Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ramen Run

Four our first shop ride of the year I planned a 60 km ride out to Komadori , a popular ramen shop in Maki that is so famous people line up outside early waiting for the doors to open. In total there were 21 riders including Brian & myself were were leading the ride. We started by taking the cycle path along the Shinano which is a quick way to get out of the city and then rode on the seas side line before turning off and heading inland towards were the ramen shop is located. by the time we arrived a line had already formed out the door and people were standing in the midday heat waiting to get inside.

Luckily it did not take long before we were able to get inside and order , the place was already packed with family groups enjoying big bowls of ramen and the house specialty giant goza . We were shown to a room at the back of the shop and after order it did not take long for our meals to arrive. The place is more like a ramen factory than a shop as the kitchen is run at a brisk pace serving up meals and there always seems to be a line out the door of people wanting to enter, maybe its just like that on the weekends ?. After everybody had finished their lunch we prepared for the ride back into the city with one group of 8 local riders who lived nearby parting ways and a main group of faster riders lead by Brian  who headed back into the city. I rode with Russell who was also on a MTB at a more relaxed pace taking in a few off road trails along a river and then later on we joined the Nishikawa cycle path back into the city. Russell & I reached the bike shop about 5 minutes after the others had arrived . For our first shop ride of the year the weather was perfect and it was nice to see a good turn out of riders as well. Lets hope the nice continues .

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