Tagesarchiv: 24. Oktober 2009

Hombeline et Thomas

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I have been approached by two French students from my class at university before the long October weekend if I could make some suggestions for a nice bike trip.

Well, being a demanding teacher providing new challenges fro my students, I suggested that they should ride out along the Tamagawa to Ome and continue to the Okutama reservoir where another nice road would took them over Matsuhime pass (1.250 meter) to route 20 and then, back over Otarumi to Takao and home in Roppongi. Nothing special, something we can do easily in a day on our bikes after having trained all year long.

Little did I know that they were attempting to make this tour on single-speed mama-chari. Without any training.

So when I came back to class after the weekend and met them I was very surprised that they made it and I was even more surprised that they were physically able to attend class after they have made it.

Please keep in mind that they came to Japan only at the start of September, speak almost no Japanese, had no maps, no previous cycling experience and acquired mama charis for a sum we pay when riding out and return from rides for a Shinkansen ticket.

The trip started pretty early in the morning and first rests were made along the Tamagawa.
So slowly they moved towards Okutama on day one of their journey on their steel frame single speed bikes – has cycling ever more pure?
Then, arriving in the rain in Okutama with no idea where to stay and believing that shelling out 8.000 Yen per person for a pension room would be pretty outrageous (after all, you can get a mama chari for this money), they decided to knock on the houses of the local inhabitants and asked them if they could stay the night there. Finally somebody showed pity and transported them and their bikes to a pension where they were allowed to stay.Thomas showing clear signs of physical (the left cheek !) and psychic (the eyes !) stress from the trip. While Hombeline looked like „Girl with pearl earl ring“ from Jan Vanmeer in Japanese surroundings (see above).

But in good mood both of them continued to the reservoir the following day, up Matsuhime and down to Otsuki where they spend the second night.
And as planned they rode all the way home on route 20 to the Tamagawa and then back to Tokyo on day three.

Some days later they became the first ever honorary members of the Positivo Espresso Team and owners of some rather cheap pairs of orange cycling gloves.

Life is lending us amazing stories and I am thankful that even if I cannot live them, I can write about them.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Mob

I Y

Dominic, Ludwig and me decided to turn Wednesday’s workday into a more pleasurable past time.

Ludwig and Dominic met for the first time on the train to Hashimoto, where Ludwig was pretending to read the Financial Times which caught Dominics attention as he was holding it upside down. Actually Ludwig has two reasons for that, first he wants to see rising curves on financial related charts more often and second it is just too easy for him to read a newspaper the normal way.

I was 10 minutes late but we started early at 7.30 in direction Tsukui lake, where we parked our bikes at a 7-Eleven to take supplies. (my one in the prescribed position).According to Ludwig that was the worse 7-Eleven he has ever visited, justified in particular by the missing assortment of Soyjoy bars. So we declined politely the official approval.

We then continued along Doshimichi and after finishing our pointless ride through Aone village (please check this club tradition which is now a must for every ride) we entered route 76.

Trucks have long been a source of cyclists dissatisfaction on the roads outside of Tokyo, but recently many improvements have been done to make the cyclists fate more bearable. Thanks to the support of the All Japan Truck Drivers Vehicle Beautification Association, cyclists can now enjoy the backside of trucks even more.

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Anyway, we moved further along the TCC winter shortcut to road 35 leading to Akiyama and Hinazuru tunnel.The manju shop passed approval procedure without any problems (although they only had anpan manjus, miso manjus were sold out). Dominic was surprised that, given the state of the building, the age and state of its inhabitants and the open fire burning in parts of the houses, that they actually owned a telephone.

He was also surprised to find his front tire punctured. Ludwig, who was anyway only in for the morning went ahead to catch a train from Otsuki, while we repaired the tube and buried the old one in the garden behind the manju shop as old Japanese cycling tradition requires.

A short climb up to Hinazuru, followed by a quick climb up to Suzugane, peaceful as always and a quick visited to a combini at Sarubashi resulted in a luke warm lunch at the resting place in front of the old Sarubashi.

And then after preludio (Hinazuru) and allegro (Suzugane) we started the main climb of the day, Matsuhime Toge (Furio). Dominic became recently stronger and stronger and we decided in view of the fact that he has applied for next years L’etappe du Tour that I will coach him for the event and that this would be our first training ride.

So from this point in time on I have the right to address him as „O-mae„, „Kimi„, „Baka“ or whatever I feel just, while he has to use the most intricate forms of „irassharu“ and „itadaku“ when daring to approach me while scrubbing my back in the local sento. For this I will teach him the secrets of cycling which, honestly, consist mostly of suffering.

So we were happily going up the road and I was pointing out to Dominic that the small grey strip up high in the mountains before us IS actually the road we will need to ride up. And suddenly we saw another cyclist about 50 meters in front of us. He looked like a short hippy with long grey hair and old fashioned glasses, on a bike with backtray, somebody left over from the occupation of Todai’s Yasuda clocktower in the sixties.

In turned out to be a women, I Y, as we later learned, who happens to cycle quite a lot and was not even very strong, (we could chat and ride up Matsuhime while Dominic had to stop and was much more silent in general) but who knows also every single road in the area. I mentioned some of the roads we have found out recently (Arima Toge, Haccho Tunnel, Nennogon) and she knew all of them and many more I haven’t ever heard about (Nijumagari Toge) which seemed to be the most interesting places.I must say that I was very, very impressed. Since 8 years or so she is riding out regularly two, three times a week with the bike and we have never met despite the fact that we have done more or less the same roads all the time. She would definitely become a good addition to our team, however unfortunately she does not race.

After having a short break at Matsuhime we took the road back to Okutama where we left I Y at the parking place (she clinged to my back wheel all the time even when I tried some macho accelerations) and Dominic and me continued towards Ome.

Dominic was quite done and every movement was accompagnied by an assortment of noises indicating pain and disaster. But these are the rides that make adults out of boys and separate the guys who are standing in front of the toilet or sitting on it.

In Ome we had our meal at the approved Aurore bakery and watched a group of foreign school kids running around the block. No Japanese school kids in sight, perhaps some kind of punishment or special training for the Ome marathon?

Then we made some Japanese local girls laugh when they saw our „Shingo Mushi“ mark on the back of our bib shorts.

And then we rode home by train.

Koyo leaves were beautiful by the way starting from 1.000 meter elevation. Temperature was just right and all in all it has been another beautiful day.

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Eingeordnet unter 2009, Cervelo Soloist, Mob

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