zondag 11 januari 2009
I am known among some of cycling buddies for my scaremongering antics and by now most of them can instantly tell if I’m trying to terrify, intimidate or simply pull their legs. I must confess that I get my kicks out of scaring the life out of people by blowing out of all proportion ordinary phenomena, turning a snowflake into an avalanche or simply by making mountains out of molehills. Not a particularly pleasing character trait, I know.
When I was a teenager, my father would often call me “Uncle Harry” after the character (Gale Gordon) in the TV-series “Here’s Lucy!”. I never actually understood what he was trying to insinuate by calling me so but in retrospect, I guess he was doing so because I am not easily touched by impressions and sometimes I’m not even capable of producing a reaction to jokes or a display of emotions. Although I may not possess an above-average inclination to work, I work slowly and with perseverance. Another trait which would categorize me as a phlegmatic person is that I do not easily get upset or frustrated by people trying to tease or offend me. I may be cold and sober and lacking intense passions other than cycling but at the same time I like to think of myself as a deliberate and thoughtful person…
Well then, today, I was desperately trying to get that all that phlegm out of my system for once and for good and what better way to do so I thought than cycling 100km over icy roads! I had been down and bedridden for the last 3 days this week with symptoms of the flu…headache at night, aching muscles and joints, coughing…terrible!
This morning though the pain in my muscles was gone and I decided to get at least a little bit in form before tomorrow’s group ride with buddies from Positivo Espresso and TCC. The weekly Vlaams Tamasai morning training starting at 6:30 was too early for me though and I opted to go solo instead leaving home at 10:00 for a climb of Otarumi and Makime followed by a Hiroshi Twist around the deserted northernmost part of Tsukui-ko and got back around 14:00. It surely is a gratifying feeling…all this phlegm (in Flemish: “fluimen”) finally out of my system! Looking forward to tomorrow’s ride!
dinsdag 23 december 2008
Today, I - for the very first time (!) - tried to put on bar tape by myself... So far, I never bothered to do this job myself and always had to ask Iwasaki-san at Friend Syokai. Had I only known that it is this easy! Practice makes perfect so I'm already looking forward to winding my next bar tape... the same Italia "SILVA" brand also carries a very attractive red viper snake skin handlebar tape (spotted one at O-Vest!).
Bridgestone recently launched a "long ride-muke" or long-ride specific tyre on the market in size 23 and 25. I put the 25 on the back wheel of my VLAAMS and can't wait to try it out!
zondag 21 december 2008
Under a beautiful clear sky, Positivo Espresso riders David, James and Chris arrived a little before the agreed time of 8:10 at Sekidobashi. A few moments later we were joined by Michael who for future rides will be riding in all the way from Yokohama. Michael promptly and very proudly showed off his 2008 Class D JCRC Champions Jersey…well deserved - bravo!
Our train of 5 riders got in motion slowly at first and accelerated stepwise with David clearly the most effective locomotive of us all. I tried my turn up front a couple times but due to my tiny Orbea and my revised lower position on it there wasn't much of a slipstream and my mates were not able to enjoy much drafting...each time, the train would fall apart at the seams…
We reached the Takao 7/11 at 9:10, exactly the arrival time I had informed to Hiroshi. To my happy surprise, just as we were getting our magic potions, bread and other supplies inside, Hiroshi stepped in. I had not expected he would be able to make it after a long and hard day at work and having gotten home past mid-night.
The climb of Otarumi felt real good and I had not the slightest difficulty keeping my breathing under control. The last one-fourth of the climb I did out of the saddle in one stretch without sitting down once. David crested Otarumi and as always proceeded right away with his descent…time to give chase!
Once down at Chigura, Michael, Hiroshi and I split from the rest and continued with our Winter Solstice ride as planned…a loop of Suzugane-toge. Koshu-kaido was OK traffic-wise…very few trucks fortunately. Just before Sarubashi, we stopped at the 7/11 on the right for a brief rest. We all felt very hot by then…no need for gloves, ear warmers, shoe covers and other winter wear. My favorite little hill in Yamanashi coming up next!
On the flatter approach just before the road starts to meander through the valley, I found myself right behind an elderly farmer on his motorbike…all right! The old man had spotted me in his back mirror and was smiling. He let me stay right behind his back wheel for a full kilometer of pure motor-pacing bliss…awesome, now that's a real slipstream! Suzugane is so nice…no cars, not too steep, not too long…just perfect! Michael (triumphantly) and Hiroshi (grimacing in agony) in that order arrived at the top…for Hiroshi a long day spent yesterday almost entirely on his feet had clearly taken a heavy toll.
The ride back through Akiyama-mura territory was also very pleasant if not a bit too hot! Hiroshi and I parted from Michael who decided to take a right turn towards Aone and train back to Yokohama from Hon-Atsugi.
