zondag 29 mei 2011

Another rainy season

was ushered in by another typhoon...forget cycling - time for some fine jazz and fine booze! Spent the entire day yesterday at Jazz in Fuchu
2011 - Eiji Taniguchi is getting better and better every year...real magic (if Benny could have heard this; he would have been real astounded) !!

woensdag 25 mei 2011

zondag 22 mei 2011

The 40th Classic 300km Endurance Race

Completed the Tokyo-Itoigawa Classic Endurance Race under 10 hours (9 hours and 43 minutes) for the fourth consecutive year (no podium though)!
Time: 9:43:09
Average: 30.00 km/h
Overall: 11th (out of 359)
Age Group: 5th (out of 136)

Stronger than usual competition for me this year meant that I had to ride more tactically instead of relying on brute force. I was very lucky to be able to start in the last group with Andy W. and his Jonnobi Lieutenant. Ludwig had also shown up at this very early hour in front of Takaosan-guchi to encourage me and give some last-minute "moral support".

Otarumi-toge was scaled before I realized it. I was riding mostly behind Andy and his teammate and right behind me were my rivals from Nalsima, Paris-Brest and a couple other teams, familiar faces from past years. My legs felt extremely fresh and the bike was performing at 100%. Riding behind Andy, I was surprised to see him eat at regular intervals still so early into the ride. Our group reached the Sasago Tunnel almost at the same time - a bit stretched out but I managed to hang on to the top (last year, I could only stay with Andy until Uenohara).

Out of tunnel, my favorite largely-downhill section to Nirasaski came up and the group let me have my little pleasure. I enjoyed a brief escape until Fuefuki where I was hoping to run into Positivo Espresso Super Stamina Champ Jerome...nowhere in sight though (had decided to stay in bed). We approached the Nirasaki checkpoint at Marunoya in one group but some guys started to sprint for "bonus points" (the official ride certificate has the standings/split times for each distance between the checkpoints). One「 けつの穴の小さいなるしまフレンド A」 rider whom I had "beaten in the sprint," pushed in front of me as I was patiently waiting to hand over my time card...やれやれ oh well...this "race" is about having fun after all!

It was slowly and painfully getting clear to me that I would no longer be able to stay in the slipstream of Andy and his mate. As soon as the Fujimi-toge grade started to pick up, I had to let go and tried to find my own rhythm. I joined and got joined by several smaller groups - one of them consisting of 3 very young Tokai Univ. riders...good climbers but not much lasting power. At the next Shiojiri checkpoint, I ran into YellowGiant Travis and my TCC buddies for the first time.

Travis took a headstart and I never managed to completely catch up with him until the next and final "A-COOP" checkpoint at Hakuba. Just before reaching this checkpoint, I began to suffer my first leg cramps....they would move from one leg to another and from one muscle group to another each time I tried to push or pull the pedals harder. These cramps never completely disappeared except inside the tunnels...perhaps thanks to the lower temperatures and the enormous length of these tunnels having fanned the heat out of my legs?

Just as I got out of the last tunnel and starting to get this victorious feeling, Travis flew past me at a supersonic speed pulling two riders (two of my closest rivals!!) behind him. Travis, always the gentleman, was so kind as to slow down to allow me to jump on the bandwagon (First Class Service!) which I did. After a while, the pace went up again and the painful cramps reappeared. I gave up chasing the three and finished one minute behind my 2 close rivals (finishing 5th in my age group - could have been 3rd otherwise if...)

I spent a great evening meeting David L. and other Positivo Espresso/TCC buddies at Hotel Itoigawa but had to wait quite a while before all my own BEACH team members (five in all) arrived. Like previous years, we celebrated at the downtown yakiniku place - this time unfortunately without Saruto-san.

This morning, it was raining very hard in Itoigawa and Ichiro-san and I quickly abandoned the idea of cycling back to Tokyo. Instead, we all went to the usual little restaurant at 7 am and feasted on all kinds of dishes and delicious "gengyo" fish.

Already looking forward to next year's TOITO!

zaterdag 14 mei 2011

TCC Penis Race

With 6 more days left to TOITO, I joined TCC's "Battle Royale" aka TCC Real Life Penis Competition, thinking it would be a great final tune-up opportunity which -fortunately- it turned out to be!

This battle race was supposed to pitch two of TCC's more flamboyant members against each other and many members were full of anticipation. A bit of an anti-climax though to learn yesterday that James had to file DNS but nevertheless, everybody and especially Deej was very much enthused about this race.

Many people - mostly old buddies but also a few new faces - gathered in front of Itsukaichi Station. Splendid weather conditions - a bit windy but not too hot or humid, very pleasant. There were only 6 finishers as some people had different ride plans and others had to be home early.

I finished the ride in about 3 hours and 40 minutes, just behind a mechanically-troubled Deej. Deej and Clay (today's winner - as expected) dictated a strong pace almost from the beginning and I had to let them go midway the Kazahari-rindo turnoff. I was in third position for quite a while until Serguey powercranked his way up the steepest section and overtook me in front of the Kinoko mushroom center.

After I crested Kazahari alone, I kept chasing an imaginary Serguey not knowing he had turned left and back to Itsukaichi at the top. With Itoigawa in mind, I was careful not to go to excess, trying to find a comfortable rhythm instead. It is not easy to find the right cadence on the lake-up "Ura-Kazahari" approach - a bit like the TOITO Fujimi-toge climb...that one can be a killer too!

When I swept around the last turn before the Motoshuku Penis Finish Line, suddenly I saw a familiar blue jersey...Deej! Poor Deej had been experiencing some -what must have been very annoying and even scary - noises caused by the bearings in his back hub forcing him to pedal like a fixie on all the downhills!

Down at the familiar 7/11, we all loaded up on well-deserved carbs.

The start line and finish line of this race is at the well-known T-junction near Hinoharamura Yakuba, known by most people as Honjuku or Honshuku. Right at this Motoshuku (official name) T-junction, is a tiny little shrine - practically unnoticeable - housing this tiny little phallus...the name of this race couldn't have been more appropriate! Looking forward to more future editions!

woensdag 4 mei 2011

Mini Yakyu-toge Loop

I knew she liked tulips, Lady d'Arbanville! Left home latish at 8:15 but still managed to ride 230km and get home well before sunset. Chichibu 299 was terrible with Golden Week vacationers. Very powerful ride, lots of "hikiashi" (stopped twice to adjust saddle height).

maandag 2 mei 2011

270km+ TOITO shitami ride

No pictures today...黄砂 yellow sand totally obscured views of Minami-Alps! Rode as far as the edge of Nirasaki and then doubled back. Only stopped twice...stamina is almost at max now with 3 weeks to go to TOITO!