Weekend wedding gig

This wedding gig came up 2 hours before start time! I wasn’t too happy about it at first. I was going to refuse.  But when it’s someone’s special day to get married I’m not going to be the one to try and make their day not go perfectly.

"It's a little bit funny"...

“It’s a little bit funny”…

So I sang a couple songs and sweated up a storm in the spotlight.  Then after I did my short set a woman approached and asked if we could do a song together that I had never hear before.  We had 15 minutes so we rehearsed a couple times and nailed it.  It was a great little show for a happy wedding couple.

"Eh, there's a bar of 6 before the G".

“Eh, there’s a bar of 6 before the G”.

CHEEEEESE.

A special thanks to HappyShoot.jp (Boss and Jacky) for these pics.

Utsukushigahara Hill Climb Bike Race 2014

Utsukushigahara homepageWe drove up to Matsumoto from Gunma’s Numata city around 12:30 pm on Saturday.  We took the low roads instead of the highway because it is really only about 30 minutes difference and it’s a much nicer drive. 

Looks easy via this view doesn't it?

Looks easy via this view doesn’t it?

It rained all day Saturday and it poured buckets during the night.  But by 5 a.m. it had stopped and the clouds started to break.  The 4 of us woke up in our small room, had some coffee, energy bars and what not, got changed, prepared our bikes and headed to the race.  I did this race 2 years ago and my time was 1:22:23 .   I beat it by ove 7 minutes this year.  Stats are at the end of this blog.

Utsukushigahara Hills of ustsukushiWhen I entered for this race on-line my friend talked me into going in the “expert” class which I totally regretted this morning when I woke up and started getting really nervous.  Then to make it look like I’m really cocky, I placed my bike right at the front of the line where I stood next to Japanese legend Imanaka Daisuke san (He has raced in the Tour de France) and shared a lengthy conversation.  I’m sure it will appear on the NEWS and make it look like I’m some “foreign” ex pro or something. 

Me and Imanaka Daisuke

But that image quickly changed when they counted down and we all raced off to start the climb and I got swallowed up!  The first 5 KM are very steep with an average grade of 18% and everyone was out of their saddles. 

IMG_4012 IMG_4010

That quickly separated the men from the boys but to my surprise I was still somewhere near the front 30%.  I found a young guy and stuck my wheel right behind his and kept my head down.  By the 8 KM mark I thought I had over exerted myself too early and I was thinking of falling off his wheel until we got a nice 4% grade for 400 meters which got my lungs back.  After that I actually ended up pulling him for a little while (you never know how the others are holding up do you?).  Then out of the blue Mr. Imanaka smoothly rides by me and says in Japanese, “Hey, you’re strong”! And I replied, “Yeah, up until this moment”.  I’d love to say “It’s all down here from here” but that really has a different meaning in cycling does it?

IMG_4015 IMG_4011
My heart-rate was quite high and I worried about how long I could hold on but I somehow managed until the 16 KM mark where it leveled out and even descended in some parts!  At my 72 kg weight I’m not designed for hill climbing.  I carry a lot of upper body muscle.  Especially with these 58-62 kg riders next to me.  But at the top when it leveled for 3 KM I was strong as could be and I actually left a few of the guys I was riding with behind.  Don’t ask me how!  However, one of them stayed with me and we raced the last 200 meter hill and I lost by a foot!  I think he sling shot from my draft but I don’t mind though since he was half my age and that’s a smart tactic.  In fact, as I mentioned, someone carried me for about 6 KM. I had a great time.  My time was 1:15:25 which is about 7 minutes faster than before.  In the champion class I finished 39th.  Most champion riders were in their 20’s though.  Plus out of 498 forty year old’s, I placed 13th.  But here’s the weird facts.
If I was in the 20 year old group I’d have placed 9th out of 134 riders.

Finally over the topCrossing the finish line.

In the 30 year old group my time would have made me 31st our of 354 riders.  And in the 40 year old group I’d have been 14th out of 491 riders.  So, all in all I’m happy with that.  More important “Da Boyz” and I shared some great moments and a heap of laughs.

IMG_4022 IMG_4014 Da BoyzBeer time.

Lyrics Lyrics Lyrics!

Lyrics lyrics lyrics!

It's still blank!

It’s still blank!

Why is it I find it so hard to find them!  My life is full of stuff happening all around me yet I can’t seem to write about it.  I decided to just start jotting down anything that comes to mind in this book and then start pulling out the parts that mean something to me.  Last album I was staying up all night the last days before recording because of the same problem.  This time I want some leeway so I can refine and rewrite a few more times.

I best get away from this blog and back to that area of my brain where the creativity sits.  Just have to find it first!

I Lost the Fight with TREK – Part 3

The 3rd and final episode of the ongoing saga regarding my TREK replacement frame ended with the protagonist getting a pump shoved in his front wheel by TREK and sliding on pavement with road cherries.

The new Frame colors.  Not ugly at all.  But not what I wanted.

The new Frame colors. Not ugly at all. But not what I wanted.

Goes so well with my gear.

This is the paint job I was hoping for but lost.

The non Hollywood story is much more anticlimactic with a simple email from TREK Japan that reads:

Hello Kelly,

We are sorry to keep you waiting.

This past week the US customer service manager, APAC customer service manager, sales rep and I discussed and concluded that we cannot replace this frame.

