Jerome and I had a very good ride this morning. We did the „Paul Jason ride“ as a counterclockwise loop — up the Tamagawa, then to Itsukaichi and up the Akigawa, with a left turn to the Kobu Tunnel, then through the „golf course hills“ of Uenohara, up the back side of Wada Pass, and home. We were home before 1PM, and even though the heat and humidity was very oppressive for the trip home along the Asagawa and Tamagawa, it was not that bad during the ride out or the climbs. We both felt strong and lucky to be able to get in this ride (145 km+ and plenty of hills) done in a half day.
Jerome did not show for our 6AM start time at my house, and I thought if he overslept, I really should let him rest. After giving him the benefit of the „15 minute rule“, I headed out with my ipod on to fight the monotony of a solo ride up the Tamagawa … and so missed his call to my mobile phone until I checked messages at Sekidobashi. He said he was „one bridge behind me“ so I continued at a relaxed pace until we met at Rte 16. After another phone call to confirm location, I stopped to wait for him. I re-emerged from a conveniently located public rest room just in time to see the orange bullet disappear across the river, turning right at the far end of the bridge — leading to a frantic few minutes to chase him down.
We stopped at the traditional Itsukaichi 7-11 (last convenience store before the Akigawa climb), as usual resting on the pavement in front of the store, and confirmed we would „take it easy“ on the climb to Kobu Tunnel. Of course, it was not to be. At Honjuku crossing, we passed a Japanese rider who had left the 7-11 ahead of us, and he hopped on our tail. I pulled the group through the gradual slopes of the lower climb as fast as I’ve ever done that stretch. The Japanese rider (who we will call Mr. Aerobar Anchor) finally pulled ahead of us slightly on one of the last, steeper stretches before the Kobu turn off. Riding behind him, I saw that his leg muscles were a good clue that he would not be easy to stay with–plus his steady pace and lack of indicia of exertion. Mr. Anchor also turned off for Kobu Tunnel and we started the real climb. I quickly fell back, but Jerome managed to stay with him to the top.
We made it through the golf course hills (the road construction from earlier in the year is done) and took our second rest at the intersection for the Wada climb. Jerome found another comfortable place to rest–on concrete in the road.
We made it up Wada close together (I climbed without a stop, Jerome stopped mid-climb for some water, but caught and passed me again within 50-75 vertical meters of the top.) Then it was down the front of Wada and again we were together with a solo Japanese rider most of the way down the hill, until we finally pulled away about 5 minutes before Akigawa Kaido. We are definitely seeing more fast Japanese riders than a few years ago.
Once we got off the steep slope, we rode as fast (without tail wind–in fact some headwind along the Tamagawa) as I have ever done this 50+km stretch home, with the exception of a third rest stop, in Hachioji, again with a comfortable spot for Jerome to rest, complete with concrete pillow and mattress.
Yes, the astute observer may notice from the blue and green stripe on the glass that this is a Family Mart in Hachioji, rather than a P.E. Approved 7-11. In my defense, I would note that all of the 7-11’s on Jimba Kaido are on the wrong side of the street for a trip heading into town. Also I’ve been stopping at this convenience store since B.P.E. (before Positivo Espresso) and so invoke the grandfather clause exception. Lastly, as you also can see the adjacent store is a tire shop where, in a pinch, we could pick up a steel belted radial in the event of a flat.
Akigawa Kobu Tunnel Uenohara Wada Tamagawa
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