Wow – what a great day! At least 8 riders showed up for this hammerfest ride to top of Shiraishi plus alpha. Max had to bail early due to pressing engagement and missed the actual 7km climb, but rest of us had a mini-race to the top. Kimm san and JF led off with a nasty hard pace. Then followed by Steve and myself. The competition was stiff and we all found ourselves at the summit completely spent! Takakki san suffered 2 chaindrops making it an especially agonizing ride up the more than 20% in some places grade. I tried hard to catch Steve but everytime I started an attack he somehow sensed or saw me and pulled out the afterburners to crush me. At the top it was a tie with Kimm san and JF, then Steve and myself, followed by Fumiki san, Sat, Takakki san and Pete. (I’ll have to get official order later – was really too wiped to concentrate fully) We completed the ride by heading up the Greenline and hitting another couple of short climbs finally ending up a favorite soba /udon shop at the top. While we there one of the customers gave an impromptu performance of a Spanish song played on a traditional Japanese flute. Magic always happens on these rides!
Nice morning training ride and biz meeting. The weather has rounded the corner and 6.30 am starts finally possible again (at least to me-who-hates-the-cold) Another VC2 shakedown cruise down the Arakawa which turned into an increasing TT, then finally a 2500m dash for the finish. Awesome work out! Head wind all the way back gave us another workout – great times! Had a flat – and even though had to walk to find someone with a pump – it turned out for the best as we met a couple other oyajisan riders doing their morning constituitionals – one of them had an ancient Silca – I was afraid to use it – and it didn’t work anyway as the leather cup had long since deteriorated. The other had a more modern pump, but upon clipping it to the stem it virtually fell apart. Neither of the guys could remember when they’d ever actually used the pumps!! Haha. Luckily as this is the infamous ‘Yamada san Hiki Strip’ A pump is stashed by the bathroom – and sure enough we could use it to pump. Back on the road, the god of all cycling smiles again and sure enough , here comes Yamada san, TAN NO LESS, dragging 2 tires. Double Tire Hiki-fu, nice pump, mild headwind and a mini sprint – can’t get much better than that my boys!
Oh yeah – and a very sneak peak at the infamous ‘Chub 88′ riding on the very <not> stealth Durca Durca.
About a year ago I started riding in earnest. What I mean is that I had not actually ridden seriously for more than 20yrs and just decided based on circumstances to get back on the bike. Alot had changed in those 20yrs – material sciences brought us carbon and other composites, exotic metals were affordable and workable, techniques improved, bio-metrics evolved along with a major advancement in technology. Alot has not changed either. We still use the same basic drivetrain and more importantly, the ‘engine’ itself is the same. And underneath the skin, there is still the same driving forces of passion, innovation, competition and conditioning. As for me – I just wanted to get back on the bike and recover my body from some past injuries and feel the wind again in my face. A little gentlemen’s ‘king of the hill’ now and then wouldn’t hurt either.
Along the course of re-training I came across the TCC (Tokyo Cycling Club) and read their spirited posts about cycling in the mountains of Japan, winning races and overall passion and somewhat obsession for all things cycling. In particular I was drawn to the challenge of conquering a few of these famous ‘toge’ or passes in a slightly different way – on a fixed gear. Why? Other than the fact thats what I happened to be riding at the time – it raised a new challenge to me. Personally I had raced and toured all over the US and Europe and no longer wanted to assume the tortuous regime required to raise myself to an elite level. However – this fixed gear challenge was of a different sort. A very pure and natural challenge based on the simple mechanics of bike and rider. A strong connection to the road and the mountain which presents itself as the insurmountable object. So, somehow, the tortuous regime of training became one of necessity to meet the challenge of the Toge rather than the mass hysteria of the Peloton. It was something I could do on and by myself. With results being the simple satisfaction of ‘I MADE IT’.
Now then, humans are social creatures and I’m no different. I like to ride with people as much as alone. And through these jaunts (and taunts) I discovered that a few other brave souls were indeed similar minded and experiencing the same things as I especially regarding the fixed gear on the road (hence RoadFixie). We pondered and pained our way up thousands of kilometers of roads and meters of climbs. During those times, I formed the basis for the frame delivered today. Something that would be a kindred spirit and tool for these rides and also a result of my experiences cycling through the years. So it was born. The ‘Toge Warrior’
Here are a few pictures from the first ride – I’ll let them speak for themselves!
