Save the Date.
January 2 is probably the only day of the year that any cyclist in his (or her) right mind would ride down National Route 1 from Kawasaki to Odawara then up to Hakone. Usually a miserable road, full of speeding trucks and unhappy salarymen trying to get back to base after losing yet another sale, on January 2 the outbound lanes are shutdown for part of the morning, just a long enough window for the outbound leg of the 87th running of the Hakone Ekiden
(collegiate running relay), watched live by millions of spectators and nationally televised as well.
The runners start at 8AM in Otemachi, and get to Hakone – Ashinoko around 1:00-1:30PM.
Last year, reports indicate that a significant portion of the crowd was there just to see MOB and Manfred ride by in their JCRC „D“ Class Champion jerseys.
Two years ago we met in Kawasaki at 8:15 or so, and that worked out okay. This year, we will trade cellphone numbers ahead of the day, so we will not get into trouble if separated (as happened last year to some riders). The key is to stay far enough ahead of the runners so you don’t get asked to get off the road by one of the 20,000 police and 25,000 volunteers, but not so far ahead that you are riding in traffic. This is most difficult in the Kawasaki-Yokohama stretch, where there are frequent, long red lights (which must be respected, given the crowds, cross traffic and ever-present police). … I would not mind meeting somewhere beyond Yokohama Station this time, to skip the least pleasant part of the ride. Or start a little earlier and plan a decent rest stop after we get through Yokohama and out past Totsuka and onto Shonan coast/Sagami bay.
In any event, the main event is the climb from, effectively, sea level, at Odawara up to 875 meters elevation above Ashinoko. After Ashinoko, we leave the race and adoring crowds behind, head up to Hakone Pass, then take local Rte 20 (MOB’s „favorite road in Japan“) to Atami Pass, then burn up our brakepads on the descent to Atami Station, and hop the Shinkansen home (25 minutes to ShinYokohama, more like 40 to Shinagawa). Bring your bike bag (or let me know if you need one — I have a spare).
The 2010 report is here
, or is it here
, or here
? Okay, there were at least 3 reports. Not to mention MOB’s more detailed explanation of the event and concept than I just wrote above, here
And the very entertaining report from the Jan 2009 version is here
There is no 2008 report. I did the 2008 version alone, and bailed at Odawara due to New Year’s lethargy and equipment issues (later revealed to be a small but growing crack in my titanium frame’s bottom bracket — now rewelded and serving as a winter bike for the PE London chapter.
For anyone who wants to bring less-serious or fit riders, the Odawara bail out is a very relaxed and easy option. For anyone who wants to ride further than Atami, there are plenty of other options, of course.
Details about meeting time and place to follow.
I will also post a link on the TCC site in case there is interest.