For the rest of the ride it was now just Hiroshi and I and we rode together at a strong, tailwind-aided pace until Otarumi…here Hiroshi begged me to continue by myself as he had no more energy left. Feeling real sorry for my friend I rode ahead and then decided to wait for him to arrive in front of his car parked near Takao JR Station. As I was waiting, Hiroshi called me; he was still midway his Otarumi climb and again implored me to move ahead. A little bit sad but immensely satisfied I rode the last 23 kilometers homewards all by myself.
Once home, I cleaned my bike, took a traditional Winter Solstice hot citron bath supposed to keep illnesses at bay for an entire year and for dinner, my wife had fixed me a plate of simmered pumpkin, a traditional Winter Solstice dish followed by Belgian waffles…not so traditional for this particular occasion, hence no photo…
zaterdag 20 december 2008
zaterdag 13 december 2008
I climbed Yamabushi, Shomaru, Karibazaka and intended to crest Sadamine via Shiraishi but somewhere not too far from Shiraishi, I took a wrong turn and a long and fast descent followed all the way down to Rd. 11 near Kinshoji temple. This time the little bakery was open and I bought 4 different kinds...the chocolate bread one tasted great! After I crested Sadamine, I rode on to Ogawa-machi, famous for its traditional washi paper production. A very nice and super fast descent! Saw the entrance point to Nhongi-toge climbed by Michael & Co. the other day but it was too late already to add another hill; moreover I needed to save some energy for tomorrow's enduro in Nishi-tachikawa....
The rest of the ride was on mostly flat roads with lots of cars, trucks and traffic lights...not so pleasant. Covered 192k at an average of 24.9km/h. The Orbea is ready for the Xmas Enduro...not so sure about its rider and ... the weather!
zondag 2 november 2008
My daughter had no problem keeping a steady pace averaging 25km/h all the way to Takao. We took a first rest stop at the suri-efu (3F) convenience store on the corner of Jinba Kaido leading to Yuyake Koyake. I tried to mentally prepare my daughter telling her how she would enjoy the tasseikan sense of accomplishment of cresting Wada-toge.
And she did! How proud I was of my daughter. I told her that now she could conquer Wada, she can handle any mountain pass. Somehow she didn't look too happy....and then the words came over her lips...this is inhuman...demoniacal 鬼の和田 ! To which I replied: "Yes..but you just managed to slay the ogre!"
maandag 21 juli 2008
It was her very first time to ride on a road racer and after a few practice laps on the road in front of our house to get used to the shifting mechanism (Campagnolo), she told me she felt confident enough!
The skies were overcast, a welcome change after the scorching sun these past couple days. After 1 km on the Tamagawa Cycling Road, I adjusted the height of her saddle and in no time she was cruising at speeds between 25 and 30km/h effortless. I explained the basics of pedaling and handle grip...she's sure is a fast learner.
I myself was experimenting with an extra long stem - 130mm following up the recommendation by Hiroshi. He was absolutely right, the longer stem allows me to lean forward in a more aggressive style with a higher saddle position. As a result, more leg power gets transmitted to the pedals with no drop in steering stability.
We reached Ishikawa brewery much earlier than I had thought...the restaurants only open at 11:30 but instead, we both enjoyed a beer with some smoked cheese.
zondag 4 mei 2008
The weather was partly sunny partly cloudy but no rainfall even in the mountains. I had refitted my Orbea Onix with a women-specific saddle, "normal" pedals and a narrow, short-reach handlebar. For my wife it was the first time to make the trip on a real road racer and she felt a bit nervous.
Jinba Kaido leading to Wada-toge had a lot of traffic on it, mostly people going to the Asakawa tsuribori fishing/BBQ spot and there plenty of them. When we reached Yuyake-Koyake after about two hours on the saddle, it was only still 10:00...too early for lunch, so I challenged my wife to try Wada Stage One...which she did successfully! Climbing works just fine , however, for her it is the downhill part that proves to be the most challenging.
At lunch, she mentioned how her hands and wrists were aching from all the braking! The tempura that went with the soba noodles tasted fantastic...fukinotou 蕗の薹, yukinoshita ユキノシタ, taranome たらの芽 and some other delicious spring sprouts fresh from the mountains. I had a local Tama red ale beer which tasted real good...a bit regrettable that it was not served in a fancy, wide glass so you can enjoy the foam and aroma better.
The return trip went smooth but distance was taking its toll on my wife...speed dropped down to that of a mamachari for the last 5km or so. My buddies from Positivo Espresso must be cycling in Izu Hanto today...some of them might join Tuesday's ride into Saitama with Team NFCC members. Tomorrow I'm planning my monster ride of 240km+ to Enzan.