Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Sea side line

Here in Niigata one of the most famous roads for cycling is a straight road that runs parallel to the sea which is known as the seaside line, one of the main reasons this stretch of road is so popular is that it gives road cyclists out training quick access to Yahiko village and beyond and there are almost no traffic lights. The bad point of this road is that there is often too much traffic, its windy and the sand from the beach covers the edge of the road in some places it totally covers the white line at the side and the road markers. Not to mention that sand and bicycle gearing do not mix well, nothing like an oily chain covered in sand to completely cover your gears with grit  - thank God I ride a single speed !.

First stop before departing the city was a popular place called Popolo where the shop owner went to Italy many years ago to study the art of making gelato , this shop is popular all year long for their freshly made gelato with the menu changing daily. After that we hit the seaside road for a spin out to kakuda beach were I wanted to take a look at a camp site , it was poorly maintained with old toilets and not very clean. The campsite rates were 1000 per person 1 night and if you decide not to pay the 1000 yen and are caught camping for free there is a fine of 10000 yen !. I certainly will not be staying there anytime as compared with other local campsites its a rip off .

After inspecting the campsite we headed back up the hill to Cave Docci a local winery complex that has grown over the years to include a bakery, wine shop, gelato , a health spa and a boutique brewery. We decided to have lunch at Maki Goya the brewery restaurant, the beer was the standard 3 German styles of beer but a bit too watery for our taste but their home made sausages and  the pork dish was pretty good. After buying a few more sausages and souvenirs we headed back along the sea side line back into the city. In all it was only a short trip of 50 km or so but the strong wind on the way back made it feel much further.  . Next long ride will be well away from the sea into the mountains were there is no sand or cold sea breezes. 


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Saturday, 19 April 2014

San Rindo

Hi Everybody

In Japan San Rindo means mountain bush road and while they can be difficult to locate on maps, they are fun to explore on your MTB or cross bike taking you deep into the mountains were you are not likely to meet anyone except for the occasional motorcycle rider on their trail bike who is also looking to escape the concrete and traffic lights. Many years back I did check out one of the routes in the map but took a wrong turn that ended in a dead end road, part of fun of back country exploring , on that particular ride my mate Sunil & I ran into a large group of monkeys that were hanging out in the middle of the road. So this year I intend to check out all of the routes in the maps below and post some reports of my off road adventures. pictured below are a set of 3 local maps showing the mountain roads in white .

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Garmont - Dragon tail approach shoe

If like me , you are not a fan of clipless pedals and prefer the flexibility of using a flat pedal and a good quality outdoor shoe you will most likely have found the perfect shoe that works for you. As for me I like a wide fitting approach shoe that has a vibram sole that is comfortable for a 12 hour bike ride on flat pedals and allows you to walk around in comfort at the end of the days ride. I thought I have found such a shoe in the La Sportiva boulder X as many online reviews claimed it was comfortable and durable. Unfortunately for me my pair of boulder X shoes have fallen apart in less than 4 months, first a small tear developed in the suede upper that enlarged quickly over a few days ,then just the other day whilst doing up the laces the suede lace tab completely broke in half. So pictured below is the model of shoes that I wish I had not purchased !

I am not a shoe designer , but I believe that the lacing system pictured on the above shoe is poorly designed and yesterday I purchased a pair of Garmont dragon Trail approach shoes which are almost of the same design except for the lacing system which uses traditional eyelets rather than suede tabs. They too are wide fitting with a vibram sole and only time will tell if they are better quality , but they certainly look stronger. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Two cycle tourists

A while back one of my blog followers from Australia named Pual Evans informed me he was coming to Japan on a cycle tour and would look me up once he arrived in Niigata. So on Sunday he dropped by Furumachi Bicycle and had a chat about his adventures on the road and cycling in general. After work we went to Cafe Velo for a drink and told me about another cycle tourist called David Onizuka from the US who also happened to be in town that night but on Sunday night they were not able to meet up , but they ran into each other on Monday and both dropped by my shop for a chat. I am quite jealous of cycle tourists that drop by my shop as I did several long cycle tours years ago and its great fun to spend several months on the road touring around looking at new places and meeting interesting people along the way. So guys best of luck for the rest of your journey and if you are ever back in Niigata City again please drop by and David get rid of that Gel seat cover that on your new Brooks B17 !

Here is a link to Davids website

Cheers Don

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Niigata City Ride 2014

The other day the new posters for the 2014 Niigata City Ride were delivered to my shop, apart from the same local talent group on the posters it was nice to see a new course for 2014 , one that has a decent climb up and over Mt Kakuda on the outskirts of Niigata city. In fact it was Brian & I that first proposed this event long before the city and the local Niigata cycling Assn took over to organize it, in our original plan the course did go over Mt Kakuda  so at least this year riders will get the chance to ride a more interesting course this year. By the looks of the photos on the poster the food provided this year will be better than the small meager portion that was served up to hungry riders last year & I am sure as years go by this event will only get bigger and better each time . Online entries open at 10am via sports entry on the 15th of April and because there is a limit on how many riders can take part this event fills up really fast. With 2 courses of 33km and 120 km there is something for everyone and hopefully by the time June the 8th rolls around the weather should be pretty nice. This year Brian & I are working for the event as mobile bicycle repairmen , that means we will be loading up our bags with tools and ready to lend a hand to any cyclists who gets into trouble along the 120km course. 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Merino wool

As a New Zealander and a lover of the great outdoors , I'm very happy to see that finally merino wool is gaining popularity around the world as the garment of choice for outdoor adventurers . Kiwi's have always known that there is nothing like a good quaily jumper , sweater to keep you warm on a cold winters day. But todays 18.5 micron merino sports wear is a far cry from the prickly garments my mother made me wear as a kid. These days merino wool sports wear is not only fashionable, but super light and very comfortable. Most of the high grade merino wool comes from the Island where I grew up - which is the South Island of New Zealand. The merino sheep here lead a tough life battling the elements in all kinds of weather from tough winter snows to hot dry summers. The great thing about merino wool sports wear is that it can be worn for days on end without smelling, keeps you warm and dry even when sweating , retains its original shape due to its spring like micro fibers. And once washed drys quickly making it the ideal garment for under wear, base layers, socks, long sleeve T shirts etc.  On walking into your nearest outdoor store you may get a shock at the price of some merino wool garments but considering the benefits it's well worth the investment if you are keen on the great outdoors. The handsome chap in the above photo is from New Zealand and lives not far from were I grew up !