Archive for April, 2012
This weekend was simply amazing! It has been the first real weekend where wearing shorts while cycling actually feels refreshing.
Not too cold and not too hot, simply amazing.
This weekend was packed with a ride out to Mt. Takao with about 10 riders from various different clubs. It took us a couple hours to ride out from Tokyo to our destination, but the ride was worth it. As soon as you cross that defined line from city to countryside, you are exposed to a pristine wilderness with dense forests and superb cycling roads. We made our run over Mt. Takao and headed up Wada pass, which seemed like an unrelenting category 2 climb. At 12% gradient, I quickly overheated in the sun but was relieved to find a fountain at the top of the climb. Splashing myself and drinking the water, it was only too late when my friends told me that water was not safe to drink. I think I will be ok but after that experience I quickly memorized the Kanji for “non-potable water” . All said and done, we headed down the mountain, stopped for the best tasting Italian pizzas in Japan and then made the final sprint home. 150 kilometers and 1350 meters of climb was just what I needed.
Today was our charity barbecue and things could have not gone any smoother. we started setting up camp at 6 in the morning as people come rushing in fighting for a BBQ spot. I met up with some of our participants and we had a fun ride from Roppongi Hills to the barbecue area. It was really hot in the city but once we hit the river it was cool with a nice breeze. Everyone enjoyed burritos, fajitas, drinks and each other’s company. I met so many new riders and made some good friends. I can’t wait to have another event where we can all meet again!
My bike is a Kuota Kharma, 2010. Got it as a year old model, saved some cash. I loved the look of it, so slapped it up. I knew very little about what I was buying, the parts on it, etc. I heard the word Ultegra so got that.
Now that I’ve put some miles on it, there are some things I don’t like, or rather that I think could be improved.
It came with “Kuota Race” calipers. They work, but they don’t have bite. I have since ridden a couple friends’ bikes with Ultegra calipers and they really stop! So that’s number one, have put in an order to get these calipers!
I’ve got a compact crank. One would think that would help me up the hills…. I also recently got a new cassette, a 28 for the rear. Still tough for some of these climbs to keep up a spin for me! Rumor has it that an SRAM 32 cassette will fit an Ultegra derailleur. Going for this upgrade to check it out!
Turns out that my current Ultegra derailleur is ‘normal’ and I need a longer one, called a GS. That will allow a big cassette in the back without fear of damaging the derailleur due to stupid shifting, which I’m perfectly capable of. So having to get this as well!
Soon to have lots of spare parts.
I’ve been going to see Taku at Alpha Cycles in Kitazawa for help on doing some wrenching. Very nice shop, and the coffee is quite good, made from freshly ground beans! Can’t beat that!
To be honest, I wanted to make this a Super Duper Loop, but was a bit tough going.
I got out a couple of guys I know to head out with me, also met Tim on the river to do a run. Got off to a late start and met a handful of other TCCers going out for another ride. Got off to a reasonable start up Arakawa. Unfortunately Tim was still recovering from illness so turned back near the airport, one friend also dropped off having done a decent run just getting back on the bike after some time off. That left me and Jeff, a guy I go skiing with, to finish the loop.
Well, after Kumagaya, Jeff hung in there till Tonegawa and then decided to find a train station. Tonegawa was slow going, I’m used to getting a nice tail wind to move along, but not today, a mild headwind all the way. Got a little stronger on Edogawa, then turned to being more from the east. I was pretty tired fighting the wind on my own, and instead of extending to Tokyo Bay, I cut it short and returned back to the start point.
I felt mostly all right (a good sign) but started to get a bit of pain in my left calf. Had left knee issues before, experimenting a bit with trying to keep my feet more parallel to the ground. I should probably figure out how I’m supposed to pedal at some point soon!
I rode the Tour de Kusatsu 3yrs ago as a challenge goal to myself. I had just gotten back on the bike and my goal was to ride at least one Hill TT on a fixed gear before I’d change to geared bike. I felt I needed to earn the privilege and just gain some self-cred and discipline. My friends and other riders thought I was crazy. And maybe, in some way, I am. But I did that TT and never felt as proud as any other race I’d done! Instead of making it easier, by virtue of gears, tech, whatever, my philosophy was to just ‘make it’. One Man, One Road, One Gear.
