From Japan (Part 14): Mini Velo in Mark City

More post-dated entries from me, Mark V, Bikehugger’s colorful and suave international man of mystery


p> shibuya%20mark%20city.jpg

This is a little bit out of sequence, since this is from the Shibuya area in Tokyo before we left for Kyoto…but check it out, they freakin’ named a place “Mark City”…in my honor obviously. Also, here’s a picture of yet another type of “mini velo” we saw on the way.


STP Checklist

Set to roll out for STP bright and early Saturday morning, I thought it wise to start prepping things and run down a checklist. As important as preparing your body to ride, one should invest some time into putting together a ride “strategy” prior to rolling out. The plan of attack needn’t be elaborate, in fact the simpler the better.

Why bother? Because when out on the road, there’s much temptation to stop and chit-chat during every stop. Not necessarily a bad thing, many will argue that the culture and camaraderie of such events is far more exciting than the actual ride. Even if your goal is to take the miles slow and steady, you’ll still need to keep an eye on the clock to ensure that you’re not stuck out on the road after dark with a mechanical issue. Plan your ride. Plan your stops. Have a back-up plan for both. Read on for additional considerations and some of my own “must haves” in surviving STP.

The Bike: Hopefully the long training schedule has provided enough time to make any necessary “tweaks”. Now is not the time to make fit changes. With any luck you’ve had your bike tuned recently (in the past year or so) and are comfortable with how it’s riding. It may be too late to get it into a shop last-minute, but worth doing what you can at home to clean things up for a smooth ride. Otherwise, here are some basics that you’ll want to be sure and carry with you on the ride to ensure that you’re not stopped for longer than necessary with minor mechanical issues. Bigger mechanical things can be fixed at many of the food and “mini” stops.

  1. Patch Kit
  2. Spare Tube
  3. Tire Irons
  4. Multi-Tool

The Gear: What you’ll wear is a personal thing, some people prefer to pack for every possible weather scenario while others prefer to dress minimally. Simply remember that if you bring it, you haul it. The weather looks good for this weekend, so leave the heavy jackets at home.

  1. Helmet
  2. Riding Jersey
  3. Riding Shorts
  4. Arm Warmers
    Doing the one-day, we’ll be leaving early enough that I anticipate a cold start.
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Bib Numbers
  7. Shoes & Socks
  8. Sunscreen

The Fuel: Again, hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to figure out what you like to eat on the road and what your body runs best on. STP is well supported and will have food stops for you to refuel. But if there’s something you MUST have, bring it with you. Bring as many water bottles as your bike will hold (preferably a minimum of two large bottles). Though a camel back is not necessary and adds more weight, if you must have the extra water, bring it.

The Plan: Sit down with the route map a day or two before the ride. You should have an idea of your targeted pace and be able to plan out how far you’re able to ride before refueling. Plan to stop at a few major food and lunch stops along the route and provide yourself with an estimate of how long you’ll be willing and able to stop.

You’ll want to stop long enough to get more food, stuff your pockets with some reserve food and refill water. I typically give myself a 5-10 minute window, not including the time it takes to wait in the potty line. Stop long enough to get off the bike and stretch, but know that the longer your off the bike the more difficult it is to get back on.

Selecting pre-determined pit stops will help you in planning how much food you’ll need to grab at each stop and ensuring that you don’t end up having to stop when you hadn’t intended to and adding more time to an already long day.

If you’re meeting up with family and friends along the route, set a pre-determined destination and provide them with a map for personal support vehicles so that they’ll be able to get around the route safely. With 9,000 other riders out there we have enough people around us. Let’s keep the cars to official support vehicles and volunteers only.

Rest these last few days. Drink a few glasses of extra water each day leading up to the Saturday start. Enjoy the incredible weather we’re having and take it easy.

Crashing with a Helmet Cam

While it’s not like a Tour de France crash at 40 mph, that involves the leaders, but how many times do you see one from a racer’s perspective? At our local Tuesday Night World Championships, the Native Planet racer with the helmet cam crashes with the camera taping it all. Crashes happen that fast … on Saturday at Redmond Derby days, I fishtailed right by one.

You’re Better Off by Bike

Le Tour in London …

More from Flickr’s Tour Photostream.

From Japan (Part 13): One more day in Takayama

Alright, then…at the time of posting, I’m actually back from Japan. Yes, I’m so glad to be back in Seattle because .because .the,uh ..hmmmmmm .actually I’m not at all happy to be back. Well, there is pizza, of course I’m happy about having good pizza again. Well, I’m back anyways, so how about we all try to make the best of this, and in exchange I’ll tell you some more bullshit stories about me in Japan.


So last time I posted I was in Takayama, a pretty little town in the middle of the Japanese Alps. We had decided to kill a couple days in Takayama because the inn we were at was hella cheap, my knee was killing me with the nastiest climbs on the next stretch of road, and I wanted to hit on the cute German chick staying at the inn. But time was running out on us and so was Fraulein Nele, so we left town late morning after three nights at the Zenkoji Temple/Inn, to complete our quest to cross the mountains of central Japan.


hinhin%20mark%20angelo.jpg Now at this point, my knee is a big question mark. I had tooled about town the night before to see if the pain had gone away, but within a few minutes I could feel the pain gremlin nibbling at my tendon. That had been on flat ground with an unladen bicycle. But the road to Matsumoto would be around 75 miles with an immediate 870M pass that would drop us and our 56lb bikes into a heartbreaker 1800M climb. And there’s no bail-out option in the middle; no inns to rest at if man or machine faltered. I try to imagine how much damage to my knee I can endure. Matsumoto would be the end of the gnarly climbs, and the roads after would be heavy truck routes as in not fun. So, revised mission goal: instead of riding all the way back to Tokyo, we will finish the Alps and take a bullet train back from Matsumoto to Tokyo. No matter how bad my knee is, I can endure it for one day, right? Right?

OK, then, it’s settled: it’s Matsumoto, or death!


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