16 April 2008

Sunny Tuesday




After the epic ascent of Enzan on Saturday, I felt rather restless. There is a race scheduled at the Gunma CSC next weekend and I definitely had not trained enough; I wanted to go into the mountains again before the race. So on Monday afternoon when I looked up the weather forecast for Tuesday and found out what a lovely spring day that would become (most likely) and then checked my schedule and found out in addition that I had no appointments for the day and that all things considered, all things could be postponed to Wednesday anyway, I decided to take a day off.

As my wife started to work this month, I have now to take care of my daughter and prepare her in the morning to withstand the forces of the Japanese education system. Getting her out of the bed is not easy. Getting her into clothes is also not easy. Usually the first question is: "Has Mama picked this shirt? Are you sure?" Yes I am, if I wouldn't be sure it would be refused immediately. We then continue in a lighter mood with Yogurt eating competition and making toasts for each other (She : Salami and cucumbers, me : cherry jam). Combing and fixing her hair is a real challenge for me. But I like this moments alone with my daughter and it is good to learn something new and challenging. Sorry, the last paragraph was about my life outside of cycling. Yes, there is one. I shall refrain from blogging about it too often.

So, with my daughter out of the door I was next on the Cervelo + GravityZero wheels plus Assos jacket (but not the Fugu one). I rode in one stretch the first 50 km to Ome station, I could hardly wait to get some more of the Royal White pastry there - simply delicious. I took only a short break and continue to ride to Okutama station, Okutama lake and then over the bridge towards Kosuge and Matsuhime on road 139. It was still "traffic safety week" and many tents were erected at crossings and many, many policemen and volunteers were sitting in the tents and ... well, were basically chit-chatting and drinking tea. But this caused many undesired stops.

At the crossing where david ignored the light and the subsequent shouting of the assembled West Okutama police force, the tent was empty. It can be reasonably assumed that all of them committed suicide to take the blame for not being able to stop a gang of four ignorant foreigners on arguably fast bikes.

The landscape was wonderful and so was the weather. I came home sunburned and to take the Assos jacket with me was a mistake - in the back of my head I still remembered seeing snow on Enzan the previous Saturday. Unfortunately the beautiful landscape is under further threat as many public works construction site were under way. Why - it is only April, the fiscal year has barely started. Should this give us some secret hint; could we use this information as an indicator of increased Japanese government budget deficit for 2008? Shall we sell this information to MorganStanley and the like? Financial analysis and hill climbing were never so close.

I continued to ride to Kosuge where I took the second break of the ride in front of the town hall. Kosuge is a nice village and Tom is right to propose to go there in summer and jump into the Onsen, perhaps even staying the night there. The boys day is coming closer and a long wire with many carp streamers was swaying in the wind over the river.

I then started the attack of Matsuhime, made the 571m ascent in about 52 minutes and added Togebaka No. 8 on the blog. There were almost no cars on the road and the views from the road are spectucular. From a landscape-point-of-view, Yabitsu and Matsuhime are my favourite climbs. I felt pretty OK going up, never it doubt that I would make it in one go.

I went down on the other side - more construction works, mainly slopes and some tunnels. Why should there be tunnels in this part of the country? There is no traffic anyway. There are hardly any people living there. There are plenty of good roads. The only reason I can imagine is, that these are not real tunnels, but that this is in fact a miner and tunnelling engineering primary school and that tunnels are built for education and training purposes.

My legs and lungs felt pretty OK on the descent, but my back starting hurting - I used too much arm muscles on the ascent. So going along route 20 back towards Sagamiko against a string headwind was a drag. Then I entered Uenohara. From my previous posts you might know that I hate Uenohara. There is absolute no reason to built a city in this ridiculous hilly terrain in the first place. All this unnecessary ups and downs leading either to nowhere or to country clubs. But again, perhaps I am wrong and this is not a city, but a city planing school for juvenile delinquents.

Also I crashed in 2007 in Uenohara and was almost killed by a 7-Eleven delivery truck who suddenly started to move in reverse direction on the main road.

This time I crashed again and now I really, really hate Uenohara. When I passed some cars on the left, waiting for the lights to turn green ["blue" for Japanese readers], I did not saw the level difference between the asphalt surface and the curbstone and there I was falling over to the left. Luckily only my body touched the hard ground, preventing any damage to my beloved new Cervelo bike. Bruises can heal - scratches in the frame are much more costly to cover up. I only had a bloody knee, that was everything. But my GravityZero rear wheel was not running straight any longer and fixing that will be a complicated exercise. The spokes can only be adjusted once the tire, tube and rimtape has been removed. I need to use my Campagnolo wheels again and get used to the slacking.

The good thing however was, that shortly after the crash my metabolism must have released a huge amount of endomorphine or whatever as a result of the shock of falling plus hatred for Uenohara and after the crash I did not feel any pain or any fatigue any longer. I decided that this must be the perfect race strategy : crash first - race later.

So I continued to Sagamiko and then took the train to Jiyugaoka where I paid a visit to Nagai-San. He fixed my bike and I showed him the GravityZero wheels and explained in all glorious details the advantages of the hub, like I did already to almost everyone of you. Like everyone of you he was not very impressed.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day out in the nature and I felt somehow gaining form and loosing weight. If I pass the pass/fail racing criteria in Gunma next weekend I should be happy.

3 comments:

TOM said...

Very entertaining read, Michael.

It reminds me of one of my former bosses who once popped the question: "what do you think gives the owner of a business the most satisfaction?"

Trying to be affable, I tactfully answered: "to know you are contributing to society and see your employees working diligently and in harmony".

To which this former boss replied: "Wrong! It is the freedom to chose my own holidays whenever I want!"

What a conceited moron I thought!

I know you're different though and I'm just envious you could take advantage of the nice weather yesterday!

By the way, the overnight at the onsen I proposed before is not in Kosuge (there is an onsen there but no ryokan) but in the sleepy little town of Enzan where there are about 8 or so onsen-ryokan establishments. Very nice and there is even a bar where a "sexy" lady serves Guiness (and other cocktails - some very dubious ones as well). Perfect for preparing a next-day climb of the ODARUMI-Toge (please no, it's not the Takao OTARUMI) up to 2,360 meters. We really ought to do this one with the Positivo Espresso members.

David L. said...

Happy to try the real Odarumi sometime.

Michael -- I'm envious that you made it out of the city on a beautiful day. Sorry you crashed, but glad to hear you and bike are in one piece.

For Matsuhime's Togebaka, I think for your starting place you need to use the "T" intersection where, coming from Tsuru Toge, you can turn left to go up Matsuhime, or turn right to go toward Kosuge and Tabayama? I think it is only 500 meters elevation gain from there to the top (750 to 1250), but I don't have any idea where Kosuge city hall is, or whether you pass by there coming from Tsuru Touge?
Best,
David

mob said...

Togebaka Start Point :

When you come riding from Okutama-Ko along route 139, it is pretty easy to find. You ride along the river until you come to the village (Kosuge) and there is one light where you need to turn left and cross the river.

You are right, crossing where the road coming from Tsuru Toge is intersecting is at a higher elevation, there might be only 400 - 500 m left.

But if you come from that road, you have previously crossed Tsuru Toge - so will you be attacking Matsuhime as well.

Anyway, I have no particular preference, if we have actual rides let's change this one.