Thursday, 18 April 2013

First long ride for 2013 !

Well as the weather recently has improved and a few of my customers had been on a ride out along the seaside line to the mountain village of Yahiko, I thought I better make use of my next day off so I left home early and headed out along the seaside road towards Kakuda hama and took a short detour through the newly formed concrete road that passes by Cave Docci winery and resort spa and the area is now home to two other new wineries as well. It was nice to see a decent road considering the amount of traffic that visits that location. The winery workers were busy pruning vines when I stopped across the road for a rest. At that time of the day the mountain was still covered mist but by midday things improved. Pictured below is a photo taken showing the vines at the winery with Mt Kakuda in the background.

After my brief stop at the winery I pressed on and took my usual short cut through several small villages that skirt the base of Mt Kakuda and pass by the golf course. The day was starting to warm up and by the time I got to Yahiko village itself  the weather was really nice. This run was a bit of a test for me as my boss at Furumachi Bicycle has signed me up for the Niigata City ride which is being held for the 1st time on June 16th of this year and I have been entered in the 120km course on a Surly Pugsly - Fat Bike !. I have often ridden distances far greater and have even completed a century run on a 50 inch ordinary ( high wheel bicycle ) but the 1st ride of the year is always a bit tough even though I cycle every day. Also it was the furthest I have ever ridden a single speed MTB and luckily managed to ride up all the hills, I certainly do not think this will be possible loaded with bike packing gear ! . My new choice in footwear proved to be very comfortable and waterproof and the perfect fit for my large Odyssey - twisted pc platform pedals . In Yahiko Village I treated myself to a nice bowl of Sansai ( mountain wild vegetables )  Udon and a well deserved beer. The cherry blossoms are now in full bloom at least in Niigata ken and the photo taken below at Yahiko park shows how spectacular they are in full bloom. Upon returning to Niigata city it started to rain but as my ride was almost finished I did not really care after riding 75km on a single speed !

Friday, 12 April 2013

Cycling with wet socks !

Well as some of you long time followers will remember about a year ago I purchased a pair of Keen Austin pedal shoes. Overall these nice leather SPD compatible shoes have held up pretty well in daily use apart from winter when I wore Keen winter boots that were totally warm and waterproof instead. The good thing about any Keen brand footwear is that it is wide fitting, I had split 2 pairs of 5.10 guide shoes as they were not wide enough before I purchased the Keen Austin pedal shoes. In the end I did not fit nor use SPDs on those shoes and because of the hard floor at work the soles have worn down quite a lot , they are great shoes if you live in an area that does not have so much rain. In general they are water resistant as claimed but as it rains a lot here in Niigata, cycling in constant heavy rain will soon soak through the leather leaving you to endure the discomfort of wet socks. It rains enough here to warrant a full Gore Tex quality cycling kit and without my trusty Ground Effect Jacket and pants I would not have considered selling my car at all. So after doing some research into hard wearing outdoor shoes and test fitting several brands from well known outdoor manufacturers I have purchased today a new model from North Face called Hedgehog GTX Guide , which has a Vibram hard wearing sole, wide fitting and a full Gore tex lining which will hopefully keep my feet a lot drier than the Austin pedals. These days I do not feel the need for SPDs and use flat platform pedals for comfort rather than clipping in and out of something at every corner when stopping.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

The bike parka !

As I have just moved into a brand new house which does not have a huge genkan ( indoor space just inside the front door ) so I can no longer store my regular ride the Kona unit inside , luckily the 1947 Humber Sports in safely stored inside out of the weather but will be moved in June to my new larger bicycle store to be put on display. So after a lot of research I decided the best option was for my Kona Unit to be stored outside and protected from the weather as Niigata has a lot of rain. I would rather not have a bicycle outside in a city like Niigata but in this case I have no other option . At the shop I have for sale a product designed in New Zealand , made in China ! called the Bike Parka. I had tested this out on the shop runabout over the winter and it was very strong and totally waterproof as well. It packs down rather small so could be carried on a tour if needed and one of the great points is that it has velco openings located on both sides in which you can attach your bicycle lock , perfect for a longer chain lock like a Abus so you bike can be safely locked to something and totally protected by the elements as well. Pictured below is the bike parka in its carry bag and it covering my 29 inch MTB , it also has a fantastic elastic bottom band to stop it coming off and the top has another drawstring to adjust it to your bicycles shape so you can get the perfect fit.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Japanese police get tough on cyclists !

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office has officially announced that it intends to prosecute cyclists who repeatedly violate road traffic laws in Japan, as of Monday. Ignoring a red light or not stopping when necessary may also become subject to penalty, with a three-month jail sentence or a fine of up to 50,000 yen. In addition, riding parallel with other cyclists or failure to make use of one’s light under conditions of poor visibility could carry fines of up to 20,000 yen and 50,000 yen, respectively.
One would assume that a rise in accidents involving cyclists is behind the toughening of the law. However, lawyer Shinpei Kazusawa who represents law firm Very Best, suggests otherwise.
“There has been a clear decrease in road accidents involving automobiles and bicycles. However, the number of bicycle related accidents, compared with 10 years ago, has seen an increase of 13%.”
With the law as it presently stands, only motorists are subject to penalties for small breaches of the law such as illegal parking. What’s more, as one would naturally expect, settling the fine protects one from prosecution.
Contrastingly, cyclists are exempt from any such penalty, however are theoretically subject to prosecution. Nevertheless, it is feared that prosecuting a cyclist over a small breach would make a mockery of the current automobile traffic laws and so up until now, authorities have been reluctant to enforce the penalties. Under the new system, bicycle and automobile laws will be more or less on an equal footing.
“The tightening of the law is obviously a strategy to reduce any further bicycle-related accidents. But it’s also a sign that many citizens are dissatisfied with the leniency of the current road traffic laws.” (Hironori Oze, Lawyer)
There are, of course, plenty of people who feel that being penalized for ignoring a red light and the like are a little too severe. Kazusawa comments: “Up until now most cyclists have avoided arrest or any form of penalty. Usually what is issued is a ‘guidance warning ticket.’ In 2011, there were around 2 million warning tickets issued, in contrast to which only 4,000 arrests were made. Whilst arrests make up a meager 0.2% of cases, they have admittedly been on the increase in recent years. For example, even if the infringement is slight, being the subject of arrest means through an indictment at court, the defendant can be financially penalized.”
No doubt the latest strengthening of traffic laws will leave many reflecting upon how they behave on the road, but what’s ultimately important is that laws are there to protect us. If tougher laws mean a reduction in accidents I’m sure no one will have that much room for complaint.
Source: Ameba News

Taken from Japan today - April 1st 2013