Thursday, July 12, 2018

Eroica Montalcino 2018

I thought I was pretty lucky getting the chance to ride Eroica Japan in 2017, but my luck continued in 2018 with a 5 week trip to Italy, Croatia and Slovenia, with 5 days in Montalcino Tuscany, to ride the Eroica Montalcino.

It started out as an opportunity to reunite with some Eroica friends from the Japanese event, my buddy Ran from Wellington, and Darryn and his wife from Melbourne Australia, who we met while in Japan. In the end Ran couldn't make it but the others could. Darryn's wife Yvonne, and mine really enjoy each others company so we had all the ingredients for a successful holiday. “Happy wife, happy life” as our guide on our Amalfi coast bus ride told us many times, he should know, his wife ran off with the butcher so he changed camps, so the story goes.

Fiat 500 L. Heaps of room.
Getting there was half the fun. Despite driving in a country where road rules and speed limits are completely optional, somehow I managed to simultaneously annoy the locals by driving too slow (130kmh in the slow lane), and also pick up a speeding ticket within an hour of getting on the Autostrada. Go figure. We don't speak Italian so I have no idea what I was supposed to have done, I suspect, being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the officer was down on quota!

Meanwhile, Darryn had gone with the other option: NOT hiring a car, which meant dragging a bike case around from plane to train to bus etc. At least he didn't have to worry about parking, or speed camera fines arriving 6 months later with a 60 euro admin fee from the rental company! What ever you do, where a bike case is involved, there will be pain!

The view out the window from Darryn and Yvonnes accommodation.

The hill top town of Montalcino in Tuscany was the location for our base, and by pure chance we were a few metres around the corner from Darryn and Yvonne. These hill top towns are dotted all over Tuscany and are amazing with their cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings.  Darryn and Yvonne had been on holiday earlier than us and managed to follow a bit of the Giro and Darryn even got to ride his Eroica steed up a back route to the Zoncalon, so they could view the Giro's steepest climb.

I quickly assembled my bike which had survived the 30 hour flight and car journey from Milan to Montalcino, in readiness for a tootle the next day. We snuck in a ride, enjoying temperatures in the high 20's. The bikes were all running sweet.

Checking out the Strade Bianchi

We had decided to go out that afternoon for a drink but Yvonne texted back,  Darryn was stuck in front of the telly. Froome had "done a Floyd  Landis" and ridden away from the bunch, live on TV! I had to join him. Exciting times.

The picturesque village of Montalcino was now peppered with heaps of stalls which had just popped up out of nowhere, selling all sorts of things that none of us needed but that we all wanted.

The pre-ride meal had been spread out over several locations through-out the town. There was wine, great food, good company and some very exuberant accordian playing and a fair bit of serenading. On the way back to our accommodation we came across more festivities out on the street with revellers toasting the Eroica founder Giancarlo Brocci.

Giancarlo Brocci and some speeches

The startline, the night before.
The day of the ride turned out to be a beauty, not too hot, sunny with occasional overcast patches. There were several distances on offer, 27km, 46km,70km, 96km and the 171km route. Darryn was doing the 96km ride, but I had decided that if I was coming this far I was going to do the big one. I hadn't done the amount of training I needed to do it comfortably but was hoping to fake the last 71 kms! The two longer distanced events started at the same time and we rolled out on time.

It was a fairly relaxed pace which I guess makes sense for a 171 km ride on old steel bikes. Eventually I came to the first check-point, except it wasn’t. It was the second ! I had blown through the first one thinking that it was just one of the many food stops along the way, some of which were just for food only. The guys in checkpoint two thankfully believed my story, gave me the missing stamp and said I was the first to come through, I was to meet them again later when closing off that loop from the other direction. The checkpoints had all sorts of lovely food on offer and I forced myself to have my first wine, it would have seemed rude not too.
Strade Bianchi
At this point I was in heaven. Hill after rolling hill, most of them white limestone gravel, the famous Strade Bianchi. The scenery was incredible.

After struggling with the course marking in Eroica Japan in 2017 I made sure I had the map loaded on my Etrex GPS this time. Not that I needed it. The course was marked very well. In fact, the only time I got in trouble was when I watched the GPS too closely and missed the signage which was often slightly different as we passed through the little villages.

