02 May 2008


Yes, yesterday was the TTT (Thursday's three Toge) ride, an annual event initiated by Positivo Espresso with a long tradition dating back to 2008. I like this Japanese tradition of having none and showing off with it. How many times have we read slogans painted on cars on signboards such as "We have good nature and we want you to know. Since 2007."?
In any case, just after work I rode along Tamagawa and Asakawa looking for some distractions. Boy's day is close by and carp streamers (koinobori) are everywhere to be found. I saw a very nice example along the Asakawa close to Hachioji. There was an even better one at Kosuge [Matsuhime] some weeks ago, but I didn't took a photo.

There were lots of children let loose from school or Kindergarten and playing in the river. The teachers were constantly chasing after them and tried to get them back behind closed walls. Once captured, the kids were forced to stand to attention at the drill yard.
So it was a typical beautiful day in May in the country of Japan. After some time I arrived at the Takao 7-Eleven but instead of making a break I decided to give Wada Toge a try instead. I have been there only once in 2006 with Tom, Juliane, David, Jerome and Laurent so I didn't know the way, but I found the small road leading to Wada. Before that I crossed the Tokyo cemetery at Hachioji where there is a long and straight decent and it is easy possible to speed up to 70 km/hr - just the right dosis of speed before it is getting very slow towards the top of Wada. There were a lot of gales and strong winds this day, so sometimes I couldn't go too fast.

I was surprised how long one need to ride until the last bus stop before the Wada Toge ascent, I took a short break there and then I attacked Wada. Wada is hell for me. Wada is about 350 meters up at a distance of 3.7 km, so the average slope is already 10%, but in some places it seems more like 20%. With a standard 53/39 crank and a 12/27 cassette AND my body weight it is somewhat difficult to stay in motion at all. My speed was partly dropping to 7 or 8 km/hrs and I wouldn't have been surprised if some hikers would have overtaken me. It is virtually impossible to demount from the bike, because once you do, you can never gain the momentum to mount again and clip the shoes in. You simply fall down.

So I had a very hard time, but I didn't gave up. In the end I was saved by two Japanese guys who turned up with their car behind me. Two men, sitting in a mini car branded "Bistro" with small stuffed animals all over the seats and dashboard and God knows where and shouting with high-pitched voices "Gambare!". Please draw your own conclusions, but my one is : Real men don't buy cars which are named BISTRO. So having the choice to be sodomized or speeding up I decided for the later.

This brought me to the witchhouse on top of Wada Toge in 23:07 min. Not bad an improvement, if I consider that it took me 41 min the first time I went up. OK, mostly I walked up in 2006. But please take a look here.
This is the official blog of the crazy Wada tribe and obviously some of them do it in less than 15 minutes. OK, they are also less than 2/3 of my weight. So there is still way to go.

At the top of Wada I stayed away from the witch who as usually had some older male companion and was bitching around ("..good that no children are here..."). The last time a group of us went up there, they were all bewitched for one hour as we can see in this evidence photo. Juliane is in front with obviously Jerome. If there was ever any question about.

I then rode down the road I have came up to Wada because I was not sure about the roads on the other side and anyway I refuse to ride through Uenohara these days. I then took a well deserved break at the Takao 7-Eleven and then started to attack Otarumi, the second Toge of the day. I was pretty lame on the first flat part of the road. Then I experienced the first LSD trip of my life: I was coming closer to the top of Otarumi, but the road didn't got steeper at all. It was like to whole world has been flattened out indefinitely - the distance was still there, however there was no elevation at all. I had been dragged into a two dimensional world, where the word "hill climb" was not invented yet.

That was the experience - in fact of course it was the after effect of climbing Wada. After the 20% slope of Wada everything seemed to be so .... flat. I wasn't too fast but also not too slow, it was just very, very easy to climb up; it was the best LSD trip I never had.

Sorry to emphasize this LSD thing all the time, but the inventor of LSD, Dr. Albert Hofmann died just this week at the age of 102 and there is a very good post at BSNYC about him and his connection to cycling. I think it is a very amazing story, in particular the part that he [probably intentionally] took some LSD to check out for himself when there was no particular effect observed when administered on animals in the lab. Nobody would do this today, just imagined if somebody from the lab had tried an overdoses Viagra in the Tokyo subway during rush hours on his way home from the lab. These things are dangerous today!

And that he chooses to do that a second time just before he went home on his bicycle. I would like to propose him for a honorary membership in the Positivo Espresso team.

OK, so after the trip ended, I descended on the other side and went in one stretch along road 412, 413 and 64 to Miyagase lake where I made a small break at the entrance to Yabitsu Toge. Then I started the attack on Yabitsu Toge. Wada Toge is hell - but Yabitsu is really one of my favourite Toges in the Tokyo area. The ascent is so gradual the first kilometers and the landscape and the river is so nice. Constantly concrete slopes are added on the sides of the road unfortunately but looking at the state deficit this will not continue forever.

