Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

Muddy Kyoto Cylocross: The First Two Races

This post, brought to you at 4am by jetlag, is a continuation from "Cyclocross Races: Practice at the Mud Bath". Above we have the very first rider of the first race to make it to where I was at the Mud Bath.

The first race actually was three separate races run in parallel: "Category 3" (men who had earned the right to advance from the anyone-can-enter Category 4), "Masters 2" (men 40 and over who have done well enough to progress from Masters 3 and Masters 4), and "U17", children 17 and under who, presumably, are too old or too [...]

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Cyclocross Races: Practice at the Mud Bath

I'm currently at airport hotel in Osaka (which I've recommended before) so I can make an early flight out in the morning, for an unfortunately-sudden family-emergency trip to America. Having arrived here with plenty of time, I'll go ahead follow up on this weekend's "Watching My First Cyclocross Bike Race".

Today's pictures concentrate on the Mud Bath during the practice before the races.

A common pattern was for the rider to enter fast and powerful, with the apparent intention to just brute force his way through the mud. This would have been fine except that the mud was sufficiently deep [...]

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Watching My First Cyclocross Bike Race

Today was the last race of the local cyclocross-racing season, and I took the opportunity to see some friends race. Cyclocross bicycle racing is sort of like mini-obstacle-course bicycle racing, with a few laps on a relatively short course going over steep embankments, through mud and sand, over barriers, etc. It rained quit a bit a few days ago, so the course had plenty of photogenic mud.

I literally have not yet seen all the photos I took, but I wanted share a few so as to share the gist of the day.

There are races throughout the day for [...]

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More Details on the Insidious iOS Snap-to-Road “Feature”

This post is a short followup to last month's "The Scourge (or Beauty) of “Snap To Road” with iPhone Location-Tracking Apps", in which I explained how an attempt by Apple to make the iPhone location services more relevant for car navigation can end up destroying the accuracy for other uses such as geoencoding or fitness tracking. When enabled, the user's location is "snapped" to the center of the nearest road; internally Apple calls it "Map Matching"; I call it "Snap to Road".

In the screenshot of Google Earth seen above, the red line, recorded with the "Snap to Road" feature [...]

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Great Excitement in Small Pleasures: A Starbucks Opens Nearby

The old Kyoto Theater Hall near my house reopened today after some years of renovation, emerging as "ROHM Theater Kyoto" (ロームシアター京都). ROHM is a semiconductor company based here in Kyoto, last mentioned on my blog more than 10 years ago, before I got into photography or even blogging that much, on this post about their annual Christmas lights at their company headquarters. They must have paid a boatload of money to someone to get branding rights for this renovated concert/theater complex.

I have a vague recollection of seeing some kind of performance at the original theater 25 years ago, when [...]

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Lazy New-Year Break and Reflections on Last Year’s Cycling

It's been a mostly-lazy New Year break for me, just hanging out at home with the family, working here and there on my Lightroom plugins, from time to time updating roads I cycle a lot at with much more accurate road data than they currently have, and some general vegetating.

I did get to bookmark the change of year with a last bicycle ride in 2015 up into the mountains north of Kyoto on the last day of the year. There was even a bit of snow. Brrrr. Then on January 2nd, I did a lazy ride to the [...]

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Cycling with Kentaro Kataoka on His First “Real” Ride

The other day I went on a ride with Kentaro Kataoka ("Ken-chan"), who has been a friend for a long time. He's a sports-massage masseur with his own clinic.

He's been on my blog a number of times over the years, such as when he graduated from massage school four years ago, giving a friend an impromptu massage last year, or just seeing the sights with me (here and here).

He does a lot of running (street and mountain), but is new to cycling, having just bought his first "real" road bike. We went on our first ride together the [...]

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Surprises With New Caledonia Traffic Signs

On my recent trip to New Caledonia, I did a fair amount of driving. As someone with limited driving experience outside of North America and Japan, some of the street signs were not intuitive, such as this bicycle-related sign that I presented as A New Caledonia No-Bikes-Allowed “What am I?” Quiz:

To someone used to driving in North America or Japan, the sign above clearly and unambiguously means "No Bicycles Allowed", because anything with a diagonal red slash through it means "No  whatever  Allowed".

Along those lines, the sign at right would clearly mean "no cars allowed", but in New [...]

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Superficial Thoughts on New Caledonia After a Week’s Visit

We had a family vacation to New Caledonia last week. When my wife suggested it, I had to look it up because I had no idea where it was. Here it is:

The capital, Nouméa, at 22 degrees south latitude, was just starting to enter its summer.

It's a bit more well known in Japan due to a well-known travelogue, 「天国にいちばん近い島」 ("The Island Closest to Heaven"), published in 1966. The book was also made into a movie.

Minimal research before I left told me it's a French Republic with, like so many islands in the Pacific, a marginalized indigenous population.

