Velocity Dyad 650B Custom Wheel Set by GS Astuto

Last year, I went bicycle touring in Italy with my son Shintaro. I borrowed his Araya Federal while he used his Panasonic touring bike. The Araya is an inexpensive randonneur bike that uses 650A wheels and down tube shifters. The fork with the front wheel and fender attached can easily be removed as a whole to pack the bike for travel by train or air. It performed very well for me. Unfortunately, on the return trip to Japan the front wheel got bent out of shape, probably by rough baggage handlers.

I finally decided to get new wheels built for it by Tim Smith of GS Astuto in Kawasaki, near Tokyo. I received them last week.

Though the custom wheel set was originally meant for the Araya Federal it will now keep two bikes on the road ๐Ÿ™‚

The wheel set is based on the 650B version (584 mm) of Velocity’s versatile Dyad rims. By switching the wheel size from 650A (590 mm) to 650B (584 mm) I will get a much better choice of tires on the Araya. I love my 42 mm Compass 650B tires! The brakes had enough adjustment for the slightly different rim size (3 mm less radius).

The wheel set is built up with a Shimano DH-3N80 dynamo hub at the front I had already been using with my Bike Friday since December 2011. That was my first GS Astuto custom wheel. When I converted the Bike Friday to a disk brake at the front in 2015, Tim built me a disk brake wheel based on a Shutter Precision centerlock hub and the DH-3N80 became available as a spare which is finally being reused.

The rear hub is a Shimano FH-RS505, an inexpensive 10/11-speed compatible centerlock hub available in a 36 spoke version. Its only drawback was that it’s only available in black, but Shintaro and I deanodized and polished it so it now matches the silver front hub. The Araya came with a 135 mm rear hub with an 8-speed cassette, but as a disk hub the RS505 is the right width and it works for 8/9/10 and 11 speed (give or take a few spacers). Because I specified a hub with both a spline for attaching a centerlock disk brake rotor and 11-speed compatibility, I am also able to install that wheel on my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer (NFE) if I need to.

For now I’m only using the front wheel on the Araya to replace the damaged front wheel while the new rear wheel is doing duty on my Elephant Bikes NFE: As I found out earlier this year, my Velocity Blunt SL rear rim on the NFE had developed cracks around several spoke holes. This flaw is probably the reason why the rim was withdrawn from the market by Velocity soon after I had bought them for my NFE.

Velocity will replace the cracked rim with an Aileron 650B, which wasn’t available at the time of my NFE wheel build. Until then I can use the new Dyad rear wheel built for the Araya as my NFE rear wheel, since the hub supports centerlock rotors. Once I get my NFE rear wheel rebuilt with the Aileron 650B rim, I will use the Dyad rear wheel with the Araya’s rim brakes, with the unused rotor spline hidden under a rubber cover.

I also have a B&M Cyo Premium headlight to go with the dynamo hub on the Araya. The easily removable front fork makes the Federal rinko-friendly, so I may be using it in place of the NFE on some long distance rides starting or finishing further from Tokyo.

Outlook Express Error 0x800CCC0B and the End of TLS 1.0 (Deprecated SSL Protocol)

Microsoft Outlook Express (OE) is an obsolete mail client that was available in Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server and older Microsoft operating systems. It was no longer available on Windows Vista and later, though Windows Live Mail is relatively close in user interface and appearance.

Despite being obsolete and only working on operating systems no longer supported or updated by Microsoft, it still has some users who prefer its simple but powerful user interface. Some of those users will have had a frustrating experience recently, when various mail servers stopped working for outbound mail in OE. Specifically, these are mail servers that use SSL on submission port 465 or 587 for SMTP.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a mechanism for encrypting data between a client and a server. You may know it from website URIs starting with “https:” and web sessions displaying a padlock symbol next to the URI. There are various protocol versions that can implement this encryption layer. One of these, TLS 1.0 which was conceived in 1999, has now been officially deprecated (made officially obsolete) as of the end of June 2018. Software now has to use more recent protocols, such as TLS 1.1, TLS 1.2 or the recently defined TLS 1.3.

Unfortunately, TLS 1.0 is all that OE will speak. It does not understand TLS 1.1 or later. Therefore it can not pick up mail from a POP server using SSL on port 995 or an IMAP server on port 993 or send mail to an SMTP server on port 465 (or 587) with SSL enabled.

