Just competed in the Nariki Hillclimb which is a short, 10km roughly hillclimb that consists of an initial 5km of relatively flat or moderate slope up, followed by 5km of 10%+ grade to the finish. This is particularly challenging to a fixed gear rider because there are really 2 distinct gear ratios that would optimally attack the race. However , in keeping with the purity of ‘one road, one gear’ , we choose to honor that by only riding one gear the whole race.
It is settled – the optimum gear is around a 2.0. and I choose a 44/22 as my preferred cogs of choice. Mikio does the same and James is riding a 42/20.
We gotta come up with something a little more to spice this event. Its not enough, for me, to be the first fixed gear rider to enter the Japanese privateer race scene – sooner or later, the masses will follow. Thats great – but I do enjoy pushing the envelope a bit. So, this time we decide not only to enter and ride fixed, but also , wear an alternate kit. James does some quick shopping and its decided. We will all wear ‘man-kini’. Well, the only man kini we ca find is pink – and thats that. So – its on to the race.
My main concern is if the race officials will disqualify us based on our kit. However nothing is stated in the rules except the requirement of helmet and gloves. Good — ammo. We don the man-kinis and tentatively cover with std jersey just at the start. Though Alan offered to model – and hadwe an extra – would surely have worn as in his haste to make the race he forget his proper kit jersey! Alan, who is a damn fast rider, decides to fore go the man-kini for this event . We 3 musketeers forge on and prepare the start. Surprsing, or not, we actually raise alot of very positive attention and have to spend quite some time posing with various riders and guests for pics. This does not affect our serious concentration.
The race is at hand, and I play by a pretty strict strategy based on several recons. I can honestly say that I followed my game book and it turned out quite well. The first half of the race I just spun up to a strong comfort level and held a decent pace without totally spinning out my heart. When I reached the cut-off for the more aggressive 5km, I was at a good balanced form and ready to climb. The last 5 km were as tough as I expected and the 33+ temp didnt make things easier. However, the man-kini really helped as it allowed for maximum ventilation and minimum upper body restriction. Finished the race at the summit to a very welcome respite of watermelon and spring water — yumm!! Plus the photo ops!
Watermelon was the best ever!
Dos tres amigos .
Naomi – master of the hills!
On a side note – I placed in the top 10 for my category (senior) and this is the goal I’ve been striving for in this year! It was great to achieve it on this race as especially it had a serious fixed gear handicap. My trusty Akamatsu served me well, in addition the Chub Hub rear wheel which I can’t imagine riding without. This course was somewhat technical with moss and grates and slippery bits. I feel that the combination of Chub and my steel frame gave me a little advantage to the other riders. I could solidly put down the power and have very good management over the slippage with just enough suppleness and compliance to make the effort comfortable and stress free. In short, i could pretty much hammer and didn’t worry.
The Akamatsu in Nariki trim with Chub rear riding Open Pave 24′s and extended front stem (Cinelli 1/a 130mm) , Fizik Saddle, 44/20 (Surley/ Sugino cog /chain set ).