Spring Classics races and the other Northern European races

March is just around the corner.

To be continued!

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Spring Classics races and the other Northern European races]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/25(水) 16:50:06|
  2. Bike Races
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TdF 2015 Watch Plan, Belgian stages

TdF 2015 kicks off in the Netherlands and then heads to Belgium, where places that ASO knows very well are in the program.

ASO organizes la Fléche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège events.

Anvers (in English it is normally referred as Antwerp) is new to me. I don't remember visiting the city but I could have been there just by chance.

There was (Today is February 23) a tragic piece of news on cycingnews.com that Cult energy team had to abandon the race because their bikes were stolen. In the article, my favorite rider Fabian Wegmann's name popped up. Now I know that he is there. I will keep my eyes on this Danish team from now on.

The bike theft has been a haunting problem for a while.

I visited Trek Factory Racing's hotel on the first and second rest day during the Tour de France 2014. I have a story to tell (share) here about what I saw on the second rest day.

The material truck (full of expensive equipment like bikes and wheels) of Trek Factory Racing's had an alarm system installed on it and additionally one of the vans parked tightly close to the truck's rear gate so that if someone had to open the rear gate, he/she had to move the van first. It was the double security. I talked it about it with soigneurs and mechanics (I knew almost all of them).

I don't know how the mechanics guarded their material truck the previous evening before the theft. I really feel sorry for Fabian Wegmann. He had a good position before he was forced to abandon. God damn those bike thieves!

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [TdF 2015 Watch Plan, Belgian stages]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/23(月) 23:37:53|
  2. Tour de France
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TdF 2015 Watch Plan, the Netherlands stages

The Grand Départ event:

The Grand Depart (Stage 01) takes place in the city of Utrecht (by now everybody knows that and I don't have to repeat it. So I try to reduce this kind of comments in the following paragraphs).

The start location is called "Jaarbeurs". I don't know what it means and it could just be a name. I will ask my Dutch friends for the right answer later.

On the Garmin BaseCamp, the place looks like a big square of buildings and parking lots. On the Google Earth, it looks like a big commercial block with some Rabobank affiliates names all over. I get it. It is in the middle of Utrecht, that Rabobank has enough of its presence and there are also parking lots (although the parking lots are used for accommodating tents and spectators.

I smell a big bank behind it, I mean literally

Although Rabobank (or its huge group companies) has terminated its sponsorship in the men's top layer peloton for a while, it is supporting cycling sport in general (for example, Marianne Vos and others). I am sure that Rabobank is written all over when the event is broadcast in the Netherlands.

The Central Station area, the finish, is full of shops and stores according to the Garmin BaseCamp. There will be a lot of bars serving beer during the ITT event in June. And most importantly, there will be a lot of temporary toilets along the course in the city. Beer and those temporary outdoor toilets are ubiquitous in the Netherlands when such events take place.

Camp sites

There are many camp sites outside of Utrecht. Hopefully I can find a place in one of those places.

Just as I imagined, there are so many camp site near the finish of the second stage, Neeltje Jans. This small man-made island has a man-made beach. The surrounding area has a plethora of camp sites. They are everywhere. I guess they (the surrounding areas) are very popular among Dutch vacationers. I hope they still have some vacancy for me in the evening of Saturdary, June 29.

Parking problem

I am guessing that the day the TdF 2015 visits the small island (although connected by land, it is part of a dam structure) is busy with the cycling events, all the normal traffic is cut off and the island is off-limits to our unauthorized vehicles. Should I decide to go to see the finish there, I'll have to drive to somewhere close there and use my bike to get to the finish.

Shuttle service (by bus)?
Or should they (organizer, ASO and its deputy local management) operate a shuttle service for the public? We walk or bike when the roads are closed to us (vehicles). Tens of thousand of people walk up Alpe d'Huez. The organizer is obliged to provide shuttle service to some people (whoever paid ASO). Sometimes I see shuttle buses coming up or down the hill.

We, the general public, have no access to those buses. There was a time when I saw a free public shuttle service available to the general public in my experience.

