|Mt. Fuji .. hidden when we were there at Noon, but visible now that we have made it back to Nakai/Hiratsuka.|
The morning was cool and chilly as I headed out to the start in Machida, just warm enough so that I left my arm warmers and full fingered gloves packed away in my saddle bag. The Brevet route quickly headed into the mountains to the west, so that we were at Mt. Fuji Kawaguchiko area by mid-day. It was still cool, the elevation and mountain climate offsetting the mid-day sun. Even on the big descent from Kagosaka Pass (1130m elev) through Subashiri (800m elev) and down, down, down to Ashigara Station (370m elev), it was warm enough for me to not bother with arm warmers, cap. By the time the sun set we were back in the sprawl of Kanagawa -- around Hiratsuka -- so there was only a modest evening chill.
We started near the Konno Seisakusho / Cherubim shop, and headed out through Sagamihara. (Indeed, I saw at least 3 or 4 Cherubim handmade custom bikes among this group -- each one beautifully maintained and spotless). I rode some at the start with a group that included Kojima-san, whom I met, but have not seen since, 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris when we struggled together to get back toward Lodeac on the return leg, both near sleep in the dark on the bikes. He slept at Lodeac and I continued on--a mistake on my part. He looked somehow different on a beautiful morning in October 2014. Different clothes, helmet (no light) and vest. Different eyeglasses, maybe? But helpfully his vest had the lettering "Kojima" on the back, so that was a tip-off!
Anyway, I did not want to ride with the group through all the traffic signals of Sagamihara. It is so much effort to start and stop repeatedly with a group of 6~8 persons. So I worked hard to get off the front and get at least one signal between myself and the group. That worked well and I was able to time my solo ride to catch more of the signals until out in the countryside. Of course, most of these folks passed me on the first, or second hills.
|Along Route 35 as we head through Akiyama toward Tsuru|
Some of us stopped on the road to Suzugane at Hamazawa village in Akiyama to get (and consume) freshly cooked, piping hot manju, filled with sweet red beans. I have heard about this for at least 6-7 years, from MOB and numerous others ... but had never actually experienced its wonders until Saturday. You could see the wood-burning stove, flames bright and several little old ladies in their white baking clothes working away. The seasonal flowers in front of the shop were glorious, and when I mentioned them to the woman serving customers, she told me they had been changed only yesterday. Fall has arrived!
|At the famous manju shop on Route 35|
|Fresh local autumn flowers next to the wood-fired oven room.|
|A small shrine just of Route 35 on the climb to Suzugane Pass|
|A temple just off the road as we near Kawaguchi-ko|
|Cosmos at Kawaguchi-ko|
|The park at Oo-ishi ("Big Rock"), on the North Shore of Kawaguchi ko.|
The next checkpoint was at Hashimoto, a small grocery store within 100 meters of Ashigara Station. The proprietors had several road bike racks out front (the kind where you hang the front of your saddle over a bar, rear tire off the ground) and some spare chainrings hanging in the window -- clear signs that cyclists are welcome. In addition to the usual fare, I got some cucumbers. When I asked at the register if they had some salt or miso for dipping, they quickly brought some as "service" (no charge). They looked happy that I was very happy at this -- just the kind of experience that makes me want to come back again next time I am anywhere near Ashigara on my bike.
We climbed Route 78 to Ashigara Pass -- almost 400 meters of elevation gain, including some quite steep stretches. It was a hard climb after many hours of riding. Then it was part way down the even steeper SE side ... then another short but painful 60-70 meter climb up a side road to the barbeque area at 夕日の滝 (Yuu-hi no Taki -- maybe "twilight falls"?) This was a delightful stop, manned by Nishi Tokyo and Kanagawa Audax staff serving charcoal grilled hot dogs, whole fish and yakitori (though only chicken skin -- a type of yakitori not favored by foreigners). One of the leaders of Kanagawa Audax was supervising the bike parking area, and I asked him why there were so many Kanagawa Audax jerseyed staff on this Nishi Tokyo Brevet. He said that both Nishi Tokyo and Aoba Randonneurs are Kanagawa Audax "spin offs". This I had heard long ago, but it seems they still maintain close links and work together.
|Maya Ide, volunteering at the Yuu-hi no Taki stop, talks with a rider. She told me she did the Merselo-Verona 1200 this summer and was raving about riding the Arlsbergpass, then Reschenpass and into Italy via the Sud Tirol (Naturns, Bolzano)! Some of the most beautiful summer cycling territory on the planet!|
Anyway, the rest of the descent from Ashigara was less technical, allowing very high speeds. After some zigs and zags, and long lines of cars, we took Kanagawa Route 77 the rest of the way past Nakai and Hadano to Hiratsuka.
|On the fast mid/lower part of the descent from Ashigara Pass|
My Garmin battery died somewhere in Atsugi along this sprawl of Route 63. My chain also jammed under the chain-catcher as I tried to get back on the bike. I hailed another rider -- the very Nishi Tokyo audax staff member who had done my bike inspection, Yamada-san (who was riding a Centurion frame and wearing a Team Telecom German national champion jersey, and said he lives in Machida.) He helped with light as I managed to remount the chain, and I followed him most of the way to the goal so I could ride without fumbling with a cue sheet in the dark. Thank you, Yamada-san.
It was a glorious day for a ride, and even if the route included some stretches I would rather avoid, there were many other stretches that I love, and Ashigara Pass I climbed for the first time. So all in all a very nice 200km Brevet.
|Home to Start|
|Start to Atsugi ... where GPS battery died|
|Goal to home|