Friday, July 14, 2017

Some Tour Aotearoa links


Matt Dewes in the Waiuta
Training for the Tour Aotearoa
 For some of you preparing for a bikepacking event is a bit new. 3000 kilometres is a long way, but the more prepared you are, the more fun it will be. There is a saying that goes "any plan is better than no plan".
https://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/any-plan-is-better-than-no-plan.html

Looking at Kiwi options for bikepacking bags/mounts
http://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/2015/05/seat-bag-vs-rack-kiwi-designs.html

Tour Aotearoa 2016 - bikepacking the length of New Zealand...
The Tour Aotearoa was a vehicle for the organiser Jonathan Kennett to introduce a new cycle path from the northern most tip of the country to ...
http://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/tour-aotearoa-2016-bikepacking-length.html

Jeff and Nils, at Pouto. Photo Matt Dewes
Nil's bike - Tour Aotearoa 2016
Like me, Nils van der Heide lives in Wellington, and yet I only met him once before the 2016 Tour Aotearoa. His bike was a bit different to most, ...
https://jeffsbike.blogspot.com/2016/04/nils-bike-tour-aotearoa-2016.html

Tour Aotearoa Sports Illustrated Bikini edition - 4 different rigs
Feb 14, 2016 ... Building a bike for the Tour Aotearoa is not that easy. With the TA just around the corner ( feb 21 for wave 1) we have finally got to the pointy ...
https://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/tour-aotearoa-sports-illustrated-bikini.html

Joes bike - Tour Aotearoa 2016
I met Joe Jagusch while waiting for someone else to finish the Tour Aotearoa the other day. I was impressed by his inventive bike build.
https://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/joes-bike-tour-aotearoa-2016.html


Monday, June 26, 2017

Eroica Japan - 2017

When Giancarlo Brocci started an event called Eroica in 1997 he had no idea it would morph into the runaway success it is today. It grew from his passion for two things, preservation of the white gravel roads in Tuscany, (the Strade Bianchi) and giving recognition to the bygone era of cycling where technology was arguably less important than the heroic deeds of the riders. Eroica is Italian for "heroic".

Giancarlo Brocci walks into shot while I was shooting some fellow Bianchi fans !
The Eroica rides are now found all around the world, at last count 10 events, from South Africa to Japan. The phenomena has started a revival in interest in the old school steel bikes of yesteryear. There are several categories in Eroica, but to put it simply, the bikes should be steel with down-tube shifters, older than 1987, or at least built in that style.

A different take on an Eroica ready bike.
When the Japanese Eroica dates lined up with the potential for a family holiday in Japan, it was a done deal for me. Fortunately my buddy Ray had just given me the Peugeot PX10 that he bought new in Paris in 1974, and it was ripe for restoration.

Takeshita Street in Harajuku Tokyo 
We started our 16 day holiday of Japan from our base in Shinjuku, in the entertainment district of Tokyo. We would leave my bike gear there in the hotel after Eroica as we made our way around the rest of the country. This is always an issue for people bringing a bike in for such an event. Space is in very short supply in Tokyo, so our initial accommodation was based very heavily on them being able to look after my bike while we were away sight-seeing. It was not a problem at E-Hotel Hishagi Shinjuku.

Welcome on trains and buses
If you are travelling in Japan for any amount of time you would be silly not to get a Japanese Rail Pass. It basically gives you unlimited travel over 95% of the country's extensive rail network and even the odd Ferry. You will likely get to travel in one of the Shinkansen trains at up to 284 kmh!

Eroica is held in the Yamanashi prefecture, at the foot of Mt Fuji. The main town there is called Kawaguchiko, (or FujiKawaguchiko) which we shortened to K-town, because we were lazy. The main Lake is called Lake Kawaguchi, but the accommodation we stayed in, a Ryokan, was on the shores of Lake Saiko near Saiko lyashino-Sato, a traditional village which was recreated after a devastating typhoon induced landslide in 1966. The Ryokan are traditionally styled accommodation with tatami mats and futons for sleeping on with shared washing and toilet areas.

Breaking open the seal on the Sake. We all got a taste. Photo From Ran.
Saiko lyashino-Sato Village
We really enjoyed the Ryokan experience and its proximity to the Eroica HQ and start/finish area was a real bonus. When we signed up online, via the Eroica website we were able to tick the breakfast option which was essential as we had not realised that there were no shops in the area. Dinner is not normally available at our Ryoken but our hosts, 3 generations of one family went out of their way to make a lovely meal for us on our 2nd night, our first night's meal being the sumptuous buffet at the official Eroica dinner the night before the ride. This was held at the Lake Hotel Saiko, which is the other main accommodation promoted by the Eroica people. I made a bad start when meeting the 80 year old matriarch running our Ryokan by wearing my shoes in the wrong place, but she eventually forgave me. One of the things that we found to be essential on our travels was our Sakura wifi hotspot. Basically a tiny cellular based device that fits in your pocket. Wifi everywhere you go. I went for the 1.2 gig a day option but even with the two of us using it and watching the kiwis in the MTB world cup, we never used more than 600 mb a day.

Our hosts
Because we arrived on a train from Shinjuku Tokyo we didn't really have any transport as such to get us into K-town for supplies or meals. There are very limited options in the Village near the HQ but there are a couple of Tourist Buses that run loops around the lakes every hour. This was how we got back and forward from the K-town train station, where there are very helpful staff with all the relevant tourism info. Remember, Mt Fuji is not far away. If you were staying for a few days a rental car would be the best option for most people. There were also special buses put on by the Eroica organisers to ferry people back and forward from the HQ and Ryokan to the Hotel Lake Saiko which was only about 2 kms away.

Breakfast in our Ryokan
Eroica Japan has been running for 5 years now, initially under a different name, Eiyu, and so far it is still not over-subscribed. With around 350 participants it still has a very friendly feel to it.

On the day of the ride Fuji-san was hiding under low cloud and would remain that way until the next day. It just added to the atmosphere, the rugged surrounding hill-side forests jutting out of the mist.

In the start area were the same stalls from the sign-in at the gymnasium (HQ) the day before.

Woollen jerseys for sale, among other things. Photo from Ran.
Local and international companies were there with the kind of trinkets that appeal to obsessive vintage cycling enthusiasts. The Samurai Bar Tape people had a nice product and there were vintage parts from different eras for sale.

Eroica is not just about the ride, there are also talks and of course the “Concorso d'Eleganza” where the serious collector's put their bikes out there to be judged by the experts. 

Judging the bicycles for the "Concorso d'Eleganza"
Another lovely bike. Photo from Ran.
More bikes. Photo from Ran.
 The Mavic tent was a must to get those last minute tire pressures tweaked after you had lined up for a quick vetting to make sure your bike was up to spec. Queueing was half the fun as you admired the bikes of your fellow riders.


Lining up for Eroica Japan 2017
Riders were set off in groups of 10 until they were all gone. The 3 different courses were mostly on flat to gentle gradient smooth sealed roads with picturesque lake-side views. Winding our way around the lakes was very pleasant and the few small off road segments that connected the different parts of the course, were a high-light for me, several of them exposing rich volcanic soil, the complete opposite of the white Strade Bianchi limestone roads of Tuscany.

A nice piece of offroad in Eroica Japan
I rode with a young Japanese guy for a lot of the time, worried that I might get lost if I didn't have a buddy who spoke the language. Sure enough, despite the best work of the marshalls and having an interpreter we still managed to do an extra 12 kms, riding around lake Motosu twice, but in two different directions. For anyone considering Eroica Japan, I would recommend a GPS or phone, you can always keep it in your pocket if it looks too hi-tech. Maybe having a figure-8 section in the course is not a great idea? 

During the event there were several main check-points that sported chairs for relaxed dining and an assortment of food ranging from noodles in soup to biscuits and fruit. At least one check-point had a shrine, and an Aussie friend I met ended up riding with a local rider and got to partake in the ritual that they do when visiting such shrines. Some locals carry a little book in which they can collect a stamp from the shrines they visit in their travels.

Fuji-sans non-appearance was a bit of a let-down, but it's much the same as any major mountain around the world, there is always a good chance it will be hidden under a shroud of cloud.

Not as hilly as it looks in the elevation chart.

The course was not as hilly as expected, as you can see from the (Strava fly-by) with many riders admitting that they had saved themselves for a big climb, not realising that they had already done it. I was feeling much the same way at what must have been the highest checkpoint. About to head off on what I thought was the rest of the hill I was called back to do a 180 degree turn into a lovely off-road stretch (photo from teamzenyossy), but with the escort of a little red scooter. The scooter rider kept stopping at the tops of rises to wait for me which was good, as the signage was becoming harder to follow as the event wore on.

