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.