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A New Caledonia No-Bikes-Allowed “What am I?” Quiz

Driving around during our vacation in New Caledonia, I came across a number of road signs whose meaning was not intuitive to me, including the one above. I thought it might make a good "What am I?" quiz.

The sign obviously doesn't mean "No Bicycles Allowed" or I wouldn't be posting it here.... unless, of course, I'm doing the whole reverse-psychology thing to fake you out. But then again, I may well be doing the whole reverse-reverse-psychology thing to fake you into thinking I'm trying to fake you out.

Frankly, I'm so confused now that I don't even know. Anyway, [...]

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A Bit of Cycling in Nouméa, New Caledonia

I found a place to rent a bicycle here in Nouméa, New Caledonia. It turns out that they had only junk mountain bikes. Paid 40% extra to get a helmet. Went out this morning for most of the AM, and ended up riding about 76km (47mi) all around hilly Nouméa. It really made me appreciate my bike.

To be continued...

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Returning from Lunch, New-Caledonia Style

Note to self: coral is hard and in a scraping situation vs. your knee, you will lose. Avoid when possible.

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Deep Into New Caledonia’s South Province

We took a drive away from tourist areas of Nouméa, deep into the unpopulated interior. Having looked at the map of the area, I'd been thinking to rent a bicycle and ride there, but I wasn't able to find one to rent. Instead, we all took a drive there today, and I'm glad I didn't try to ride there unprepared. We went hours and hours without the slightest sign of civilization other than the road. No stores, no gas stations, no houses, no farms, no commerce or human presence of any kind except the occasional Provincial nature area (devoid of [...]

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Visiting New Caledonia

Sadly, we're at the Hilton on the mainland, with the worst in-room WiFi I've seen since.... well, since I last stayed at a major American hotel chain.

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Revisiting Fall Colors: Kyoto Mountain Cycling Two Weeks Ago

Just a quick writeup with some pictures of a nice group ride that I did two weeks ago with some of the stronger riders from Cycling Kyoto!. I was by far the newest, weakest, slowest, least experienced among them, but they're a nice fun group so they made me feel welcome.


It was wet from a recent rain, so quite slippery. Discretion is the better part of valor, so Tomas aborted the attempt. I didn't even try. But as Rick H had suggested, I did measure the slope with the Compass Tool in my iPhone:

UPDATE: I originally wrote [...]

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The Scourge (or Beauty) of “Snap To Road” with iPhone Location-Tracking Apps

I've discovered an issue with how an iPhone give location information to apps, an issue that can have a dramatic impact on the accuracy of location data. The impact is either really good or really bad, depending on what the app (and you) want to use the location information for.

The issue is that the iPhone can get into a mode where instead of providing apps with your location directly from its normal location-tracking methods (GPS/GLONASS, WiFi and cell-tower signal strength), it "snaps" the location to the center of the nearest road it knows about. I call this "snap to [...]

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Bicycle Ride to Osaka with Paul Barr

As I mentioned in "Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early", Paul Barr and I rode our bikes down to Osaka from Kyoto. It's about 50km each way, so the round trip was about 100km (62mi) total.

Here's our trip on my cycling heatmap.

I'd made the same trip by myself earlier in the week, and written how windy it was for much of the day, but the wind during the trip down with Paul was by far the strongest sustained winds I'd ever ridden a bicycle in, on par with a medium-sized typhoon. It was just ridiculous. [...]

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A Past-Its-Prime Visit to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine

My timing is getting all mixed up, but two days ago I posted about the Ochiba Shrine, with pictures from two weeks ago when it was in its full carpet-of-leaves splendor. By the time I'd posted it (two days ago) the splendor had passed; this post contains photos from a visit two days ago.

On the way home, we stopped by the Yama no Ie Hasegawa restaurant for coffee...

And dinner...

And dessert...

A visit here is always a nice way to end an outing.

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Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early

Today on a ride from Kyoto to Osaka Castle with Paul Barr, early on the trip while still in Kyoto we came across some cherry blossoms that had apparently gotten confused by the cold spell in October followed by a warm spell earlier this month... they seem to be blooming five months early!

Some varieties of cherry do normally bloom in November, such as we've over the years here, here, and here, but their branches are sparsely populated with blossoms. Today's were full:


Whatever they were, they were pretty and out of place.

I made a short video of [...]

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Cycling to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine Amid the Fall Colors

I've been meaning to write about a nice little solo ride I had two weeks ago, to the Ochiba Jinja shrine. It's the same place that I wrote about in "Great Day in Kyoto’s Colorful Northern Mountains", which actually happened the next day.

The course for this day's solo ride can be seen on my cycling heatmap.

The fall colors had been pretty subdued, but with my health back after six weeks of colds/allergy/something, everything looked beautiful to me.

The small sign pointed up what looked like a driveway, but turned out to be an old logging road. I probably [...]

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