The Hakone climb starts at the Asahi bridge, conveniently located after another 7-11 and then continues for 14.2 km and 745 meters up to the highest point of route #1 at elevation 874 m. It is a very long and demanding climb and it definitely feels like more than the average 5% grade on which one would arrive mathematically. I never took somebody with me on this climb as well, as the traffic is heavy on this road and you also need to go 90 km before even starting to climb. So for years that used to be the hardest climb I did within a season. I normally did it only once, and until 2007 I was not able to climb up in one go. But today the weather was nice and cool, I was fresh as I have enjoyed a good tailwind up to Odawara and I wanted to go on an aggressive attack after the Tokyo hill climb race with a much steeper gradient. I started at a good speed and constantly checked the altitude meter. I continued to feel good and pedaled at a high cadence with 15 km/hr up. When I reached Miyanoshita I had to continue on the sidewalk for a while, as the road was clogged by cars and buses. But the higher one comes, the lighter the traffic gets. By the way, there is also a shorter backroad, but as the elevation difference is the same, a shorter back road means an even steeper gradient, which cannot possibly be balanced by a lighter traffic. I recognized all the places I have had breaks before, the small shop before the Fujiya hotel, the curve where the cable car is running close by, a Lawson along the road, and finally at elv. 600 this huge Yunessun spa, where I go sometimes with my family. There are large swimming pools and a series of outside onsens with different themes and different tastes, like tea, wine and other liquids one what not necessarily consider to take a bath in. Sometimes it seems to get crowded. I completely forgot how much the maximum elevation is, so I had no idea how much I would need to further continue. But I still felt good, although I switched from cadence to brute force and my speed was now more in the 10 – 15 km/hr range. But I made my way up steadily and finally I recognized the last curves to the top. There are two important lesson I learned about climbing: 1. As long as you see a river on the side of the road it is still a long way to the top. 2. When there is no water but wind, you are coming close. Temperature on top of route #1 was around 17 degrees, I started to feel cold as I didn’t brought any windbreaker with me. And then I reached the very top: Oh, wow, cool, in less than an hour for 14.2 km and 745 meters up! I never did this before. That gave me a very boost of confidence for the forthcoming races in Shuzenji and Gunma. I took some photos and then prepared for the rest of the ride. I also introduced this climb as Togebaka #11 on this site, knowing that none of you will ever try it. So I included all my annual results since 2003.
Tagesarchiv: 24. August 2008
This weekend I had the option to go on a ride over numerous hills and mountains west of Tokyo with a bunch of masochistic and fast climbers from various clubs, or to join Juliane and david for a leisurely weekend in Shimoda.
After some eleborate thinking, balancing the pros and cons of each option, I decided to go for Shimoda. But, in order to make the trip not too leisurely and not too expensive I took off a day from work and planned to go all the 200 km plus to Shimoda by bike. And furthermore I decided not to go the straight and somewhat boring way to Atami down the Eastern coast of Izu, but to climb up to Hakone first and then find a way to the South, depending on my performance up to that point.Thereby I could also do my annual Hakone climb, a tradition dating back to 2003. Actually perhaps earlier, but there are no records left. Well almost no records – I found this very impressive photo from 2001, showing me at Hakone Toge.Obviously I had already my Cannondale bike, but otherwise I can only say that I have come a long way since that. I now own variety of much better looking jerseys and shorts (Id did own only one set in 2001) and I don‘ t steal any longer the helmet of my six year old daughter when sneaking out for a ride but bought an own one.
So I left the house rather late, around 9 AM, bidding first farewell to Natascha, one of the countless aupairs we have given shelter to in the last seven years. Now that I think about it, I should have introduced Natascha to David, as they originally come from the same beautiful country: Kachastan.
I enjoyed a strong tailwind and made good speed up to 384 km/hr – that was at least what my Ciclo speedmeter was showing when I crossed below the railroad bridge at Tamagawa station and had the usually interference with railroad signaling equipment. My heartbeat went up to 360 bpm. But really I made good speed and enjoyed the ride. I never take anybody else on this ride, because for the most part it leads along major roads through the environmental polution that divides Tokyo and Yokohama (aka Kawasaki), through heavy traffic and most other riders don’t enjoy it. I don’t care so much; when I started to ride out from Tokyo I went often to Odawara, simply because I could get home fast by taking the Shinkansen back.
The road s pretty boring in Yokohama, with many many smaller ups and downs. There is a nice and fast stretch at the military installation at Atsugi, followed by industrial wasteland. At Chigasaki, the road joins route #1 and then the traffic is still bad but not that bad and the traffic lights get fewer until Odawara. I reached Odawara in almost 2:30 hr, not bad for a distance of almost 80 km. I looked for my favourite Mosburger outlet at the station, where I used to have my lunch on the annual Hakone rides, but it was replaced by a (non operating) Bamiyan family restaurant. Instead and as usual, I opted for a quick lunch at a Seven Eleven. At this particular 7-11 I found a poster for a live concert of my favorite Japanese punk band: To be honest, I don’t know the band, I never heard a single song. But a band that has the creativity and the right mind to come up with such name must be a punk band and furthermore most become my favorite band. After lunch I rode the boring 9 km or so from Odawara to Moto-Hakone, which is about level 100m and to the start to the climb on route #1 up to Hakone.