This Saturday Jerome and I joined the Kanagawa Oct 2 400km Brevet from Numazu to Karuizawa and back.
400+ km. 4870 meters of climbing (really). 23 hrs 57 mins. Please click through to „View Details“ via Garmin Connect:
Completed in just under 24 hours, with many stops, including a steak dinner at a family restaurant in Saku, Nagano (complete with after dinner nap); too many brief rests slumped over my handlebars in the dark on the middle of the last two long climbs, completely exhausted; and 30 minutes or more passed out in a 24-hour McDonalds on the Southern edge of Kofu, Jerome and I the only customers other than a group of attractive women in the smoking area who looked as if they had just gotten off work at 2:45AM Sunday from one of the local establishments.
There were some familiar riders — a few from the Chubu 600; Tsuchida-san from the Saitama 300 km event in March, the ex-Keirin star who rode with a much younger guy (perhaps his son? protege?) as an assist; Daisuke S. from the Positivo Catteni club team; Jose, a Philippine expat who Jerome and I met just 2 weeks ago in Oume; and some of the Kanagawa organizers. We rode the last 75 km with an English speaking Brevet-crazed freelance software engineer from Kobe, Moriwaki-san. He did the Cascade Pacific 1250 km this summer, an identifying tag from the event still attached to his seatpost, as well as a series of three 1000 km Canada events (one day off between each in the series!), and said he had done a German 1000 km Brevet in a prior year, starting out of Munich. And no doubt he would have zoomed ahead of us, but for the fact that he waited with Jerome 30+ minutes for me at Lake Shoji-ko after the last long climb, and he must have been saving himself for next weekend’s Chubu 1000. All that, plus a mechanical problem (dying bottom bracket) that required him to make an unscheduled repair stop at a bicycle shop in Saku.
As with last time, Jerome had not registered and was an „unofficial“ entrant. He did commit to the organizers that, next time, he will register in time and pay the modest fee. He had a late meeting at work that went to 11PM on Friday evening, and so went straight to Shin Fuji on Saturday morning, planning to meet me 25 km into the ride or so. We missed our rendezvous, as I got through the first 25 km very quickly — a tailwind making it possible to zoom down the coast line at around 40 kph without undue effort, and Jerome stepped into a family restaurant for breakfast. In any event, I continued on, knowing he would catch me somewhere up the Fujikawa. At least he did not need to wait for me until we were well over 100 km into the ride. Then he waited at the top of (or down the other side of) each hill, each wait longer than the last.
As with other events longer than 300 km, there is way too much to put in a blog entry at 1AM. A few highlights:
1. The climb to Shinshu Toge went through some beautiful country. Somehow I was expecting stark, harsh terrain (like the approach from 411 to Kamihikawa), but there were nice farm villages and valleys, and even some downslopes to mix with the climbing from Nirasaki (360m elev) to the pass (1460m elev). Most of the gradient was reasonable – just a few km of 10%+ climbing near the top.
2. The „surprise climb“ of the trip was from Saku (low point 670 m elevation) to Naka Karuizawa (1003m elev). I somehow was hoping that the turnaround point — 60% of the way from Saku to the center of Karuizawa (well, the Shinkansen station), would be at the same elevation as Saku. No luck … and plenty of slow, suffering riders to witness after we started back down the hill.
3. We saw the sun rise over Mt. Fuji as we passed through „Asagiri Kogen“ – Morning Mist Highlands. A beautiful site … the scene not captured on film, as I was at that point descending at a good clip and has zero energy to stop and take photos.
4. This was a really well-thought-out course, especially compared with the Brevet at end of August. The Fujikawa was very nice, the route out through Minami Alps/Nirasaki avoided much of the „sprawl“ of Kofu, and travel on „main roads“ — 141 from Saku back to Nirasaki, 20 through Kofu, and 358 up to Mt. Fuji — was mostly during the dark of late night and very early Sunday morning, when traffic was almost non-existent. … until buses, cars and trucks started roaring up Rte 358 before 5AM Sunday. Our only suggestion to the organizers was that they try Rte 2 instead of Rte 141 between Koumi and Saku on the outbound leg, as the truck traffic on 141 can be heavy. Also, the course had the benefit that all of the hard work is done before the last 50 km, which includes a 30km+ downhill stretch that starts just after passing Motosu-ko.
|The view North while crossing the Fujikawa on Rte 300, 75 km into the ride|
|The view South.|
|The view West.|