If you had not heard, Jerome and I are training for Transalp; he just returned from 2 weeks of eating and drinking his way through France and Senegal, and we were looking for mountains!
Not just hills, but mountains! STEEP mountains! The kind of mountains that Tom and Ludwig write home about.
We headed out up the Tamagawa early Saturday, under dark skies.
By the time we got upriver as far as Fussa City our plans were a bit up in the air because of the threat of rain (it turned out to be only a few drops, but looked ominous at the time), and some serious jet lag for my returned teammate.
Instead of Matsuhime or Yanagisawa, we thought prudence the better part of valor, and eventually decided to head up Kazahari.
Kazahari Rindo — I had never been on it before. It is truly in the „lost valley“ of the North Akigawa — I had not been even on the lower reaches of that stretch yet this year and forgotten what a picturesque setting the valley is. More North Akigawa, please! The only problem — and the reason it is still undeveloped — is that there is NO WAY OUT.
No way out, that is, unless you count the crazy route up the Kazahari Rindo, with grades of 15-18% over long stretches, and a fence blocking all traffic (except foot and bicycles) at the top; or the other, poorly maintained, partially closed and also very steep road over Nokogiri-san („cross cut saw mountain“ — just as ugly a hill as the name would suggest) and down the other side to Rte 411/Oume Kaido. Nokogiri is one of Laurent’s favorite climbs, but the only time I did it, my tires were slipping treacherously on the rough, damp surface on part of the climb where the road had poor drainage, and on the descent I sat on my brakes so hard that my front tube overheated, causing a flat.
I was a bit concerned about trying this hill with my 53/39 crankset, rather than the compact 50/34. At least, on the descent, I would have my tubeless tires and would not need to worry about flat-due-to-overheating.
The good news, Jerome and I made it through the Kazahari Rindo with NO PROBLEMS. We did not even walk on the steepest section. The road surface is smooth and well-maintained the entire way, even on the section between the fence at the top and the „kinoko center“ (mushroom research center?), and we might have broken some records.
We are ready to claim the „reverse polka dot“ jersey for Positivo Espresso!
*Our full route from Fussa was: continue up the Tamagawa to Oume, then Yoshino-Kaido to its terminus, then Oume Kaido (411) up to Okutama-ko Dam and along the lake to the far end, ascend the back side of Kazahari on the normal road with about 100 motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts going through their paces, DOWN Kazahari Rindo (YES!!!! Conquered!!!!) and the North Akigawa, back to the Tamagawa and home. Average moving speed of around 27 kph for the entire ride, and an even 162 kilometers or 100 miles.
We passed a TCC contingent (Deej?) on the North Akigawa, just below the entrance to the Rindo. Hope they had a nice climb.