Since <re>starting my passion for cycling and especially fixed gear in general, I’ve entered some events as incentive and for fun. I promised myself (and my family) that I wouldn’t train seriously and let the sport overtake me – but use it as a positive lifestyle element. The Tour de Kusatsu was the first such event that I entered after beginning my conditioning regime and I managed to break the 1hr mark after just a few months cycling. Not bad, I thought. After 1yr and a few thousand more kilometers let’s see what this old cat can pull out of the bag.
First is the bike:
I started with an old Panasonic muletto, broke that. Then got a cool Japanese steelie and broke that, too. Resolved in my quest to build the perfect roadfixie, I designed and built the Toge Warrior. A titanium classic design with the stuff that makes me happy. On this bike I have been riding all over the Japanese mountains and enjoying every kilometer of it! I made some small upgrades for this race and everything came together.
I’m a big fan of the CHUB HUB, and if you see the pics of my bikes , you’ll almost always see the CHUB riding the rear! It’s a great riding hub and I couldn’t be happier with that choice. But, for a purposebuilt hillclimb, I wanted something just a little lighter and more svelte. So, I turned to my latest project, GS Astuto, and produced a special set of lightweight fixie wheels. These are based on pure carbon rimset, DT spokes and Bitex / Novatec hubs. Strong and lightweight – they come in under 1200 gr for the pair!
Next up came the cockpit, and I upgraded to a lighter fork, carbon saddle, seatpost, stem and bars. Another substantial weight savings over my daily riding gear. You can see it here on my workbench ready to install.
The net result was an even lighter and more responsive Toge Warrior ready to do battle on the mountain! BTW – this shows the rear Chub wheel, but I had managed to get my new wheel built up at the 11th hour so I was running both front and back GSAstuto RFC-20′s!
By habit I’m a pretty lazy guy. I let myself get heavy and out of shape, don’t stick to solid training plan or good diet. But I have been keeping up a more or less dedicated ‘concept’ of preparation which hearkens back to my old Zen Monk training days by simply ‘riding with intent’. This is more a visualization and imagination method than a hardcore play it by the numbers method. I set out riding with intention to increase effort with the imagination that I’ll do better. if I actually do – its great, if actually not, it doesn’t matter because I’ve created the space for improvement and just let the mind and body follow that. On the practical side, I ramped up my riding a notch or two and the 2 weeks prior to the event, I increased some interval cycles to get my cardio system prepped for the hard effort. That’s about it.
First off, I gotta say that this was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve participated in not because of me – but because of the family and friends around me! I spent some really quality time both on and off bike with those people I love and treasure most and at the end of the day, the bike is just spice on the pie.
Here is my coach giving me last minute position pointers on the morning of the event!
The race itself was fantastic. A beautiful day, great crowd and a challenging course. We gave our 100% and at the goal the final results were amazing. I had managed to complete the climb in 45min knocking more than 14min off my previous year’s time! This was good enough for a 7th place finish and I really couldn’t be more, literally, on top of the world.
So, what’s next? Just keep on keeping on! As the tagline of my blog says - Push Harder, Ride Longer!