Berichten weergeven met het label V練. Alle berichten weergeven
Berichten weergeven met het label V練. Alle berichten weergeven

woensdag 28 december 2011

In retrospect

2011 was a pretty good cycling year for me with plenty of smaller and bigger “ups and downs” both literally and figuratively.

In a figurative way, there were 3 "major" downs: seeing my old VLAAMS asaren (V練) team disband immediately following the March 11 disaster, losing my great training buddy and daredevil adventurer Ludwig von Rindomeister (a.k.a. Manfred von Holstein, his real name) due to a serious but not life-threatening lower back problem* and suffering myself from a cycling-induced medial collateral ligament (MCL) ailment (because of excessive climbing in the saddle).

In terms of literally “ups,” I was very fortunate to scale new heights (Crystal and Venus lines, Hikarigahara-kogen and many more ridges) and crest new toges (Nomugi, Suzuran, Sakai, Mugikusa, etc.) thanks to Ludwig’s superb planning and guiding skills. Particularly memorable were our multi-day mid-summer exploits such as the two-day Karuizawa-Hakuba-Ueda adventure which Ludwig had purposely mapped out with meandering detours to make sure we would climb every single mountain pass and ride on every single rindo en route to our final destination…sometimes that meant cycling on gravel and muddy forest roads in the middle of the wilderness for extended lengths! As a “dream combi,” Ludwig and I easily managed to keep a great “fast & steady” pace on each of these adventures. On a typical “toge-goe” 峠越えride, I was able to get my breathing back under control while waiting at the top (WATT) while Ludwig was able to do some back stretching (quite a bit!) while patiently waiting for me to reach the bottom.

My only “race” this year - the classic TOITO - went fine, finishing 5th in age group (11th overall) in under 10 hours (9:45) more than one hour slower than Andy W. of Niigata. I enjoyed riding with (mostly behind) Andy and his teammate during the first one-and-half laps of the ride. Andy will be aiming to finish under 8:30 next year! Not sure yet if I will be participating again next year now that my VLAAMS team has disbanded. If I can find a team willing to take me on board, I would like to finish under 9:30 and 1st in age group (yeah…moving up to “50+” !!)

In terms of total distance covered (not necessarily an indication of athletic prowess - plenty of junk miles !!), I have been doing better than last year’s 15,272km and am projected to reach around 16,200km by year-end. The 18,000km target set at the beginning of this year turned out to be an elusive one after I began underperforming due to a knee problem (torn/overstretched MCL in left knee about to become chronic) from mid-September on. I think I have by now completely recuperated from this ailment and intend to focus on LSD training this winter using my kotei as well to regain stamina and build up muscle strength. I also want to improve my climbing skills and try to find a better “seated vs. danseuse” balance so as to avoid future knee problems.

Looking forward to another year of happy and accident & injury-free cycling!

* A good sign for 2012…LvR in the meantime underwent a successful operation in Germany considerably reducing his back pain with excellent prospects that the pain will disappear…all right!

zondag 17 april 2011

Lady D'arbanville

Four warriors left Koremasa Bridge a little after 6:15...last year's Norikura's Champ Class No. 2 finisher Nagashi-san, triathlon specialist Ichiro-san and special guest Ludwig who gladly (?) accepted a last-minute invitation late last evening to join. Vlaams Guru Saruto-san unfortunately will not be joining the V練 sessions in the foreseeable future...his gaishikei company moved the HQ to a presumably safer region. Saruto-san, you're being missed dearly!

When the four of us reached Itsukaichi, my Garmin revealed an average speed of 31.0km/ record (when solo, I can only manage 27.6 at the most)! This is I believe the sweet thing about not riding solo once in a while. Taking turns up front - for some longer and for some shorter - really does wonders!

Dimunitive Nagashi-san showed his excellent form (this year likely to reach peak earlier than usual) on Umechan and Ozawa-toge...he also cleared Yamabushi-toge first. He was simply too fast and I gave up hanging onto his wheel.

Down at 299, it was Ludwig and me again and we sped into Chichibu with a wheelsucker behind (happens so often on this stretch I don't care anymore - this breed will never die out/go up front - genuine suckers). Riding through Chichibu onto 299, it was Ludwig leading me along his favorite itinerary. We took the approach over the tunnel turning right direction Kakkaku Dam and Tsuchisaka-toge...splendid views always guaranteed here (see first pic below)!

At Bishamonsui we refilled our bottles. The sign over Ludwig's head reads : "since this Bishamon water is sourced underground and is not exposed to the air up to this spot, we believe there is no concern about radioactivity" (!!) With our minds put fully at ease we drank and drank the blessed Bishamon water.