Workaround
The only workaround I am aware of (other than switching to a more modern mail client) is to use Stunnel, a tool for Windows or Linux that acts as a proxy. You can configure it to establish an SSL connection to a given host and port when a connection to a given local port is made. Thus you could configure OE to connect to port 9465 on the machine running Stunnel, which might then connect via SSL to smtp.example.com:465 using a more modern TLS version supported by Stunnel (but not directly by OE).

Chichibu Adventures: Mitsumine Shrine and Gelateria Hana

“The best way to be a frugal traveler is to learn to truly love the things that don’t cost a lot of money, like eating honest, simple food, gazing at unfamiliar scenery or making new friends.”

(Matt Gross, New York Times)

Almost every year I’ve been doing a bike ride in Chichibu, a rural basin surrounded by mountains in the west of Saitama prefecture, to see the autumn leaves there, but I also enjoy it in other seasons. A week ago I had planned to head back there, but changed my plans due to the rainy Saturday forecast, as the rainy season was still not over. Since then the summer heat has invaded us with high humidity and temperatures of over 30 C every day.

Instead of that Saturday ride I joined two friends on Monday for my first true summer ride this season. The temperature hit the high 30s. I drank plenty of water, but was still exhausted when I got home. In the latter part of the ride I passed Senzoku-ike, a lake in Tokyo that I had never visited before. I took pictures at a Shinto shrine (Senzoku-ike Benzaiten) on a small island accessible via a bridge. There were ajisai (hydrangeas) growing at the park and the bright red shrine looked relatively recently renovated. I enjoyed discovering a new spot I had not seen before.

The following weekend my friend Jack, with whom I had ridden in Chichibu several times before, announced he would head back there for a some cycling with a friend, so I decided to join him. We initially wanted to do the old “Ghost Town Loop”, a ride past a deserted mining town, but then found out the road leading there was closed due to repair work on some tunnels. A phone call to the office in charge in Chichibu confirmed that the repairs would still take a couple more months. Our friend Mike suggested we might head to nearby Mistsumine shrine instead, which neither of us had been to before.

On Saturday morning I loaded my Elephant NFE into my Prius and drove out to Chichibu. Unlike with my Bike Friday, I still don’t have a good way of taking my NFE on trains, due to its front rack and fixed fenders that don’t make for easy disassembly to get a smaller package that’s easier to carry on.

After a 2 hour drive I parked the car in the parking lot of the Michi-no-Eki (Road Station), which has ample space and is not far from Seibu-Chichibu station, where Jack and his friend would arrive. After unloading the bike, changing into my SPD shoes and putting on my helmet, I filled up my water bottles at the tap of nearby public toilets. Next to the toilets there was a public fountain where people were filling up as many water containers as would fit into the back of their car. You see this kind of thing a lot. Even though tap water in most places in Japan is very good, some people swear by specific sources in the mountains and use the water from there for making tea or cooking soba noodles, for the very best taste. They will even drive there regularly, like every week.

Next I stopped at a nearby convenience store to get some food and have a cup of coffee, as I was still early: I had left enough time, just in case the roads were congested but they hadn’t been. It was only the second time I had taken to the car to Chichibu for cycling and the first time on this particular route (via National Route 299 from near Hanno).

Then I cycled the last km to the station and looked for Jack. He and his friend soon arrived. It turned out to be Kuba, who I had known online for years, but who now lives oversees. He had been a very strong cyclist in the past but recently he had not been riding much. Consequently we picked a very moderate pace, which suited all of us fine in this heat. It was a sunny day, with a forecast high of 34 C, but usually with the tarmac soaking up the sun the air temperatures above the road will be hotter than the forecast, unless the road happens to be shaded.

We followed the familiar route west out of town towards the ghost town, avoiding the main road as much as possible in favour of small back roads. That made it easier to ride side by side and to talk. After about 24 km we got to the t-junction where a right turn used to take us to the ghost town and for the first time we turned left, unto an unknown road signposted for Mitsumine Shrine.

At a shaded place up the road with one of the ubiquitous drinks vending machines we stopped and filled up our water bottles and talked for a while while we cooled off again.