The final part of the course snaked its way through the built-up area of Kawaguchiko and finally along the Lake side and back to the start-finish area at Saiko lyashino-Sato Village. This shot from paolopennimartellicycling epitomises Eroica Japan to me, and it features my buddy Ran from New Zealand on the left. To be fair the total amount of off-road wasn't much, so it was fully appreciated by me when I got to it. I had previously cut my Compass Barlow Pass Tire with an errant brake pad before leaving home and was running the Specialized Roubaix 30/32 tires which felt great on the mixed surfaces.

Kazuo, Lau, myself and Shimpei.

Before long the new Japanese friends I met the previous evening were at the finish-line and there was plenty of back slapping, congratulations and many photos taken.

You can take your bike on the trains and buses in Japan as long as it has at least the front wheel pulled off and it is covered in a nylon cover. I had no issues at all with transporting my bike through the airlines until it came back to New Zealand and was mishandled by Air NZ staff between Auckland and Wellington.

There was no Strade Bianchi in Eroica Japan, but there were some lovely segments of off-road you wont be finding in any of the other Eroica's around the world. Combined with a family holiday it was a unique experience I would recommend to anyone looking for something a bit different. Japan has a strong culture of cycle touring as well as a keenly developed appreciation of vintage bikes so you cant really go wrong.

The young guy I rode with for most of my ride, he was doing the shorter event, and buddy Ran.
Mt Fuji the day after Eroica. These lakes are teeming with fish and you can buy them locally.
Tasty local fish near the Eroica HQ.

Brevetto Eroica!
Lining up with Darren from Aussie.
The official Eroica dinner. BIIIIIG spread ! One of the biggest.....
Japan styles. Eroica brand sake and 1.3 gig of data a day with Sakura wifi hot-spot.
Some nice wooden rims.
A few shots from the rest of our holiday in Japan.

For the record we went to Shinjuku (Tokyo), Eroica (Kawaguchiko), Kanazawa, Kyoto, Kinosaki Onsen town, Osaka, Naoshima and Hiroshima in 16 days. We used Japan-Guide.com to help plan our trip.

The Sumo was great.
More gallery links from Eroica Japan
https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/eroicajapan/
https://eroicajapan.cc/2017gallery




Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Peugeot PX10 for L'Eroica Japan

This bike was donated to me by Iggy Ray, who must have figured that if he gave it to me, he would be forced to pull finger on that new titanium bike he has been  talking about for years. Ray gave me the Peugeot at the same time that I was thinking about doing L' Eroica, a vintage biking event which is now franchised around the world. L'Eroica started as a way to save and promote the limestone roads that are part of the scenery of the Tuscany region. It was also a nod to the "Heroic" era of cycling before electric gear shifting and disposable bottom brackets arrived.

We had our eye on the Japanese  Eroica as it would work in well with a family holiday. My buddies Matt and Ran both do a fair bit of work in Japan and there was a chance that they would make it too. In the end it was only Ran that could swing it, Matt will be a week late. Ran is also riding a Peugeot.

The original bike here.

Ray's bike came with Mafac brakes and 27 inch Mavic rims on some smooth Sansin hubs. Ray bought it new in Paris in 1974. Its a Peugeot PX10. I think the wheels and crank were not original. The rear derailleur was a low-end shimano that had been mounted on a tapped Simplex hanger.

I had a play with it, replaced the crank, after the left arm fell off while I was riding home on its first commute. I reached into my parts bin and found an old Campy Record Strada crank to put on it. I found some 33mm Cyclocross tires, and rode it down the Transient trail in Polhill. I was very impressed with the brakes. I imagine the direct mount ones must be incredible, mine are just the cheaper centre mount variety.

Mungo bars with the original 27 inch wheels.



 I got the frame powder-coated at Seaview, I'd rate the finish about a 7 out of 10. I got a sticker set from the UK, and my buddy Paul gave me a lovely Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear derailleur and shifters which his friend's husband used in his younger days.



I was about to learn that Italian Campag derailleurs don't fit on French Simplex drop-outs... and anyway, why would you mix Italian and French. Was this an early case of engineered incompatibility? I have no shame.......


Shimano to the rescue in the form of an old Durace 8 speed rear derailleur.

I installed my Brooks Swift titanium saddle on it, and splashed out on some faux leather tape from Ritchey.


Lounging in the lounge



The Kennedy-Good Bridge and Hutt River

Old Coach Road Normandale


   



I had a few issues early on with precession, the inherent tendency for a French or Italian bottom bracket to unwind itself, due to their crazy threading direction. Then I had an issue with the loctite I used to try to fix it.... Lets just say its been a learning experience. Everything in moderation...