A little further up, we passed "Little Keukenhof"...irises, azalea, sakura, ume...splendid flowers of all kinds adorning some graves up the mountain flank (strangely enough this year - everything seems to be blooming at the same time...)

This is where the rindo becomes narrower and much further up higher, I started telling Ludwig how I met this "charming" lady with her "heartful" smile and dog. Sure enough, a minute later I called out "Is that her again?". It was! 「また会いましたね!」Here we meet again! She instantly recognized me (I happened to be wearing the same VLAAMS maillot) and like last week cheered us on, "ganbatte!!" Where does she live? There are no houses or anything so high up Yakyu-toge? Mysterious my mind she's simply "My Lady D'arbanville" (will take a "two-shot" on our next encounter for sure!)

Ludwig as usual was very fast on the descent and down in Gunma, we parted ways, Ludwig destination Karuizawa (!!) and me looping back via Tsuchisaka-toge (repeat of last week).

This WE was good for over 450km and 6500m elevation gain...167.5 crank-powered hikiashi working wonderful; Itoigawa, here we come!

zondag 13 februari 2011

Icy start

Following yesterday's snow and rain until late in the evening, icy conditions were to be expected. First warning came as I was about to leave home trying to open the gate...frozen stuck! The road to Koremasa bridge was very slippery in places and at the Fuchu horse race stadium, I avoided the road and rode on the sidewalk instead where guardmen were busy sprinkling salt. Barely made it at the appointed time of 6:30. VLAAMS Nagashi-san had indicated he would ride and Ludwig had written he was also very eager to ride. Ludwig arrived on his cyclocross, clearly intent on doing a repeat of that fantastic Saitama snowmobiling ride we did together last year. I stuck to my plan and joined Nagashi-san direction Yokohama riding on major roads that were not so slippery (except some bridges) and - in the early Sunday morning hours - not so crowded with traffic. We rode non-stop until we hit Hakkejima Sea Paradise. Nagashi-san stayed with me as far as Kannonzaki before he doubled-back. I found a nice bakery facing Kaneda-wan and treated myself to some freshly baked piroshki-style pastry while watching the waves. The rest of the ride was a classic Miura-hanto loop. Passing Enoshima, I did not want to ride home along a congested R467 and went for R129 instead, riding through Hiratsuka first, then Atsugi and then direction Tsukui-ko (along R412) for at least a little bit of climbing before heading home over Hashimoto and One-kan. Arrived home at the early time of 15:30 but still with 220km in the saddle (took no conbini stops at all). Enjoyed some lazy afternoon tea time with my wife followed by a bowl of great spinach soup.

Nagashi-san leading all the way to Hakkejima

View not too far from Kannonzaki

Kaneda Bay
Fujisan seen from Misaki
On R129

Today's complete ride...

zondag 23 januari 2011

New V練・連 winter-version jersey

Musume showing her usual good form...
Musume dictating the pace....

the new V-RenRen jersey designed by Saruto-san; excellent quality from Pearl Izumi!

Striking another "Famous Assos Man" pose...

zaterdag 22 januari 2011

Manazuru-Yabitsu Loop

Left Koremasa @6:30 with Saruto-san and we both headed direction Odawara along the patented VLAAMS route. Saruto-san turned back at the end of the "Atsugi Fast Lane" while I continued "auto-pilot" courtesy of Ludwig who produced real "routable" maps for me! Cape Manazuru was nice and picturesque in places. "Uotsuki Bayashi" was most impressive. Return trip started along a beautiful road 740 recommended by Ludwig...plenty of mikan vendors. Halfway, I decided to attack Yabitsu as it felt pleasantly warm and I hadn't been there for a year. On top it was very cold though and the descent even colder! Most of the rest of my ride was again in "auto-pilot"...I love it!

Izu Peninsula

Manazuru Minato
Manazuru andesite stone cutting... Isamu Noguchi liked this reddish volcanic stone.

Uotsuki Bayashi - primeval forest of evergreens and old pine trees (some over 300 years old) ...chosen as one of Japan's 100 most beautiful forests. All kinds of fish in Sagami Bay are attracted to the shadows thrown by these trees onto the sea surface, hence uotsuki 魚付 magnet or shady fishing if you want!
Temperature rose to 15 degrees....almost felt like spring or summer in Belgium!

Sagami Bay seen from Cape Manazuru

Himono...salted dried fish

Had my free lunch here sampling all kinds of "himono" self-service style!

Today's route here
Today's BGM: Astor Piazolla Libertango
Today's inspiration: Canadian Club 6 years old