Christmas season is hell for bicycle riders. All the good food on the table, the sweets send from home by well meaning relatives plus the relatively cold weather outside give ample reason to stay at home and do nothing. With Ludwig coming back from a cycling shopping spre in Germany, we decided to test his new stuff and break the vicious cycle yesterday.
We had some discussions where to go when we met at 8.30 AM at Tamagawahara bridge [the new meeting point for me coming from Yokohama] and in the end we settled for a Otarumi – Hinazuru, Suzugane – Matsuhime route, possibly going back by train from Otsuki.
Much to my dismay I found out that I lost my saddle bag filled with goodies (tools, CO2 cartridges, tube, jelly and, most important, the extremely expensive remains of DHC sunscreen from the 2006 Noto 400 ride) riding to the meeting point.
We then went in a fast draftline to Takao, aftertaking some Japanese riders. The road along the Asakawa was crowded and we almost crashed with a dog and some minutes later with an old man on a bike who suddenly steered out of line.
The traditional break at the 7-Eleven was followed by the discovery that I also lost my (non-riding) glasses on the way. This was really not becoming my day and I started to feel like Mr. Lehmann (if there is one) operating the bank and loosing everything. In case you wondered about the heading.
A medium-fast attack on Otarumi which we ended up to scale in 16 minutes, including fixing a lost chain on the way up. Route 20 was followed by route 76 until we took a right turn in direction Hinazuru. The Manju shop was closed, but out of tradition we were forced to do a break anyway. We then went up to the (new) Hinazuru tunnel and on the way down on the other side I proposed to take a look at the old Hinazuru tunnel, or, to boldly go where no other Positivo Espresso rider has gone before. The road was in pretty bad shape, but still better than route 76. Obviously Jerome has driven his car from Chichibu to Hinazuru and parked it close to the entrance of the Hinazuru tunnel. It seems to me that the left brake light is not working and I would recommend to check this.
I do not want to reveal well guarded secrets, but Ludwig also found a nice water heater which he intends to give free of charge to the guy who buys his band new Selle Italia saddle.
The tunnel is in good shape, however closed by a gate which should not cause any problems to be ignored. Of course we missed the entrance to Suzugane pass and we continued to road 139 which then lead us back to route 20 and Sarubashi eventually. After a nice bowl of Tempura soba and the Daikokuya restaurant (a very traditional place), we decided in view of the time to abandon our plans to ride up Matsuhime (another great tradition of us to abandon great plans) and continue instead along the old Koshu Kaido, now called route 30, to Uenohara and then cross over to Itsukaichi.
This was another Lehmann-like management mistake (connection to the heading!) as we first had a hard climb in front of us which took as almost to elevation 600 m again. Once on top, the road was quite nice and we continued smoothly to Uenohara, but again we lost a lot of time. So when we finally arrived at Uenohara we decided to jump on the train and head back home.
Clearly we made a lot of poor riding management judgements and in the course of this I lost everything (glasses, tools, …). This shall serve as a warning to all of you out there.