yesterday the monsoon rains arrived. we woke up and mounted our bikes for a long slog in a constant drizzle. homeboy had grown weary of the truck traffic breathing down our necks, so he plotted a course on a parallel road. basically, there are three roads following the river north from Gifu: a highway that the government had shot through mountain tunnels and high bridges, a prefectural road 156 which much of the trucks use, and a series of often single lane roads hopping the riverbanks. the small roads took us through dozens of little neighborhoods…modest houses almost always with a rice paddy alongside.
the incessant rain wasn’t so bad, but an hour or two into the ride my right knee developed a pain where i have never had pain before. i’m not sure what’s causing it…i think it might be the wider stance of the touring crank. whatever the cause, an hour or two further on and i was gasping in agony. this was and continues to be a major problem…
eventually we made it to a town where the little road and 156 met up again, with a view of the amazing infrastructure of the big highway spanning tunnels set high into the mountain. we found a town info center, and i negotiated for the very helpful woman there to set us up in a ryokan (traditional inn).
this ryokan was like f%&#ing shangra la to us. we were filthy and just knackered. The Kanbe ryokan didn’t have a view, but it had clean tatami mat rooms (without centipedes) and served dinner with the room. after an induglent japanese bath, we got this huge spread of food. so many courses of japanese cuisine….shabu-shabu, pickled vegetables, potatoe soup, sashimi, seafood custard, and more. the room, all that, and breakfast for 6500 yen each. well spent.
however my knee is definitely not good. we are going to have to shorten our route because i can’t make a good pace. we’ll probably make a shortcut to Takayama rather than go to Shirokawa-go. At least the sun is out, but all roads forward go up into the mountains….
So James Ambler has been following Angelina Jolie around New York on a Trek mountain bike, taking her picture as she makes appearances to promote her new movie A Mighty Heart. He’s become such a fixture that Jolie and her kids have nicknamed him “Lance.”
On Thursday, Ambler hit a nail and flatted. Rather than leave him behind, Jolie gave the punctured papparazzo a lift to their next destination in her SUV.
I know some of you are saying he should have turned it down, rather than riding in a gas-guzzling SUV, but Ambler happily accepted a hitch from one of the world’s most beautiful women, and spent about 30 minutes in her company. Ambler said Jolie was “really down to earth, really lovely.” Splash News has photos and video of Ambler describing the encounter.
Pam and I are at the Methow Valley Tour and blogging about it on Team Bike Hugger. Late summer last year Pam and I rode Mazama and the valley on a relaxed tour where we saw lots of yellow trucks and smoke.
after waking up from the spooky inn, we packed our stuff and made way to the kombini (convenience store). angelo wasn’t doing too well with the japanese food, but i like to pack it down before riding. especially since it’s still flat, and thus unlikely that i’ll redline my engine too soon and throw up. it would be a long day in the saddle. i don’t remember too much about that ride…it wasn’t terribly scenic…in fact it could have been anywhere florida, germany (the boring parts), what have you.
we get to gifu, go to the train station info center, and we manage to find a hotel called Monthly Sho. it’s a kind of business hotel, ie tiny rooms. one thing that sticks out is the tiny bathroom. it looks like it could have been popped out of a single fibre-glass mold…like the toilet seems molded into the wall. and they have a high-efficiency flush that sounds like an airplane toilet. evrything seems to be built light and cheap.
we went to get dinner and find an internet cafe, which had a keyboard that utterly confounded me. the restaurant and internet cafe were located in a large shopping corridor that you don’t really see in states. it’s hard to explain without pictures (for now at least), but imagine a shopping mall that was covered but open at the ends. bikes and even cars can drive through, but otherwise it feels a lot like a mall through, but without any large department stores.
one section has a ceiling of arrayed coloured light strips that sequentially illuminate to create waves of traveling colour. this was the section that contains all the hostess bars and other seedy establishments. i told angelo in no uncertain terms that now would be an inappropriate time to use the japanese word for “mafia”. it’s ” yakuza”, shhhhhhhhh
we made it back to the hotel wothout being fleeced of our yen by hookers or gangsters. but the next day the rains arrived…..
