Tagesarchiv: 18. März 2010

TCC Yabitsu Ride

On Wednesday I joined a ride organized by Sergey from TCC attacking Yabitsu from the South.

In preparation for the ride I did two things: First I spend the night before with a friend drinking beer and eating yakitori at a very nice establishment on Roppongi-Toge and secondly, I made a post on the TCC blog what I would do after I have ridden up Yabitsu.

So the next morning I had a hard time to get out of the bed. Tuesday was a wonderful spring night in town, or so it had seemed after a lot of beer riding back on the bike, so I left the window of the sleeping room open. It was very cold in the morning and I had to dress with additional layers before I left the house.

I met Sergey at Hadano station, by chance he took the same train and soon after Mike and Dale arrived as well. We started almost on time in direction Yabitsu pass and pedaling ahead full speed. I immediately made the pace in the front, so when I looked back everybody was gone. Later I learned that they have stopped to look for water but in this moment I was feeling like a miniature edition of Deej.

Then we made a very brief stop at the road 246 crossing which is the official start for the TCC Hall of Fame South Yabitsu Time Trial (and now is also the same for the Positivo Espresso Toge Baka). Although everybody said that they would not race and take it easy, I fell back almost instantly on the steep slopes at the beginning and couldn’t possibly keep up. So, I felt like a miniature edition of mob.

I hate to get out of a train, assemble the bike and immediately start climbing. I need a proper warm-up, if possible 40 km. A long time ago David, Juliane and me got out of the Shinkansen, assembled our bikes and rode up from Atami to Atami Toge and that was one of the hardest rides I ever did.

Yabitsu is mean at the start but then it gradually gets flatter and I enjoyed the ride more and more. I was going steadily in the 10 – 15 km/hr bracket, I could constantly keep the tension and even accelerate on the flatter parts. When I made it to the top all three riders were waiting for me and I clocked a time of less than 48 minutes. Which I found very respectable, given the fact that there is much more elevation to cover than on the North approach, so being faster up on the South side seems pretty good.

Note: Of course the North side is much flatter and much longer: 18.6 km compared to 11.7 km.

But then, looking at the TCC Hall of Fame later, I noted that there is a notorious rider from the club who went up the South side in 31 minutes. And all the other good TCC riders are up in 40, 41 minutes so I really felt very weak again.

Anyway, I said goodbye to Sergey, Mike and Dale who have provided good company at the station, at the top of the pass and app. 3 minutes during the climb.

Then I rode down Yabitsu on the North side, a little bit of snow was left on the sides of the road, but basically the road was free of snow and water. I wanted to explore a new forrest road which is roughly halfway down and leads to road 64 (the fast road down from Miygase lake to Hon-Atsugi). I have watched cyclists coming out from there from time to time and one can see a nice bridge of the road from the Yabitsu main road.

There was a barrier which was no match and the road went down. From Mike’s post onthe TCC blog I expected a road leading down all the way, so I was surprised when I had to climb up 100 meters, then go down again, then climb up again. The road conditions were not good, typical rindo but much better than right-left-entry pass some days before. At one point I encountered a huge wild boar on the road, first I thought that this would be a small bear. Luckily it had no interest in me. The road went on forever and I easily added another 300 meters of climbing before I made it to the gate at road 64. In the end the road went down to elevation 200m and so I had to climb up road 64 for another 150 meters before I came back to Miyagase Lake.

I then followed the road on the other side of the lake through a continuous series of long tunnels and bridges before I arrived at Tsukui. After all this slow riding all day long I was glad to find a nice, wide and fast downhill road and speeded down at more than 60 km/hr.

Yeah, that felt good. But suddenly I noted that almost right in front of me there was a white passenger car on my side of the road. It was completely unclear what he was doing there, trying to overtake a car that was parked on the opposite lane or making a right turn. I braked as much as I could so that the bike was heavily swearing to both sides and I braced for the inevitable impact if the car would make a right turn indeed. Luckily it just had intended to overtake the parked car and moved back to his side of the road, so I flew by through the opening but it was very, very close and I was screaming.

I could have been dead or seriously injured if I would have gone faster and missed the time window when the car moved back to the right. I felt like the hero in one of the strangest movies I have ever seen called „Jacob’s ladder“ about an American guy (Tim Robbins, great as usual) who leads a normal living but has terrible hallucinations about Vietnam until at the end of the movie it is revealed that he had died already in Vietnam and that all of this was his dying hallucination.

