Today’s Sunday ride … was a bit too much for me. Either I’m still recuperating from last weekend’s Brevet, or I’m not yet in my fighting shape, or the warm weather got to me, or most likely some combination of the three.
James M. had planned a 250 km ride out via Takao and Rte 20, over Matsuhime from the South and the back via Kazahari. He wanted to go at his „training speed“ — I’m not sure what that is, but it is fast, and not really consistent with a social ride.
Michael H., Jerome and I joined James, Yair, Clay and Jules from TCC at Tamagawahara-bashi, Nishibe-san at Sekidobashi, and Fumiki and Steve (from TCC) at Takao. The weather was gorgeous, even hot*, and the pace was fast out to Takao.
*As you can see from the photo, Jerome took full advantage of his exception from the P.E. Team Rule No. 9 today to wear his „short shorts“.
Jerome and I decided to head instead for Sasago, over Sasago Pass and then on to Kamihikawa and Yanagisawa — an even more ambitious a program (likely to meet Tom going the other way), if at a slower pace and with plenty of optionality for people to bail and take the train or an alternate route back.
Nishibe-san made it to Fujino, then said he would head back — via Wada, I think. When I caught up with Yair and Michael H. at Uenohara, Yair was about to turn around and head back for Shinjuku, having done his work already as powerful domestique for the lead group. Jerome and Steve were waiting at the far end of Uenohara and continued on with Michael H. and me for Sasago. We did not see James M., Clay, Jules or Fumiki again — they presumably turned off at Sarubashi. There was remarkably little traffic on Rte 20. Perhaps the „my car“ drivers were already tired out from sitting in GW traffic jams and decided to stay home, while the trucks were off because it was Sunday?
I was a bit worried going through Uenohara — wondering if the Uenohara curse of near-misses, crashes and mechanical trouble that haunted Michael O.B. K. in recent years will get passed on now that he is in Germany. Fortunately, no one had any problems today.
I fell behind Jerome, Steve and Michael H. on the climb after Uenohara to Yanagawa. They waited at the entrance to Otsuki and asked if I wanted to stop. „Yes,“ I called as I passed, „but at a convenience store.“
I went ahead in search of one. I quickly passed a Daily Yamazaki on the wrong side of the street. Then after a few minutes another Daily Yamazaki also on the wrong side of the street, at the crossing in front of the station. Nothing for a few kilometers until, on the West side of town, a Lawson, also on the wrong side of the street. No P.E. approved Seven Elevens on this stretch. I left my bicycle out front so that the other 3 would see it when they passed. The Lawson is not just any Lawson. It has the best, most beautiful feature that is missing from 99% of the convenience stores in this part of Japan. No, I don’t mean a „western style“ toilet. I mean a bench on which to sit and eat your food and drink your drink. It seats almost 3 tired cyclists (the 4th must take photographs or sit on the ground), and is in the shade during the late morning. Accordingly, we were happy to declare an exception to P.E. Team Rule No. 20 for this Lawson.
I had very good memories of climbing first Sasago then Kamihikawa one day last Spring, but it was not to be today. I quickly fell behind the others on Route 20, and again on the old road climb to Sasago Pass. By the time I arrived at the top, it was clear that today was not my day. Michael H. took a last photo of Jerome and Steve, in case it is needed for a search and rescue operation on Kamihikawa, and he and I headed back for Otsuki and the train home (he had a board meeting at his tennis club late afternoon).
The trip back to Otsuki was downhill and fast, despite a headwind. We parted ways at Tachikawa and I rode another 23 km home, making it about 150 km for the day. (If Jerome and Steve actually did Kamihikawa and Yanagisawa, and Jerome rode all the way home, he should be well over 250 km, which was James M.’s original target). Jerome? Steve? James?