Sometimes we are missing out on the opportunities that are waiting right in front of us; instead we are pursuing others that take much more effort. So why are we riding out into the mountains of Chichibu and Yamanashi, when the almost perfect cycling road is just here in Tokyo?
So in the picture we can see an inviting 10% slope somewhere in the Tokyo Metropolitan area which until now has been virtually undiscovered by road bike riders. The slope is part of a 17 km round trip which include plenty of nice climbs, a total of roughly 400 elevation meters to be conquered and splendid views over a part of the city covered in lush greens and extended to the emerald blue colors of the sea.
One can start the trip at sea level close to a beautiful beach. Actually I did this just one week ago on my sophisticated Cervelo bike while my son Henri who joined me had to borrow a not so sophisticated blue mama chari and was suffering going up the slopes. Actually he did not only suffer, but also complained a lot. All of this was of course ignored for the higher ideals of education. Finally one has come up all the way to the NASDA research center on top of the mountain. And there is also reward: beautiful slopped roads leading all the way down to the the sea again.
In the middle a 200 meter long unlit tunnel leading downwards after a long and straight 10% slope. So one enters the tunnel already at a speed of more than 60 km/hr. Then suddenly the light is turned out; one cannot see any longer what is right in front of the bike [especially when wearing sun glasses], the vision is limited to the light that comes in through the end of the tunnel some hundred meters ahead. It is really frightening, especially after realising that one has not bothered to put his helmet on.
So, where is this well kept secret located? Is it on a newly reclaimed island in Tokyo bay called „Togeshima / 峠島“ which is constructed in preparation for the 2016 Tokyo Oympics as part of the official cycling venue? No. All of this is within the borders of Tokyo. But
unfortunately there is one big drawback:
Although from an administrative viewpoint Chichijima belongs to Tokyo Metropolitan, the island itself is located precisely 1.007 km to the South of the emperors palace. More famous than Chichijima is another island of the same Bonin island groups located 250 km to the South. But it is not only less famous, but also much more less fun, in particular in March 1945.
Moreover, there is no airport on the island; one has to embark on the Ogasawamaru passenger ship at Takeshiba Pier, leaving once a week, and travel for more than 25 hours until the shores of Chichijima come finally into sight.But the time is well spend. Much to my surprise there are many people travelling to Chichijima not for cycling but for some kind of auxiliary activities such as whale watching, swimming with dolphins in the sea, chasing giant bats with more than one meter wing span or just fishing and chilling out on the sandy beaches, lying below the green papaya trees.Well, I will never understand the pleasures involved in these activities. Why getting seasick in a small boat while occasionally seeing whales (which is actually not only a country located only 200 miles away from Britain but also a big fish in the ocean) when one can puke his lungs out while sneaking up 20% monster slopes?
Nevertheless after a lot of pleading by my son we did exactly that (I don’t mean the thing with the lungs) and we could see blue whales cruising to the West of Chichijima.I learned that there are two type of whales in the ocean at Chichijima: Blue whales, which migrate to the South to give birth to small blue whales before moving back to Iceland where they own there deposits and green whales, which are illuminated from within and glowing after they have passed in front of the atomic reactor at Sadogashima. They are also much bigger.
After only three short days we boarded the boat again and took all the letters with us, that were collected in the meanwhile on the island. Sorry, but there will be no collection of the mail, until the boat departs again in one week time and somebody else comes back.
It was sad to leave THIS part of Tokyo and coming back into THAT part of Tokyo which was grey, combined with pouring rain and unfriendly faces.
Anybody in for a ride at Chichijima?