Tour de West

The town of Ituskaichi froze in awe. Older people remembered a day in September. 1945, when an large US army convoy drove through the town, but since then this has been the biggest gathering of foreigners ever. TCC, Yokota USAF-CC, Half-Fast and Positivo Espresso had called for a mass climbing of Kazahari.

I met James aka „FarEast“ and his beautiful Pinarello FP3 bike at Nakayama station and together we took the train for Hachioji. So we had enough time to talk about the important things in life: war in Iraq and Afghanistan, global warming, hunger crisis in Africa and upper house elections in Japan. Actually the only thing I can now remember from the conversation , in which we most certainly came to precise solution for each of the mentioned problems, was that I should spend 10 times the amount of a very good Shimano DuraAce bottom bracket to buy something which, unlike me, has ceramic balls inside.

It took us only 30 minutes to ride from Hachioji to Itsukaichi, overtaking red traffic lights and orange clad „You can“ riders.

When we arrived at Itsukaichi station there were already about 10 riders present but more and more came. I chatted here and there and got to know many of the riders which used to hide on the TCC forum behind names such as „Chazzer“, „Eloy“,“Morlock“, „Alan Willi“ and „Shimano Sora“. Many nice people.

The Positivo Espresso team was able to muster three riders, Tom, me and Thomas, how, against payment of a handsome fee, had come in full Positivo Espresso wear.
I think the new jerseys are very well looking, also the bright orange color prevents car drivers from simply ignoring the PE rider. Another, not intended side effect is, that the color scheme offers a irresistiable attraction to butterflies who are mistaken us for beautiful flowers and try to copulate with the jersey or something. Sorry, I don’t remember all the details that my father told me, when I was thirteen years old.

The problem with large group rodes is, that it takes so long to organize things and it is so nice to chat with everyone; it took us more than half an hour to get started, but once we were, the tempo was quite fast from the beginning. In the front were the very fast riders and I was in a second group of the „fast looking“ riders.

In no time we were at the Motojuku T junction, the official Positivo Espresso Togebaka TT start point and I accelerated even more to ride up to Tomin no Mori as fast as I could. It took me only 18 minutes the reach the Y junction and that is quite fast; there a group of 5 to 6 riders was waiting to regroup. I shouted some excuse like „I think I forgot my wallet at the top“ and off I went taking the first climb at full speed (13 km/hr or so). My devilish plan was to be first on the top, not waiting for anybody else as all the polite and social riders were waiting for the slower ones at the Y junction.

Unfortunately my very good plan folded within 3 minutes when Alan, Sergey, Tom and some other riders overtook me as they had plans on their own. And were very much faster than me.

So I ploughed my way up getting overtaken by David and later by Naomi. But at least I could stay within visible sight of Tom. Then Sergey overtook me on the last one hundred meters. I don’t know why I was so stupid to give already everything on the first climb, but to set a new togebaka record is always a good motivation. Barely I managed to stay below 1:03 hrs. It’s a long way to go under the hour, but with more training and better (cooler) weather, it should become possible in autumn. Anyway on the top I felt like Floyd Landis on the climb the day before he drank his wonder beer.
Long break at Tomin no Mori, more riders arrived but by far not all. Out of the original group of 30 – 40 riders, I met perhaps less than 20 back at Tomin.

Perfect summer weatehr. Hot, humid and blue skies, all performing draging factors.

This was also the end of the „How manly are you?“ competition, the remaining elevation to Kazahari Toge I took at a much slower speed. Tom and Thomas had agreed that we continue to Matsuhime and return via road 35, instead of joining the party people and close the day already at noon with a heavy dosage of beer, soba and yakiniku.

The descent was fast as usual, but when I came to the T junction (Matsuhime pain left – Party right), there was nobody there. I thought that they would went ahead already to Matsuhime so I speeded up on the road to Kosuge. I was tempted to take the shortcut, but this is against unwritten Positivo Espresso rules. I arrived at Kosuge – nobody there. I tried to call Tom and Thomas on the phone, but they didn’t answered. So what to do?

OK, I thought let’s stick to the very original plan and climb over Matsuhime, then try O-toge and take a train home from Otsuki and I started to climb up.

And there, where the shortcut joins the Matsuhime climb again, where Tom and Philip waiting – what a nice surprise. They had seen me going ahead at the Okutama T junction (thanks to the bright orange of the PE jersey and the clouds of butterflies around it) and went ahead to catch me. When they came to the junction, they were wondering if I had passed already or if I would still come. But rightly considering my poor performance they waited – and there I was.