I was still running the same tires I used in Eroica Japan, the Specialized Roubaix 30/32’s and there were great. Robust as hell on the rough descents. Probably not period correct but really comfy. My much maligned Mafac Competition brakes were also great. I only had the one moment when I met a car while bombing some Strade Bianchi and I panicked and swerved left, a bad move in a country where they drive on the other side of the road.

I thought I was keeping on top of my nutrition, there was plenty of food available, even if some of it wasn’t your normal endurance riding fare. After a long time riding by myself I started to catch up with some of the slower riders on the other courses which overlapped with mine and we headed for the really steep stuff, which the organisers had thoughtfully saved for the last 50 or so kilometres! None of these guys were riding, they were all pushing their bikes up to the checkpoint. It was damn steep, well, it felt steep after 130kms, I think it was the Castiglioni del Bosco Narciarello. I was determined to ride it, but it was hard work in the heat and I probably paid for it.

I must have been running low on glycogen and suffered some brain fade as when I came through the next town I missed the signs and ended up back-tracking a couple of kms.

The day was starting to drag, and there was another really nasty hill coming up. The things that I was in love with 8 hours ago, hills and gravel, were starting to feel very old hat. I was bonking. I had to get off and walk near the top. I’ve only ever done that once before and I didn’t like it. I was cooked. In situations like this you hate yourself for feeling so weak, but the reality is, you have just run out of energy.

I pushed my bike up the cobbles to the checkpoint, somehow knowing that I was 169kms, into a 171km ride, but also realising that in fact, I was a long way from finishing, because this was obviously not the last checkpoint! 10kms remained. Faking the last 71kms hadn’t quite paid off, as the ride was now 181kms! I watched as the guy who had been catching me everytime I back-tracked got his card stamped. He was doing the long ride too. There was nothing to do. I sat down and and had a cold drink and stuffed a bit more food into my face. I tried not to think about what the last extra 10 kms of the ride involved. I imagined another 13% gravel climb, but to my surprise, when I finally rolled off again, it was smooth fast tarmac, and  my legs had mostly returned. Bye bye Castelnuovo dell Abate, hello Montalcino !

When I rolled over the finish line and got my last stamp Darryn had been there for quite a while, having finished earlier near the front of the 96km bunch. We had a relaxing beer and we went to clean up. A couple of hours later we had hunted down the all day pasta party and Darryn’s wife Yvonne recognised the two guys who were responsible for the serenading and accordian playing the night before! To our surprise they were not just the entertainment, they had also ridden Eroica! Yvonne told them how much she enjoyed their performance at the dinner the night before. Next minute the accordian was out and Yvonne received a heart-felt serenade of her own! What an experience. They couldn’t believe 4 people had travelled all the way from the Antipodes to Montalcino Italy for a vintage bike ride, a private serenade made it just that little bit more worth while.

Eroica Montalcino 2018 - 181 km

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How fast is fat?

Comparing 38mm to 25mm tires in a Time Trial

There is a lot of loose talk of how fat tires are fast and lower pressure is better, so I thought I would do an experiment, over two weeks of Time Trials with the local Masters Club, on the course I have probably ridden on more than anyone else to date. I have a couple of sets of "fatter" tires, and my experience when riding in a bunch is that I have to work a lot harder to keep up than on my skinnier treads.

This is the same course I did the Karate Monkey World record on, cranking out over 41kmh on a steel MTB in 2015. It was running rear disc covers and tri-spoke on the front, so that tells me tires and wheels do make a bit of difference.

Having sold the Karate Monkey, the next most suitable bike I had left was my Singular Kite Cyclocross bike. It is probably a bit lighter than my Karate Monkey, but I suspect not as aero. What I was looking for was a difference in speed between my two sets of tires, the 38mm Compass Barlow Pass and the 25mm Vittoria Corsa G+ Graphene. Thats quite a jump in size I know, but it also means it should be big enough to measure given my "seat-of-the-pants" testing methodology.

Photo by Orca Whale. Fat tires corner well.
The Liverton Road time trial course is what the English Time Trialists would likely call a "Sportsmans Course". It has undulations and patches of rough seal and the odd pothole on one side, and mostly smooth seal on the other. It has two very tight corners, one at each end of the 4 x 6km laps. By tight I mean that if you were on the edge you might be lucky to get through them at 30kmh at best.

My plan was to compare from week to week, and use the times of the riders around me to create a control to cover any variables in conditions.

