竹自転車 (Bamboo Bicycle)

The Bamboo Bicycle Club, the London-based group that helps people build bicycles from natural bamboo, has released a few bike porn photos of one of their latest creations.

The best response to criticism

In their shared Cycle Weekly profile, ultra racer Ian To took a cheeky jab at fellow lejog record contender Michael Broadwith, referring to the three-time 24-hour time trial champion as “relatively heavy.” And now Michael has responded in the classiest way possible:

Our previous coverage of the lejog record attempts by these two amazing men is here: Assault on the Lejog record. As things stand now, Michael is still awaiting a break in the weather, while Ian hints that he’ll be back.

Gear that’s recently fallen off my bike

I was crossing a major thoroughfare today when I hit a small chuckhole. I heard a small *dink* and then a loud *CRUNCH* as the car following me ran over whatever it was that had just hit the pavement.

I cleared the crossing and stopped to take a quick inventory. It was my taillight, which had been clipped onto a loop on the end of my saddlebag (which sits under the saddle and holds a spare innertube and some tire irons). From time to time in the past I’d checked that it was firmly seated, and occasionally adjusted it. No longer …

I looked out into the intersection and saw the remaining bits, and I thought about going back and picking them up. The batteries might be a bit dicey to handle … and then I looked at all the traffic and figured the drivers were on their own. I continued on my way. On my return through the same intersection roughly three hours later, I noted a couple of small scraps that might have been the light, and might not have been. And there was a coffee beverage can, thoroughly flattened. I didn’t even pause.

Back at the end of May, while my son and I were cycling the Shimanami Kaido, my new rearview mirror blew off on the first good downhill. I thought then about going back to pick it up. There was little traffic, and I knew that I’d soon catch up with my son. And then I realized that a mirror that blows off on every downhill that comes along is no use to me anyway. I continued on my way.

(To be honest, no gear at all is supposed to fall off the well-tuned bicycle. Violation of Rule #65.)

First ride after the gout bout

It’s been one month since I was sidelined by gout, as detailed here, and I finally felt I could get back on the bike. My plan was to wear some soft shoes, not my cleats, and take a nice, easy ride to get back into the rhythm.

Haneda Round Trip
Haneda Round Trip

The Haneda round trip is mostly flat and largely on the cycling course along the Tama river, where rather than worrying about being hit by cars I have to worry about pedestrians stepping into my path without warning.

The shoes were a bit tight at first but soon loosened up. They don’t have any tread, so my feet were slipping around on the pedals a bit. It doesn’t seem to have been too big a problem, though, as I made slightly better time than I did in March, the last time I was on this route. My foot was fine as long as I didn’t mash down on the pedals, for example when a hill climb followed a red light. On the plus side, not having the cleats meant that I could avoid putting too much pressure on the big toe when I did need to mash a bit.

While it was overcast when I left home, the sun was shining brightly by the time I reached the river. At the first rest stop, I put on my mask like a good little boy.

Under the mask
Under the mask at Haneda peace shrine

When I reached Haneda, after taking my usual photo at the peace shrine I retired to a tiny park with a bit of shade to enjoy the rice balls that my partner made fresh this morning. As I was eating, a man walked by with two Chihuahuas on the leash. As they passed, one of them turned and looked at me with baleful eyes. I smiled and continued eating. The man soon reached the end of the park and turned around. This time as he passed, the Chihuahua again turned to look at me and then froze in his tracks, refusing to move. After cajoling the little dog for a moment, the man picked him up and continued on his way.

Homemade rice balls
Homemade rice balls

The ride home was uneventful. I was with the wind now and so I just spun my pedals, making my usual speed or a bit better without putting much effort into it. When I got to the one climb of note on the route, I just lowered gears and continued to spin. I was soon at the top without having put any stress on my foot.

When you’re serious about wind resistance

Ian To’s bike for his attempt on the Lejog world record has the bars seriously below the saddle:

Compare that to Tony Martin’s TT bike for the Giro d’Italia:

More on Ian To’s world record Lejog attempt here.

Assault on the Lejog record

Ian To has just abandoned halfway through his attempt to break the Land’s End to John o’ Groats record of 44 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds, set in 2001. Ian, a 37-year-old business strategist from Wiltshire, had hoped to maintain a speed of 20mph (32kmph) for 42 hours without sleeping in order to cover the 838-mile distance.

