David L. heads upstream (literally) toward Arima Pass:
Tom, Nishibe-san and I had a great Chichibu ride over Arima Pass on a glorious fall day yesterday, and he has provided a write-up with some nice photos on his blog here. I’ll remember the good things about this ride — spectacular fall colors, perfect temperature range, beautiful views, fast trip home through Naguri/Nariki and then no headwind along the Tamagawa.
So before they fade from memory, let me list a few of the negatives:
1. The forest roads (rindo) really can be difficult to travel at this time of year, especially the day after a heavy rain. The climb to Arima Touge (just a few meters higher than Kazahari) involved large stretches of road covered with wet leaves, puddles and water. No one had passed up the East side climb in weeks. Fortunately, the slope is not as steep as Wada or the climb up to the Green Line I did a few months back, so we could maintain enough traction to be able to ride all the way up. I did get a sidewall cut in my tubeless tire on the descent (I must have gone over one of the many smaller rocks in the roadway … but at least I steered clear of the big ones).
2. As Tom notes, there was one stretch where the road disappeared and a 10 meter drop appeared. We were able to go around by walking down a steep gravel slope, walking up a stream and then up another slope. Tom had his cyclocross bike, complete with 35mm knobby tires and wide clearance brakes, and gleefully attacked the gravel slope (as he did the leaf covered road). Tom swore to us that there was a road here only a month or so earlier. Nishibe-san and I were less thrilled about it, with our thin tires and carbon frames. At least our wet feet did not get cold, since we had a long climb ahead to generate heat, and the weather was mild.
3. There were lots of little 4-wheel drive SUVs that had come up the back side where the road was open. Most of them had one or two men in them … with rifles. It was definitely hunting season. I don’t know what they were hunting and we did not see anyone with a deer or inoshishi (wild bore) on his roof, or even a rabbit or rat, much less a bear, pheasant or monkey. In fact, I don’t think I even heard the crack of a gunshot. But it still made me a bit uneasy about being mistaken for something to kill.
4. As Tom notes, the 4-wheel drive SUVs were more dangerous weapons than the rifles. One almost ran me off the road a few km over the top of Arima. I was WAY over on the left side of the road, where there was plenty of room to pass, but he cut a corner and came within an inch or two of me, and refused to „adjust“ at all once he saw me. Tom says the guys in the SUV were laughing. He was not going so fast (nor was I) but if he had hit me … The next time something like this happens, I’m going to try to have the presence of mind to (1) put my gloved hand through the windshield to let him see just how close he is, or at least (2) give chase back up the hill since in 2-3 km he would have reached a gate that would have slowed him down enough for me to at least get the license plate and report to the police.
Some photos from near/at the top of the climb (see Tom’s blog entry for more spectacular scenery photos):