|A different stable of bikes leaning – steeds of David, Jerome, Marc Antoine and Camille|
Jerome and I left my house at 7:10AM Sunday, stopped at Takao 8:35AM, then continued on to Rte 76, Doshi michi, and to Yamanakako. With James and Dominic looking for a shorter spin, Ludwig and Tom away on a 2-day cyclo cross trip across every mountain in the Japanese archipelago, TCC training along the Arakawa, MOB in Bremen watching the grey skies and early darkness, the Russian into running season and recovering from his evening out with Dominic, Nishibe-san in Kobe … it was just the two of us, together again to relive the glory of Transalp 2009.
We made good time on the first leg. As usual, I started out strong and got weaker over the course of the day, while Jerome started weak and got stronger. In the morning, he was grumbling about the after effects of nightly Beaujolais Nouveau parties, apparently a big marketing opportunity for French cheese importers, Japan being the destination for 50% of the world’s Beaujolais Nouveau, whatever you may think of the actual wine.)
Things slowed down after I got a flat on Doshi and we stopped for a prolonged tube changing exercise, complete with valve extenders and rim tape adjustments. Then we stopped again at the convenience store between the turn off for Tsuru (Rte 24) and the Doshi Michi-no-Eki. As we snacked in the sun at the convenience store, Keren (sp) of TCC pulled up. He was at the far point of his ride (from Takao) and planning to go over Rte 24 and loop back. He started by „I saw (on the TCC site) that you were riding today, but did not expect to catch you since I was starting later …“ This brought home the need for us to step up the pace a bit.
As usual, the Doshi traffic was a bit heavy, maybe worse than usual because of the spectacular blue sky and dramatic clouds, the leaves in all shades and colors, from bright red and yellow to greens and browns. The sunlight and shifting clouds, plus passage of a week, made the scenery even more beautiful than last weekend. Unfortunately, I left the good camera at home and needed to make due with the Blackberry mini-cam — no foliage photos or panoramas.
On the outbound trip, traffic was worst at the Doshi Michi-no-Eki, where a line of cars waited in the highway to try to get into the parking lot, and some cars near the back of the line pulled out in the roadway in dangerous fashion. Fortunately, there was also a line of 8-10 Japanese road cyclists — younger fast types, that pulled out of the parking lot just as I passed, and quickly left me behind on the uphill. But I felt strong-ish still, and made good time. Jerome had been ahead out of convenience store parking lot and opened a gap, but stopped to take a cellphone call and „had no power“. I ended up waiting for him 5-10 minutes at the lake. I passed a bunch of other cyclists, including 2 couples on road bikes and a number of solo riders. Finally, I started to catch stragglers from the younger fast group. One, then a second who had slowed — I would not see them again. Then 2 more, stopped at a vending machine for a drink. The 2 at the vending machine eventually caught me again, one climbing quickly and steadily. The second looked like a kid of not more than 20 years old. As he finally caught me, I said in Japanese, „I weigh nearly 100 kilos. How much do you weigh, 55? 60?“ The answer „53“. „If I can climb at this speed, you should be a LOT faster. The top is just a little further. Ganbatte!“ That did it, and he pushed ahead for the last 75 meters elevation gain. When I got to the tunnel entrance, their group was all waiting there for the last stragglers, and they smiled and waved as I passed, no doubt having heard my challenge from their team member. I accelerated up the last stretch, out of the saddle, just to give them a good show.
Then down the hill to the lakeshore, and the final 10 km around the lake to the cabin that Jerome’s sister Benedicte and her husband Frank rent annually, sharing weekends with several other couples on a rotating basis. We joined their regular family barbeque, and met their delightful children Marc Antoine and Camille. This kind of mid-ride feast always seems to re-charge Jerome, whereas I spend the rest of the ride trying to digest the food (and sweat out the beer and wine) while riding. By the time we left it was already well past 3PM and the sun was below the hills to the south, a wide shadow on this side of the lake.
|Jerome watches the barbeque while carbo loading.|
|Frank runs the grill. He is a runner, who tried Fuji HC on bicycle this year and got second place in his class/age group.|
We decide to forgo Mikuni Toge and just ride toward home — back down Doshi, then past Tsukui-ko on the crowded South side, into town via Yaen-kaido and along the Tamagawa (lighted streets, not path, in the dusk/dark). I figure that once I get over Yamabushi Toge and onto Doshi Michi, I can just cruise downward for the next hour or more and the meal will not bother me too much.
It worked reasonably well, and by the time we hit Yaen Kaido, after suffering through heavy traffic on Doshi and riding through an endless line of sitting cars near Tsukui-ko and beyond toward Machida, I was feeling strong again. I pulled into my house a little past 7PM, 205 km for the day.