Twenty-Seven Centuries in one Year

By the end of this year I will have cycled just over 8,000 km, slightly less than in the last couple of years (I cycled about 9,000 km in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and topped 10,000 km in 2015).

At the same time, the number of century rides (rides of at least 160.9 km aka 100 miles in one day) has actually gone up. In 2012, my first season of century rides, I completed 11 of them. Both in 2013 and 2014 I rode 21. The next two years I managed 22 each. This year, with one week left to the end of the year, the total came to 27 centuries.

The biggest difference has been that I didn’t participate in any 400 or 600 km brevets this year due to my business travel schedule. Both in 2015 and 2016 I had signed up for one 400 km brevet (which I finished) and one 600 km (which I DNF’ed). Both years I also pre-rode the 400 km route on a personal long distance ride. So I missed some distance overall, but most months I managed to ride 2 or 3 centuries. It’s all about being consistent.

With my December rides I have extended my “A Century A Month” streak to 5 years and 4 months. To ensure that I can keep this up, I usually do a long ride on the first weekend of each calendar month. That way, if anything comes up later in the month, such as a typhoon hitting Japan or me having to travel abroad, I won’t have an issue.

One of the most important factors no doubt is to avoid injury. Many of my friends have been involved in road accidents. A broken collarbone or other severe injury could put you out of action for weeks or months. Any kind of road sport has risks, but I try to limit my exposure. I am not a very ambitious descender because with anything that happens at high speed, the negative effects will be magnified. I am not ambitious when cycling in a city either. Where I work hardest is on climbs, because I need to ­čÖé

I have been very pleased with my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer. Last year I converted it to 11 speed with a Sugino “compact plus” double crank and hydraulic brakes. It has been fun to ride and extremely reliable. The ride comfort from the 42 mm Compass tires is terrific and I have been without puncture for 20 months now. I still ride my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket as well and had its rear converted to a disc brake a couple of months ago.

The main attraction of long rides to me is the views I come across, at all times of day, in all kinds of weather and in all four seasons. I ride to see things, by myself or with friends.

Here are some pictures from one year of cycling:

January: BRM107 by Audax Japan Kanagawa – Zushi-Izukogen-Zushi 200 km

January: Doshi village on my Bike Friday

February: Boso Peninsula via Kurihama Ferry across Tokyo Bay (cycling to and from Miura peninsula)

March: Mt Dodaira in Saitama, visiting the observatory

March: BRM318 in West Izu, the hardest 200 km brevet I ever rode

April: BRM408 in Yamanashi, the 3rd 200 km brevet this year

May: Ome Temple Loop, a very mountainous course in Saitama that I normally only do once a year. I did it twice this year ­čÖé

May: BRM520 around Mt Fuji — my fastest ever finishing time on this 300 km brevet

June: Doshi village for coffee and cresson cake.

July: Some hydrangea blossoms at a mountain ride in Hinohara with friends.

July: Tokyo/sea level – Mt Fuji 5th stage/2300 m – Odawara/sea level (first time in 4 years that I rode this course again)

August: First ride on Arima Toge in Saitama

September: First ride on Nokogiri Toge

October: A hunting falcon at Lake Okutama

November: Annual Chichibu Foliage Ride

December: West Izu Century (view from Kumomi Onsen towards Mt Fuji, 72 km away)

Downloading routes from RouteLabo (Yahoo LatLongLab)

Most of the brevets I ride are with AJ NishiTokyo, a randonneuring club based in the Machida/Sagamihara area. One thing I like about their rides is that they provide a link to a RouteLabo page for each event (RouteLabo is an online map service run by Yahoo Japan). This page shows a map of the course as well as download links for KML, GPX and TCX files of the course. By copying these files to your GPS device (Garmin or other) or by uploading a KML file to Google “My Maps” for your smartphone, you can almost completely do away with the need for paper cue sheets. I navigate all my brevets and many of my personal rides by following a “breadcrumb trail” on the screen of my GPS unit.

Unfortunately other clubs often only provide a map without any download option, like this Randonneurs Tokyo 2018 BRM421 Tokyo 600 Lake Hamana (BRM421ŠŁ▒ń║Č600ŠÁťňÉŹŠ╣ľÚ░╗) page:

This does not help you much on the road. Without a link to the full RouteLabo page with download links, there’s no obvious way to obtain a GPX or KML file. You are still expected to navigate via printed turn instruction on a paper cue sheet, which I find cumbersome and error-prone.

However, there is a way!

The web page uses some Javascript code to display the map off the RouteLabo website, including a magic value that identifies the particular course to be shown. To see this value, view the source code of the page. This step varies by browser and operating system. On Chrome under MS Windows, Ctrl+U will show the source code, on a Mac under Chrome, Option+Command+U will do it. On Safari, once you enable the option via Safari > Preferences > Advanced > Show Develop Menu, you can also use Option+Command+U (just like in Chrome).