Event 1. 38mm Compass Barlow Pass tires on Singular Kite.

A typically crappy day for Time Trialling in Wellington, a northerly with buffeting from the side gullies that joined onto the course. The bike felt slow everywhere except when powering over the rough surfaces outside the quarry entrances. (Link for LOTR fans).Usually you get jarred to pieces in these segments on a typical TT rig. With the Barlow Passes, I just floated over the top with no scary surprises. Actually, I was also fast on the corners, I was able to lean over pretty aggressively without feeling scared. As I suspected, with my current (lack of ) form, I averaged exactly 37 kmh. This lined up with my gut feeling from mixing it up with riders with normally shod wheels. I hadn't ridden for 5 weeks over xmas, then got sick when I came back to work so I was not really expecting too much in the way of fitness. I delivered !

Singular Kite with 38mm Compass Barlow Pass tires.

Event 2. 25mm Vittoria Corsa G+ Graphene on Singular Kite.

This one didn't start well at all. I turned up at the course to find out that the TT had been cancelled 30 minutes earlier via Facebook ! I was gutted. Bugger it. I decided to do it anyway, I would have to be extra careful as there was no warning signage or marshalls to alert drivers. Pretty much as soon as I started the wind changed, a southerly squall blew in, soaking me but it was nice at the top of the course, going a good 10kmh faster than I was the week before in the northerly conditions. On the whole the conditions weren't bad. Pretty even, but I wasn't really able to lift my top speed above 43 kmh for very long at all. I have to say that the Kite does not feel very aero at all.

Singular Kite with 25mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene tires

So, not officially a race really, I didn't have prologue lungs after the ride, so I am guessing that without other riders on the course I wasn't quite able to get exactly 100% from myself, I must have been pretty close though. The wetter conditions would have cost me time on the corners, especially without marshalls at hand and on the narrow less confidence inspiring tires. On the other hand, I rode an hour earlier than normal, so I would have benefited from more draft from passing traffic, and my gut feeling is that wet courses are faster than dry ones. I think by and large things would have evened out overall.

So, I managed exactly 39 kmh, 2 kmh faster than on the fatter tires the week before. I know these speeds are nothing to write home about, but that's not the point, the point is the difference.

If you are happy to be riding 2 kmh slower than your buddy for the same power on the smooth stuff, then there could be room on your bike for a tire like the Barlow Pass. It excels on gravel, giving a really comfy ride should you decide to take the long way home. Sometimes its good to have that option.

I really like the Vittorias as a road tire, but I wouldn't be taking them off road in a hurry. The 28mm versions might be acceptable for a few patches of gravel here and there.

I rode the Barlow Passes at 48psi and the Vittorias at 85psi.
The Barlow Passes were the regular versions, not the light-weight ones.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tail hook lengthener meets Campagnolo

I've finally had a crack at putting one of my Ali-express "Road-Links" on the Peugeot, which means I can get a decent gear range out of the Campy Nuovo Record rear derailer that I had lying about. It works really well. Its not an outrageous range, 13-30, but it may go bigger, I haven't tried it yet. I'm pretty sure I saw one shifting to a 42 tooth on Instagram one day, but don't quote me...

My Peugeot is from the 70's so its drop-out is not normally compatible with a Campy derailer, hence the "Road-link" which I would rather hack about with, than the actual frame. I just ground off a bit of the tab with my electric drill and did it up good and tight.

Hopefully it will be a useful addition for Eroica Montalcino.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


 Boganduro preliminary results

Thanks heaps to the folks that turned out today. We had great conditions. No rain. Not too hot. Excellent company. 10 riders I think. 2 of them didn't do the Strava thing. 
Strava was a bit weird messing up our first segment which should have been around 20 mins but ended up being 30, and when I shortened it, it deleted Calums time! Another version brought him back. 
Unfortunately there wasn't anything I could do to get Greg's time to appear in the next Downhill stage through Battle Hill Forest. In the next climbing stage it was Calum and Greg again way out front. 
The PNP guys left Bull Run in good condition for us, and a few of our number showed big heart by hitting this "new to them" trail cold, with serious vigor, including Greg who did some OTB soil sampling. It was cool to introduce some new trails to some of these guys.
It was relatively easy to set up the course using existing Strava segments and a couple of other programs to edit and combine them. Get in touch with me if you want to know how to do it.
See below some photos and links. I think we can conclude that Calum was 1st but cycling was definitely the winner on the day.