It was a stage when Andy fell (not badly). The stage was to end in Spa, Belgium. This rather retreated and secluded village had big spas (apparently) but not much place for cars. I think the city (and the community that Spa belongs to) held a shuttle service to us. All the vehicles (with no ASO issued stickers) were stopped miles away from the village and ordered to park along the street. Buses came to pick us up and gave a free ride to the village (and the way back, too). It was nice of them (whoever provided the service).

I wonder if anyone would do the same for us on that day.

Wikipedia (English version of its explanation of Neeltje Jans) tells me that, in its tacit description, the TdF event takes place on this tiny artificial island. I guess someone "added" thi entry about "Neeltje Jans" in English only after this someone knew that TdF event would take place there. Am I right?

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [TdF 2015 Watch Plan, the Netherlands stages]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/15(日) 13:02:40|
  2. Tour de France
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Euro is weakening? How about yen?

I am wondering, just wondering now whether my main currency, Euro, is weakening and if so what I can do about it.

The first part of the question is for the moment has an easier answer. Yes, Euro is losing its value against many other international currencies. I don't point my finger to anything but everybody knows what is going on now in Europe.

The second part of the question is really hard to find any answer to it. I don't have any idea what to do about it.

We are living in a difficult time.

It does not make a drastic difference immediately even if Euro value falls against, say, US dollar. I am staying inside the Euro zone and not in a business of trading goods internationally. Rather my work has more to do with people living here.

If Euro value falls again US dollar drastically, I may have difficulty buying goods from the US using eBay.com or so. This is not a big annoyance at all. The real problem comes when the economy of Luxembourg gets drowned by a big wave of economic stagnation in the Euro zone. I may lose my job. I could be let go by my employer.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Euro is weakening? How about yen?]の続きを読む

テーマ:ヨーロッパ - ジャンル:海外情報

  1. 2015/02/14(土) 01:30:56|
  2. Things European
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Tour de Luxembourg 2015

The 2015 Tour de Luxembourg (http://www.aotdl.com) route has been revealed (not in details).

There was a small article on wort.lu about the event. It does not mention the main sponsor of the event but I believe it will be still "SKODA" Tour de Luxembourg this year, too. The official site of the event (at least up until 2014) does not have updated pages at this moment.

The dates and the stage start and finish.

Stage 01: Wednesday 3 June: prologue in Luxembourg City

Stage 02: , June 4: Luxembourg City - Clemency

Stage 03: , June 5: Ell - Walferdange

Stage 04: , June 6: Eschweiler - Diekirch

Stage 05: , June 7: Mersch - Luxembourg City

There won't be any big changes but stage layout will be tuned. I was hoping that the last stage would have a climb finish but it seems that it won't be the case.

A totally unrelated news piece about cannabis, also known as marijuana (or marihuana). I was watching a late night news program (I don't remember which channel or in which language) when I heard this ridiculous story. The Dutch police force raided a house (not a independent house but a condominium style) when an alarmed neighbor suspected a foul play in that house. It was a cold morning and there was a thin layer of snow on the roofs of the buildings in the area.

Why did this person get alarmed? Because this person saw a section of conspicuously melted snow on the roof. It meant that under that roof, someone was using an enormous amount of heat. Why did anyone need so much heat? All the people in that condominium style house had the heating on to keep the room temperature comfortable for living but only one section of the root had now snow at all.

Yes, the tropical heat (and additional light) was needed to help the plant grow rapidly, of course.

Next time, try adding more insulation material under the roof and proper ventilation!

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de Luxembourg 2015]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/12(木) 01:28:34|
  2. Bike Races
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Andy's new career as an entrepreneur?

A couple days ago at a kiosk in Luxembourg city I saw this issue of a small paper circulating in Luxembourg. I did not read the details (as it was written in French) but the it read something like 'Andy as an entrepreneur?'

I think that some speculations going on that Andy (Schleck, of course) is going to set up his own business.

I know his girlfriend (mother of his son) is a daughter of a successful entrepreneur in Luxembourg.

