Well, you are forgetting that the 'common denominator' fo communciation in Japan is still the fax. Whatever it is- just 'FAX' them. Hell, I've been having a FAX soiree with a deale in Osaka for about a week now. Can you friggin believe it? He faxes me a question, I write a piece of paper and fax it back, and so forth. Same friggin thing on iMessage, SMS or whatever - but NO - it has to be fax!!
Honestly, sometimes I really just give up. I will search out the old reel to reel answerphone My dad has in his attic just to watch it lift the rotary handset up and then play the 20s magstripped reel, then mechanically drop it 'on hook' waiting the reply.
I guess "MYSQL Connection" is not taught in any Japanese 'Webscripts for dummies' unti they are employed by Mitsubishi to program logging routines for use in nuclear powerplants.
A bit late but thought I would post the race report.
11 hours and 45 minutes – N4CX
Well I have to say I’m smitten with the sheer craziness of Cyclocross and I’m starting to believe that we roadies have it all wrong. We talk about the suffering, the epic rides and the adverse conditions, yet in Cyclocross it’s the norm, to quote Mike N4CX (normal for Cyclocross).
I passed up the 1st offer to race the Tohoku CX project about a month back as I would have had to drive up on my own and 5 hours one way only to race for 45 minutes in the freezing cold didn’t really strike me as a great way to spend one of my weekends during my off season. That however, had all changed after my 6th place at GP Mistral and the hint that I could have placed higher if a/. The race had gone for the full 45 minutes and not cut short at 32 and b/. I would now place a little closer to the front.
Having posted on Facebook that I was able to car pool the discussion was firmly made, I was going to Sendai, the fact that nobody needed a lift didn’t extinguish the excitement that had started to fill my being by Thursday, it was bike racing and I love it!
5 hours alone in a car can do strange things to most folk, cyclists however are used to spending long solitary hours alone on the open road in the winter so the drive went pretty quickly, I broke the trip in to 3 equal parts and had arranged to meet another rider at my hotel and then go out for dinner.
Unfortunately my Navigation is rather old and decided that rather than put me in the hotel for the night and bit of winter camping was in order in a snow covered field. ASUS tablet and Google maps to the rescue had me where I needed to be 20 minutes off schedule.
The guys I met are a big part of the CX scene here in Japan and help organise the GP Mistral and Tohoku CX Project races, one of them worked in the industry for many years and we both had mutual friends – throughout the course of the evening many amusing stories were swapped as we dined on amazing ox tongue which is a local delicacy.
It is a very good job that I met up with them both as I had got the venue completely wrong, Tohoku CX has 3 venues and they quickly got me sorted for the following morning.
Back to the hotel I decided to bring the bike and wheels in to the room, now many people complain they have issues with this but over the years of racing I’ve learnt two things, 1/. Never ever, ever ask if it’s ok to bring the bike in to the hotel 2/. Walk in with the bike as if you own the place. This is what I did and the lovely girl at reception even pressed the button for the lift for me.
I wanted one of the sets of wheels in my room over night especially as my sponsors had sent me another set of 23mm wide 50’s that arrived on the Friday night so it was a bit of a rush sanding the rim bed, getting two layers of Mastikone down and followed by a layer of Belgian tape and then finally 14 hours later getting the new Vittoria Cross Evo’s on. The glue needed to set and the warmth of the car and then the hotel room would help the process.
6am wake up call, a nasty Japanese breakfast. Even after 12 years living in Japan I can’t bring myself to eating or enjoying this kind of breakfast until about 12 noon. Luckily I’ve also developed a way of turning off certain parts of my brain so I can just eat for fuel rather than enjoyment. – It’s not nice but it gets the job done. The only thing that I did get was a half decent cup of coffee.
The drive to the course was uneventful, amazing pristine snow fields as far as the eye could see and the Pajero made easy work of the snow that had fallen that night without the need of snow tires or chains.
I arrived at the Velodrome 20 minutes before the official registration and decided to set the bike up and get changed, disaster! In all my eagerness I had left my race tool kit at home, I didn’t even have a single hex wrench and I had to borrow tools from other riders in the car park.
Bike ready to roll, it was time to change in to my gear and I had opted to wear my Champion System CX skin suit. This bit of kit is amazing, looks like a speed suit used in TT’s but it’s fleeced lined. If you’ve raced off road you’ll know that with the constant attacks, accelerations and the fact you spend 45 -60 minutes all out you over heat very quickly – however the zip decided to foul and rather than risk messing it all up any further I grabbed my fleece bib tights and Pro Winter Jacket it would be hot – but I could always take a dive in the snow.
My race wasn’t to start until 10:50 and we would have exactly the same starting time as the pro’s again, only rather than the 60 minutes + 1 lap we would go for 45 +1. So now it was time to get out on the course and ride it.
The first lap went amazingly well, my tire selection was perfect and I was making mince meat out of the snow and ice, however as more riders put in practice laps it all started to go pear shaped.
On the second lap the front wheel slid, I corrected it but over steered putting the front wheel in to the deep snow which resulted in me being thrown over the bars at 30 km/h. Great fun and I laid there for about 5 minutes laughing; I got up only to watch 2 other riders do exactly the same. It was hilarious; it’s very hard to take it seriously when every 3 minutes someone finds a new comical way of going over the handle bars.
After another lap of control chaos I decided to switch out my wheels for different tires as well as drop the tire pressure after 3 different variations I opted for Vittoria CROSS EVO XN on the rear at 3 bar and a Vittoria CROSS EVO XM on the front (Reverse tread) at 3 bar it seemed to do the trick.
