Berichten weergeven met het label FKC. Alle berichten weergeven
Berichten weergeven met het label FKC. Alle berichten weergeven

zaterdag 7 januari 2012

Hatsu-ride featuring Arasaki Mochitsuki!

View from Zushi on Miura Peninsula
Little fisherman's harbor in front of Kumano-jinja, Arasaki
This one belongs to the one and only Zentaroh!
Hazard/sightseeing map of Arasaki
Mochi-tsuki rice-cake pounding at the weekend cottage of my boss overseeing Arasaki Bay
Freshly-pounded yomogi-herb rice-cake with kinako toasted soybean flour and brown bamboo sugar...perfect fuel on a cold day like today!
Couldn't resist a stop at my favorite bakery...had a "filet-au-fish" sandwich and took 3 anpans home!
Nakaipan!  the best bakery in all of Miura Peninsula...authentic Showa taste guaranteed!
Today happened to be the first day in business this a whole bag full of "Melba toast"-rusk for free!

zondag 10 februari 2008


For a first duathlon, I can only console myself with the thought that at least I tried hard and completed the entire course. I do have my regrets though as I did not train at all for the running part. I was doing fine until the middle of the race on the bike making up all the distance I lost in the first 5km run and easily overtaking one rider after another until suddenly I sensed stitches in the calf area of both legs! The cramps spread to my thighs forcing me to slow down and let all the riders I had passed overtake me...that was so frustrating. When the final run came, I could hardly move my feet! This really is a sport apart and the trick must be to learn how to keep those separate muscle groups under control. I found out the hard way why this event is called "Calfman" but I surely want to try again next year!

Two days later this morning I'm still having great difficulty in walking the stairs...particularly the descending part is excruciating....this must be how it will feel when I'll be over 90....I feel great sympathy for those elderly people now that I know how painful it is! The funny thing is I didn't feel any of the pain on the bicycle this morning on my way to the station. Hope the pain will be completely gone by the weekend. I'm longing for a long ride in the mountains!

zondag 13 januari 2008

First climb of Suzugane this year

Rode today with David L, Michael and Marek and took Marek to Suzugane, Tsuru City, Yamanashi Pref. (story on the Positivo Espresso weblog). Although freezing weather was predicted for the area (it did feel cold!), the road surface was not icy at all (except for a few patches here and there in the shadow of the mountains) as I had feared. Nevertheless, I did all the downhills ultracautiously trailing behind the rest most of the time.

Dst: 156:06
Av: 25.1
Mx: 53.8
Time: 6:13
Kcal: 4,542

zaterdag 15 december 2007

Post-bonenkai malaise

8:30 @ Sekidobashi…Goro, Jerome, Michael assembled almost all in time (Thierry had left a cute & thoughtful message on my mobile wishing us a pleasant ride…last-minute Xmas shopping before the homecoming season…) We quickly decided on the route of the day and gone we were. The air felt cold but not bone-chilling yet, perfect for a high-paced ride I thought as I put our train into motion.

Michael was visibly not in his usual element…his car had gotten towed away by the police at 2 a.m. after a long bonenkai party. And then with barely any sleep as Michael mounted his old horse, his rear wheel had exploded! When I told him a week before that the poor animal was running on its last legs, I knew what I was saying! Yes, I’m afraid mercy killing is the only answer Michael! We all arrived safely at the Takao 7/11 and as we were about to do a mini time trial of the Otarumi toge, Michael discovered a loose spoke on his back wheel…more malaise to come! Anyways we all completed the Otarumi TT with Goro as the undisputed champion. We bid Michael farewell after the descent of the Otarumi and the three of us proceeded to circle around Sagamiko towards Fujino.

Jerome clearly still had the Kyoto Mountain Marathon (30km running up Hieizan, Daimonji and other hills…crazy!) in his legs and fell behind. Goro & I were so fired up we simply could not leave the engines in idling mode and so we parted with Jerome. The ascent through the two Hinohara golf courses (this area is also known as Yuzurihara village 棡原) all the way to the Kobu tunnel was very smooth and quite fast and alternating sitting and danseuse on the FKC was such a delight. Yuzurihara is the village where people allegedly live so long and yet look so young thanks to a healing molecule called hyaluronic acid - in what is also known as the "Yuzurihara phenomenon". Hocus-pocus??

The ride was even more comfortable thanks to the new “Selle Italia” (Slr, titanium tube, 135gr). Saddles are a gambling affair…one is never sure if a saddle will fit unless you actually ride on it. This time I consider myself very lucky; this saddle is the best I’ve ever had. On the way home Goro rode with me through Fuchu and we left each other at the crossing 200m away from my home.
Thanks & otsukaresama everyone!

