On a hot but thankfully not particularly humid day James and I set off on one of our final training rides for l’Étape du Tour 2010. We are riding to raise money for the Tyler Foundation which provides support to children with cancer and their families. In less than a week we have received pledges for over „one million yen“ (sorry Dr. Evil, that’s Yen, not dollars and yes, the photo is of Dr. Evil, not my riding partner contemplating equity derivative prices at work). We hope to double this number before we set off for France.
This ride was never labelled as a „social“ or cappuccino“ ride and rightly so as we rode 150km and climbed 3600m and remained in observance of Rule 5 (see post last week). This was exactly the training ride we were looking for, hence the title of this blog – although not even l’Etape has a 30km climb at the end (Odarumi). Ca plane pour moi roughly translates as that flies with me or that suits me.
Until recently I was under the impression that the singer, Plastic Bertrand, was the
best the French could offer in punk music.
Certainly many French people I know claimed him a their fellow countryman. In fact,
lil‘ old Plastic Bertrand is …… a Belgian called Roger.
Roger was not really hard and edgy when compared to real punks such as The Damned
and New York Dolls (which reminds at Tachikawa station we saw a guy in heeled sandals
and a handbag but did not get a photo).
Roger cannot compete with these characters.
This was my first outing on my new DuraAce 7850 wheels. The
reviews I read were outstanding and I was not disappointed. Until
now all I had ridden were the cheap wheels that came with my bike.
Solid and bomb-proof like something made in the 1950s in the
Midlands of England but heavy. Could this be the thin end of the
wedge? The beginning of an equipment upgrade cycle that has the
good people of Treviso salivating? Can you hear the siren call of the
Dogma? In addition my bike had been given a pro overhaul by James
M and the gears were very smooth.
Anyway, back to the ride. The first climb was up Sasago Toge. This climb is every bit as beautiful as I had heard. Nice pitch, in the shade with some nice views. Dropping down the other side we briefly rejoined Rte 20 and soon turned off up Rte 218. This too was new to me and turned put to be a pretty tough climb with several parts at 11-13% (one bit at 14%). It took us up to Daibosatsuko (a reservoir) and then on to a peak at Kaminikawa Toge. Be warned, as I started to tire a bit the site of the reservoir wall up ahead was encouraging, however, the road goes on way above. I declared the top further up and stopped for a drink and an energy bar only to realise that after a short drop there was more climbing. At the real top we stopped to fill water bottles from a pipe. Just to check I asked the man sweeping the deck if the water was OK to drink: „Maybe, probably“ came the answer. We took our chances. Since this was a weekday we were likely to be the only people the Daibosatsu Talker would see and he was keen to talk. I asked him the name of the road we had just come up expecting it to have an interesting name but he told us it is called Rte 218. The road down the other side which we were about to take was Kaminikawa Toge (we were standing at the top of the pass). This leads down to the Fruit Line and would be a beautiful but in parts very challenging climb.
Down to Enzan area for a non-7-11 food stop and then we attacked Odarumi. We started this section at 516m and it ended at 2385m. With the exception of a 2km stretch that flattens out this is up all the way. Even adjusting for the flat bit the average gradient is about 6.6% but I rarely saw my Garmin reading that low. Several stretches go on at 9-11% and seem to never end. However, Team Etape were strong: nobody passed us………… but in the interests of full disclosure we didn’t pass anyone either. As we say in England, this was a sodding tough climb. We both admitted to asking ourselves questions such as „why?, „what the hell am I doing here?“ and „what would it take to get me back here?“. I suggested there were beautiful young non-males at the top with a cool shower and scrub down waiting for us but that was not to be. With 5km to go while we were riding in near silence as we faced up to our demons I said to James: „Just imagine if someone attacked now. Could you respond??“ He tried for a few yards and there were a few „Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi’s“ and then silence again.
Then followed a long and chilly descent. Arms get very tired on a 30km descent as there were few places to let the bike roll free. We returned to the non-7-11 where a local farmer asked where we had been and thought we were completely nuts when I told him. He said it must have taken 3 hours. He wasn’t far wrong. We were not sure where the official start was but from the food stop I believe we clocked about 2:50 of which about 2:30 was pain.
Bring it on Tormalet!!
Train back from Kofu and home and back down to earth. When I walked in the door the dog, Humphrey, was a welcoming but at the same time was wondering whether I was still angry with him for his recent campaign of guerrilla warfare. In the previous few nights he had eaten my freshly baked Rapha fruit bread (v. high calorie for rides) and all the foil it was wrapped in, a couple of the children’s socks (visit to the vet), a bunch of bananas, a pack of raisins and on that day when he could not get to any food he decided to chew up a water bottle and the phone pad. When I told my wife that the ride was very, very hard, she asked, „so why do it?“.