Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Although this clip is quite old now as it was filmed in the year 2000 in New Zealand it is quite rare as by chance the TV crew in the back of a station wagon caught Jack Castor a well known American Wheelmen crashing at high speed on his custom made ordinary bicycle also known as a penny farthing or a high wheeler.
The accident took place on the annual penny farthing tour, that year the tour was from Mt Cook to Oamaru. On the 2nd day of the tour (60 miles) Wednesday 15th of Nov we rode through Omarama where we stopped for morning tea and then it was time to face the Otemetata saddle which forced everybody to walk except Bruce McCulloch who rode all the way up on his 48” wheel most of the riders took it very slow coming down the other side although wheelman Jack Castor took a header at high speed he was ok with only a few small cuts and bruise’s .I also took part in the tour that year on my custom made 50 inch ordinary. The O.O.C.C. ( Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club ) host a penny farthing tour every year in Nov starting from a different location in NZ and ending up in the Victorian capital of New Zealand , Oamaru which also hosts a fantastic Victorian heritage week which includes penny farthing racing around the historic precinct. If you ever find yourself in NZ over Nov be sure to keep a week spare to enjoy Oamarus Victorian heritage festival.
Monday, 13 April 2009
After watching the procession pass by we continued cycling up the covered mall which stretches for several blocks and at the end of the mall we turned left to visit an antique shop as I had seen some old Japanese bicycle headlamps. Satoshi got into a debate with the owner over the true value of the headlamps and if you could still purchase the appropriate battery to make them work, which was rather funny. After that we headed to the park were I often play petanque to check out the cherry blossoms and like Hakusan park , Nishi Ohata park was packed with people drinking under the cherry trees as well. After that we headed towards home and on the way home Satoshi showed me another bicycle shop located near my house which I had not found. I did not take any photos of the bike shop as not long after we arrived it was full of Lycra clad roadies and very modern bicycles, not the type of thing for a 3 speed blog.
After leaving the crowded park we then rode up Furumachi street which was closed off to traffic for the day as there was a local festival going on, all over Japan you can see festivals at almost any time of the year and by chance we were able to view the local festival procession coming down the street. The photos above show the drunken participants carrying the mobile shrine down Furumachi street. I have joined local festivals when I first came to Japan many years ago and often the participants start early in the day with a prayer at a local shrine followed by carrying the mobile shrine around whilst drinking sake & beer. Supporters follows the participants with a giant tea pot which is not filled with tea but most probably sake and several cooler boxes of cold beer. Pictured above are some photos showing the festival procession
Well finally I was able to meet up with Satoshi for a ride last Sunday afternoon, for readers who follow this blog he is the chap I met while out cycling who loves classic bicycles and he is the kind fellow who gave me the NOS Lucas cyclometer that now records my travels. Upon arriving at Satoshis house he had been cleaning his classic Shark Island touring bike and having a few beers and offered me a beer which unfortunately I had to refuse as I had to go driving later in the day. After leaving his house we rode alongside the Shinano river which was packed with people enjoying the cherry blossoms as they were in full bloom. Our first stop was my mates bicycle shop as he was keen to check out the Humber as he had never seen it before. After leaving the bike shop we rode & pushed our bicycles through Hakusan park which was packed with people enjoying the cheery blossom. Hanami season is very short but most people attend at least one drinking & eating session under the trees and even though the trees look fantastic - drinking is the main event. The pictures above show Satoshi & I at the park plus a photo of his classic touring bike.
Monday, 6 April 2009
Well after a relaxing time at the brewery it was only a short ride down the road to the town of Suibara where Hyoko lake is situated. Hyoko lake is home to a vast number of migratory birds namely geese from Russia who make the small lake their home for several months each year and surrounding the lake are walking tracks and a small park which is popular for picnics so I thought it was as good a place as any to stop and consume my packed lunch. It was rather pleasant sitting by the lake in the sunshine having lunch and after that I pressed on towards the bridge over the Agano river that I had cycled over earlier that day and from there I took the same roads leading back into the city. By the time I had arrived home it was 2pm and I had cycled 69.6km according to my Lucas cyclometer. It was fantastic to get out of the city for a ride and I hope to get out again as soon, now that the weather is nice.