I am looking forward to hearing his success story in this field.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Andy's new career as an entrepreneur?]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/09(月) 13:02:43|
  2. Info Luxembourg
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Chihuahua died of heart attack and the court ruled in favour of its owner

wort.lu has an article about a poor Chihuahua and its owner. I read the original news in Japanese a couple days ago. I did not expect it to be on the Luxembourg news media.

When I read the news (rather short digest version on the net), I understood that the poor chihuahua died of heart failure or internal bleeding caused by a violent physical contact by a German shepherd.

According to wort.lu, it was rather a mental shock suffered by the chihuahua because of the threat by the shepherd.

Anyway, the owner of the chihuahua was awarded. In the Japanese report, the chihuahua owner apparently sought more monetary compensation than what was finally ordered by the judge. I think the grieving owner sought for psychological damages but the judge reduced the figures. It is common in Japan to underestimate the emotional and psychological devastation damage compensation value. I don't know why but that is a typical Japanese judicial decision.

wort.lu does not mention this 'reduced' compensation piece of fact at all. It rather stresses the fact that cremation of beloved pets are common in Japan. It is, in fact, very common.

When my beloved cat, who lived happily about 20 years, died, it was cremated and I believe the ashes are still kept at my parents'. I was living in Luxembourg then so I could not attend the funeral. Oh my poor cat!

Anyway, the news reminded of my cat.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Chihuahua died of heart attack and the court ruled in favour of its owner]の続きを読む
  1. 2015/02/08(日) 23:24:04|
  2. Things European
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My poor Ford Ka! Damaged again!

This afternoon (Central European Time, Sunday February 8.) around 14:00, I went outside to see a colleague of my to talk about something not too important. I was going to walk to a bus stop.

In front of the house (my studio apartment), I had my Ford Ka parked as usual. I almost walked away but stopped as I saw something not usual. They were scattered plastic parts, a big front grill of a car and a fender near my car.


The front grill looked just like that of a Mini and the near-lying fender also confirmed my analysis.

Instinctively, I checked my Ka if she was OK. She wasn't. She had a damaged front right bumper. I was upset. The damage seemed (only seemed from outside) not too extensive. I have a fully covered insurance policy so I was not too upset but it was disturbing to see the damage.

The front grill and the fender parts looked distinctively like those of a Mini. I am no expert but the Minis are have very easily recognisable grill and fenders.

I was a bit puzzled because the extensive damages presumably suffered by the Mini did not correspond to the minor damage suffered by my Ka. The entire front grill and one fender were there but my Ka suffered a relatively minor damage. It did not make sense.

I also recollected that sometime very wee hours of Saturday morning (Friday night) I thought I had heard a very big crashing bang. I thought at that time that it was a big rig bouncing on the motorway bridge near my apartment. I thought that the bridge made the sound too resonant.

Well, I was totally wrong. It was a crashing sound of Mini smashing something (but not my Ka).

I was on the way to see someone but I thought I had time to drop by a police station to inquire about the incident. I visited two police stations but they were closed. So I did not talk to the police.

Anyway, I was home around 20:30 and then knocked on the doors of my neighbors in the same apartment building. I had only three other doors. The second visit payed off.

The accident was made by a drunk driver driving a Mini and he smashed this neighbor's girlfriend's Toyota. The damage was extensive. He explained that the police were there to take the report. He gave the information I needed.

I was in my room when a bell rang. It was the visit from the police officers. They found out that the owner of the Ka was me and wanted to talk to me to supplement the report. It was around 21:00.

Now I fee better that the I don't feel sorry about anything. I am good knowing that the damage will be paid by the insurance company (in return, my insurance company will ask the Mini owner's insurance company to pay for it).

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [My poor Ford Ka! Damaged again!]の続きを読む

テーマ:ヨーロッパ - ジャンル:海外情報

  1. 2015/02/08(日) 22:11:22|
  2. Ford Ka
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Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part III

The TdF edition 2015 has its Grand Départ in less than 150 days! I have to be ready by then.

Here are the overview and section views of the course.

For explanation purposes, I devided the stages in 4 parts, namely 1) the initial 5 stages, 2) the second 4 stages, 3) the Pyrenees stages, 4) the Alps stages and the Champs Elysées stage.

