08 November 2007

Giro de Hotaka

Last weekend, I met Michael & his family, Marek, Stephen & Ryoko at Hotaka. I was there with my “French team” to participate in the Day Two “Giro de Hotaka,” a 121km ride around Mount Hotaka in Gunma Pref. The size of this event (max. 300 riders), gorgeous surroundings and variety of the parcourse (more downhill than uphill) makes this event a very attractive & recommendable one to all Positivo Espresso riders!

One drawback as David pointed out correctly is the dangerous "touristy ride-cum-race" mixed format and this is what our friend Marek found out much to his frustration. Some guy touched Marek’s back wheel at the first downhill section at 40-50km/h, started to whobble and crashed! Marek, his wheel damaged beyond repair, was forced to sit out the rest of the race in the “broom wagon” trailing behind the last rider (which Marek told me was a pain to look at).

For some people including me, the event did not fully live up to its expectations. A lack of race marshals on major turns and intersections caused too much confusion. At the “Junction of Doom,” I led a pack of about 15 riders on the wrong road losing more than half an hour! Otherwise the organization was good…o-miyage maitake mushrooms, bananas & VAAMs at two aid stations, mushroom soup, a piece of apple & lunch box at the end of the race...

“Giro de Hotaka” + the short Hotaka Hillclimb on Day 1 is a two-day event I definitely want to participate in again next year. Hopefully there will be many of the Positivo Espresso riders going as well.

Here is map / elevation chart of this marvelous "Giro": http://www.ne.jp/asahi/bicycle/race/htkgiro/route.htm

mob: and here are the results : http://www.ne.jp/asahi/bicycle/race/result.htm

And I have some more pictures I wanted to add :

One showing Marek still optimistic before the start of the race. If only his speedmeter would have worked properly.

My family was also completely at the race and Anna our Aupair also joined. I hope that I can convert her during her 10 months stay in Japan into a cycling addict.

Should present her with the TREK bike from Tom.

TOM: If it's for Anna I'll fix you a special price!!

MOB : Did you see that Anna? Tom and me are getting serious here. I think you can do it, I mean you can still watch our kids, learn Japanese, go to HipHop dacing classes, enjoy nights out in Roppongi, Skype all your friends in Germany, get your friends to come to Japan, maintain your blog

ANNA: Ok, here is the deal: I'm looking for the kids, going to my Hip Hop classes, keep on stalking my family and friends in Germany (and get them to visit Japan), BUT: I'm quitting my Japanese class. Because I don't think that I need any Japanese skills during cycling... :)

Then there is a photo of Ryoko, actually taken when I wanted to take a photo of Stephen as he was assembling his bike before the race. But as he was bended over and showed bis back to me it turned out not to be a good photo at all. But just by chance Ryoko was also somehow on the photo and she looks here very mysterious like Bernard Albrecht from NEW ORDER on the famous cover of FACE magazine, designed by Neville Brody in the Eighties. Stephen and Ryoko are really nice people and as a couple very harmonious. I should be full of praise.

1 comment:

mob said...

Ok, here are some impressions from me concerning the race. I started with the 5th group of riders at 7:05 AM. The first part down was very fast, nice wide roads and one could easily go up to 60 km/hr even in the curves. Suddenly I saw Marek on the side walking so I shouted but on the other hand I didn't want to stop, I was just started, I was in second position in my group and I just caught some riders from the earlier groups. After about 20 km downhill which was really nice, the uphill battle began. First it was pretty ok, but in total one had to do app. 900 m up until the first summit. I caught Stephen, who started 2 or 3 Minutes earlier than me already at the start of the climb and went ahead. But then it became harder and harder and to my surprise Stephen and one other guy with a Opera jersey caught up with me. But then again, Stephen is really in good shape this year. So the three of us put some effort in and we made it up to the first summit and arrived at 8:45 AM, so just in time to complete the giro in less than five hours total. I tool some banana and made a very short break before descenting. The first part was a little bit boring: narrow roads, a lot of traffic because of the Indian summer leaves and then also I had to ride behind a bus. In the meantime another rider and the girl that finally won the women competition in 5:05 hrs have closed up on me and the next 50 km or so until the second rest we rode together. She was in very good shape, always taken over but then falling back. I was also lucky to stay with them as there were no guides to show the way, it was really pure guessing where to turn and where to go straight. So I was still on time when I reached the second rest at the lowest elevation of the race after 80 km approximately. Some downhill parts were again very nice with high speeds in the curves and I enjoyed.

Then there was uphill, but not all the time. In really became hard, when we entered the road where we had came the day before from the highway. I know that this was going up high, but I didn't expected it to be higher in elevation than the starting point. I overtook some more riders, but basically the position is fixed after 30 km or so, there is not much movement in the field and you do not see so much other riders any longer. It was really hard to get up and as I hae eaten already all my energy gel, I was running low on carbon and performance was going down. I was then down to 8-9 km/hr and still not on the top when Tom overtook me who has went the wrong way in the beginning. I could not follow him (as usual) and I decided to walk up the last stretch on feet, I really couldn't do it any longer. But luckily this was only about 500 - 1.000 meters, but cost a lot of time. It was then downhill until the last stretch up. I overtook two more riders and got caught by one (with a EDEKA jersey) and then there was the last climb to the goal. My son Henri was waiting for me at the bottom and he ran next to me in order to encourage me - but he didn't know what to say. So I shouted "Talk to me." And he answered "About what shall I talk?" and that made me so angry that it was rather easy to climb up the last meters where also my daughter was waiting and then I had made it. I was pretty much exhausted. In the end I finished in 5:20 hrs and 12 th in my age group and 32nd out of 120 riders app.
Wasn't a bad result considering that I am not a climber and later when I checked I found that I climbed up about 2.500 meters.
I felt sorry for Marek who had to spend the race in the broom wagon.
Next year again? Depends on the form and whether the weather is good or not.