It did not take me very long to reach the Swan lake brewery, I must confess its very difficult for me to bypass the brewery when cycling in this area and there is nothing better than a glass of traditional English style porter whilst out cycling. And to answer the question that is probably on your mind / What the heck does a Japanese brewery in Niigata know about making porter ? Well for one thing they have won a vast number of medals at the world beer cup & national beer competitions for their porter plus several of their other beers have won medals as well. If you are in Japan you can try their beers either at the brewery in Niigata or in Tokyo as they have a restaurant in Ginza or you can also find their beers on tap at Club Popeye a well known beer bar in Tokyo that has 40 beers on tap. At the brewery they have several dinning options ranging from the main restaurant located in the brewery where you can view the vast number of medals they have won over the years to the restored Japanese warehouse - Kura to the fine dinning of Ikarashi Tei a large ornate Japanese traditional house. My favorite place is Kura and after taking some photos of the cherry blossom and surrounding garden I ventured inside Kura to have a glass of porter. After a long ride the porter tasted fantastic and I quite easily could have drunk several more but as I was only halfway home I felt the need to press on for my final stop - lunch at Hyoko lake in the neighboring town of Suibara.
Pictured above are several photos I took at the Swan lake brewery and some info on the beers they produce.
After stopping off at Fukushima Gata I then headed towards the mountains to the hot spring town of Tsukioka as I had heard from some students that the village had built an Ashi Yu - foot bath . Recently around Niigata several villages have built free foot baths as a way of attracting more tourists to their villages etc, most of the places that have built these are already well known for their hot springs but for a cyclist or a hiker there is nothing better than relaxing your tired legs in a soothing hot bath. Upon arriving in Tsukioka I cycled through the main street and stopped to take a photo of a rickshaw that was on display in front of an Onsen hotel and then after a short time I discovered the Ashi - yu located off a small side street. Not long after I arrived several families also stopped by so by the number of people that were there on a Monday morning it looks like it has proven very popular. As it was still rather early in the day I decided to press on and I then took route 290 along the base of the Mt Gozu range towards Murusugi onsen where I then turned right and headed down hill towards Suibara. Not far along this road is a fresh water spring and I stopped there to refill my water bottle before pressing on for my next destination the Swan lake brewery.
Pictured above are the photos that were taken in Tsukioka
After crossing the mighty Agano river I headed straight for the town of Toyosaka where Fukushima Gata lagoon is located. Fukushima Gata lagoon is a protected wetland area on the outskirts of Tokosaka city and is home to over 220 different species of birds and because of that it is a popular spot for photographers and of course bird watchers. On arriving at Fukushima Gata it was nice to see the wildflowers in full bloom and there were a number of families enjoying the fine weather. The lagoon has also been chosen as part of the 100 top places to visit in Japan. And while cycling around the side of the lagoon I took a photo of an old lady harvesting water reeds which are used in traditional handcrafts. If you ever find yourself in Niigata its well worth a visit and if you are a keen birdwatcher you would love it as its a very interesting area. Above are some of the photos I took while at the lagoon.
Well finally I was able to get out for a ride on Monday the 6th of April, I had planned to do the same ride a few weeks ago but due to bad weather I had to cancel my plans. But luckily yesterday was a fantastic day so I set out early from my home in Niigata city with a rough plan of where I wanted to go and with some fine weather I ended up riding further afield. The ride out of Niigata city is not that spectacular as you have to battle with cars going to work etc and a vast number of traffic lights but once out of the city the riding is pretty good. My 1st stop for the day was to take a photo of a unique house that I had seen several times before. They say that a mans home is his castle well in this case that is indeed true as the house pictured above was built to resemble a traditional Japanese castle, it must have cost quite a lot to build and looks quite out of place amongst the other farmhouses nearby. Pictured above is also a map showing the course I took on Monday.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Well as I hope to get out cycling next Monday there was one thing I wanted to put on the bike before the cycling season starts which is a Viva saddlebag support rack. And with some free time yesterday I was able to visit a local bike shop that I knew stocked this product. Below is my review of the Viva support rack.
Sick & tired of your saddlebag hitting the backs of your thighs, worried about damaging your celluloid mudguards ?. Well maybe you need a Viva saddle bag support rack, this rack is fully adjustable and is made out of heavy gauge chromed steel with a well designed clamp for holding it in place upon your seat post and it does not require you to remove your saddle when fitting it which is also very handy. As you can see from the photos above it puts your saddle bag in a more upright position which in turn makes it easier for taking things in and out of your saddle bag. Another major problem with using a saddle bag is if its not supported correctly it can damage your mudguards if overloaded etc. As I have not been out riding with the rack fitted as yet I am not able say how stable it is but I will soon find that out on my next long ride.