Joined David and Jerome on their Chichibu ride after seeing the Positivo blog posting. Given my lack of mileage this summer, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my legs. The last few longer rides have been quite tough for me. The Masters Swim program has been very good, I am seeing weekly improvements, it doesn’t do much for power on the bike though. So I set out with some trepidation, not really sure how I would cope with the pace, the climbing and the mileage.
Dominic, David, Jerome & I left David’s house at 6am. We made very good time by setting a fast pace and were in Ome in about an hour and 45 mins. With the Aurore bakery closed at that hour we headed to a [Higashi Oume] 7-11 (Positivo semi-approved; TCC approved) for breakfast and to fill the water bottles.
We set off up Route 53 and made short work of the rollers on the way to the turn off found by Tom recently. Stephen joined us [at the entrance to the Tokyo Hill Climb course] and we were soon on our first climb of the day to 450m, and then onto the ridge. Which wasn’t flat. Tough work, but we were soon descending proper and then beginning our second proper climb of the day [to Nenogongen, at 650 meters+ elevation]. Much to our delight, well, trepidation really, we found the last 300m of the climb to the hill top monastery to be over 22% gradient and even with a triple crank I had to jump off and walk for a few minutes.
We soaked up the scenery at the top, snacked a little then began our descent. Given the gradient, brakes were in use continuously, and it was probably the heat from this that caused Dominic’s rear tire to explode. He did a fine job controlling his bike, especially given the rather nasty drop off into the forest at the side of the road. Unfortunately, in stopping the bike he managed to put a hole in both the sidewall and the main part of his tire. We rallied round with suggestions and soon had it patched up. Unfortunately it was to blow within moments of setting off again. We had to descend very slowly with him – moral support and all that – to the main road, and then to the nearest station [Nishi-Agano].
With Dominic packed off on the train with a stiff upper lip, Stephen decided it was time to head home. I felt the call of a return at this point very strongly, but given our location I thought it was a shame not to soldier on.
David and Jerome led us up another climb, this time with a more manageable gradient. This was in fact a great climb, although as I suspected my power isn’t what it was, but I was able to make a good steady tempo up to the top.
Watanabe-sans Soba restaurant! Positivo approved of course. Although after a short discussion, the Watanabe’s have been renamed Sato and Saito. For future reference. Perhaps one day we might find out their actual names, but where would the fun in that be.
So. How was the soba? Erm, the yakiniku was just great thanks. Genghis Khan special for three hungry cyclists.
Lunch eaten it was time to head home. 650m above sea level and all downhill home. Bloody great riding. The ‚rollers‘ into Oume were quite energy sapping this time round, but we but we blew through and were soon Tamagawa bound.
Jerome and David made short shrift of the headwind and I hung on to their wheels as best I could whilst we sped along.
Stopped at the Tamagawa 7-11 for sugary drinks and a few other items to see off the 30km home. I was struggling big time at this point and I wasn’t looking forward to the last section home. Jerome headed home solo whilst David volunteered to lead and boy, did I need it. Tucked in behind, stuck to his wheel at 30km/h+ as he soldiered into the not insignificant headwind. I thanked him profusely, bade him farewell and the gritted my teeth for the final 10km.
Home at 4:30pm, 2 hours later than planned, but mechanicals are what they are.
180km, 1750m vertical, with 8 hours of riding. Not too shabby.
Garmin connect details can be had by clicking here.
[David L.: I added a few notes above and photos below.]
[On top of the Haraichiba-Naguri Rindo ridge:]
Nenogongen (formally known as OiRinZan-UnDouIn-TenRyuuJi), a 1250+ year old site (founded based upon an event from the year 832 — something about a birth occurring in the year of the child, month of the child, day of the child, etc.).
[Some more photos below of the arrivals at Nenogongen. Jerome was grumbling that a passing driver had pushed him to the side and he had needed to dismount. I actually made it up the steep section! … and all the way other than one brief place after the steepest of it and the last turn, where the road was wet and my tire slipped badly, forcing a brief dismount.]
James smiles near the top (It’s all good!):
Dominic, at this point still on fully inflated tires:
J. Bernard Hinault:
[More photos from the cafeteria at Shomaru Touge (a/k/a „Okumura Chaya“, though operated by Mrs. Sato and Mrs. Saito) — hungry cyclists with gaunt cheeks, and closer-to-normal expressions. Please note that there is now an Italian restaurant within 1 km of the North side of Shomaru Pass, the „Garden House“. Is it Positivo Espresso approved? I think not, at least not yet — we owe our support to Mrs. Sato and Mrs. Saito, for their many kindnesses. They told us that their restaurant has no running drinkable water, then need to fill PET bottles at the spring below Yamabushi and bring them up in their car. So next time you visit, pick up an extra 2 liter bottle of holy water at the spring by the shrine and bring it with you up the hill — a much better training exercise!]
[David L. again: It is remarkable to get in almost 1900 meters of climbing in a ride where one never goes higher than 650 meters elevation. This demonstrates the nature of Eastern Chichibu–lots and lots of steep little valleys, fairly jagged ridges and almost nowhere flat!]