donderdag 3 mei 2012
zondag 15 maart 2009
Not very thoughtful this signpost put up by "Santama Jitensha-no-Kai"....Bicycle riders! CAUTION! OK, yes, but caution for what? Hungry bears in the neighbourhood? The text calls out to cyclists to control speed, show consideration for other road users, hikers and people living in the area and give forestry workers no trouble. A very reasonable request and message which cyclists with the right etiquette naturally take to heart. I cannot help but wondering though why it was necessary to put "BICYCLE RIDERS! CAUTION !" in English in the first place ...
maandag 19 januari 2009
I somehow dislike the wannabe macho types who constantly feel the urge to display their manliness through reckless riding blatantly ignoring red lights. (The same goes for the thinking principle that there is safety in numbers…if we all go through the red light together what can possibly go wrong?)
Frankly, I do not think waiting for a red light to turn green in a godforsaken corner of the Higashi-Chichibu backwoods with absolutely nobody in sight makes any sense but this is exactly what most typical Japanese cycling clubs take for granted! Now that I have (“sort of”) grown used to this routine, I’ve started to appreciate those few seconds in stand-by mode just to take a breather, have a sip, wipe my sunglasses or exchange some comments on the weather or road conditions… Moreover, I'd like to believe that by stopping at red lights we can gain the respect of motorists but this is probably an illusion.
Real machismo can be expressed perhaps not by riding red lights but by braving the elements or cresting a good piece of mountain with panache in style. But then again, maybe this is not called machismo but simply Japanese-style stoicism…or wasn't this whole thing called masochism?
zaterdag 27 december 2008
This bakery is quite unusual; there is no signboard and it is not facing the main road. The bread and pastries are sold on a counter inside a veranda of a normal house so one actually does not step inside the bakery. My first choice pastry is a very plain and chewy bun with a piece of hard chocolat in it...delicious! I was racing up and down the many hills between Ome and Chichibu with the vision of myself biting away two chocolate buns while lazing in the sun on the temple bench. I arrived and I spotted the bakery lady getting of her car...strange; how come she's not behind the counter? To my big shock, she told me that the bakery closed on December 20 and will only re-open late January! She apologized and in an effort to console me, the lady told me "You're the guy from Belgium right? So glad you like our chocolate here!"
I rode a bit further down R.11 until 7/11 where I had some pork on rice heated up for lunch. Fully re-energized, I began my climb of Sadamine-toge. So far, the road surface had been mostly dry - just perfect. Even when I crested Sadamine, there were no ill omens whatsoever of what was to come...although oddly enough there were no cyclists, nobody at all around the Sadamine teahouse.
When the road bent slightly to the right, I was for a moment almost blinded by brightness...the road in front of me was one big eisbahn with snow all over!
I rode extra carefully, getting off the bike and walking on the road side in the shadowy bends where ice was lurking. My cleats were clogged up with snow and ice and would no longer click into the pedals. Fortunately, the south side of the mountain, from Karibazaka down to R299, was sunny and the road "cork-dry" again.