A few images from our stay at the Zendo, Horakuan in Nagano, Japan

•October 3, 2018 • 3 Comments

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Zendo rides: These roads are crazy steep!

•September 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Alison and I are at a Zendo/Zen Temple for a week.  It’s in a remote location in the mountains near Nagano, an area known as the “Japan Alps”. Most days I’m doing a loop or out & back ride.
                                All the mountain roads have mirrors at the switchbacks

The roads are small and insanely steep.  My first ride was an out & back up the road near the Zen-do to where the pavement ended.
                          A rare sight: young people harvesting rice.

In the first two miles I gained 1100 feet. I was out of the saddle with everything I had and my speed was about 2-3 mph. Just nuts. At the turnaround point I rode 7.8 miles and gained 3100’. About the same gain to Santa Fe Ski, only in half the distance!
Its almost impossible to accurately capture a road grade in a photo.
One other climb was about 2 hours with grades consistently between 9 and 19%. The total ride was 5,000 ft of gain, going up for only 11 miles. At one point my GPS said 30%, which I’m not convinced is true, but the grade was like nothing I’ve ever cycled.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward.

Oh, and the best part: the road was beautiful pavement, small, went on another 6 miles past my turnaround point, and I saw 2 cars. The downhill was blazing fast.

Day 3 & 4: lots of hills but no rain

•September 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Day 3 was a transition day, part train ride and part bike ride fron Agemetsu, around Mt Daigamine, to a small Onsen in Kiso.   I needed to take the train to get me from Kansai up further north, which was too far to ride given the time I have.  I avoided (most) of the rain and did a short 20 miles, but had over 2600’ of gain. A lot of up for such a short ride. 
Day 4, riding ftom Kiso to Kumamoto via the Mmidono Dam lakes, gave me the longest climb so far, about 2.5 hours of 7 to 13%. Nice downhill!  Plus, a twisty climb to ride over, and avoid, a crazy long tunnel. 
I stayed in a typical Ryokan, in a remote wooded region, with a very nice inside and outside onsen. As I was taking off my cycling shoes (outside of course), the woman working the front desk rushed out, took my shoes, stuffed them with paper (they were a tiny bit wet), and propped them against the wall. I’ve had this happen before, I guess it’s a thing at these old mountain ryokans. Around 
The rice will ready to harvest very soon. 
Nice roads going through small towns. 
A typhoon problem.  Sometimes “no” means “maybe” but in this case I think this NO really meant no.  
So it was time for a reroute. 
As i crested this hill dozens of monkeys ran out of the bushes crossing the road and doing a high-speed tightrope walk on the electrical line. By the time i got my phone (most accessible), they were gone except for the two furry blobs i circle



Nibari to Matsusaka: Lots of nice small roads, plus a few Typhoon diversions

•September 11, 2018 • 2 Comments

After yesterday it was great to have a mostly sunny day on the bike.  I normally pick small roads when touring in Japan. But some of today’s roads were really small.  And a few of the diversions required a bit of effort to get around, and one road was completely  blocked off requiring a total reroute.  The ride ended up being 50 miles.  

I have three navigation systems running, 1) a Garmin Edge 1030, 2) a Wahoo Element Bolt, and 3) the RWGPS app running on my phone.  The Garmin gives me a great map and turn-by-turn directions, the Wahoo gives me instant syncing with my RWGPS website route and custom cues, and the RWGPS app on my phone gives me audio cue prompts.  And all three give me vastly different elevation gains for long, hilly rides that have lots of up and downs. Garmin said i climbed 6200’ today.  Wahoo said 3950, and RWGPS said 4250.  

It felt closer to Garmin, but not 6200’.  Maybe 5200, but its hard to tell.  Obviously.  

This road was a bit of a mess but was very rideable.

This required the removal of all bags so I could climb over the trees carrying my bike.

And yet another one to climb over


Then I saw these signs. Yea, “Therapy Road”. It was therapeutic all right.

And more stuffed characters.

Japan 2018 Day 1: Solid Rain & Typhoon Diversions

•September 10, 2018 • 2 Comments

The forecast today was for 100% rain.  And it was 100% accurate.  Leaving in the rain is always the hardest.

 But, it was a great route with lots of small quiet roads.  And LOTS of rain.  



Did.jpg  Something I’ve only seen in Japan, and it’s very commonin rural areas


 I may not be able to read the sign but I can see that the typhoon is forcing me to find an alternate route…

…. and it wasn’t too far out of the way, and it was pretty along the river, but it sure was wet 

[ LIVE UPDATE: I just felt an earthquake sitting here in my hotel room! ]


Cycling Japan 2018

•September 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment
I’ll be cycling in Japan for the next few weeks. This is my first two days: riding from Nara to Matsusaka. Its only about 85 miles, but with over 9,000’ of gain.  Lots of up and down on the touring bike. 
However, the day before getting on the plane I had to modify my planned route because of Typhoon Jebi, the worst storm to hit Japan in 25 years, which slammed the country less than a week before I planned to start riding. And it was a direct hit to Kansai, the region where I was starting my tour. 
The website that shows road closures had so many red circles with “X’s” signifying mudslides, fallen trees or damaged roads it was almost impossible to find a clear route. No doubt this “plan” will result in some further adjustments as I go. Fortunately, alternate routes for detours in Japan are usually well signposted, though on a bike it can sometimes result in a bunch of extra miles. I’m gonna have to stay flexible. 
On top of this, less than 24 hours before departing, Hokkaido was hit by an earthquake that cut power to over 3 million buildings and caused a bunch of landslides. While I’m not planning any bike touring there this time, Alison and I will be in Hokkaido in a few weeks. Yup, this is going to be an interesting Japan trip. 


A few more photos of Spain Cycling 2018

•July 1, 2018 • 2 Comments

Spain_25-Apr-18_085I stopped for coffee in the small, VERY HILLY village of Setenil de las Bodegas.


Spain_24-Apr-18_078The old bridge in Ronda


Spain_24-Apr-18_077The blue town of Juzcar


Spain_24-Apr-18_071Just another great cycling road in Andalucia


Spain_24-Apr-18_070Whitewashed, perched villages are everywhere


Spain_24-Apr-18_001These goats bounded in front of me.  It was all I could do to grab my phone and shoot.


Spain_22-Apr-18_038These last two are of the killer climb up to Torcal de Antequera,

and me with my rental bike.


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