Thursday, 15 August 2013

Blog content update

Hi Everybody

I can not believe that I started this blog back in 2007 a lot has changed since then, back in 2007 I was an English teacher here in Niigata City with regular Sundays off which meant it was easy to plan long rides deep into the local countryside with my mate Brian, sometimes we loaded up my mini van with our bikes and drove out of the congested city to start our ride. These days I am now car free at long last , the manager / mechanic of a bicycle shop Furumachi Bicycle located here in Niigata city and I have Thursdays off instead of Sundays which means that now most of my cycle adventures are solo rides instead. I still have my fathers Humber 3 speed although if you follow this blog you may not have seen it in quite a while, but I do intend to get out on it for my monthly shop rides once this extreme hot summer has finished. I now as you might have guessed ride my 2013 Kona Unit single speed as my regular bike , commuting into the city on it to work everyday of the year no matter what the weather which is a challenge in winter but always fun. I have also rediscovered cycle touring again and now use my single speed for bike packing adventures which I am really enjoying. So as you can tell the blog content has changed quite a lot but I have become more involved in cycling again since working at the bike shop and it is really nice to be able to cycle into the city in a t shirt and shorts unlike most other foreigners here who need to wear a suit and a tie everyday !

Happy Cycling

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Feedback Sports - sprint work stand review

Since I started Furumachi Bicycle I have been using a solid , cheap work stand made by Minoura which can even handle heavy Japanese Mama Charis if needed. It is a strong stand that relies on either clamping the seat post or the frame, but with many of today's high end bikes that is something you should not do especially when dealing with super lightweight alloy or carbon fiber frames. That is why I now have a second work stand just for those sorts of bicycles. The Feedback work stand is very well made and folds up easily for storage as well. It has a protective support to stop your bottom bracket getting damaged whilst in the stand and the front fork clamp is easy to use and holds a variety of forks widths . The stand can rotate 360 deg and also has a good height range to suit everybody and the super wide adjustable legs provide a solid base so the stand will not tip over when in use. If you are looking for a well made stand that does not clamp the frame or the seat post this is a great deal. for more info check out the Feedback Sports website to see all their products. Below are a few photos of the Feedback Sports - Sprint work stand

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Oct bike packing trip plan

Well as its now August in Japan, that only means one thing - beer gardens !, just joking but going to a rooftop beer garden is pretty nice in such hot humid weather unlike cycling . I have learnt from living here over the last 15 years or so that cycling in August is not pleasant at all , short early morning rides may be ok  but unless you are a totally mad Japanese uni student with free time on your hands why would you bother ?. I was extremely lucky to be able to complete my July over night trip without getting wet as it was rain season. At the start of this year as previously mentioned my goal was to do at least 3 local overnight trips ( 2 down 1 more to go ) before heading away on a long trip, luckily I have been able to take 6 days off in the 2nd  week of Oct for a 400km bike packing trip into Fukushima and back . What a minute I hear you say - is that not where they had a huge nuclear plant meltdown last year ?, well yes it is the same prefecture but I will not be going anywhere near the danger zone which is still off limits. Pictured below is a rough outline of my proposed route

For those of you who have never been to Fukushima it is an awesome place with outstanding scenery with plenty of interesting places to visit, that is why I have decided to ride from Niigata city over the mountains into Fukushima and back over my 6 day holiday in Oct. I will be starting in Niigata city and passing through some countryside that I have never seen before and being Oct the weather will be cooler with less tourists and traffic on the roads hopefully. Some of the places I will be stopping at will be Snow Peak HQ ,a well known manufacturer of high quality outdoor products that also has a nice campsite, Tadami town , Ochijiku historic village, Tsuruga Castle in Aizu wakamatsu , Kitakata - a town famous for its ramen noodles , Tsugawa village .  Below are a few photos taken from the net showing some of the places I will visit along the way

The other challenge of this ride is complete the entire ride on my single speed 29 inch MTB, with my current gearing set up of 33T - 16T I was able to ride some pretty steep hills fully loaded so I think I have finally found the perfect gear combination for loaded touring on a 29 inch single speed, I am in the process of slightly changing a few things on the bike , 29 x 2.1 Geax Evolution tyres with be better suited to loaded touring unlike my super light Maxxis Ikon racing tyres which will be put to good use again once winter arrives and I am not going to carry a backpack , the 2ltr camelbak bladder is going into the frame bag and the fuel bottle will get mounted on the bottom of the down tube which will make the trip much more comfortable. If you are planning a trip yourself to Japan and would like any advice on cycling in Japan just get in touch with me anytime . 

Happy Cycling