Sunday, 22 June 2014

Shop ride to Mikawa

Yesterday 8 riders including myself and my mate Brian lead a shop ride into the mountains of Mikawa, half of us arrived by train with the remaining riders driving their cars to Mikawa station. The entire day was nice and cool with light rain but that stopped around midday , for many of my customers it was their first long off road ride, while the entire ride is mostly on sealed mountain roads there is a large section of off road that mainly consists of a climb on loose gravel. That section really tests out the your ability to climb and for single speeders like myself it means getting out of the saddle to avoid the walk of shame, I am happy to say once again I was able to ride all the way to the summit without dismounting, but the road we took after lunch at a nearby onsen was a whole other story. That section was sealed and started off with a short climb leading into a nice rolling downhill , After that the road from hell took over with an endless steep climb that forced many riders to walk, I am still amazed my mate Brian rode the entire course with a hangover without dismounting once - unreal !. The entire ride was only 31km in length but I would have to say it was the hardest 31km I have ever done. The fantastic views and the long downhill back towards Mikawa was a nice reward to end the day though. So now I have explored another new road in the mountains of Mikawa !

Outside Mikawa station at the start of the ride

                    Taking a break at the fresh water spring located at the first village along the route

Riders tackling a steep off road section in the morning

The signboard at the 2nd village along the course 

Enjoying some katsu curry and draft beer for lunch at a nearby onsen

My mate Brian rode his single speed the entire course without dismounting - gearing 32T - 18T 

A fantastic view looking down into the Agano river and the section of route 49 that is now closed to traffic due to a big landslide last year 

Waiting for the train back at Mikawa station 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Niigata City Ride 2014

Well as a new event the 120km Niigata City ride is growing in popularity every year and entries fill up very fast for the 600 spots . This year my bicycle shop was one of the main sponsors of the event and my mate Brian & I were the tail end charlies clearing the course of riders and mobile mechanics helping out riders who had broken down.  Below are a few photos taken at the start showing some of my customers , over spec Ishii who surprises people every year with some new accessory attached to his  Surly big dummy cargo bike , this year it was a horses head with a carrot dangling in front of it , it nice to see someone having fun and riding something other than a lightweight road bike. Also for the first time this year tandem bicycles were allowed which was great as recently the Niigata prefecture law was changed allowing them to ride on the road at last.

 The day started off nice and cool but warmed up around mid morning forcing some beginners retire by the 2nd check point. A new section of the course this year takes riders up the 8 % climb on the side of Mt Kakuda , this is were I stupidly bet Brian he could not ride to the top on his single speed MTB with a 33 T - 13 T gear , I lost the best and bought him a beer after the event. Its a short but tough climb and I managed to ride to the top as well passing a road cyclists on an expensive team issue Cannondale who seemed surprised to see 2 single speeds pass him by while he struggled spinning his low gear.  All the staff were surprised by the amount of accidents that happened this year which included several people going to hospital , in any event road or MTBing accidents can happen and all riders need to take a lot more care whilst riding . The other problems throughout the day were punctures with many riders not carrying enough tools to carry out a simple repair such as patching a tube, as Brian & I were cycling along on our single speeds we were  chatting about the next possible breakdown being a broken rear derailleur  , 30 seconds later that is what we came across - a road cyclist standing over his destroyed bike with the rear derailleur totally ripped off, the hanger broken and the derailleur and chain mangled inside the rear wheel. I wanted to take a photo of it, but decided not to as the riders day was over now and he certainly was having a very bad day. Most riders who were careful and followed the course maps did not take any wrong turns and had an enjoyable day but to make it a better event more volunteers are required for next year.