Soon we got to Futase dam and Chichibu lake behind it. After taking a few pictures we followed the road across the top of the dam and started climbing on the other side. It was a steady uphill, some of it quite exposed to the sun. We all climbed at our own pace but reassembled every now and then, to cool off in the shade together and talk. It was around 35 C and not even noon yet. There were quite a few cars and the odd bus heading up towards the shrine, which we knew was a major tourist attraction.

The distance numbers on the road signs were getting smaller and finally the climb leveled off as we got close, now at about 1,000 m elevation, about 750 m above where we had started. The shrine was not visible from the road, only a big car park with cars, motorcycles and buses. We headed in there to use the toilets and to fill up our water bottles again.

We discussed visiting the shrine, but Jack was also interested in visiting Gelateria Hana after we’d get back to Seibu-Chichibu station. On several rides to the ghost town he always made it back too late to still be able to do that. So we decided we’d give the shrine a miss and instead head on, to increase our chances of ice cream, pizza and espresso at Hana.

There was almost no traffic on the road beyond the shrine (I had heard that side was closed to cars but saw no sign prohibiting entry to motor vehicles and we did actually encounter a handful of cars). After 2.5 km we reached a tunnel through the mountains at about 1150 m above sea level. The cool air inside felt so pleasant. We could almost have staid there, but then we wouldn’t have seen the views that awaited us… Such as the stunning panorama presenting itself after the tunnel exit!

We were high above the valleys below, near the peak of Kirimogamine (้œง่—ปใ‚ฑๅณฐ), and could see the Chichibu basin spread out to the north. For me this one view alone was worth riding a 70 km loop and riding uphill 10 km on a hot day ๐Ÿ™‚

As we continued, there was a lot of sand on the road, perhaps still left over from the winter service. I proceeded very carefully until the road was clear again, as I didn’t want to wipe out in a corner. My companions got ahead of me but I knew they would wait for me somewhere.

This side of the mountain was beautiful, very green and shaded. After a while the road joined a mountain stream which then merged into the wild Ochi river. We descended for over 10 km, giving up about 750 m of elevation.

Climbing up this way would be scenic but hard. I’ll try a reverse loop one day!

Eventually we crossed the Arakawa and rejoined the main road. Since it was almost all downhill from there to Chichibu, we could keep going pretty fast and didn’t take the same back roads. Still, Jack concluded that by the time we got back to the station, if he were to visit the ice cream shop before taking the train back, it wouldn’t leave enough time for their existing evening plans, so he dropped Gelateria Hana — again.

Meanwhile, I was intrigued enough about it that when we finally made it to the station after 16 km in the sun on the main road, I told my friends that I’d give the cafe a try.

Chichibu is famous for its many temples and shrines, which inspire both pilgrimages and shrine festivals (o-matsuri). I passed a shop displaying traditional masks used at shrine festivals.

Route 11 to the cafe was easy to follow and flat until the last few km, but once it started climbing, it also entered the shade of the forest and the air felt pleasantly cool. Nice!

Soon I arrived at the cafe, which is popular with cyclists. There was a bike rack in front. I got a table on the deck outside in the back with a view of the river.

I tried some blend coffee with plain waffles and their chocolate-mint ice cream. It was a nice treat after the ride.

The staff was very friendly. The waiter had asked me where I was from. When I went to pay, his colleague expressed regret about Germany’s misfortune at the football (soccer) world cup ๐Ÿ™‚

His sympathy for my country’s team was a nice gesture, but to be honest I’m not actually interested in football. This is not as uncommon in Germany as the stereotypes would have you believe: According to consistent annual opinion poll results, of the German-speaking population aged 14 and over some 36% are “not particularly” or “not at all” interested in football, outnumbering both the less than 35% that are “especially” interested in it and the not quite 30% that are “also but not that much” interested.

There you have it, only a minority of Germans has a strong interest in football and that’s whether their country’s team wins or loses!

The ride back to the car was easy. There I changed back into my non-cycling shoes and got into the car. I decided that, before I drove home, I’d still visit Mt Buko, the tall mountain that dominates Chichibu city. One side of it is scarred by a huge limestone quarry. It really stands out in the mountainous skyline of Chichibu from far away and it looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings to me… It was an interesting drive, but I’ll save that report for another time ๐Ÿ™‚