Friday, August 20, 2010

Moving On Up!

To all three of my regular readers. The Crankee Blog is moving. I decided to upgrade the blog and move it to my own server. I will not be updating the site any longer. If you wish to continue reading all things Crankee please go directly to . Asalam Ma lakum, No ham, no bacon.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I may have mentioned before that I rode across the Japanese alps last month with two other friends. We met up with a Japanese TV crew and they proceeded to interview us. Our segment was cut down to only a few seconds, but hey, it was my brush with Japanese fame. I've edited the show down to 2 minutes. Our part is towards the end. Enjoy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yuki's Purple Ride

Yuki and her new ride

The beautiful Yuki (featured in the Nagoya Love Wheels Calendar as Miss. January) recently picked up her new ride at Circles Bike Shop. The frame is a standard Omnium track frame by Giant. The crank set is a SRAM Omnium. Shin Tanaka of Circles did the custom paint job himself. A nice two tone purple paint job with masking tape. It really changes the whole look of the bike and you can tell from Yuki's smile that she just loves it. Yuki plans to race her new bike in next month's Bang King track race at the Ishikawa Uchinada Velodrome. Good luck Purple Mama!

Sram Omnium Crank set

Circles Logo

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The cycling Egg

Tama5 (Tamago)

The Circles Bike shop is fast becoming a way station for touring cyclists passing through Nagoya City. Over the last few months I've met several there, and today I had the pleasure of bumping into Tama5 (pronounced "Tamago" which means "egg" in Japanese). He kicked off his two month tour a few days ago in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and plans to cycle down to Osaka, around the Kyushu island, up the coast of the Sea of Japan until he reaches Toyama prefecture before making his way down to Matsumoto then over to Tokyo. Quite an impressive task when you consider that's he's doing it on a fixed gear bike. He's outfitted his Surly Steamroller with a touring trailer where he hauls his essential, tent and a supply of bike stickers bearing his unusual logo which looks like a guy with his head up his ass. See for yourself.

His logo...Don't ask

Tama5 seemed like a fun and easygoing character. He represents what I consider to be a trend in cycling and lifestyle in Japan. More young people are opting to work and save many to allow them time off for these types of excursions. This is a positive development and I welcome it. No cross-country cycling tour would be complete without a blog, and Tama5 has got one too. If you're in any of the cities on his itinerary, be sure to give him a hearty welcome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My fashion shoot

For all my readers who think I'm a sell-out and just another over-rated bearded bike blogger, here is the confirmation you've been waiting for. Yours truly is currently featured in Simple Bicycle Style #4. (a popular Japanese cycling fashion magazine for people who insist on making the iron donkey a fashion statement) You can see me demonstrating the awesomeness of my BBQ bike as well as modeling my stained cycling hood. Look out for my nude spread in the next issue of Saddle Sore Quarterly.

Everybody Vogue

Friday, June 11, 2010

Japan Coast2Coast: A new beginning

The Three Amigos

Last Tuesday afternoon, myself, Lowell and Mark, packed our bikes into our portable carry bags, gave a last glance at the gray blue palette of Itoigawa city and sat quietly waiting for our train back to Nagoya City. The week-long trek through the majestic Alps of Japan was now just a series of images captured in our cameras, blips of memories in our minds and a collection of bruises, stains and tall-tales which the three of us will no doubt reflect on over the coming months. As I recount the distance we traveled and the mountains we scaled, I am beginning to think that this trip was the oddest display of a mid-life crisis if ever there was one. I can only hope I have many more "crisis" in the years to come.

One theme that underscored the whole trip was WATER. Wherever we cycled, you could hear the presence of rushing streams and rivers. It reminded me how blessed Japan is with this very basic human necessity. Whether it was a trickling brook, a crashing waterfall or a supine glacial river cutting a swath through a valley, water served as a reminder of why I really undertook this trip; to raise money for the construction of water wells in poor Cambodian villages. To that end, the three of us were able to raise over ¥600,000. This is enough to help about 20 families obtain needed water for their crops and living. In doing so, we also help them become self-sufficient. Damn, that feels good.

So, what now? It doesn't end here. If you would like to donate there is still plenty of time to do so. Just drop me an email and let me know. We're already planning a Short version of the Japan Coast to Coast this fall. Most likely the route will start in Nagoya bay and end in Tsuruga bay about 120 kilometers away. We're planning to make it a short two-day trip with open registration. So if you're interested in joining us let me know. The big Coast2Coast across the Alps will likely happen again in September 2011. We're thinking of forming corporate teams and so far one company has already committed a team.

Things are shaping up. What started as a simple challenge/tour is slowly turning into a platform for the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, a way to discover Japan and most importantly a vehicle to help our friends in need of a better life.

The end? Not Likely.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why I alway pack extra rubber

Woke up in Kamikochi today to a flat tire. Actually it was only flat
on the bottom. Luckily I brought a spare innertube. 15 minutes later
we were on our way to Hakuba. Rubber rules.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 5 of Japan Coast 2 Coast

Picture pefect morning in the highlands of Norikura Japan. A popular
ski resort in Nagano. It's off season so we had the whole lodge to
ourselves. After. Hearty breakfast we'll set pedals for Kamikochi in
time for their annual Walter Weston Festival.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3 of japan Coast 2 Coast

Just completed a 103km ride to yabuhara in Nagano. Arrived wet and
friggin tired at a small minshuku run by a little old lady. She had a
hot bath and a tastey Japanese home cooked meal waiting. Tomorrow we
head up to Norikura.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The wind down

After a few tough climbs today we stop at a traditional Japanese inn
for a hot bath and a meal. Tomorrow we plan a 100km ride to Kiso-
fukushima. May the gods smile down on us.

Damn! That's some dam.

Day two of the Japan Coast to Coast tour. Behold. The Sakuma dam
Shizuoka prefecture.

Monday, May 31, 2010

All packed

Bike and bags all packed. In less than 12 hours we're off for the
Japan Alps. Arrivederci baby!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Japan Coast 2 Coast Countdown: 5 days

Countdown 5 days left before the Japan Coast to Coast tour. Lowell, Mark and I met today to review the route. We've learned that some of the roads we planned on cycling will be closed for construction (including the Norikura Skyline road which we were all looking forward to cycling on). This leaves us with a few extra challenging tunnels to navigate through. No worries. We're men dammit! There is still time to show your support for our ride through the alps by pledging a donation today. Below is a video which helps demonstrate how your donation will be used. Take a moment to watch it. You won't be sorry.

Hope Realized from Mackenzie Sheppard on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chasing The Cherry Blossoms - Audio Book

My riding companion in next week's tour across the Japanese Alps, Lowell Sheppard has just released an audio version of Chasing The Cherry Blossoms, a book he wrote ten years ago detailing a 2000 mile journey across the length of Japan. As in the printed version, the audio book paints a serene yet challenging account of the 6 week Cherry Blossom season starting in the southern most part of Japan all the way up to Hokkaido. The audio book is available for download at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And now for something totaly different

Thanks to my man in Brooklyn, Bike Snob for this little gem of a find. I dare you to keep a straight face while you watch this video.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Japan Coast 2 Coast Blog

Just one week left before the start of our epic ride across the Japan Alps. Lowell and Mark have been busy prepping their bodies for the arduous climbs. I've been busy marking all of the Mos Burger joints between Hamamatsu and Hakuba on my maps. In case you're not aware, we have a blog site up dedicated to the tour. We'll try to keep it updated with photos and details of the trip as it's happening. Visit .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Groovy Bicycle Posters

Over Grown by Brian Turner

I just got word from Lad of Poster Caberet that their 2010 Bicycle Print Set is now available for $25 each. All 16 prints designed by 15 artists commemorate National Bike Month taking place this month. My favorite is the print entitled "Overgrown" by Brian Turner. A trippy illustration that reminds me of a dream I once had. Groovy. Click here to see the full line up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rie's New Ride

Sassy gal Rie shows off her new ride: A Giant Omunium frame set with a sweet customized paint job by Shinya Tanaka of Circles Bike Shop in Nagoya City. Rie rode the Giant to Kyoto with us a few weeks ago.

"It's sooo FAST!!!", she said in her Japanese-San Diego accent.

Rie is off this week to the ECMC 2010 15th European Cycle Messenger Championships. Looking forward to seeing her ride her new bike around town this summer.

Low angle shot

♥ Frame and Forks: Giant Omunium
♥ Color: Rie's special flower (hand painted by Circles kyutai works)
Chainring: Candy Cranks
♥ Crank Set: Sugino RD-2
♥ Wheel: HED 3
♥ Stem: DEDA Newton
♥ Handle: FSA Riser
♥ Seat: SanMarco Regal
♥ Seatpost: Miche SuperType
♥ Tire: Panaracer pacella BL
♥ Pedal MKS Touring Premium
♥ Clip: Brooks
♥ Strap: Brooks

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frank van Rijn - World Cyclist

As part of my regimen to mentally prepare myself for the upcoming tour across the Japanese Alps, I thought I should watch an interview with Frank van Rijin as he discusses some of the challenges he faced cycling around the world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crankee Does the Alps

Stay with me. I want to throw out a few names and see if you can guess what they have in common (ah ah! No Googling allowed) Ready? OK, here are the names: Frank Lenz, Thomas Stevens and Allen & Sachtleben. If you guessed that they all lived in the 19th century and likely sported long handlebar mustaches, you're partly correct. These men, like many after them, have felt the uncontrollable need to travel vast distances on a bicycle. Thomas Stevens circled the planet on a friggin Penny Farthing if you can believe that. And since I am a blogger that writes about cycling topics, I would be remiss if I didn't attempt some kind of grand feat of cycling daring-do. So I would like to announce to all 6 of my blog readers that generalissimo Crankee along with close friends Lowell Sheppard and Mark McBennett, will set off on June 1st from the Pacific Ocean coast of Hamamatsu City Japan on a eight day journey across the Southern Alps of Japan to Itoigawa city on the Sea of Japan coast. The trip is part vanity, part charity and a little mid-life crisis thrown in for good measure. We'll be raising money to help poor farmers obtain access to water and help them become self-sufficient. Something I've been striving for unsuccessfully since my 20's. If you'd like to donate to our cause, just visit the Hope International web site and click on the SPONSOR US banner. For more info about our trip visit our blog here.

Three guys, a mountain range and one bike

There you have it. Crankee does have a heart. And to prove it, I plan not to drop dead cycling up some of the highest peaks in Japan while raising money for poor Cambodian farmers. Take a moment to pledge a donation and I promise to think kindly of you. Really, I will.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nagoya to Kyoto in a Day!

Wasn't sure what I was getting into when I agreed to join the Love Wheels Nagoya Calendar Girls for a ride to Kyoto city from Nagoya. After all, it's only 45 minutes on the Bullet train right? Well, what takes 45 minutes on a super fast locomotive took us 15 hours on a mixture of road, touring and fixed gear bicycles. I've cycled across France so I'm no novice to long distance cycling, but 15 hours on the saddle (even if it's a Brooks saddle) is just inhumane. When we finally arrived at the Kyoto guest house at 9:00 PM, we had just enough energy in us to soak up at the bath house and grab a quick bite before passing out on our futons. Needless to say, I will never try that again.

5:00 AM early start and no idea what awaited us.

Crossing the Kiso River

Mmmm. A quick mid morning snack.

Justin & Señor Crankee

A little bicycle CPR

Maki trying to fly to Kyoto

A late night stop at a popular cycling cafe in Kyoto

Breakfast: Brown rice and veggie curry

Contemplating the day's ride

Cutie Emi posing in front of the guest house

Riding the streets of Kyoto

Stopping for directions

A nice little fixer-upper

One of many temples in Kyoto

Unique cycling shoes in the fashion of Japanese Jikatabi shoes

Sou Sou le coq sportif cycling fashion shop

Two Kyoto beauties waiting to enter a restaurant

The youngest member of the group: Keisuke celebrates his 17th birthday

Kyoto, land of the geishas

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Almost there

This is the longest my sore ass has been on a saddle. Over 13 hours.
26km more till destination.