Manual Zen Track Rambling

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There is no try. If Yoda rode a bicycle, I am sure he would ride a fixed gear. It is easy to see the lack of the ability to coast and shift gears as burden but riding reveals a more liberating truth. Fixed gear bikes pedal themselves through the dead spot in your pedal stroke. Climbing hills is easier than you thought it would be.

Fixed descents are more frightening than any climb but fear is only a signpost quickly glimpsed and passed as you spin faster than you ever knew you could spin. The bike is less than you thought you needed and you become more than you knew you could be. Your bike will remind you of the limits of man and machine but by clearly marking out those limits, you will learn where you can push. You will become stronger on the climbs, faster on the descents. Your machine is simple and silent, your legs become strong and fast.

Walk this way: Which gadgets to take on those ramblings

Fixed gear riding is not for everyone. Multiple gears and coasting are things that many people find useful and fun. But a simple, silent bike that only goes when you pedal may be ride of your life. I might as well get the big one out of the way first. However, on a fixie, the pedals are always spinning in perfect circles at very high speeds no matter how sloppy or inefficient your stroke is.

PowerCranks require your muscle fibers to fire throughout the degree pedal stroke. You are required to push across the top, push down in the front, pull across the bottom and pull up in the back. Your pedal stroke may slow temporarily, but the muscular foundation becomes so solid that it only takes a few weeks of high cadence on your road bike to turn the strength you built on the PowerCranks into power. On a fixed gear, the bike is literally doing all the work for you.

Think about a gym member who takes indoor cycling classes which utilize a large heavy fly wheel. They may get their legs whipped around in crazy circles at a cadence of up to rpm, but have you ever seen them achieve this on a real bike?


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As a final proof, I offer you up this most recent example. Every year, I finish my season on the track. Even though I geared up to a 50 x 14, due to the increased competition Garmin Chipotle, Health Net, Rock Racing , I still spun out at about rpm on some of the sprint laps.

When I jumped back on my road bike today, however, I felt like I was chopping broccoli. My legs became so accustomed to the forced circles of the track bike that they became lazy, losing the ability to do the work themselves.

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Just like with anything in cycling, skills are extremely specific. If you plan on racing on a fixed gear then it makes sense to train on one. If you plan on racing on the road, train on your road bike or, even better, do you winter base on PowerCranks, teaching your muscles to fire in absolute perfection and coordination, and then switch to your ride bike just a few weeks before race season. Save the fixie for the high school kids riding in tight jeans.

Special tanks to Kerr Sproul for the extra footage and another thanks to Johnny and Deano for doing all the extra filming. Most recently famous for the incident at the Winter Olympic games in which the first-ever snowboard gold medalist, Canadian Ross Regabiatti tested positive for marijuana and was briefly stripped of his medal. Regabiatti stood his ground and after days of interrogations and hassles, his medal was returned and a cannabis hero was born and the strain Nagano Gold named in his honor.

The Nagano area is home to communities of homesteaders who dropped out of city life and moved into abandoned houses in forgotten valleys. Reviving villages after a long slumber of disrepair when a generation went away to war and never returned leaving remote communities occupied with only old folks. Once the prefectural government moved them into apartment homes in nearby towns, the historic homes stood unoccupied for decades until these new residents squatted in to rebuild and keep the old customs alive. Nowadays, this progressive element combined with the stunning scenery, make the area around the ski town of Hakuba a worthwhile visit.

Head up during the O bon holiday mid-August — a Shinto festival during which people visit graves of ancestors and generally party down with festivals. The northern island of Hokkaido boasts wild cannabis, adventurous winter sports, the Sapporo brewery and more hot springs. This wild cannabis is no mid-west ditch weed, instead it is more than folklore that potent weed survives flourishes in fact untended in fields around the sparsely populated island.