in his continuing travels in japan mark says: i finally have a computer that i’m not paying for by the minute and I’ve got the japanese keyboard sussed out for the most part…this goes back a few days to the 13th…
so we left kyoto yesterday afternoon around 3:30. just to let you know, that is awfully late to be leaving town by bicycle. we rode along a road with a lot of truck traffic, though once we got to the biwa-ko lake, there was a decent bike lane. most of the towns have bike lanes, but they are really just sidewalks puncutred by driveways every 10m. anyways, it starts getting dark (japan does not have daylight savings)…and then it’s pitch. we are on a one lane road with no light whatsoever and we are not going to make it to hikone. we find a hotel on the map, but they’ve no vacancies because of a high school trip. so we continue in darkness for another 30-40 minutes until we happen unto a youth hostel swathed in the darkness.
it’s definitely old traditional tatami mats and paper screen doors, and the landlady is a little bit onery. there are a couple of old japanese guys there. we get a room, but then another japanese traveler arrives and ends up sharing our room. the new guy is on his way to pick up a new 38ft american-made offshore powerboat. strangeness. (by the way, i am negotiating with hotels and conversing with travelers with my own meager language skills, thank you very much.) eventually we go to sleep.
i wake up in the middle of the night. the japanese guys, seemingly all of them, are talking in their sleep. with just the paper screen doors, you can hear everyone. what’s worse, the voices seem to be everywhere, disembodied, and almost chanting…it’s a little creepy. but i’m not really afraid of ghosts. but i do hate bugs…there’s something crawling on me.
the hanging lights in these places normally have a “night light” function that puts out just a wee bit of light…enough for my eyes to make out the room but not enough to read or make out fine detail. so when i whip off the cover from my futon, i can’t tell if it’s a centipede or millipede, but i can tell it’s about 4-5 inches long. millipedes are funny looking, but centipedes are poisonous…and i’m allergic to many bugs. everyone else is asleep, so i reach over and grab a water bottle and prepare myself…
oh, lord, guide my hand as i strike down this foul demon that in your infinite wisdom or whimsy, you have deemed to torment me. let not this thing send me searching for the japanese word for “anti-venom”. amen.
whack! whack! first strike hits but does not kill….second strike misses entirely, goddamn that thing was fast! that’s the confirmation as centipede, millipedes are dead slow. the thing shot into a dark crevice out of my reach. wonderful…it could come back…there could be more…and still the voices.
in the morning, we got up and rode out…there was no sign of the landlady.
Boing Boing, a directory of wonderful things, posted on an updated Urban Mobility Bike from Puma. We posted earlier on the original UM, in regards to travel and being urban. The bike is a design collaboration to benefit an earthquake charity and another example, like the Biomega at DWR, of bikes as designer items and pop culture.
She was downtown, at the corner of Stark and 6th in Portland, checking out the shops, purse at the ready … on her city cruiser bike. Argyle socks and the Portland Northwest urban look are a definite contrast to a stylish New Yorker.
“Hey huggers! I’ve been reading your blogs for a while, however, I have a burning question about an interesting bike build I’m doing.
A fast ultra-marathon road bike with disc brakes. The bike has a little dirt alter-ego mixed in there for fireroads. It’s almost done, but I’m still pondering all my wheel options. One set for road, and one for cross of course.
I was thinking DTSwiss 240 (28h) hubs, on Zipp 417 or 505 clinchers.
The guys at Cane Creek “were” interested in building me a set, but discovered they no longer have any hubs in stock. As they are getting out of geared wheels, and only doing track wheels for 2008.
Any suggestions on wheel/hub configs.”
I’ll start with hubs. My biggest question is around the rear hub. From what I’ve found, the only 130mm rear spacing (road) hub made is the Phil Wood which lightens the wallet at $459! Someone told me the DT 240s would go 130, but all details I can find say otherwise. A couple manufacturers make road disc wheelsets: Bontrager Select Disc, FSA RD-460, Mavic, and Velomax/Easton. None of these are available as a hub only that I know of. Unless you have 135mm (mtn) rear spacing, your options are rather limited.
For Carbon rims, there are a number of options out there, but the spoke count of the hubs you choose will dictate where you need to look. I know me and friends have had luck with HED, Zipp,
Bontrager, and Reynolds. What works the best - hard to say. Clinchers limits your options, but if you are thinking of taking them off-road, I’d really consider Tubulars.
I’m envious of your dilemma as it sounds like a real fun project. Send pictures and I’ll get them up.