Tagesarchiv: 11. April 2010

Sci Fi Movie

Sunday offered near perfect temperatures for riding.  As planned, Jerome and I headed out a little after 6:30AM and met Tom at Koremasa-bashi.  Tom, having done another monster ride on Saturday, over 250 km and some big passes, still managed to pull us at about 35 kph along the first stretch.  With Tom („the Cylon“) in front, Jerome second, and me in the back, I could still see reasonably well, but had an almost perfect wind block.

Just before Tamagawahara-bashi we passed a group of 25 or more cyclists in team kit assembling for a morning ride.  We later passed a group of about 12 Catteni Positivo riders in a line on the Tamagawa path.  They have new uniforms, looked younger and fitter than last year’s Catteni group and were moving at a good pace … but were still easy to pass with Tom pulling at 35 kph. The Catteni leader looked like a real racer/climber type.  We also passed a group of Ovest riders from Fuchu, heading at warm-up pace to a rendezvous at the end of the path … with another huge group of riders, waiting around, mostly in Ovest kit.  Tom uses the Ovest shop and swears by it, and we have seen some very fast Ovest riders flying before — putting in top-five times on the Tokyo-Itoigawa ride, at least.

We rode out via Itsukaichi (where we passed another large team in „Hotstaff“ jerseys — I could not have passed them but for a lucky traffic light at a minor intersection where they stopped and I continued), and then Umegaya Pass (aka „Jerome Hill“) and up Yoshino Kaido, parting ways with Tom at the 7-11 at Kori, where Yoshino-Kaido ends and we turn left onto Rte 411 (Ome Kaido) to climb up to Okutama-ko.    We took as second quick rest at the end of Okutama-ko in front of the recommended cafeteria (still too early for a meal).  

These teams — yesterday Catteni, Ovest and Hotstaff, plus the first group we saw, are a big change from the days when the only group of more than 10 cyclists one would ever see was Nalshima.  And while these groups may not be riding as far as we do, they seem to be more serious than in the past.  This is only a good thing, as far as I am concerned.  Drivers will watch out for road cyclists.  And it is almost never these cyclists who do the stupid tricks on the Tamagawa path that risk injury to us.

On the Tamagawa there were flowering sakura (cherry trees).  On Jerome hill there were a wide range of flowering trees, including one in a spectacular purple.  At Okutama-ko (540m elev), there were more sakura and ume (plum trees), and we could see them on many wild hillsides later in the day. We headed up Rte 139 toward Kosuge, cut over to the base of Tsuru Pass and then to the base of Matsuhime.

The 500m elevation main climb up Matsuhime (from 750m to 1250m elev) was not bad, and at least made me feel that I am starting to get back in shape as a result of the past month’s rides.  Then again, I had put on the compact (50/34) crankset, so it was only expected that I was able to spin up the hills better than in previous weeks.  There was only one other cyclist at the top — far away from the morning crowds.

We descended quickly from Matsuhime (1250m elev) to the South, stopping at the park at Fukashiro Dam (650m elev).  We filled our water bottles at a (temporary) stream close to the top of Matsuhime.  A few people had stopped at the Fukashiro dam rest area.  These were the last humans we saw for the next several hours.

And this is where our science fiction movie started.  We crossed under/over the gate and through the tunnel for the long climb up the road to O-Toge (Big Pass -around 1550 meters elevation).  After what seemed like a few hundred meters, there was a loud „bang“, a „hiss“ and it was as if we were transported in time or space.  I thought I saw a blue flash.  Jerome’s sidewall tire had clipped one of many rocks on the road surface, pinching his tube.  He was able to patch the tube quickly and we were back on our way.

The road surface was terrible, as last year, but there were only two spots (above 1100 meters) where there was so much debris as to require a dismount.

Complete solitude greeted us on this climb and the following descent — two hours at least, from 650m to 1550m and down to around 1000 meters, not a single person.  What had happened?

Had we gone forward in time, with one of those devices the Terminators use to come back and kill John Connor … to a day (say, the year 2075) when there are no more Japanese people left, except for old people in nursing homes?

Or was this „I am Legend.“  Had all the people been wiped out by a terrible (unintentional) genetically engineered plague, leaving behind only zombies who would come to get us if we could not make it to safety by dark?

We got our answer soon.  There were some kind of animal droppings at various places along the climb.  Then we saw it — a monkey came down noisily from the brush above and onto the road ahead.  It detected us and took off running down the road away from us, rounded the corner and plunged into the wooded slope below.  This must be Planet of the Apes.

We picked up the pace, in case a group of armed gorillas should be sent out to look for us.  This is a beautiful climb, spectacular vistas, varying grade, and the road gets better once you pass 1250m elevation.  The descent on the South side, with no traffic (closed road still above 1000 meters), and not too cold to enjoy it, was spectacular, memorable — to anyone asking the question, THIS is why we ride.

As we did last week, we hopped the train from Otsuki and were home for dinner.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010, David, Jerome, Tom

Rindo Exploration in Chichibu

The forth weekend in succession on which I explored rindos with my new cyclocross bike. This time, I headed for Chichibu.

