Is there anything more beautiful and charming in the world than a traditional Swedish Midsummer Festival? Well, after watching an imitation in the cafeteria of the IKEA Kohoku store while trying to blog, at least 42 things come to my mind immediately, including complete silence in a Japanese Zen Buddhism temple, Marunouchi Japan Post Office Building and firing live shells from an automatic rifle at a shooting range in Northern China.
Really, it is hard to blog seriously if by chance one has chosen to sit just in front of a live performance aimed at four year old and their mothers, imitating Swedish ducks and porks which according to the IKEA instructors, make different noises than their Japanese counterparts. But as I have chosen to have my weekly round of roast beef at IKEA and test my new HP subnote I have no choice but to stand and deliver.
By the way, I also have nothing against Sweden and the Swedish. IKEA is a great Swedish invention and when I was a student I always felt comfortable when visiting the apartments of other students as they had exactly the same IKEA furniture as myself (BILLY cupboards and TED chairs mainly). My definition of „making money“ was equal to „when I will buy furniture that is not from IKEA“. Unfortunately just as myself, IKEA also matured, making better quality furniture so I am still stucked with them.
I also know one sentence in Swedish:
„SÖMEBÖDY HAS STÖLEN MY VÖLVÖ“
[I hope that you can see the special characters on your screen, otherwise, I am afraid, it will be not funny at all].
Now, where was I? Oh yes, I wanted to write about my first longer ride into Chichibu after the accident. So after converting my racing bike unintentionally into a single speed, I took my jinxed bad boy for the first time on a longer trip. The wastelands of Yokohama were as boring as usual and the same is true for the stretch on the Tamagawa which led me from Tamagawaharabashi to Ome and, who would have guessed, to Aurore bakery and the 7-Eleven in front of the station. What a bore! I was glad to be back on my bike, but I was really really bored by riding through Yokohama and along the Tamagawa for the n-st time of my life. I decided spontaneously not to do that any longer. The risks of an accident are just to high and it is no fun. From now on, I thought, I will rely on the service of my bike bag and the good office of Japanese train companies.
So I started again from Ome station and crossed over the Ome line railway and through the tunnel into Chichibu land. What a relief, every time I pass from the valley of Ome into the neighboring Chichibu, I am amazed by the beauty and timelessness of Chichibu. It is like riding into a different country, a Japan almost untouched by the craziness of our modern civilization. I am sure that I have written this many times already on the blog, but I just cannot stop it to write it again and again.
I noticed also that the bad boy is pretty heavy and I am still very untrained so the climbs were becoming much harder and slower than before. But luckily I have still stamina, so I am slow but I will never ever dismount my bike on a climb. Ever.
But then, on the downhills the bad boy is just wonderful. With it’s very stiff frame, heavy wheels, dampened front fork, hydraulic disc brakes and wide handle it is much easier to steer through the curves and it stays in the line like a bullet on a string. Perfect, I was almost as fast down as David is normally. I mean, I was not as fast as these guys, but going well over 60 km/hr on the first downhill after Ome and not feeling unsafe at all. Sadly, the bad boy does not have a standard crank, nor a compact crank. I don’t know exactly what it is, but feeling-wise I would describe it as a „nano crank“. So there is no way that one can gain additional speed by pedaling downhill.
So I rode at slow speed up to the holy fountain at the beginning of the climb to Yamabushi and Shomaru Toge and I was starting to feel better. Of course, the dump trucks at the beginning of Chichibu are a real drag but otherwise there was very little traffic and the roads were quite and silent.
All right, Yamabushi Toge was approaching and I thought that I will give it a try and check my time. When I made it to the top, I counted 28 minutes, which is about 8 minutes more than my best time – wow that is really bad! I guess that about 10 – 15% is due to the bad boy (as compared to my Cervelo), another 10 – 15% to my training level and the remain to fate, weather and general jinx. But I made it and I felt OK so I continued to scale Shomaru Toge where I took a very brief break and rode down in direction road #299.
Then I decided to scale Karibazaka Toge which I did and my speed dropped into single digit levels. The climb lasted for almost 43 minutes, I am lucky that this one is still not recorded as an official Togebaka climb.
By the way, the wooden shed on the top of Karibazaka is gone now and replaced by a gravel field. Hope it will never rain there.And from there I rode over Ono Toge, Shiraishi Toge to Sadamine Toge where the local Soba shop was closed, perhaps mother and her daughter are still in Hawaii.
It was beautiful to be back on the bike again and I was glad that I selected Chichibu for the first trip. There was zero traffic on the roads and one could hear the sound of birds and other animals in the woods. Some stretches of the road were still damp and wet from the rain the previous day and there was a strong aromatic flavour from the flowers and trees in the air.
On the way up to Karibazaka I encountered two roe deers that didn’t hear me coming. And on the way down in direction Chichibu from Sadamine Toge, I met a monkey on the road. This was only the second time in Japan (the first time on the road down from Matsuhime in direction route 20).The remaining ride through Chichibu city was less fun. All in all I did 120 km and app. 1.600 meters of climbing in 6 1/2 hours. This is not fast, but I did take only one longer break at Ome, went up Yamabushi, Shomaru and Karibazaka in almost one go and all of this on the bad boy. I was really happy to be back on the bike, although my left hand was hurting and I would never have made it without dampened front fork and hydro brakes.
120 km, thereof 54 boring kilometers to Ome and 8 inside Chichibu city, so roughly half of the distance. That mustbe improved in the future.
Anyway the confidence is back and I went to the post office today and filed an entry application for the Hitachi Naka Race in two weeks. Four hours individual endurance. Definitely not on the bad boy.
[… to be continued …]