Monday, December 30, 2013

Cancellara’s Descent: No Ordinary Cyclist

Saxo Bank's Cancellara makes a gutsy descent to rejoin theTour de France peloton.

Lance Armstrong vs Marco Pantani Tour de France 2000

OK, discredited doper vs. coke fiend.  Still, a good head-to-head. And Pantani was never accused of the catalogue of crimes tarnishing Lance's name.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Noodling: the "Honest to Goodness" Ramen-ya

Shinkichi-ya has been around for over 40 years, run by the same couple, now in their 70s.  There's usually a queue at peak times and throughout the day on wekends and holidays. 

                                         The standard roast-pork (chashuu) shoyu ramen.  

The Remains of the Fall

Gingko trees. (An Aussie friend has dubbed this species the "chunder" tree for its malodorous nuts.)

                                                     Migratory geese in a rice field.

Tour Divide 2010 Video Link

Nice video of the 2010 running of The Divide, linked to a blog with plenty of useful information about bikepacking:

Singling, Dingling, Dongling

Mauro Nappolini, who finished the 2013 edition of the Tour Divide on a single speed 29er, has this to say about his experience.

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, have been really busy. You could have not picked a better bike to single speed on. Just a little tip, carry both drive side and non drive side drop outs as I stripped the drive side drop out in Montana and rode some 500 miles or something like that to steam boat where I found a replacement. Im a bit of  a techie and believe that the alphine is a designed for the road and possibly a bit of light gravel at best. If it was a day trip on parts of the divide I would say go for it, however being that you will find your self 100s of miles a way from a bike store that can handle something like the Alphine, and that there are only about 4 well stocked bike stores on the route I personally wound not risk it. If you are leaning towards the internal gear hubs I would check out the Rohloff hubs, the 2012 winner won on one and they have a stellar reputation of durability.

Are you a current single speeder? If I was going to do it again, I would definitely not ride a single speed. There was a hell of a lot of pushing, I mean daily pushing and some of the times for a few hours, real demoralising stuff when you know that you can be miles and miles down the road if you were on  a geared bike. Please do not underestimate the amount of walking that is required when riding on a single speed. I have thought about riding again and if I did I will consider riding a dingle. I don't know what a dingle is so Ill elaborate, essentially its a two speed and possibly three speed manual single speed set up. So you have two chainrings up  front  for a 2 speed set up with 2 cogs on the rear, to correct the chain length  difference the chainrings have 2 teeth difference between them,  say a 34/32 and a 20/22 cog at the back. I have heard of a 3 speed working this way but the chain line may be a bit off and cause a bit of drag. The Salsa will be perfect for this with its vertical drops, quick and easy.

One thing to consider is what type of experience do you want? Is it more of a social experience where you can ride with cool guys if you want to and have a shared experience, Or is it more of a solo solitary experience. The latter suits the single speed, because it is difficult to match the speed of a geared rider with a comfortable cadence. I did ride with guys at times but most of it was spent alone, which was amazing.

I have now problems speaking to you via phone or Facebook chat, as I have a lot of tips to single speed the route easier as well as lots of tips on not making the same mistake I did.

Mauro, thanks for the advice. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shumatsu Cycling, Vol. 2

Rails to trails.

Drying the wash, and the persimmons.

Shumatsu Cycling, Vol. 2

The Agano River at Mikawa.

The approach.

The climbing begins.

Road blocked, but just enough room for a cyclist to squeeze by.

Affixing wire mesh to the mountainside.

Have I said that 32x13 is not the best gearing for this climb?

Finally, the descent begins.

Going my way.
Looking back. 
The bike path used to be this wide throughout.
Now there are sections of single-track.

Cycle Mode 2013

Don and I left for Tokyo and Cycle Mode 2013 aboard an early departure shinkansen, or bullet train. One of the newer models, that serving Akita prefecture, was at the Tokyo platform.
Shimano advertising aboard the local train bound for Makuhari Messe, the venue for the expo.
Long lines.
Finally in.
Hours later, famished, at a nearby mall.
We couldn't leave before having our photo taken with One Direction, who were playing that evening at Makuhari.
Random photo of amusing misspelling.

Cycle Mode 2013, Some Salsa and a Kona

Motocross International are the importers of Salsa, Surly, and other QBP brands. Salsa have come out with some intersting bikes for 2014, including fat bikes in carbon fiber and aluminum and a redesigned El Mariachi SS, stiffer with a shorter wheelbase and a maxle up front.



Don is a Kona Unit SS man, and his bike shop is a dealer for the brand. We checked out their booth in particular to have a look at the new Kona fat bike, at 170,000 yen the lowest-priced fattie on the market.