The bike has a very relaxed feel. Its like a comfy armchair, especially with the Compass Barlow Pass tires on it.  They are actually about 33 mm wide and a lot faster than they look. (Have stretched to 35 now). I came across an old 8 speed 11-30 MTB cluster that seems to work surprisingly well with the Durace rear derailleur which was probably only specce'd to shift up to a 23 tooth? Anyway, my buddy Paul turned up with a donor bike with some more relevant (old and crappy) wheels ; ) so I was looking more and more legit all the time. One problem... the new hub was narrower... Hack time, I took off the 11, put a skinny spacer behind the 30, and now the little sprocket is a 13 !  Hmm, a 49-13 is not that tall for hanging with the Fat Fathers Club ride, so I put the 54 big ring back on. Cue a new longer chain.

New wheels, look nicer in chrome, much narrower braking surface though.
 I've just realised that the only original parts on the bike are the frame and the brakes. But, the only new parts on it are the paint, bar tape, cable guides and decals. Thanks to the many people who donated me the rest, especially Paul Turney, and Dean who loaned me the pedals, and of course Ray.

I have never had so many people comment on the look of a bike as this one, peaking at 3 comments in a 15 minute ride across the CBD one evening!

Parts.
Frame Peugeot PX10
Mafac Competition brakes, calipers and levers
Campag Strada Record Crank: 54/42
Campag Nuovo Record shifters
Shimano Durace 8 speed rear derailleur
Suntour Front derailleur
Shimano 13-30, 7 speed cluster (modified)
Shimano 600 hubs with Mavic 190 FB rims
Brooks Titanium Swift Saddle
Cinelli bars and stem
Ritchey Bar tape
Compass Barlow Pass tires on here, but will be riding Specialized Roubaix after a sidewall cut.






Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dental hygiene and sidewall cuts

Any item that serves a dual purpose while Bikepacking is something that immediately saves you weight. I always take two tire boots made from a piece of old road tire with the bead trimmed off, and although I've never had to use them myself, I have given two to different folks in two of the Kiwi Brevets I have done.

I had heard that people use dental floss for mending tubular tires, because it is strong and comes pre-waxed. Mouth hygiene is important when doing long days on the bike, so, if you are already carrying dental floss, the only other thing you need to effect a temporary repair on a big gash in your side-wall is a needle. They don't weigh much, and a few Frankenstein stitches can stop the sidewall bowing out, which a boot wont do.

I did the repair below and it seems to be holding up well. The white (rim) tape is stuck on with some F2, but in the field I reckon you could get away with just a tube patch to stop the dental floss thread rubbing on the tube, (assuming you are now using a tube!). You should then be able to ride into a town where you can buy a new tire.




Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Hacks and bodges for the poverty-stricken cyclist

The last complete I bike I bought, my
Diamondback Apex . Cairns, 1996.
It occurred to me the other day, the last time I bought an actual "complete" bike was between 1993 and 1996. A DiamondBack Apex. It was funded by my wife's redundancy package. Ever since then my bikes have been built up from parts that I managed to acquire by various means, rummaging through other peoples rubbish bins, doing contra deals for people, usually in the form of websites in exchange for bits and pieces, or being at the right place at the right time, or just by knowing someone who had some spare gear to move on. I was very lucky to provide webmastery duties for Kiwi Pro MTBer Kashi Leuchs for quite a while when he was a pro cyclist, which meant I had access to some fruity kit in exchange for web services. This post is a bit of a ramble on some of the cost saving hacks I have done through that difficult poor/married-with-children/paying-off-a-mortgage time of your life, the period that lasts just long enough that by the time you get through it you are really worried about what you are going to live on when you retire.


Tri-spoke conversion and cluster to fixed conversion in use.
IP Masters track worlds 2007. Dunc Gray velodrome
Tri-spoke hack
Once I brought a very cheap HED trispoke off the Internet in the early days. I was disappointed to see when it arrived that it had a screw-on cluster. There was no mention of that from the dodgy seller, not that you need any more than 8 gears to Time Trial successfully, but it was the principle that erked me. I spoke to one of the Neil's in at VIC cycles. The shorter Neil said to me, We can convert it to a front if you like mate? Piece of cake. With the old internals pressed out and a new set of bearings pressed in, I think from a Sansin hub, I had a new front trispoke that performed very well on the local vets and nationals time trial circuits, and is still in use today.