I went up the first time in 05 or 06 with Juliane. It was a typical Juliane trip. It looked like it will start to rain but Juliane convinced me that this was just an illusion and that surely it will stay try until we reached Hadano station. She stated this was her usual confidence, just like she used to say "Sure, I have three cartridges with me." So once we started to climb heavy rain started and didn't stop. It became more and more unbearable. At some point a huge wooden ship was floating next to us and a guy with a long beard looked from the ship at us and said: "Now that I see you guys, it comes to my mind that I forgot to take two cyclists on board. How about, join the other animals?" But Juliane declined with confidence that it will stop raining soon anyway. Oh, it did eventually. The next day when I came back from work.

I took me a little bit more than one hour until I reached Yabitsu Toge, the third T of the day. It was a little bit colder up there and I started to descent without a break. Also for the first time I passed five cars on my way down who were just driving to slow. A big truck didn't want me to overtake him so I had to play it a little risky.

I arrived at Hadano station, having done 150 km and about 2.000 meters of climbing. There is this huge bento shop at the station with more than 600 cheap bentos on display - but I didn't felt like eating at all. Anyway, Hadano is the bento capital of the world.

Then I took the train to Noborito and rode home the last few kilometers. I liked one of the labels that TOM attached to one of his posts so much that I added a slightly improved version.
Updated some Toge Bakas at home.


TOM said...

Nice story Michael! Yes that LSD bicycle trip is famous. Guess what, I happened to be on the WADA too yesterday! I left home very early though and the yamamba had not arrived yet. If you were riding through the cemetry speeding down until the bridge then you were on the correct way to Wada. Am planning to go to Wada (just to the foot) with my wife tomorrow. Tuesday is a "sortie montagne" with NFCC going into Chichibu area...joining?

mob said...

Tom, yes I read the post on your blog, what a coincidence. If the world should become more 2D, I should climb for often Wada Toge.
Juliane, david, david and me are planing to go to Izu tomorrow.

How about Monday to meet at Tama Jiman with our families for lunch?

Most likely I will join NFCC on Tuesday.I asked Kenichi Akitsu about; in particular if there will be any riders attending with my limited hill climbing abilities. I don't want to ride way behind the PRO guys.

Perhaps David will also join, that would be nice.

TOM said...

Saw Kenichi earlier today (he's the new owner of the FKC now), RdV for Tuesday is 8:00 at Sekidobashi. The idea is to do a slow ride in the mountains of Chichibu (Shomaru Toge) - not a race or TT or anything just an easy leisurely trip. David, david, Juliane...all welcome to join!

Will let you know about Tamajiman tomorrow...sounds very attractive to me. I'm dating my wife on the roadbike (Orbea) for the first time...tried to explain the Campa gear shifting system...it will take some time for her to get used to the logic behind Campa (left thumb down / right thumb up). She's confused already! Your wife will be riding the electric bike right?

mob said...

OK, if the pace is slow, I will be at Sekidobashi at 8 AM next Tuesday.
How about you, David?

Would be nice to meet at Tama Jiman on Monday. My wife would definitely come by car, my son, my daughter, Anna and me perhaps by bike. On the way home we can put the bikes in the car and return. Three bikes should be possible somehow.

Again, how about David and his family?

Todd from F2P is checking the production schedule for the POSITIVO ESPRESSO jerseys right now. He said it will be tight to get them for Itoigawa. I hope that they are here for the Oifuto race the week after.

TOM said...

Let's decide tomorrow evening for Tamajiman...if the weather on Monday looks too inviting, I might decide to go on a super long ride to Enzan Katsunuma Sasago...

For Tuesday, let's all try to go & expand the territory into Chichibu.

Wishing the Positivo Espresso team a great time in Izu Hanto...safe cycling (stop for the red lights whereever they make sense).



PS: put some extra pressure on Todd!

TOM said...

Hi Michael & Co...how was Izu Peninsula? I went all the way to Stage One of Wada-Toge with my wife! I told her about the Tamajiman plan for tomorrow but she's says she has had enough cycling for the coming weeks! Also just found out tomorrow's my own parents-in-law 50th wedding anniversary and that they have been invited over to our place... Will do a short 5-h ride instead today if the weather looks good enough.

mob said...

Hi Tom,
OK we postpone the Tama Jiman plans to some later date. No problem.

We had a very nice ride in Izu, will prepare a post later this weekend. Only about 130 km, but four passes (Hiekawa at 340m, Kokuto at 510m, Nishina at 910m and Jaishi at 360m) for a combined 2.200 meter of climbing with long and fast descents. A very nice day.
See you on Tuesday, 8 AM Sekidobashi.