Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

96km shop ride to Tagami , Kamo

As the good cycling weather is upon as at present we held another shop ride from my bicycle shop in Niigata City out to the small mountain side village of Tagami were Brian led us up and over a short tough 8 % climb down into the plains of Gosen before taking route 290 through the hills to Kamo , we my customers enjoyed a short stop and a trad roadside house for drinks and snacks. After that it was downhill into Kamo for some great tasting ramen that in a local guide book gets 4 stars . After lunch we enjoyed a short break looking around Kamp park before the ride back into the city. We left at 7am and returned at 3.30 pm enjoying some great weather fantastic scenery and a delicious lunch - total distance was 96km return and for one rider on his new Salsa Fargo it was the furthest he had ever ridden - Well done Abe san !.

I had my Salsa fully loaded up as  a test  for this weeks 250km Brevet from Tsuroka in Yamagata to Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima , Brian & I depart on Wednesday for our 1st attempt of this tough 250km route , check the blog at the end of this week for a full report.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Return to Mikawa - shop ride 31st of August

As you may have seen a while back I with the help of my mate Brian have been discovering the vast array of mountain roads in the Mikawa region of Niigata. It's a pretty boring ride from Niigata city to get to Mikawa along the Agano river but from Niigata station you can jump on board a local train with your bicycle in a travel bag and be in Mikawa station in no time at all. So yesterday we held our 2nd shop ride into the hills of Mikawa with some of my customers who are keen MTBers. Brian had discovered this particular course and even though it was only 30km it was a tough morning ride which offered everything from 8 - 10 % grade sealed climbs , wickedly fast winding downhills and a fantastic section of rough 4Wd track through the shady forest which was welcome in the 30 deg heat.  We all stopped at a roadside rest area for Ramen and beer for lunch and then some of us continued downstream to cross the Agano river to the small onsen village of Sakehana which we took a break and waited for our return train to Niigata city. Below are a few photos taken on the ride and if you want to check out all of them check this link

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Shop bikepacking / tour to Snow Peak HQ - part 2

After the last short climb up to Snow Peak HQ we checked in and found a great shady spot near the back of the camp ground over looking the golf course and put up our tents , 3 of us had our own tents while the other rider rented a tent and sleeping bag from Snow Peak who must make a lot of money from renting out camping supplies as there were many large groups who had done so that weekend. After pitching the tents it was beer time which considering the type of heat we had ridden it was very well deserved and tasted great. Later on we all cooked up a big feed for dinner with Brian & I cooking Katsu curry while the other chaps dined on pasta.

Because it was so hot it was really hard to get to sleep even with the tent fly open , so when Brian realized it was raining we both got up and packed up our tents quickly saving them from getting wet. The rain hammered down about an hour later and we retreated to the cover of the main building to cook breakfast before heading out into the rain and down the valley towards Sanjo. Our first stop was back in Kamo at MacDonalds we after a 2nd breakfast we had a MacPunture which was carried out using their sign board as a bike stand before pressing on back into Niigata city for some Italian Gelato before arriving back to the bicycle shop around 11.30am. In total the entire ride was only 126km return but in the extreme heat and humidity it made it feel a lot further . It was a great adventure by bike but I will not be planning any more cycle events at this time of the year again !

Shop bikepacking / tour to Snow Peak HQ

Back in the winter when I had free time I planned all of this years cycle events for my bicycle shop. Sitting inside a warm shop watching the snow fall it was easy to think about warmer weather and the type of shop rides that I wanted to do this year , I knew August was out as it just gets to hot to cycle anywhere but I must have forgotten about July being almost the same. As Fuji Rock was on the same weekend we only got two riders attending but even though we faced extreme temperatures on the Sat ( over 36 deg ) and hard rain most of Sunday morning we all had a great time. We rode out of Niigata City to towards the mountains stopping several times to take a drink and arrived at a local supermarket in Kosodo just before opening time. I wondered why so many people had filled the car park and once the doors opened it was a mad rush towards the ice cream chillers were all ice blocks, ice creams we 50% off from 10am - 12pm. People were going crazy buying boxes of ice creams , but for us who had nowhere to carry such vast supplies we made do with a couple of ice creams each instead.

The next main stop was in the mountain town of Kamo where we dinned in style at Gusto a popular family restaurant and made good use of their drink bar before pressing on upwards through the village of Kamo stopping off at a 140 year old roadside snack shop that sells cold drinks and a tokoroten and kind of gelatin made from seaweed that is served cold and boiled eggs.

After leaving the snack shop the hard work really began with almost no shade and rising midday temperatures we began the accent of the mountain pass the divided us from the route to Snow Peak HQ. As usual Brian set an amazing pace on his single speed 29 MTB climbing the 6% gradient pass in his 33 T - 13T gearing  . I rode on ahead to take a few photos of them passing and then managed to overtake the last rider on his geared cyclo cross bike before reaching the summit. After the summit it was mostly down hill passing brilliant green rice fields soon due to be harvested before arriving at a local super market to buy our evening food supplies