He has impressive credentials for the attempt: in two months in 2016, Ian won the Giro Ciclistico delle Repubbliche Marinare (2,200km around Italy), Hard Cro (1,400km around Croatia) and Sverigetempot (2,200km, north to south of Sweden), according to Cycling Weekly.

Ian trains 20 to 40 hours per week, and had already racked up more than 6,000 miles this year before the start of his attempt. “Anything under 44 hours would do,” Ian told Cycling Weekly. “Ideally I’d like to do it in 42.”

Ian has competition from Michael Broadwith, a 40-year-old Math teacher from Hertfordshire. Michael also holds impressive credentials: he’s a three-time national 24-hour TT holder. Michael had planned to set out on April 30. However, the weather wasn’t cooperative at the time, and End to End 2018, a Twitter account dedicated to his attempt, says they’ll update when they’ve decided on a start date.

Gran Fondo in Japan

Today I stumbled across グランフォンドKOMORO2018 (Gran Fondo Komoro 2018), グランフォンド嬬恋 (Gran Fondo Tsumagoi) and グランフォンド軽井沢 (Gran Fondo Karuizawa), all 100km rides in May. I’m a week late to join this year, but one of these might be a good prep ride for lejog next year.

Gran Fondo Komoro anime
Gran Fondo Komoro

The courses sit among the mountains of Nagano and involve more climbing than I’m accustomed to. But that’s a weakness I need to be working on over the next year, regardless, so I hope that any of these rides will be within my reach by next year.

Komoro seems to be the most heavily promoted, and with the most active Twitter presence. It also has a tie-in with anime and merchandise, some of it perhaps a bit unfortunate.

Karuizawa, on the other hand, has the most course choices, including a few that could be done in two hours.

The routes

The organizers helpfully publish the routes via LatLongLab, including elevations.

Komoro

Tsumagoi

Karuizawa

(One of several courses available)

Registration begins in January, so I’ll need to check back then.

Fujisan in June
Fujisan in May

Meanwhile, the weather today is gorgeous, and I’m still nursing a gouty toe.

“The hardest climb in cycling”

Today is Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia, and that means it’s Zancolan time: “10 km at an average 12% gradient, with peaks topping out at 22%,” according to the official site.

“It’s brutal. It’s relentless,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White told Cycling Weekly.

For me, it’s the hardest climb in cycling. Bola del Mundo in the Vuelta a España is hard, but this goes on for nine kilometres. It’s 40 minutes for the first riders, but for us mortals, it’s one hour. One hour of going all out.

Sky sports director Matteo Tosatto

Except where noted, all quotes are from Cycling Weekly. Tip o’ the hat to Joe Lejog for the link.

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club is a London-based group providing workshops and kits for people to make their own bicycles out of bamboo. They have road and off-road models, and offer custom designs as well.

The club has sold more than 980 kits, and currently lists its farthest delivery as Tokyo, Japan.

Weekend workshops cost £588. Kits are £260 for the road models and £295 for off-road. There’s also a fat bike kit for £330. The club has had more than 800 attendees from 42 countries at its workshops. The Bamboo Bicycle Club also works with schools and universities to provide education in the properties of bamboo and to host bike building workshops.

Bamboo Bicycle Club offers the opportunity to own an unusual but fully functional bike that you’ve made with your own hands.

Walking stick came in very handy

Man walking with stick
Walking it Off, by stefanschlau

I went back to work today for the first time since my left big toe swelled up with gout, and I used a walking stick to take pressure off the foot. As a result, people were giving up their seats to me on the train. I may have to continue using this even after the foot heals.

My first day back was not too bad. I wore my lightest shoes, with no sock on the left and that foot only loosely in the shoe. I gave myself an extra 20 minutes to get to the office. It helped that it’s basically a national holiday, so the trains weren’t as crowded as usual.

At the office, I switched the shoes for some Nike sandals I keep there. I used the elevator sometimes, but sometimes the stairs were just more direct.

After lunch I got some cooling packs from the nurse. These worked well but only for about 10 minutes each. I mostly sat at the desk, often with my foot propped up.

Naturally, my coworkers were curious what happened. I told them that her husband came home early, so I had to jump out the window.

On the way home my foot got sore, mostly from the chafing of the shoe against the naked flesh. After dinner and a pill and an ice pack, I felt much better.