1) the initial 5 stages (a.k.a. the Dutch, Belgian and French stages)
2) the second 4 stages (a.k.a. the Normandie, Bretagne stages)
- - - - The first big transfer and the blessed rest day - - - -
3) the Pyrenees stages (and its following transfer stages leading to the Alps stages)
4) the Alps stages (and its prelude stages, - - - - The second rest day - - - and the Champs Elysées final)

On 1).
The Netherlands is not far from Luxembourg, where I live and most importantly, it is connected by land. No ferries this year! I have never been to Utrecht before but I don't think I will have any problem at all. They all speak English and the land is full of camping facilities. I would like to find a camping facility close to the see if I could.

The following Belgian stages are even more familiar to me. I have visited those cities and places multiple times and know them well.

On 2).
I have visited many of the places before. The stages won't be so eventful but I am looking for the Stage 8 (Renne - Mûr de Bretagne). The finish is a climb not long but could greatly affect the result.

(image borrowed from Climbbybike.com)
(image borrowed from Climbbybike.com)

There is a big transfer before the rest day. Riders are air-carried while the rest of us (fans, anyone with automobiles, motorbikes, mobile homes, trucks and busses) have to drive all the way. My plan is just to drive leisurely stopping when I want to rest and arrive at the hotel where Trek Factory Racing team is staying around 10:00 a.m. I will have to take a short nap in the car on the way.

On 3).
The Pyrenees stage are fun. Crazy fans are everywhere. I may even meet one of my Basque friends down there. i am planning to enter, first time in my life, Spain just for an hour or so. The finish of Stage 10, La Pierre-Saint-Martin, is on the boundary between France and Spain.

I have been to Plateau de Beille but never been to the top, either by on foot or by bike. This year, I am determined to climb all the way by bike.

The finish of Stage 14 is in Mende. It is speculated that the finish is a climb called the Montée Laurent Jalabert. I have been there before. I have climbed almost to the top by bike. This time I will see the finish.

On 4).
There are many places where you can bike in this area. Fun days.

A bonus feature of this year is that the start city of the Champs Elysées stage is so close to Paris (I mean real Paris, Department number 75) and I think I can visit the start by bike and come back to the Champs Elysées by bike easily. Provided that I have some friends guarding my place on the Champs Elysées, I will try to do the bike trip.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part III]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/06(金) 20:14:16|
  2. Tour de France
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Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part II

Where to go to watch the race (or your favourite riders)? If you are watching the Tour on TV, you won't be interested in what I am going to write here. You should stop reading this and leave. Life is short and there are much better things to do.

There are places you can go to meet your favorite riders and you can go to watch them during the stages.

This year (2015), the Tour starts in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It has been a while since I did not resort to ferries to get to the Grand Depart (2013: Corsica and 2014: UK). I did not see many French people in the UK.

One of my personal expectations for the Tour 2015 is Stage 10 after the first rest day in Pau. The stage finishes on top of a hill, La Pierre-Saint-Martin. This finish point is just a couple kilometers from the border between France and Spain.

I am not an expert on the Basque Country though I have many friends there. For them this international border may mean nothing since, if they could, they would draw their own international border line, which may most likely differ from the current one.

I will climb the hill (mountain) in the morning to get to the top and then, enter Spain. It will be my first time ever to enter this Country.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part II]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/03(火) 00:58:07|
  2. Tour de France
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Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part I

Well, it is already year 2015 (two-thousand fifteen) and it is already February. It is time of the year when I get serious about the plan.

I am serious. The Tour is held in July but it it not too early to start planning. In fact, in 2013, I already purchased the ferry tickets between Nice and Corsica in January.

First of all, start plotting the cities, mountain passes and other geographical locations in the Garmin BaseCamp, my travelling buddy since back in 2005 (?). With a help from Google Earth, Wikipedia (descriptions of French mountain passes, "Cols") and others (like www.velowire.com), I try to plot them as accurately as possible.

Now I am working on that. Some details of those mountain stages have been announced on the official site (www.letour.fr). Details of most flat stages are not yet known.

