Back from a business trip on Friday evening, I was recovered enough from jet-lag and found a brief window before the work left behind in my office fell back upon my shoulders, so decided to try a half-day ride on Sunday, taking advantage of perfect cycling weather.
Leaving home at 8:15, I made good time to Itsukaichi, where I stopped at the traditional 7-11 in Tokura, just before the climb up the Akigawa. There I met Nishibe-san, just emerging from one of the aisles in the store. I should have known he was there — if I had just taken a look at the beautiful Colnago out front. In any event, we both planned to head up to Tomin-no-Mori. Tom S. stopped by, returning from a trip over the back of the hill. He had ridden on Saturday with Ludwig and his VLAAMs teammates, well into Gunma, and had been thinking about a trip to Enzan on Sunday, but after a very early start had been feeling fatigue and wisely cut the trip a bit short and was settling for a warm-down ride of 145 km.
Nishibe-san and I each pose with the champion:
Nishibe-san and I headed up the hill. I almost stayed with him to Motojuku, but quickly lost him after the timed „toge-baka“ section started. It was my first trip to Tomin no Mori up the Akigawa this year, remarkably. There were lots of Japanesse cyclists already descending, many of whom looked as if they must do this ride every Sunday. The motorcycle moratorium of this Spring is definitely over, and they were out in force.
I climbed it in 74 minutes, 3 slower than my „toge-baka“ best, but I was happy nonetheless since I had gone too close to full-throttle from home to the base of the hill, I was using the HED deep-rimmed, slightly heavier wheels, and I was not even tempted to pull off and rest on the way up. Two well-timed gels did not hurt. Nishibe-san made it in 65 minutes and was finishing his bowl of o-den when I arrived.
After some food (beef curry out of a package), we headed back down. I decided to push it a bit and see if I could make back some of the 9 minutes lost to Nishibe-san on the climb. Despite stopping twice for road construction, waiting patiently with the motorcycles and a few cars, I made good time on the descent. Reaching the Tokura 7-11, I hopped off, bought a chocolate monaka bar, and waited for Nishibe-san … who came rolling in 11 minutes later.
It is hard to recall that only 4-5 years ago this kind of run-out would have been considered a major ride for us. Now it is barely worth a blog entry. Then again, my legs this morning are telling me that it was real, hard work on the climb!
P.S. Jerome was in Kobe this weekend … rode with Moriwaki-san on Saturday. Nishibe-san and Jerome remind me that they want to plan a ride and post-ride meal for Oct 30, when their friend from Kobe — moving to Tokyo — will join.