The reason is that the store sold the custom painted frame, and then it was taken home.

However, we are working with the shop on options to help you on their behalf.

The store mentioned that they would like to contact you but have had difficulty contacted your cell phone.

Could we tell them your email address?

We appreciate your patience in working through this!

Regards,

XXXX

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

So I talked to the store out of curiosity what those “options” could be and unfortunately they didn’t lead to a discount.  The store owner just said he looked into finding someone who privately re-paints frames but came up with no one who will do carbon frames. 

So the story ends there.  No riding off into the sunset with a gold medal around my neck on my dream bike.  But, at the end of the day this story is still pretty good.  I love the frame, like the colors and am fortunate to be able to enjoy riding a very, very nice bike.

Read Part Two

Read Part One

Bicycle racing in Japan.

It’s sunny but cold outside today.  I’m getting antsy to get back out there and ride a heap of kilometers this year.  The last couple months have mostly been in the gym riding the trainers and doing upper body workouts.

My favourite past time nex to writing songs.

I’ve spent the last few weeks surfing the internet for cycling gear and the Garmin 500 GPS computer As I had expected, what I wanted was going to cost some money.  Fortunately the Japanese yen is strong and because I took my time browsing cycling sites on line I have got some great deals.  When buying these items at a store in Japan it can almost double in price.  That is probably because most Japanese customers can’t understand English and are unable to find what they are looking for outside of Japan. At any rate, it’s great to get paid in yen at the moment.

My first race this year is on April 22nd.  It’s a 13 KM hill climb up Mt. Shirane in Kustasu village.   Kusatsu is a famous hot spring area and has been for over a 1000 years.  Shirane is a volcano.  At the top is the worlds largest sulfuric lake.  It’s a beautiful turquoise blue but it smells like rotten eggs. 

This is my first time to enter this race.  Apparently there are over 3000 cyclists.  The fastest time is usually around 30 minutes and the slowest around 1 hour.  Anyone who doesn’t do it in 2 hours is disqualified.

Ride like the wind.

I hope to do it in about 45 minutes which would put me somewhere in the middle of the pack.  I have ridden this hill many times (when it’s warm).

zig zag is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several years ago when my brother came to Japan, we shared a few beers one evening.  He said, “that sounds interesting.  I could climb that no problem because I used to ride all the time when I was going to university“.  My friend and I said “Let’s do it tomorrow morning and then go for a hot spring“.   We all agreed and that’s what happened.  Long story short, my brother Kevin made it to the top but not without going into oxygen debt and taking a few breaks.  Not knocking my bro.  He’s the best.  I’m merely saying that it’s not as easy as it might seem.  So, I’ll just keep training and hope I have a time I’m proud of.

Can’t wait for spring!!

September/2009 Hey everyone!

September/2009
Hey everyone!

blck-wht-Kell-w-CameraHow are you doing? It’s been a while since I sent a newsletter out and I am surprised how quickly the time has past by. For most of you its summer and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy it. I was very busy the last two months and I performed over 30 shows. Half of those shows where at my reliable Theme Park where I’ve been gigging for years but the other half were made up of a wide variety of venues. One of my favorite places to perform is in a town called Kusatsu. It’s a beautiful place with many natural hot springs and visited by many Japanese throughout the year. I did a video blog while staying in my hotel there if you want to check it out.

I also went to Tochigi prefecture and shared the stage with two other bands at a cool place called Nemu Nemu. My good friend Hibiki and I drove there from Gunma and it took about an hour but it turned out to be a fun night. I played an acoustic set and tried out some of my new songs I might release on my next CD and the response was good.

On August 23rd I did a show at a new venue called “JHK”. It used to be a place for weddings but the owner converted it into a really funky place to perform live. After the show the owner turned on the Barbeque and poured ice cold beer and we all sat around sharing stories.

September has been really busy. I’ve got a foot inside the door of a bunch of projects.  For starters my friend Mark Clay and I are working on a very cool song he sent me called, “Dunkirk Spirit” that has a Celtic vibe to it. He also helped finish off a song of mine called, “What Have I Done”, and recorded his take on it with just a couple of acoustic guitars. Mark is generous enough to offer it to you exclusive on my website for free. You can find it here. Down the road I will attempt to record my version of it, too.  I’m also trying to finish up a song and  enter it in an annual songwriting contest that takes place in Japan.  I must have that song complete and submitted by the end of September.  I best buckle down and get on with it!

October 16th, a friend of mine Simon Smith is coming to visit me in Japan. He will be here for 5 days and is flying all the way from England. Some of my loyal supporters might know him from our small community. I’ve got a few  small shows lined up that I’ll be dragging him to. One of them is a venue I’ve never gigged at before so we’ll both be checking it out for the first time. (Simon, I hope you’re ready for a culture shock)

Aside from my music career, I’ve been cycling and training often. I road over 2500 km during the summer.  It’s getting dark earlier lately so I’m not able to ride as far. But ice hockey has started again and so now I’m doing that 2 to 3 times a week, too. If you want to go on an 8 minute bike ride with me, click here (but I warn you, it’s not too thrilling unless you like that sort of thing).

OK, I’ll sign off now. Sorry for the long delay from the last update. Hope you’re all well. Feel free to email and fill me in with what you’re up to. I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Until next time, take care.
Kelly