The rear diamond pattern gave incredible grip on the snow and ice while the deep profile tread on the front gave good handling and control, especially through the tight corners. I knew this would only match the current conditions and things would only get worse as the course deteriorated as the riders put the laps in.
Straight from the gun there were crashes as riders were squeezed in to a tight section and riders were forced in to the deeper snow, within 5 minutes C1 and C2 were mixed up and without any knowledge of who is who in the sport I was racing anyone and everyone and just trying to jump places.
As we left the velodrome we again were funneled in to a deep snow section with three steeples – several crashed and a few quick attacks on my behalf saw me clear of some of the slower C2 riders and a view of the leading groups some 50m ahead.
On the 3rd lap I was drawing ever closer to 2 riders that were pacing well and my plan was to use them as the leap frog to the next group. As we circled the back of the velodrome I went on the attack passing one but as we got funneled in to the deep snow section again the lead rider slammed the door on me, very nice riding on his behalf. Again sandwiched between two riders I had to wait for the next opportunity that would come on the road the brought us back towards the velodrome.
As soon as we cleared the deep snow I was on the attack, in the drops and sprinting across rutted ice. As I’ve said before, off road racing is 70% ability and 30% luck and I was hoping that as luck favours the foolish, sprinting across ice would appease lady luck. It did and I was able to put considerable distance between myself and the other 2 riders.
As I reentered the velodrome I was aware that the conditions had changed considerably. The technical section through the center of the Velodrome was now slush and mud and more sections of the actual Velodrome track had become usable.
I entered the switch backs in the center and all of a sudden I was down, not only that but my knee was in excruciating pain, I felt physically sick. I had either smashed my keen into the bars or into the cantilever brakes. It was almost impossible to put any weight on my right knee but somehow I managed to get up and moving again, even though it was at an impaired pace, I still had to navigate the two steeples and staircase in the velodrome.
I almost vomited as I put weight on the right knee jumping the steeples and dragged myself and the bike up the stairs. Finally able to remount the bike I started swearing at my knee to function like a merchant sailor with severe tourettes syndrome and either through shock or stupidity It started to function after a good cussing.
However trying to suppress pain and race in challenging conditions even for Cyclocross is rather difficult and I was all over the place, my clumsy efforts on the triple chicane and almost dropping the bike caused my chain to jump off and get jammed in between the BB and the crank spider. I stupidly tried to ride it out but I just made a mess of things and the riders I had passed were on me. I got off the bike and let them pass.
Taking a deep breath and gathering my thoughts I unjammed the chain, remounted it on the chain ring and got back on the bike, I was still all over the place and the deep snow section took all my concentration to stay upright. The back straight allowed me the time to rally my confidence as well as catch and pass the other two riders. Gritting my teeth against the pain I went up the stairs 3 at a time and went on the attack.
Back in to the center section of the velodrome I decided to dismount in the technical bends as I approached them but feeling confident I foolishly stayed on the bike.
Smack bang in the same place I go down again, fortunately I miss anything hard and I’m up and on the bike again, I run it through the last of the technical sections, over the steeples and up the short staircase on to the track and the final straight to the finish – the other riders are hot on my heels.
As I cross the line I draw my hand across my throat indicating I’m done and dead. The rider behind me pulls up beside me and congratulates me on a great ride, I thank him agreeing it was a tough race and that I suspect that I came in about 5th or 6th, at this he laughs and tells me that I’ve actually won.
I couldn’t believe it, the two riders I had been battling it out with turned out to be C1 Pro’s and If I had been in the race I would have placed exactly where I thought I had.
With the top podium finished my 2012 goal had been achieved, I had secured promotion in to the C1 Pro category in time for Cyclocross Tokyo that my sponsors were hosting in Odaiba. Not only that but the points increased my standings within the AJOCC series meaning that starting at the back of the grid was a thing of the past….hopefully!
Only Shonan CX to go before the big day at Odaiba.
1 week after.
After leaving it for a few days I finally went to my doctor to have my knee looked at, straight away I took 3 X-rays and a MRI as he was a little worried due to the fact that this was the same knee I’d had rebuilt. Turns out that I have 2 fractures of the medial tibia and deep bone bruising to the knee cap. The doctor was amazed that I’d been able to stand on it, let alone race on it. He was speechless when I said with a smile on my face if he could patch me up ready for Shonan CX.
Great report James and super duper congratulations.
Are any guys running a 1X10 or similar set up on the courses? Would make chain drop a less of a risk and with the wise capacity rear ends now I thought it might be in vogue.
Well the peloton/field is split some are running single at the front others double. So far I’ve only ever used the outer once at a race and I seriously thinking about next options for next CX season. I got talking with Ben Berden about his set up for CXT2013 and he said that last year and this year he will be running a single at the front again.
However the CX season starts early in Japan and from chatting with the Pro riders here they say that a double up front is needed, especially if you can put the hammer down on the grass sections.
In regards to the knee, thankfully I have a great doctor that did all the leg work with the UCI and Japan Anti Doping Agency, the good news is that for my treatment I don’t need the TUE and I started the course of treatment on Monday.
Basically they take a 2 inch needle, stick it under the knee cap and fill the knee cavity with jelly.
Last race of the Japanese Season was bloody amazing! Tohohu CX Project #5.
The conditions were extreme to say the least, I'm #14 and you get to see me for a bit in this video as I managed to secure a good placing from the start pushed right up in to the top 5 and against the top seeds in Japan, we had put in a massive lead on the main group as you can see from the vid....until.