Tagesarchiv: 3. Oktober 2010

Beautiful Brevet

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.

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Riding With The Russian

The title for this blog came to me while cooking tonight (a delicious ragout with fusilli which was very good even though I say so myself). I was listening to the B.B. King & Eric Clapton album called ‚Riding With The King‘. Now I am not suggesting my riding partner Laurent is regal in anyway other than perhaps being The King of The (Quick) Drink After Work. We met by the river at 7:15am and headed off while discussing the day’s route. In contrast to the official Positivo style where a route is planned and then ignored, we didn’t start with a plan. Both of us set out from our homes feeling tired and expecting a shortish ride but then The Russian mentioned a drive up to some caves he did with his son earlier in the summer and we started to think bigger. Along the way we met Pro Dave (James M) who was waiting for Mossad’s man in Hachioji, Yair. They were to do the last ride before Pro Dave headed off to ride the Tour of Cameroon with his team. We rode for a few km before our paths split and sent Po Dave off with our best wishes and the warning of non-male-borne diseases in Africa for which we do not even have names.
Nowadays we ride along the road by the river rather than on the cycling/jogging/dog-walking path and this was definitely a good thing on this day as there was the 30km and 50km marathon walk going on. There were many hundreds, if not a couple of thousands walkers on the path. The variety of dress was interesting: some in T-shirts & shorts, others in jeans and collared shirts while others were decked out in full hiking gear with boots, gaiters, two cross-country style walking sticks, ruck-sacks, compression tights and GPS watches. And don’t forget those bells to warn bears of your presence! I saw it all except for ropes and crampons. We arrived at Ome and paid our respects to the Aurora Bakery by buying a Royal Milk Bread each which we devoured sitting outside. it was on our last visit here that Laurent was cleverly unmasked as a Russian by an American agent pretending to be a stoned, mid-30s, shoplifting loser. Great disguise which had us all fooled.
We rode on to Okutama and then turned up Nippari Kaido, a new road for me. It climbs gently up to a shrine and some of Japan’s longest caves. Much of this road is even prettier than the wonderful Yabitsu Toge. On the way up we met Steve ‚ Montezuma‘ Tallon who I had not seen since the Tokyo-Itoigawa ride. He was looking to blow off the cobwebs of jet lag with a warm-up climb up Nippari Kaido and then Nokogiri and Kazahari. On the descent we tried to explore roads leading off the main road but they went nowhere far before turning into rough tracks. Having briefly rejoined Ome Kaido we turned off up Nokogiri, another first for me. This climbs up 650m to 1,000m at the top. Almost all the way my Garmin reported a gradient of 9-10% with stretches at 13%. It is interesting to see how much stronger I felt now the temperature and humidity had dropped compared with August. I was surprised by how good I felt on the climbs considering not having had a good night’s sleep for a few days. We were actually chatting on the way up unlike the near death experiences The Russian and I endured only a few weeks ago going up places like Shiozawa Toge. The descent however was rough and much time was spent on the brakes. Parts are already slippery with moss and wet fallen leaves are just beginning to accumulate. A fast run from Honjuku to Itsukaichi was interrupted by an ice cream stop at a tofu store. Tofu flavoured soft cream is definitely recommended.

Just as I was preparing myself for the uninspiring ride from Itsukaichi back towards Tokyo The Russian, no doubt utilising his orientation skills learned in an elite but secretive academy back in Moscow, led me on a great road through villages, paddy fields in which old men were hanging out the rice hay to dry, shrines and under highway underpasses until we popped out at Fussa. From here we made our way back to the Tamagawa road and raced with a powerfully built man in an ugly jersey who was up on the cycling path. After we pulled ahead of him I felt we had made our point and so did not bother when we got held up at a traffic light, but The Russian kicked hard to pass me saying that we cannot let this guy go. Therefore, after riding 160km already we found ourselves riding into a slight headwind at 40km just to overtake someone we did not know to prove a point – what point though I am not sure.

At the outset of the ride I think we were both a little tired and perhaps were hoping the other would suggest an easy ride but in the end we had a great ride in wonderful weather and had a lot of laughs. 190km, 8 hours and 1,900m of climbing.

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Joint PE Father-son / Father-daughter event ?

The thought just occured to me after another beautiful ride with my daughter this morning…how about organizing an all-PE father-kid and/or an all-PE family (with spouse) ride sometime this autumn? David? Laurent? Jerome? anybody else?

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