It reminded me also of the first time I climbed up Jacob’s ladder on my bike which was 2005 in Hawaii when I mistakenly rode up the ramp to a highway (having lived in Japan for such a while I couldn’t possibly imagine that it could be so easy to enter a highway) plus I was so stupid, as the entry was on the left side of the highway, to cross over the complete four lanes to the right side before finally finding the next exit and disappearing in white smoke. Cars were honking and people were looking at me if I were crazy (understandable) and I am sure I made it into the radio news.

Anyway, after that my spirit was completely broken and I sneaked along through Tsukui North lake road (The druglord had visitors and I also noted that he had planted cactus plants on the other side of the road) to Hashimoto where I recovered eating a large bowl of ramen noodles.

After that I rode the tank road and Onekan home, it just wasn’t fun any longer and I was glad to be home again.

But thanks to Sergey, Mike and Dale for the invitation and good company, I wouldn’t have made it out of the bed otherwise and that was good.

Some other news, before I forget: I went to Nagai-San from POSTIVO to fix my Zonda wheel that was damaged in the attack down from Right-left-entry pass. He told me that he will move his shop to a bigger location on Meguro Dori, close to the crossing with Kamapachi Dori (at the entry of Daisan Keihin). I think the move is planned for May.

And Jerome did a Togebaka approach from Yoshino Kaido up to Mitake Cable Car station. Not knowing that this ride hasn’t been included in the Togebaka List yet. James, Michael and Graham will remember that this is the mother of all pointless rides, which started the venerable tradition to include pointless rides in all unorganized club rides last year.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, Mob, tcc

Tunnels, Ice and Snow

A little bit late perhaps, but I don’t like to miss the chance to report about the ride of the splinter group on Saturday after saying Sayonara at the Doshi-Michi / Yabitsu Entry. Ice and snow will play an important role so as fallen trees.Well, while Jerome, James and Dominic were happily chatting and riding in direction Yabitsu, our social ride came to a sudden end when Ludwig, Fumiki and me continued on Doshi-Michi in direction Yamanakako. As usual Ludwig picked up the pace and Fumiki could easily follow him, while I was taking a more „legere“ approach. Sometimes Ludwig stopped along the roadside to stretch his back or do the opposite with his bladder and so I could close up again.All around us was snow and there was a lot of water on the road, sometimes flowing downwards on the slopes which we were riding up, giving us the impression that we were very fast if compared to the asphalt surface.But soon we had climbed up to Yamabushi Toge, the last pass before Yamanako lake and then descended on the other side. Meanwhile the accumulated water on the road and the additional spray we have received from passing trucks and cars had completely soaked our socks, legs and behind with water. That felt pretty miserable but as hardcore cyclists our codex didn’t allow us to show our feelings completely, so we continued in direction Kawaguchi Lake and Saiko.Saiko was very silent unlike the JCRC racing day in November when I usually go there. As this might have been the last time to see the lake, I went to our favourite hang-out at Cafe M and said good-bye to the owner. We then continued to the next smaller Fuji lake (I forgot the name) and then took road 706 to the North in direction Kofu. This leads to a long tunnel first and the approach to that was looking like the swamps of Louisiana. And then we had a classic Ludwig comment which I would like to preserve for the blog readers:

Ludwig : „These are the worse road conditions here“
Me (assuming that Ludwig knows the roads ahead) : „It will not get worse up there?“
Ludwig: „No idea, these are the worse road conditions SO FAR.“

I can imagine the spin-off of these words for future club-rides. Imagine riding over Otarumi to Kobu Tunnel, Kazahari, Matsuhime, Dozaka and Yamabushi to Yamanakako while stating on the top of Otarumi:

Experienced PE rider: „This is the worse climb.“
Newcomer (thinking): „Oh great, the worse is over.“
Experienced PE rider: „Well,so far“
Newcomer (thinking): „..sigh…“

Of course it wasn’t by far the worse to come, but before we come to that we experienced a beautiful downhill ride from the tunnel at elevation 900 to elevation 400: Wide, curvy roads, nice slopes, not too much traffic allowed us to ride in the most enjoyable 40 – 60 km/hr bracket.