Despite a particularly early start, leaving home at 5:45am, the Tamagawa was already crowded with people. And not because of the cherry blossom in many places – actually these were the most deserted parts.
I noticed quickly that I was still not fully back in form, having been down for two days with a virus mid-week. I had difficulty pushing my heart rate above 150 – or rather, I didn’t even feel like trying. But cycling at moderate speed (not made better by significant head wind) was still fun, so I kept going.
I explored a new route onto the Green Line (see GPS trail below), going from Ome to just before Hanno, then turning up the Irumakawa valley, turning into the valley leading towards Nennogongen, but taking the first rindo turning off to the right and over a 300m pass down to Higashi-Agano (on route 299). Route 299 was full of nasty truck traffic as usual, but I only had to cycle 200m upward on the pavement before turning off to the right into a nice valley and then rindo leading up to Kouburi Toge (500m), the start of the Green Line. From there the rindo continues as everybody knows over various „passes“ reaching up to 900m.
It was nice climbing with little traffic. The sun had finally come out, and I found myself overdressed in what was still basically winter gear.
At Ono Toge, instead of turning right as we always do towards Shiraishi Toge and Sadamine Toge, I left the Green Line to the left, heading towards Kenminnomori. Saitama needs its forest just as Tokyo needs their own (Tominnomori). This rindo was also well paved, and easily accessible by road bike. In fact, I saw a group of riders who must have made it up from Chichibu city.
Instead of turning down towards the city, I kept going, passing by a camp side protected by a friendly guard man, direction of Nagatoro. Beyond the camp side, the rindo falls down steeply, first unpaved (but in decent condition so manageable even on a road bike), then paved. My hands became quite tired from all the breaking, so steep and long was the descent. At one point, I got off to check the heat of the wheel rims, and almost burnt my hands. I felt the rubber melting and losing grip. The paved surface was rather uneven, so I couldn’t go faster than 30km. What a waste of mass! I prefer to spend accumulated altitude on a fast downhill!

At the foot of Sadamine Toge, I turned north, passing the Nagatoro gorge on its right. People were enjoying the by now really beautiful spring weather going through the gorge in boats.
Lots of nice photo opportunities, of landscape and also a lot more cherry trees. Every stop made me realise that I was really not in great shape – I felt the exhaustion even though I had not really pushed myself that hard. At a 7-11 stop in Nogami, I decided it was best to take the shortest route to Honjo-Waseda and spend the rest of the afternoon resting at home, perhaps getting in shape to head out with the PE crew the next day. I had rewarded myself with an onigiri and Black Thunder, when I was approached by an older woman offering me another rice ball that she and her husband had left over. I took it gladly, and it was delicious, a lot more so than the usual 7-11 variety. It looked home-made.
The guilt of the extra calories convinced me to keep going – for another round into the mountains. My plan was to head over to the Shimokubo dam lake and take the rindo leading from there to Shiozawa Toge, then run down to Tomioka.
All worked well until I missed a turn into a rindo that was meant to take me down to the dam, and instead kept going upwards on a rindo that was running parallel to the lake on its south side. I realised the mistake only 50 altitude meters or so after the turn, but decided this one was also worth exploration. The rindo keeps rising ultimately up to 980m, and then leads on in various ups and downs around the ridge of the mountain range to Tsuchizaka Toge at 700m, one of the many passes from Chichibu into Gunma which I have taken before.
Down in Gunma, I was tempted to climb up to that other rindo and cycled up to the entrance of the road, but then decided to be reasonable for a change and not attempt another 650m climb in my condition. Better take the road straight to Honjo, or so I thought. Least did I know that I still had quite some climbing ahead of me. As it turns out, (according to mapmyride) I would have had only another 200m to climb and no difference in distance at all, had I gone up that mountain…
I took route 462 along the valley towards the lake. Traffic was moderate, but rather too many noisy motor bike groups for my taste. So I left 462 to take what is essentially a badly maintained rindo, running on the other (south) side of the lake. Unlike the kokudo though, it runs deeply into some of the valleys running into the lake, and has several climbs of up to 150m each.
I passed by a nice natural fountain and replenished my water supply. Less nice about it was the fact that somebody had dumped their sodaigomi in front of it. Unfortunately, the rindos in this area were full of such sights/sites. Unbelievable that people ship their trash out into the mountains instead of paying a few hundred yen to have it collected.
Such sorrow sights were compensated by plenty of stunning views of the lake and its small islets.
The dam wall looks like the fortress walls of a Japanese castle.
Beyond the dam, I thought it was all just a straight downhill into the village at the bottom of the valley and then a fast run to the station. None of it – more up and downs! And a landslide that blocked the entire road – an invitation to the cyclocrosser to walk over it!
Then another building site – road blocked to traffic! Well, when has that ever been an obstacle? This time, however, there was a huge gap in the road, with a five meter cliff straight down. Building workers busy with their work, and not noticing the sole cyclist towering over them.
I thought it was pointless calling their attention as this would just risk them telling me to get lost from where I had come. Instead, I worked myself up a steep hill, through grass and bushes, and then down again, right into the building site, to the utter surprise of one of the workers, who was so speechless, he couldn’t say anything. Which was just as well, so I could get on speedily.
The remaining barrier of the day was one for a bird rather than myself. A young prey bird had got trapped behind the fence securing a wall of rocks along the rindo.
I managed to secure a larger whole at the bottom of the fence by inserting between fence and rock a PET bottle from another one of those trash dumps right opposite. The bird had fled my help attempts to the upper parts of the fence, and I can only hope it eventually found its way out.
I myself found my way to the station rather easily, this time avoiding route 462 altogether, and going to Honjo rather than Honjo-Waseda. A Takasaki-Hiratsuka direct train took me to Shinjuku in just one go (and 1.5 hours).
185km with 2,800m BBiT in altitude gain. 11.5 hours on the road, of which 8.5 on the bike – i.e. I had taken it rather easy.

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Eingeordnet unter 2010