The ‘rear set’. As you can see – we fitted it with a Chub Hub / Mavic CXP. I love this combo and it works very well on this bike. The slightly heavier wheel helps to reduce skipping and stutter under seriously hard sprints – especially uphills. And the Chub Hub gives noticeable improvement in power transfer. Note the gorgeous dropouts – shamelessly inspired by the Kalavinka, what can I say?
Ready to roll on the first climb up Wada. For the proto build we just slapped on some generic reversible pedals and Daeda cockpit. The Thompson Elite seatpost will stay and probably the Fizik , though an upgraded Aliante. Crankset is a SRAM 300 – which seems pretty good for the moment and use a standard NJS chain by HKK.
There she is sitting pretty at the top of the mount. Notice the brushed finish and you can just barely make out the couplers. I placed a couple of oba^san arm warmers over the tubes to protect them in transit – and to somewhat camouflage the frame.
I’ll be posting more pictures as we go along farther in this evolution and journey of the perfect frame.
‘Dude, there’s a ride coming up organized by the guys at SAG’. Cool, I’m there! Only thing is that I woke up with major sore throat and had to jury rig a temporary filling since the one the local Doc inserted failed (as much of Japanese dentistry does). So – armed with my daughter’s modelling clay and hydrogen peroxide and proceeded to gargle and irrigate both throat and gaping tooth hole. With the modelling clay packed firmly into the hole, everything seemed copacetic - so I pushed off with like 10min before the start. Luckily the Sat 9am start was a ‘soft launch’ and I arrived in time to register up and chill.
There were more fixies gathered in one place than I’d seen before in Japan! Beautiful rides! The people came from all walks – messengers, polo, roadies, afficianados and just anyone who wanted to join a group ride to the BEACH!
OK – the group was split into 2 – A TEAM (fast<er> riders, and B TEAM (slower riders) And we’re off. On the way we made several scheduled stops for water and snacks and a couple unscheduled stops for flats. Arriving in Kamakura about 3.5hr later. A very leisurely pace that allowed for banter and just enjoying the company of fellow riders.
Riding with this many fixed gear on the roads can sometimes be dicey, but this ride was smooth, well coordinated and pretty much everyone minded their manners – at least until the TEQUILA was purchased.
Arriving at the beach we made a quick stop at the shrine to pray for unborn babies and success in future races (or at least I did). Then it was down to the BEACH!
JF decided that the best way to get the party started was to buy a bottle of JOSE. So, with TEQUILA in hand – shots were drunk and the activities spiced.
J went on a nampa rampage and succeeded in not only gaining the digits and mail of several bathing beauties , but also the wrath of their boyfriends! HAHA! But hey, all is settled when you offer a shot of TEQUILA! Next on the list was a traditional Japanese game where you put on a blind-fold, stick your head on a stick then spin around until you either puke, fall or become so interdiscombubulated that you simply have no control over your motor functions. THEN, your teammates try to direct you to the goal, which is a water melon. You have 1 STRIKE to smack it – and then team that succeeds gets the first bite! And of course more TEQUILA. Well, J – completely lubricated at this time took his turn at the stick.
Then the REAL FUN began! Somehow the TEQUILA combined with the stick spinning had put J into a dervish mood that would be the envy of any crazed sufi. And without any hesitation he went straight away to the GOAL! However – the goal he reached was NOT the Watermelon – but instead OUR BACKPACKS! Everyone stood aghast as he took the stand of the last Samirai and proceeded to beat the hell out a backpack!!
Finally after extracting him from the enemy backpack we managed to get a few cracks in on the REAL Watermelon! Later J confided that he was 500% SURE that he was smacking the crap out of a watermelon! THUS SPEAKS TEQUILA!
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and a great hanabi. Thoroughly toasted, sunburnt and tired, headed back to the train for a rinko back home. I’m looking forward to more rides with this group – it was awesome. And who knows, you might even find me rocking a SAG bag some day!