Here is the overview of the route. It is very simple layout.

The first part (Stage 01 to Stage09) are mostly flat route stages but some of them are tricky with short steep climbs or cobble stones.

There is a big long transfer between the first and second part. It is a whopping 700 km (435 miles) transfer between Plumelec and Pau. Even with the use of tollways, it will take 9 hours including the snack time and dehydration (visiting the bathroom) stops. If I drive immediately after the stage 9, I won't be near Pau before the next morning. I have to take a short nap inside the car, I guess.

The second big transfer is between Alpe d'Huez and Paris. It will be about 630 km (391 miles). I have to drive as quickly as possible after Stage 20. I try to arrive at the parking on Highway A6 (Aire de Villabé) around 03:00 in the morning and take a short nap in the car. I will drive to Champs-Elysees around 06:00 in the morning as usual.

Team presentation: Thursday, 2nd July

Stage 01, 14km, Utrecht/Utrecht (ITT)
Stage 02, 166km, Utrecht/Zelande
Stage 03, 154km, Anvers (Antwarp)Huy
Stage 04, 221km, Seraing/Cambrai
Stage 05, 189km, Arras/Amiens Metropole
Stage 06, 191km, Abbeville/Le Havre
Stage 07, 190km, Livarot/Fougeres
Stage 08, 179km, Rennes/Mur de Bretagne
Stage 09, 28km, Vannes/Plumelec (TTT)

Rest day, Pau: Monday, 13th July

Stage 10, 167km, Tarbes/La Pierre-Saint-Martin
Stage 11, 188km, Pau/Cauterets - Vallee de Saint-Savin
Stage 12, 195km, Lannemezan/Plateau de Beille
Stage 13, 200km, Muret/Rodez
Stage 14, 178km, Rodez/Mende
Stage 15, 182km, Mende/Valence
Stage 16, 201km, Bourg-de-Peage/Gap

Rest day, Gap: Tuesday, 21st July

Stage 17, 161km, Digne-les-Bains/Pra-Loup
Stage 18, 185km, Gap/Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Stage 19, 138km, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne/La Toussuire -Les Sybelles
Stage 20, 110km, Modane Valfrejus/Alpe-d'Huez
Stage 21, 107km, Sèvre - Grand Paris Seine Ouest/Paris Champs-Elysees

In Japanese: 続いをどうぞ

[Tour de France 2015 Watch Plan Part I]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/02(月) 02:04:09|
  2. Tour de France
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Ciamillo by Mr. Ted Ciamillo

A couple years ago I purchased a used set of Ciamillo Negative G via ebay auction. I loved the look of Negative G or Zero Gravity brake calipers.

When I disassembled them, I found that one of them had a kind of minor defect. Seemingly it had missed a one process of shaving (CNC machining) on the part where when assembled totally hidden. A fraction of a millimeter of unshaven layer made the shim wear a bit unevenly.

I emailed to the original manufacturer (Caimillo) and complainied. They said it was out of original warranty and could not do anything other than give some discount on the purchase of a new set. I did not accept the offer.

Anyway, that was a long time ago.

I regularly visit the Ciamillo's site. Today, I noticed something. It was a message (or statement) from Mr. Ted Ciamillo. It (http://caw-designs.com/ as of February 1. 2015) says that he restructured his company and was doing almost everything on his own (machining, assembling and so on).

In the middle it reads, " In February 2014, I rejected close to 80% of what employees produced; a trend that had been on the rise since the recession."

What does that mean? I guess the quality of the products did not met his standard and he returned the 80% of the finished products back to the manufacturing line. I think the my Negative G had been treated like that as well.

The point is that I still like Ciamillo products and the point is NOT I am still holding a grudge against the company.

If I had a chance or more specifically, money, I will buy the Ciamillo products in the future.

I think I had already written that I had purchased micro arms and installed them on my Negative G.

Ciamillo products rock!

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Ciamillo by Mr. Ted Ciamillo]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車(スポーツ用) - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2015/02/01(日) 14:40:57|
  2. Bikes and related things
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