Crafty stoners head north in early autumn to prospect and harvest quickly at night, filling trunks and driving straight back to city or holing up for a couple of days in a cabin to cure and make the sticky, seedy weed into bubble hash. The police know people do this but, there is so much land to cover, and cannabis disguised growing in so many fields that the yearly eradication and arrest programs hardly make a dent.

If you are feeling dangerous, head to Hokkaido during early fall for clandestine harvest but, bear in mind that this is tricky business and not to be undertaken lightly.

Back on Honshu, history enthusiasts must visit Kyoto, the venerable old capital city of which survived the bombings intact and is now a busy city of temples, museums and nightlife. Poets and philosophers have come here for centuries seeking knowledge and peace through aesthetic arts and meditative practice.

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Alternatively, Nara is a smaller and more low key city with more history, ancient temples and semi-wild deer wandering the streets and parks. Sometime called the Venice of Japan, nearby Kurashiki is a town of numerous museums including Japanese folkcraft, archaeology, toys, natural history and a eviable collection of modern modern European masters at the Ohara museum e. Also near Okayama city is Bizen, one of a handful of traditional pottery centers in Japan with walk-in-sized kilns that look like giant wasps nests are fired for weeks at a time.

Besides the buzz kill, you may learn something plus Hiroshima is a good city for Okonomiyaki restaurants where you grill your own savory-pancake type creation. On the ferry, dig the Inland Sea, turquoise blue and smattered with tiny islands, while picnicking on the big open floor with new friends. The grass around my hut also has suffered From summer thinness. Just when I hear The sundown bell, The flower of this weed.

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Head to the south central coast for the surf town of Kochi with a restored castle and surrounded by national parks, this is a great area to let the good times roll and rent a board or explore the sandy beaches, tropical plants and unique coral and rock formations. To discover some traditional Nihon, point your thumb towards the San-in coast from Tottori to Shimonoseki on the Sea of Japan side or Sea of Korea depending on who you ask. From Kyushu, catch a ferry to continue your trip to Korea from the closest point between the countries. This same area is site to pre-historic cave paintings depicting what appears to be foreigners bringing a five-leafed plant and horses to Japan.

Go find the cave and decide for yourself. Traveling well in Japan is an exercise in simplicity — pack light with versatile clothes and shoes that are comfortable but are quick to take on and off trust me. If traveling on the cheap, you can buy most anything from omnipresent vending machines to sustain your journey including beer — indeed instant food can be tasty and purchased in the most remote places.

Beverages of every description including the aforementioned coffee machine with 30 brands all sweet, milky and strong served at degrees until one day, all machine magically switch to cold coffee. Look for noodle stands for huge steaming bowls of miso ramen or udon noodles, slurped standing up.

Abundant shopping markets sell prepared foods to take away and fill your belly while saving your money. Local fruits and vegetables are much less than imported ones. Dairy products are outstanding as is tofu of course. In this land of sushi, killer seafood everywhere and most always safe and clean if sometimes a bit odd puffer fish anyone? Japanese beef is famous raised on beer and massage, you can enjoy it in small strips you grill on a hot plate on your restaurant table.

When you get serious hungry, find an all-you-can eat curry rice joint for a mound of rice smothered with Japan-ified sweet curry laden with meat and veggies. Most all flights arrive in Tokyo or Osaka, if you are on a budget, get out of the big cities as fast as possible! Rooms are ordered in like fastfood — pictures of available rooms are lit up on a board i.

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Once in the countryside, you can find accommodations in temples and monasteries if you are looking for some enlightenment or just a memorable night. Buy a Japan Rail pass to cover the long distances — the trains range from clunky locals and to the warp-speed Shinkansen bullet train, prices range accordingly but all are timely and relatively comfy. Like a Eurorail pass, the JR pass must be purchased outside of Japan and gives you unlimited travel on most routes. Get to know the schedule to make your life easier at the manic stations and plan smart so to catch sleep en route.

The train stations are the hub of activity in any town with myriad restaurants and accommodations close by.