Then we stopped and discussed whether it would make sense to continue on road 358 through the long tunnel to Kofu or climb up on old road 113 (in use before the construction of the tunnel) to 右左口峠 (Right-left-entry pass). Of course I opted for the Right-left-entry-pass as I was eager to add more passes to my list and I desperately wanted to paste some Positivo Espresso stickers on the top.

So we rode back the road a little bit, then entered road 113 and were immediately greeted by a barrier to discourage normal human beings. Behind the barrier were some fallen trees on the road. Again, this might be discouraging to normal riders but for me it is like that there is the ghost of the road standing next to the barrier with a megaphone in his hand shouting „Ride me, ride me“. Or „Roads shouting: ride me ride me“ (RSRMRM) in reference to a long forgotten Japanese punk rock group : Seagulls shouting: kiss her, kiss her“ (SSKHKH).

I could convince Ludwig and Fumiki that these trees had not fallen down there by chance, but that they have been intentionally placed there by the locals to discourage powerful cyclist such us as. So I crossed over and was greeted by another barrier of trees (perhaps not intentionally placed) and then by another and finally the asphalt surface ended and then a small gravel path was all that was left.I was some 20 meters ahead as I was scouting for the way when Ludwig and Fumiki tried to convince me to give up. But I didn’t budged so they rode back to the tunnel while I moved along. Meanwhile I still had 190 meter elevation to climb and the surface was now made of snow and ice and landslides. So I couldn’t ride up but needed to walk most of the time. A terrible thought stroke me: „What, if this isn’t the road up to right-left-entry-pass?“ Because I had fully relied on Ludwigs guidance, we haven’t seen any signboards at all. And while I was sneaking up through the snow, already with a pretty empty stomach I wondered if this was really a good idea.

In the end I made it up to the top (naturally, who else would write this stupid post?) and there was the signboard indicating that this would be right-left-entry-pass indeed. I made some photos and then I realized that I had just climbed up from the village 上九一色、the famous hideout of the Aum-Shinrikyo sect who launched the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995. In this place they established their secret gas-factory which, if I remember correctly, was called DAI-7-SATIAN (Meditation place number 7). When working for Schindler, we used to call our headoffice DAI-8-SATIAN all the time in reference. Well, that was close and despite standing freezing with wet socks and trousers plus empty stomach on top of a lonely hill in the middle of nowhere I was glad to have escaped such sinister place.

Now going down, would be a breeze I thought. Well, it is not easy to ride through the snow. In particular if you are going down and the snow and dirt clogs the brakes so even if you pull the levers fully to the handle the braking effect is virtually none. Well, I know know there is a reason for v-brakes on MTBs.
I ignored that however most of the time and before long I had a flat tire and when I checked more closely I also had lost a spoke somewhere (no idea where).
So in view of the road conditions I decided not to repair the tube as I had only one exchange tube, but walk down until I meet a decent road and then exchange the tube. This was again an endless walk through ice and snow. Sometimes footprints were on the trail, but as bears do not wear sneakers, I assume that they were made by human beings.

Finally I found the road, repaired the tube and rode for about a kilometer before finding a 7-Eleven and filling up with food and drinks. Ludwig and Fumiki have long arrived at the station in Kofu and were on their way home. They were so kind to call me from the station. After a seemingly long and boring ride free of obstacles through Kofu (I was by now so used to fallen trees and gravel road that a ride on a straight and flat four lane semi-highway seeming extremely boring) I finally arrived 2 hours later than them and took the express train home as well.

It was a very adventurous trip and I am happy to report that I have survived. Please don’t tell my family about it and my apologies to Ludwig and Fumiki for my stupid insistence to go up that road.

Of course on the following Wednesday I made something similar stupid, but this will be the subject of another post.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, James, Jerome

MOB’s SAYONARA RIDE to feature 2 hillclimb races (after all)

„RIDE PROGRAM „
Saturday April 24th at 12:00 (noon) : RdV…everybody assemble at the Takao 7/11.
12:15~ START From Takao’s Seven-Eleven, we will do a slow approach to the foot of Wada and then organize – in good Positivo Espresso tradition – a little hillclimb race.
Following this race, we will slowly ride together again as one group doing the Yuzurihara/Hinohara golf courses readying ourselves for another little hillclimb race this time up to the first Kobu Tunnel.
We then again wait until the last rider arrives and proceed slowly in group to Tamajiman (arrival time 17:00?) for the party to start.

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Eingeordnet unter Mob