Some weeks ago Positivo Espresso was planning a tour climbing Odarumi from Enzan. On the day before we rode over Wada, Tawa, Tsuru, Imagawa and Yanagizawa to Enzan, however I had to give up before Yanagizawa -just too much climbing during too hot climate. Unpaid bills need to be paid, criminals return to the place of their crimes, so finally on Thursday I found the time to complete the trip and conquer Yanagizawa Toge. I left the house rather late and cruised at a leisurely pace in direction Ome. On the way I met Laurent who was riding aimlessly along the Tamagawa. Funny enough, he had the same idea as me: On the Positivo trip he continued to Enzan, however he dropped out the next day before the climb to Odarumi. Haunted by the memory of this missed chance, he took off one week for biking, drove by car to Enzan and climbed up Odarumi. Well done, Laurent.
We split and I took the first break at Ome Station. I just cannot pass by without dropping in at the Aurora bakery and buy some „Royal Milk Bread“, the most delicious massive piece of fatty bread I have ever eaten.
I the continued to ride to Okutama Station. It was just before noon and it became really hot. I didn’t felt that I was in too great a shape. So when I arrived at Okutama station I felt tired and it was just the ride time for a short nap on a bench. And this is what I did. I woke up, don’t know why and immediately it started to rain. Real, heavy rain. The dices, the hearts of the women and the weather in the mountains are unpredictable. This says an old Japanese proverb which I just made up. I took cover at the station and after 20 minutes or so the rain stopped and I could finally start the approach on Yanagizawa. I rode about 200 meters and then I noticed something very strange: Only this distance away, he road was completely dry, that means I hadn’t rained at all there! This must have been a special rainfall limited to a very small patch of land. But the sky was cloudy and I could hear thunder and seethe lighting. The rain front was moving in, but luckily I managed to escape somehow.
Okutama Station is at elevation 320 m app. and Yanagizawa at 1.460 m, so I had a long climb in front of me. I have done this only one time before with David, david and Juliane in April, when there was still some snow left on the top. It took me almost three hours then. The climb to Okutama Lake at elv. 520 m is nothing special. 5 years ago that would have been a major feat for me, but now it is really nothing special any more, even in the heat. The next part is then cruising along the shores of the Okutama for quite a while which is almost flat. Then the first part of the climbing starts, but that’s also more an up and down portion which finally leads to the village of Tabayama at elv. 650m. I arrived there in much better shape then some weeks ago. The weather was also OK and not as hot as down in the city, so I really lost all excuses not to do the Yanagizawa pass. So I continued to climb at a pace of 10 – 15 km/hr and it took a lot of effort but I continuously moved up the hills.
In summer the landscape there is also much more beautiful and green compared to the scenario I saw in April. There is not too much traffic and luckily not too much public works (except for that complete unnecessary and stupid tunnel construction which will result in shortening the approach by estimated 200 meters). I climbed about 10m/min and when I was at elevation 1.000 m I was pretty sure that I would make the climb in one go. In was now much cooler, more in the range of 24 degrees but I was running out of water. And climbing became harder.
I reached the small soba shack at elv. 1.200 me and it was really getting hard to climb. Only 200 meters up…..only 100 meters up, my speed dropped to less than 10 km/hr and I was zigzaging the steeper parts of the road. Then I finally saw the toge. I still had the power for a final sprint and moved in: 2:22 hrs (see Toge Baka), much faster than the last time and, more important, without any breaks. But two hours of more or less continuous climbing had taken their toll and I was feeling very tired. As you can see in this photo, taken in front of the Yanagizawa rest area.
Actually this photo was taken, after I have rested for half an hour. When I arrived their the situation was like this: Totally exhausted I tried to each out for the gigantic soft ice which I thought was waiting for me.
I must remark, that the people running the restaurant up there are really nice and helpful, contrary to the witch at Wada Toge.
The day’s work was done. I had a good training for the forthcoming Tokyo Hill Climb race on Sunday. I then prepared for the long descent to Enzan. This is really a very nice descent, leading over some long and curved bridges with nothing but depth on both sides of the road. I started cautiously in the beginning, but after a while I went faster and I almost hit 70 km/hr at some stretches.
I have much more confident on my Cervelo bike going fast than I had an the Cannondale one I used to many years and gradually I am improving. I used to be a real sissy, but now I am almost a rabbit.
Enzan is really beautiful with all the fruit trees, I took some photos of the peaches and grapes. Then I arrived at the station and I was lucky that I could jump on a fast express train taking my home. When the rain passed Otsuki on the way back it was raining, so I guess I was lucky with the weather this time.
So, revenge on Yanagizawa has been made, now I still have to climb Odarumi.