Come to think of it…all four of us will be riding for the same NFCC Team next year. I'm looking forward to continuing this type of “sorties montagnes” next year, of course interspersed with the more relaxed but not less ambitious Positivo Espresso rides!

zondag 25 november 2007


Another long weekend with perfect cycling conditions…cycled three half days covering some 500km. The road leading to Mt. Takao was congested three days in a row…the annual rush of red-leaves kōyō gazers in tune with the official NHK announcement declaring the season is now open. Fortunately Takao is where the mass exodus stopped and I enjoyed some relatively quiet country roads up and down hills aflame with red and yellow leaves around Sagamiko and then via Fujino through Hinohara where I passed the same kaki tree three times.
I prefer persimmons with firm flesh that can be eaten like an crisp apple rather than the mushy kind. A real delicacy are hoshigaki 干し柿 using the bitter, astringent shibugaki 渋柿 variety whose tannin levels are reduced with the aid of traditional hand-drying techniques, outdoors for two to three weeks. Hoshigaki remind me of the tranquil days following the hectic and overcommercialized Christmas period...extremely nutritious and sweet they bring peace of mind to me every year.

zondag 4 november 2007

Giro de Hotaka and the "Junction of Doom"

"I'm sure I would have gotten a medal if only...!


One hobby of mine is mountain stream fishing…tenkara, or traditional Japanese-style fly fishing, which is in many ways close to Western-style fly fishing but in many others quite different…one distinctive feature of tenkara is that no reel is attached to the rod…in olden days when the rivers in Japan were still brimming with natural, indigenous trout varieties such as yamame or iwana, this was the preferred style of fishing of professional fishermen who would return home every day with a catch of about 50 fish. These days, however, rivers here are stocked with foreign species, especially rainbow trout and it is getting increasingly difficult to catch genuine indigenous fish…some river sections have become fish farms so to speak. A very sad trend but still tenkara remains a fascinating hobby…starting from tying your own flies adapted to the time of the season, selection of tapered line, size of the right hook…a lot of time goes into the preparation and strategy planning before one actually reaches the target stream deep in the mountains. Almost every time however, the catch is very poor and on most days there is no catch at all…but that doesn’t diminish the intense joy of becoming one with nature and hunting after one’s “princess of the river”.

I’ve come to realize that cycling is a very similar pastime…plenty of time goes into the selection of the right materials, carbon vs. aluminum wheels, rear sprocket ratio, the right cycling wear adapted to the weather, etc. Then today, it occurred to me that fishing & cycling have something else in common…the mental process by which humans tend to blow up out of all proportion certain failures which, had they not occurred, would have turned a certain venture into a huge success! The fish one fails the land is (always) the biggest! When I got home this evening, my daughter asked me how I fared at today’s race…and this is how I replied…everything went perfect and I was sure to win a medal, but then I failed to make a turn and continued for 20km along the wrong road…if only I had followed the right course, I would have a medal around my neck! "Sounds like another tsuriotoshita sakana wa ookii story of you, dad!" Alas, this is what actually happened this morning (although the extra distance was more like 15km, still more than 30 min were lost)…

The previous evening, NFCC members Alain, Thierry and I were going over our tactics in all its details, including the exact timing of consuming a power gel. The “race” started perfect…with Alain and me taking the lead on the first downhill section and then myself pulling a small peloton, or rather, an escape group of about 15 riders for some 20 minutes until we hit the forked road spot - THE JUNCTION OF DOOM - one road turning left and the other upwards…we were all looking at each other…no signboards, no official “Giro” marshals to point us in the correct direction and so we decided to go for the easiest…follow the road straight ahead. And so we went in one long-stretched line…beautiful scenery, a nice clear mountain stream on the right side...

After a while, the map, we had tried to input into our minds the previous evening, popped up in front of my eyes, we were going up but not at the steep gradient we were supposed to be following…our doubts were soon confirmed…the road ended in a Y fork chained on both ends! Wrong road…everyone double back!!! Goodbye medals!!!

Since the “Giro de Hotaka” is not a real race but more of a cyclo-tourism type of event, we did not allow the wrong road to demoralize ourselves and completed the rest of the ride in great comradeship!

For me, it was the perfect ride to round off a beautiful year full of cycling. The mushroom soup distributed at the end of the race tasted ever so good!

zondag 28 oktober 2007


Alarm clock woke me up at 6:00...fell out of bed, “dragged a comb across my head,” walked 7 meters to the mailbox and took out my newspaper, got upstairs and fixed myself a cup of Chai tea, toast with honey, bread with Côte d’Or milk & hazelnut chocolate, yoghurt with a kōgyoku apple, filled my drink bottle with water and some energy powder, went down into the bedroom where my wife was still asleep, got into my cycling wear...

Shoot...where is that heartbeat strap again?....where are my sunglasses?....where are my gloves?....where are my socks?...where is the sunscreen?....where are my coins?...ended up waking up my wife...this has become a weekly ritual at my place and it is this last part that is getting on my wife’s nerves! Still, she’s the one who’s been hiding all my cycling stuff in the most impossible places. If I don’t clean up after a ride right away and leave something hanging around in the entrance, she will inevitably put it out of sight...heartbeat strap I left out to dry the sweat ends up in the gardening tool box...and so on!

Left the house at 7:00...taifū ikka blue sky, the road still wet here and there...reached Tamagawa at Koremasa-bashi in ten minutes flat…wow, sure look beautiful today! Proceeded along the Asakawa CR, did my first climb of the day over Odarumi-tōge, almost no traffic on the Kōshū Kaidō (Sundays are definitely better)...reached Sarubashi at an average speed of 27km/h...not bad!

Took a few pictures of the obakeyashiki show window which has been intriguing me for quite some time - every time I pass it on my left side - just before the real climbing begins. Turned out the shop is still in operation...inside they were selling the very latest fashion and flower seeds!

When I almost reached the top of Matsuhime, just before the spot where Goro had his ill-fated crash last week, I stopped to take a few more pictures. This is when a car stopped and an elderly gentleman got out and walked towards me...”Shall I take your picture?”...what heartwarming kindness...only in Japan I guess! The guy had not even noticed I was a foreigner.
I descended extra carefully...lots of wet leaves in the curves! Once through the village of Kosuge, I pressed on to scale the Imagawa and Kazahari ridges. After I hit the Tamagawa CR, I was facing the usual strong wind blowing from the East...decided to skip the CR (too crowded & too many Sunday drivers!) and follow the normal road. Got home very satisfied around 15:30.
Average heart beat: 146
Average speed: 25.2
Max speed: 58.4
Distance: 194.9
Time: 7:44h
Kcal: 5,774

zaterdag 27 oktober 2007


Typhoon No.20

As I'm writing this, the twentieth typhoon of this season is rapidly approaching the Kanto area at a speed of 100km/h. With every gust of wind, the sudare reed screen is hitting the window.

No cycling today. Too lazy to fix the hometrainer, I'm hopeful tomorrow will be another marvelous taifu ikka day when the typhoon moves further eastwards below the Japanese Archipelago.Got to tune up my FKC for a long ride tomorrow! Time now for a few chocolate chip cookies and a cup of Taiwanese tea...

zaterdag 13 oktober 2007

Imagawa-touge 今川峠

Made another 駄目押し”insurance run” on the FKC today…there’s no doubt left now…this is by far the fastest bike I have ever ridden. 28k/h at the turning point near Otsuki! Weather was partly cloudy with little wind and temperatures below 20 (13 near the top of Matsuhime). Used my legwarmers for the first time this season…the right choice! Took some photographs of the little-known Imagawa-touge which connects Matsuhime-touge to Yanagisawa-touge.

This mountain pass is one hell of a nasty climb…not so long but it has a couple very steep parts – steeper than the Wada for sure! Height of this local ridge situated between the villages of Kosuge-mura and Tabayama-mura is 940m. The road itself always has very little traffic on it and is rather darkish set as it is right in the middle of a cedar forest blocking out most sunlight…no matter how many times I’ve cursed this climb in agony, it remains one of my favorite mountain passes in Yamanashi.

Average speed: 25.7
Max speed:
Time on bike:
Distance: 195.53

zondag 7 oktober 2007


Did exactly the same ride as yesterday but on a different bike...the idea being to decide which bike to take to the "Giro de Hotaka" next month... Weather & traffic conditions were virtually the same...maybe a little more windy today but no rain shower. At first it seemed it would be an easy victory for my workhorse, the Trek Madone...average speed until the foot of Matsuhime (Saruhashi) was 27.2k! It was on the first stretch with a more or less serious climb that the difference became soon as I sat down in the saddle after 250m or so "en danseuse," it felt like something was pulling my back wheel! How I suffered...was it fatigue because this was the second day in a row? or was it because this is a normal crank compared to the compact crank on the FKC?...I doubt it was any of those excuses! Proof: even maximum speed was slower than on the FKC!!

Average speed: 24.4 (vs. 25.1 on FKC)
Max speed: 58.3 (vs. 58.5 on FKC)
Time on bike: 8:02 (vs. 7:48 on FKC)
Distance: 196.25 (vs. 196.39 on FKC)

Although the contest ended in a total defeat for Trek Madone, I really enjoyed the ride...autumn weather was gorgeous. This weekend, I used my armwarmers & windbreaker for the first time since Spring. Kazahari was crowded with motorbikes...I've done Kazahari maybe 30 times but never saw so many of them...some kind of sacred congregation?! Once the colder days arrive and the "kouyou zensen" 紅葉前線 autumn leaves front moves further southwards, their number will dwindle away and it will be paradise again for cyclists!

zondag 16 september 2007

Matsuhime...two days in a row!

Left home at 8:00 on my Orbea and met the former owner of the FKC who was already on his way back day's ride had just started. Late starts are no good and there was a terrible traffic jam on Rd. 20.

I was relieved to take the right turn at Saruhashi direction Kosuge...this time there was no drizzle and the road surface was not wet. I tried to go up en danseuse like I had done almost tirelessly the previous day but my legs felt heavy like lead....was it fatigue of the second day or was it simply because I was not on the FKC?

I reached the top where the temperature was 23, 3 C 3 degrees higher than yesterday and it felt much hotter. Took the same route back to Tokyo as yesterday but skipped the Wada....instead I went down to R. 2o via Fujino...traffic congestion again! Where do all these cars come from? The rest of my ride to Asakawa was not so pleasant and I was happy to get home and find a nicely cooled beer on the table!

zaterdag 15 september 2007

Showers & sun on Matsuhime-Tōge

狐の嫁入り on 松姫峠

6:45 departure from the usual RdV @ Sekidobashi…”sanrenkyū” means lots of traffic as Thierry of Club NFCC, my companion of the day, found out. The ride along the Asakawa to Takao, one of our preferred routes leading into the mountains, went smooth.

On the Otarumi-tōge we met with competition, three seasoned Japanese roadies were going at strong pace but they turned out to be no great match on our descent towards Sagamiko. Saruhashi, our entrance point to our climb of the day on the Kōshū Kaidō, came sooner than I had thought thanks to the strong pace of Thierry.

It had by then become cloudy and as we embarked on the 27k-long climb of the Matsuhime, light rain started to fall in fine drops.

My FKC was begging me again to go “en danseuse” and that’s how I was forced to leave Thierry behind for the remainder of the climb. With each tunnel pass-through, the weather seemed to be brightening up again and at one point, I imagined seeing a Kurosawa “yomeiri” procession of foxes leading the way in front of me.

I made a few stops this time to take a few pictures of the mountains. 10 minutes later Thierry would join me at the top.

We decided to head back towards Tokyo via the Tsuru, Tawa and Wada Passes. I had no idea a déjà-vu experience was waiting for me at the foot of the Wada. A guard waving towards me and two hapless cyclists on the side of the road…not again!! Here is how the conversation went between the guard and me.

G: “You speak our language?”
Me: “Only a bit (= BIG LIE)”
G: “The entire road is off-limits”
Me: “You must kidding, I saw no signs!”
G: “The signboards are all over (= BIG LIE)…STOP!”
Me: “Sorry, I honestly saw no signboards; I’ve got to move on. I was here last week (= BIG LIE) and there was nothing wrong with the road!”
G: “STOP, repair work is going on near the top, no way you can pass!”
Me: “That’s my problem, not yours!!”

…this whole conversation went on as the guard was running along pulling my right arm for about 15m going up a steep hill…!! 100 meters later, I realized I had committed an unforgivable felony…I had forgotten I was not alone…poor Thierry…how would he put up with this obnoxious guard? Well, it turned out he did and at the top, Thierry would give an impromptu show of how a real guard - capable of stopping misbehaving gaijin riders like us - ought to act! We did find out though that the guard was for once telling the truth about the repair works…a landslide triggered by last week’s typhoon had pulled down a fence and huge rocks were all over the road. Luckily, the friendly operator of the crane lifted just enough rocks for our bikes to pass through! Got home around 16:00 having covered 184.5k…For Thierry living much further down the Tamagawa river, today’s trip must have been 230k!! Chapeau Thierry!