Here’s a shot of me ready to go! About 9mo only since I started riding again after more than 20yrs absence. My weight had gone up to nearly 88kg! In this shot, I think I’m still around 80kg!
I did the TT again in 2011. This time I was a bit lighter and rode my ‘dream fixie’ , a custom Titanium that I designed and built.
I finished with a respectable 7th place in my class! And on a fixed gear! Here I’m wearing the club jersey of the Half Fast Cycling Club, which has remained my constant source of camaraderie and support – even though I am just a little different than most the roadies.
This year again, I’ll ride the Tour de Kusatsu – Fixed gear – and will be campaigning for the Tyler Foundation Beads of Courage! If you’re so inclined, I heartily urge you to make a small donation and I’ll personally take your Beads of Courage to the top of Kusatsu!
|April 21, 2012 7:00 am||to||April 22, 2012 7:00 am|
On Sunday, April 22nd, Tim Smith will be heading over to Kusatsu in the Gunma prefecture where he will compete in one of the most anticipated hill climb races of the year!
To top that off, he will be riding it on a fixed gear titanium bicycle! There are only a few riders who ever attempt this but Tim has set his mind to is and has trained himself to conquer Kusatsu.
You can support Tim and charity by sponsoring a Bead of Courage for him to wear during the race. You will be sent a card where you can write your message of courage to a child with cancer in Japan. When Tim finish his race your sponsored bead and card will be given to a child in our Beads of Courage program.
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Following up on the Friday ride, I wanted to keep going with a big ride Sunday. The GS Astuto team looked to get together for some team practice around the rivers. Met up with a couple others including Anthony and Alex and also met Daniel. Eric was leading the charge.
Started out with some drafting practice. Was tough to keep the group together and eventually got strung out. By the time we got to Kumagaya we were down to Eric, Daniel and myself.
Had a great tailwind heading over to the Tonegawa and a mild tailwind going down it. Once over on the Edogawa it all changed, big headwind all the way down it. It was really tough, legs were feeling it quite a lot. I didn’t start the day as fresh as I would have liked.
Still, managed to get down to route 6, over the the arakawa and home. 178km in all. Great 350km+ for the 3 days….
I’m trying to get into shape and condition for some of the longer rides this summer. Went out for a ride with a friend of mine for Tomin no Mori in Okutama. It was a pretty tough climb, I thought, but managed to get all the way up with no stops. I did slow down a couple times when it flattened out to try to eat something. Turns out that is quite difficult, didn’t really get much to eat but managed to suck down a gel pack.
Instead of the normal return back the way we came, we continued up the hill past the Tomin no Mori rest area and up through around Lake Okutama and the long gradual downhill to return back on the Tamagawa.
Great ride, 173km for me, with almost 1900m of climb, which is the most I’ve ever done in a day!
|April 29, 2012|
GS Astuto will host special BBQ and bike ride on Sunday, April 29th. Proceeds from this event will go to the Tyler Foundation, Shine On! Beads of Courage Program.
A donation of 6000 yen per participant (kids, free) is requested which includes a ‘Bead of Courage’ and our scrumptious buffet BBQ by the river! Please purchase this ASAP so we can plan food and treats for everyone.
Location: Arakawa River BBQ Spot.
When: Sunday, April 29th at 12.30pm
Riders: We will lead a ride to the river from various locations in Tokyo so you can work up a good appetite!
BBQ: We will provide plenty of Fajita ‘Fixings’ , soft drinks, and other goodies. Please feel free to bring any additional beverage(s) you may wish to consume.
Please purchase your tickets here
|April 14, 2012|
|8:00 am||to||1:00 pm|
On Saturday, April 14th, team rider Eric Edler will race at the Shuzenji cycling center. He will be in the B class event with 40 other riders in a 6 lap 36 kilometer race. Wish him luck as they race for victory!
You can support our riders and charity by sponsoring a Bead of Courage for them to wear during the race. You will be sent a card where you can write your message of courage to a child with cancer in Japan. When our riders finish their race your sponsored bead and card will be given to a child in our Beads of Courage program.