoon - maybe I should visit Nishitani-san and ask him to check the bottom bracket.

Kazahari-rindo -> Imagawa-toge -> Yanagisawa-toge -> Kamihikawa-toge -> Sasago-toge