Patched Corimma disc.
Disc-cards
One day I came across a buddy Ed selling his carbon Corimma disc. He was in the NZ cycling team, and the airline had been kind enough to poke a hole through his wheel while returning back from his training camp in France. My buddy Susie was an ex yachtie and her Dad, a multiple world Duathlon champ in the over 70s class knew a thing or two about working with fibre-glass and resins. He patched it up nicely and with a new sticker over the blemish it was good to go. It turned out to be a very good and cheap disc on the whole and it saw plenty of action at Nationals and local events.




Converted disc, road to track
Another HED-job
I got into track racing for a short time and some how got gifted an old HED screw-on disc. I cant recall where it came from, but it was pretty old. I did some research and found that I could convert it to a track wheel with a kit brought from the US. I did a post about it here and it often gets hits from trackies and fixed gear aficionados from around the world.

Marcos re-cycled Litespeed
Back in the late 80's and early 90's as a masters MTB racer I was always coming up against Marco Renalli. Marco was the opposite of me. I was poor and married with children. He was a bachelor with a shed full of shiny toys, but he was always very generous with his old gear. If something lighter came out, I could often get the previous years model with a bit of wear and tear and usually a whole bunch of extra holes bored in it, at a very discounted price.
Straightened 1993 Litespeed
One day while Marco was commuting to work he was sadly knocked off his bike and sent to hospital with a broken leg. Marcos bike was bent and written off by the insurance company. I had a look at it and showed a buddy Mark who worked at BRANZ. They had a large hydraulic press there. One of Marks buddies did some measurements on it, tweaked it under this press, remeasured it and declared it a success. A couple of years later, on that bike, built up mostly with Marcos old discarded parts on it, I won the Masters 2 national MTB series on it and beat Marco into second. Thanks moit !

Spider swapping
Tune spider swap hack using track-bike
Being Kashi's webmaster meant that I had access to some very fruity gear that became surplus to his requirements and was often traded for webmastery duties. For a while he was a privateer between gigs, after the dissolution of the Volvo Cannondale team and had some help from the fruitiest of all component makers - Tune! Somehow I ended up with a lovely Tune Big Foot crank. I cant remember why, but at one stage I learnt that I could swap out the crank spider from the ATB format to the Compact format, or vice versa. The problem was how? There is probably actually a special Tune tool that costs 400 Euro for this actual task. I found that if I undid the spider locator bolt, installed the crank on my track bike, and pedaled backwards, I could unwind the crank arm off the spider! A very hand hack for the hundreds of you out there with Tune cranks and track bikes ; )  details here.
Axel swapping

Cheapie Tune QR to Thru axle conversion.
My cousin Paul, who is not really my cousin but might as well be, given his Luddite tendencies sent me over a QR (quick release) Tune front hub one day, because it wasn't through axle, and he had just joined the "big hit" brigade. I did a bit of research and found that I could punch out the bearings from the QR front hub, and replace them with the same externally sized bearings that Hope use in their rear wheels, and poke in a new Tune thru-axle axle. This was a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a Tune thru-axle swap kit complete with bearings from Germany, or a new Tune TA hub $$. I got it built up into a new wheel for the only bike I have with a thru-axle fork. Once again, not much use if you don't have a Tune hub, but its the thought that counts. Full details in a post here.

Bikepacking Hacks

The poor mans Diablo (PMD).
This is a sound alternative to the expensive Exposure Diablo, which has a pretty legendary reputation amongst Bikepackers. Based on the same 18650 battery, which also powers most lap-tops (easy to find) and a cheapie 10$ torch you can get some reasonable candle power. Full details here. In my latest iteration I have replaced my helmet mount with a zip-tied on pump mount, it's more robust, some of that Chinese velcro is not much cop. Copyright Doozy.

Natures Zip-tie" Harakeke/Flax
In my tool-kit I always carry a tiny scalpel blade with me, they are light and obviously very sharp. Many places in NZ have Flax growing on the trail or side of the road. You can always slice of a thin piece of Flax and use it much the same way you would to tie up broken stuff with a zip-tie. It's incredibly strong.

See some more (external) bikepacking hacks here:
http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/bikepacking-hacks/
and here, although some of them are a bit stupid, exercise caution in interpretation of this list:
http://bikepacker.com/bikepacking-lifehacks/

I guess the point is that you don't always have to spend a lot of money on kit if you are willing to fix, hack, bodge or make-do your way to a solution more in keeping with your financial situation.