Together we started the climb up to Matsuhime in the heat. We rode together for the first 30 meters, then Philip and Tom went ahead and I only saw them again on the top. So, the second had climb of the day was done.

A fast decent with an empty stomach led us directly to the gates of a big supermarket close to Sarubashi, where we went on a shopping spree in the bakery section. I bought two much and had to carry a piece of applecake in my back pocket for the remains of the ride. When I unpacked it four hours later it looked more than baby food.

Anyway, we started the third hard climb of the day which was Suzugane, taking us from road 20 to road 35. Also this one we climbed in no time, although some tectonic movements in the last two months must have made it much longer, higher and steeper – this was not the Suzugane I remembered, crossied with Ludwig in the snow during this winter.

Then we had to climb over Hinazuru, which was a much shorter climb and somehow, despite the heat, I also felt that some power come back and it became easier to climb than going up Matsuhime.

Philip had his wedding anniversary this very day and was desperately trying to get back home before 6 PM. So we rode down the road from Hinzuru as fast as we could until we came to the crossing with road 76 {If required I can act as a witness to state that he was giving his best effort to be back in time}.

There we had a discussion about the fastest way home. Tom was opting for Otarumi and Hachioji, Philip was in favor of riding to Hashimoto. In the end Tom rode alone over Oatarumi and Philip and me continue on route 76 over Makino Toge. Looking now at the map it is very well possible that this was the shortest way, but it also included some serious climbs over Makino Toge. I was slowly running out of power and I started to curse this climbs.

But finally we had made it into Hashimoto and after a short break at a 7-Eleven (Philip, already in full compliance with Positivo Espresso rules), I showed him the way to the One-Kan express road so that he could find his way on his own to the Tamagawa.

I was really worried that he would not make it back and time. And also he was getting faster by the minute, either because just like Jerome he is such rider that he develops more strength during long rides, or simply because of panic and fear in view of his wife’s reaction when arriving late.

I really hope he made it in time. And if he made it, I wonder if he would be able to enjoy the evening, or if after all the exhaustions of the day, his body would simply by an empty hull, waiting to be refilled with meaning and power.

Also I became faster at the latter part of this ride; most likely the reason is very simple: Having lost all fear of my wife a long time ago, I go on this long rides and dehydrate to the biggest extend possible. Yesterday I lost 4 kg of body weight AFTER I drank and ate at home and compared the weight before and after the ride. So getting lighter means less weight to carry up the mountains, which it turn makes my performance better. I should consider also to cut off some riding-irrelevant body parts to make it even better.

Anyway, I drove back to Hashimoto station and took the train home where my body hull arrived at 7 PM and was unable to contribute in a meaningful way to family life.

Later in the evening I watched the second last stage of the Tour de France 2009 up on Mt. Vendoux. Contador crossed the finish line and I felt asleep immediately. Woke up late the next morning, still not fully recovered and with no wish to ride a bicycle for the rest of the day.

Blogging is therapy.

[Stole some pics from the TCC site, please let me know if not OK]

4 Kommentare

Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob, tcc, Tom

4 Antworten zu “Tour de West

  1. Hi Michael & Tom,Thanks for your good company and a super day of riding. I did make it home on time – many thanks MOB for delivering me to Hashimoto and then guiding me to kan-1.Having completed 225km my wife thought I would enjoy a competitive bicycle ride to the restaurant.The restaurant were amazed to watch me consume three large bottles of Perrier upon arrival.It was the bottle of wine that finally broke the camels back.Cheers,Philip

  2. Have to say a big thank you to you MOB for guiding me out to the start line and also for the company up to Hachioji.FarEast here, aka JamesIt's been a while since I have done anything like that and Im truely smitten by the grueling climbs, amazing views and the blistering downhill runs. Im certainly up for more fun like that, Although it's amazing how the mind blocks out the worst parts! Again many thanks to everyone on the ride yesterday as it was great to meet you all.MOB as we live pretty close to one another we should get together for some more rides!

  3. mob

    Philip, Jamesglad you enjoyed both the ride and later the dinner. Let's ride out more often, perhaps you will also consider a "dual citizenship" in TCC and Positivo Espresso?We can start at Nakayama (James) and take the train to Hashimoto or Hachioji and meet Philip there for future rides in the West.

  4. That sounds great! Very interested in doing that ride again and also seeing if with some hindsight I can attack that first climb in under an hour…. One can dream, but it’s a pretty good target to aim for. As for the "dual citizenship" I’m more than interested and if our plans come to fruitation, I maybe riding with you more than I am the TCC due to locality, but after Saturday I would be more than honored to ride out with any of the groups if invited!

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