It’s been wet, windy or both for the last couple of weeks and it’s back to rain today with snow forecast for later in the week but on Saturday the weather came good with a perfect sunny autumn day. Just right for a ride with Mr Kon and Scottish Martin.

But before delving into my ride report, I’m pleased to note that in addition to Bianchi Rollo products with cryptic messages, there is other Rollo merchandising on the market. Recently spotted in a Girona supermarket by Lisa Berg, the doble rollo even comes with a Papal seal of higienico. Just as Girona is known as the place where Floyd Landis kept watch over Lance Armstrong’s spare blood, Rollo is known for his urbanity and this paper promises and delivers extra suavidad. They are handy for mopping up after a long transfusion and, as Cam noted, they have 40m por rollo!

Doble the rollo, doble the fun. Proud sponsors of the World Wrestling Federation.

Thanks to my Toto Washlet, I had no need of the full suavidadity of doble rollo on Saturday morning but I did still manage to be late for my rendezvous at Kitahiroshima station by underestimating the distance of the bike path there from Sapporo. Luckily there weren’t too many doddery old pensioners zig-zagging across the path and I was only a few minutes late and arrived to find Martin and Mr Kon not yet fed up with waiting for me.

We decided to head for Lake Shikotsu which gave us some pleasant riding through quiet roads and then a bit of climbing and a descent to Shikotsuko for a breather.

Mr Kon did all the early work and navigation.

Martin shows the traditional Glasgow response to a request of a small loan for a deep-fried Mars bar.

And Martin also informs me the correct victory salute is to show the amount of beer you drank the night before.

The autumn colours are just coming out in the mountains and helped the scenery along quite nicely.

We're on the way to winter but the scenery is pretty nice for now.

I’ve been feeling slightly less manly than usual this week as I have replaced my 11-23 cassette with a less-macho 12-25. My old cassette has worn out and a rational exploration of my gearing suggested to me that using a 53×12 gearing with a cadence of 120 would give me a speed of just under 67kmh. The day I can manage that and still lose a sprint, I will go back to 11×23.

I was eager to reclaim my manhood by seeing whether I would be much quicker uphill with a slightly easier lower gear so I was keen for the start of some proper climbing. I’m happy to report that the easier gearing allowed me to maintain a steady effort for longer than if I’d had to push a harder gear. This excited me in exactly the way that it’s boring you so I stopped to take some photos of Mr Kon and Martin catching back up to me.

Here they come.

And there they go.

The mountain road was a bit busy with cars as everyone was taking advantage of the sunny weather to get out and enjoy the autumn colours but one of the joys of Japanese roads is that the speed limits are low and we were just about able to keep up with the cars on the descents. Because I’m so fat, I can descend a bit quicker than the other two, so I was able to pull over and photograph the lake without their noticing me.

This is the clearest I've seen the lake.

I was then able to sneak up on them and surprise them by passing them again on the road along the lake. I recalled that the last time I rode along here was with Dimitri and he kept up a steady 40kmh along that road so I tried to do the same but I’m sad to report I couldn’t keep that up for very long at all. After a nice rest at Shikotsuko and a couple of cans of coffee, we rode back to Chitose, where Martin lives. Martin has aligned himself with the local mamachari shop and although they don’t even sell road bikes, they appear thrilled to now have a racing team. They are even designing a jersey for him to wear next year.

Martin escorted us up the road to a konbini and a couple of onigiri and chocolate bars later my hunger knock was gone and Mr Kon and I were able to leave Martin behind and ride back to Sapporo together, getting back in time for me to have a quick nap at home before sprucing myself up for an evening on the town with Mr Kon, Martin and our good lady wives/girlfriend.

A jolly good day's ride.

We ended up going to a restaurant near the train station which offered us all we could eat and drink for two hours although they did con us slightly by having last orders with half an hour to go but in hindsight this probably helped me feel somewhat less compromised on Sunday morning. We ended up at an Irish pub with Mr Kon and me drinking Guinness mixed with Bailey’s and Irish whiskey. We managed to miss the last subway so Martin had to find a way to stay at his girlfriend’s place without her mother knowing and Kazuko and I had to walk home. Luckily for Mr and Mrs Kon, they don’t live too far away so were able to enjoy just a short walk.

The Hokkaido University campus is an elephant’s graveyard of abandoned mamachari bicycles, so as Kazuko and I got to the start of our stroll through the campus, I hit on the ingenious idea that we could get home faster if we could steal borrow a bicycle or two. Unfortunately my stint as a criminal mastermind didn’t last very long as I was defeated by even the flimsiest of locks. I finally found an unlocked mamachari. Two flat tyres and a buckled wheel? No problem. It was only the unshipped chain that beat me. Those completely enclosed chain guards are great for keeping your trousers clean but do make it impossible for drunkards to get the chain back on. We found another bike about half-way through the campus and this one had its chain off but I actually could get my fingers in through the chain guard and after about five minutes of fluffing about with it, I got the chain back on, only to find the internally-geared rear hub was knackered and the bike was permanently in neutral. So there you have it kids – not only does crime not pay, it leaves you having to walk home with filthy hands and without even the comfort of doble rollos to wipe them clean on when you get there.

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