Its 20% here. According to Strava. Puketiro road, you'll love it. Bring some gears!


Video of some Battlehill descent >>
Video of some Puketiro Road Climbing >>

Boganduro fly-by here:

Strava leader board, where it worked, where anyone was using it !

The 13:25 for Calum is the Puketiro Road Climb, the original time for the segment if not for the aliens in the strava would have been around 19-20 mins. The 3:58 is the Battle Hill Descent. The 24:21 is the Belmont Road Climb and the 5:30 is the extended Bull run descent.

Some photos on my Instagram here:


Post 2: Scroll down to read more.

The latest NEW stuff is here now (just below).

*Course GPS (GPX file) here:
*Course notes here. (Dropbox)
*A large map here.  (Dropbox).
A large live zoomable map here:  (Web)

*Read comments below on Dropbox.


The full ride on Strava can be seen here:

The Strava timed segments are shown here.

* WARNING. Dropbox have deliberately made the download procedure confusing so that people THINK that they need to join up and login to dropbox. You do NOT need to.

When the big white login button appears, click the small grey X in the top right, and continue on, repeating what you have already done.

Once the file is saved you can Drag n drop the file onto your GPS or smart phone. I don't know what you do if you have an Iphone but I heard recently that Apple were going to invent "drag n dropping" of files. Fingers crossed!

There are plenty of phone apps that allow you to view a GPS file. The one I use is called New Zealand Maps.

There is another map here which gives you a good idea of the course, but it is temporary.

Youtube of the Bull Run track here. This is the only technical part of the course. Slow down if you are not a confident rider. There are only a couple of small drops but the course may be cut up by the time the PNP riders have been through, if it rains.  Another version of it here with better lighting.

Looking at your segments
After you have finished your ride you can upload the file using Strava. Go to the Boganduro segments under your results, look under the "LEADERBOARDS" for "Todays" results.


Post 1:  Introductory #BOGANDURO details below.

The Boganduro is a casual gravel grinder in the Grinduro format with self-timing based on the STRAVA app installed on your phone.

This is a chance to catch up with your buddies and have a good old chin-wag, and if you are up for it, lay down the hurt on a couple of climbs or downhills, if thats your thing.

It will be on gravel where possible, with around 1600 metres of climbing. The Boganduro starts in Wellington, or the Hutt Valley, and takes in Battle Hill and Belmont Regional Parks.

Starting point:
Wellington Train station. 8am and
Petone Wharf 8:40am, Sunday November 12th.

Cost: Free
Food availability: Pauatahanui Cafe / Dairy enroute.
Bail-out points: Judgeford, return to Hutt Valley via Haywards on the road.

It's fully self supported, bring tools and a couple of spare tubes and kit.

Be prepared for all weather and to ride for up to 96 kms max, but around 74kms if you are only starting in the Hutt.

Use #boganduro to share  related bumpf in your social media if that takes your fancy.

To give you an idea of the terrain, here are the STRAVA timed segments that will be on the course. My suggestion is that you will want at least 35mm tires.

I have done a couple of reccies on the 3 of the 4 sectors of the #Boganduro. The downhill segments are both mint, and the climbs are... climby : ) the major climb (Puketiro/Cooks Road) you should be able to do in a 1 to 1 gear, so a 32/32 or similar, but YMMV. Strava tells me that there is at least 1 km at 20% on this first sector, but overall it is 8%.

96 kms from Wellington to Wellington

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New paint

I recently got my Karate Monkey soda-blasted and powder-coated in Upper Hutt.
I was very impressed with the finish and friendliness of the folks up there.

I went to Burt at Powder Surfaces Upper Hutt. Phone: +64 4-526 9369, and he sent me around the corner to Kevin at Plateau Sand & Soda Blasting for the prep. Phone: +64 4-526 8192 .

You want to coordinate it so that the frame isn't sitting around after being blasted for too long. I was very pleased with the result which was at least as good as the previous place I went to, and substantially cheaper.

Powder coating will not get the kind of finish that you would get from high-end spray painting, but there is no comparison with the cost.  I think it's a pretty good compromise.

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".

Looking at Kiwi options for bikepacking bags/mounts

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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.

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 to help plan our trip.

The Sumo was great.
More gallery links from Eroica Japan