In the displayed HTML code, search until you find a line for Javascript like this one:

<script type="text/javascript" encoding="UTF-8" src="https://latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/paste?
id=b86f940851b6ebed2538ffc5f80b2fc8&width=480&
height=640&mapstyle=map&graph=true&maponly=true"></script>

The value consisting of 32 hexadecimal characters (128 bit) after “id=” is the magic value you’re looking for. A full RouteLabo page URI with the download options will look like this:

https://latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/watch?id=b86f940851b6ebed2538ffc5f80b2fc8

By replacing the value after “id=” in the URI with the ID from inside the HTML code using copy and paste, you will get a browser URI that will give you full access to the route, including route file download links to feed your GPS device of choice. You can then bookmark it for future reference. Bonne route! ­čÖé

Bitcoin Phishing Spams Cashing in on the New Tulip Mania

As a spam and scam research I watch new domains being created for malicious purposes. The following domains are look-alike domains of blockchain.info and blockchain.com, two legitimate Bitcoin-related domains:

xn--blckchain-66a.info (bl├│ckchain.info)
xn--blckchain-66a.net (bl├│ckchain.net)
xn--blckchain-m8a.info (bl├Şckchain.info)
xn--blckchain-wxb.info (bl┼Źckchain.info)
xn--blckchai-w3a03f.info (blóckchaiń.info)
xn--blckchaln-66a.com (bl├│ckchaln.com)
xn--blckchan-81a8d.com (bl├│ckcha├Čn.com)
xn--blckchan-i2a8c.info (bl├│ckcha├şn.info)
xn--blckchin-eza9o.info (blóckcháin.info)
xn--blckchin-m7a96e.info (bl┼Źckch─üin.info)
xn--bliockchai-s1b.com (bliockchai┼ć.com)
xn--bliockci-o8a35ayl.com (bliockc─ž─ůi┼ć.com)
xn--bliokchai-3eb86d.com (blio─őkchai┼ć.com)
xn--bliokci-u4a5c4s9l.com (blio─őkc─ž─ůi┼ć.com)
xn--bliokhai-49ab66d.com (blio─ők─őhai┼ć.com)
xn--blioki-00a0cb4z9l.com (blio─ők─ő─ž─ůi┼ć.com)
xn--blocchai-gmb8m.info (bloc─Ěchai┼ć.info)
xn--blocchain-orb.com (bloc─Ěchain.com)
xn--blocchain-orb.info (bloc─Ěchain.info)
xn--blocchin-m7a15c.info (bloc─Ěch─üin.info)
xn--blockchan-dob.info (blockcha─źn.info)
xn--blockchan-ipb.info (blockcha─»n.info)
xn--blockchan-n5a.info (blockcha├şn.info)
xn--blockchin-12a.info (blockch├Ąin.info)
xn--blockchin-61a.info (blockcháin.info)
xn--blockchi-n7a50e.info (blockch─üi┼ć.info)
xn--blockchin-c3a.info (blockch├ąin.info)
xn--blockchin-ccb.info (blockch─üin.info)
xn--blockchin-hdb.info (blockch─ůin.info)
xn--blockchi-o8a54d.info (blockch─ůi┼ä.info)
xn--blockchn-fza4j.info (blockch├í├şn.info)
xn--blockchn-n7a43b.info (blockch─ü─źn.info)
xn--blockhai-obb78c.info (block─Źhai┼ć.info)
xn--blokchain-xdb.info (blo─çkchain.info)

These so-called IDN domains substitute characters for easily confused look-alikes. There will be sighted in links inside spam emails as part of Phishing scams.

Phishing is just one of the pitfalls around Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. Scammers have revamped the old so called “High Yield Interest Programs” (HYIP), which are really just a Ponzi scheme, to hitch a ride on the publicity around Bitcoin’s stratospheric rise in 2017. If you deposit Bitcoins into an online investment scheme, the scammers can just walk away with your deposit and cash it out into dollars, euros or rubles without being traced.

The latest exchange rate push beyond US$10,000 came on the heels of the cancellation of the SegWit2x fork, a proposed upgrade to the underlying technology that not the entire Bitcoin community was prepared to follow. The driving force behind the upgrade was the urgent need to handle more transactions, if Bitcoin was truly going to be used as a payment vehicle competing against credit cards, wire transfers and PayPal. If new Bitcoins are constantly being mined and the value of Bitcoin goes up but the average purchase the crypto-currency is to be used for doesn’t change much then the system needs to be able to handle more individual transactions.

By cancelling the upgrade, a split of the community has been avoided, but at what cost? It’s really a vote for Bitcoin as speculation object and against it as a viable payment method.

A friend of mine expressed it best when he mentioned that it reminded him of “Pump and Dump” stock scams, only that in the case of Bitcoin it is legal. With all this publicity, existing Bitcoin holders
will be able to offload their existing tokens at huge profits. Then, when people realize that Bitcoin is no longer able to work as an efficient payment system (except for scammers, drug dealers and money launderers who value anonymity), the bottom will fall out and all the recent investors will lose billions. It’s Tulip mania all over.

See also: