06 May 2008

VENTURING INTO SAITAMA TERRITORY

A comment from the mob

What Toms describes below as a "short but powerful ride", was in fact a 180 km trip into hillclimb nirvana for me. Please take a look at the Ciclo data chart below:I met David by chance at Futago Tamagawa and together we rode to the Sekido Bashi meeting point. We then proceeded towards Ome station, and immediately one of the differences between Positivo Espresso team rides and NFCC ones became apparent: The Positivo team is starting full speed at the Tamagawa and we are very fast. Very rarely we are overtaken by other riders at the Tamagawa and we grind our way through all obstacles of human and other nature on the cycle path. Once we reach the mountains we are generally exhausted and climb at a leisurely pace. I contrast to this NFCC proceeds along the Tamagawa at a very low pace - it took me 2:17 hrs from my house to Ome station! On the way back with Tom after all that climbing and with a strong side- and headwind it took me only 1:53 to return. However, once in the mountains, the picture changes completely.

Also I believe Positivo Espresso would never consider to ride upstream along the left side of the Tamagawa for say 15 km, then cross a bridge and go downstream for 10 km just to turn to the left into Chichibu. No, we would ride ride on the right side for 5 km and then turn to the right. We have no time for such extravaganza, we would like to reach our goal immediately, no matter how fine the landscape or roads might be. Of course if the idea is crazy enough, we would just do it (like taking Wada as an intermezzo for Otarumi).

It was the first time I entered into the Chichibu area. It was also the first time for my to ride with a bunch of NFCC guys I hardly ever met. One has to be careful, it is just like going out for drinking I guess: It is acceptable to go drinking with a bunch of Russian sailors in your favourite joint in the Ginza; it is also OK to drink with your buddies in a small pub at the Odessa harbour. But don't go drinking with a group of Russian sailors in their favourite pub in Odessa harbour. You may end up to pay the bill. And more.

Once in the mountains the NFCC guys are very fast. I could not keep up with them but when I later checked the data I was also doing better than usual. Normally I am doing 600 - 700 m of climbing per hour regardless of the distance, on Tuesday I was more in the 800 m range.

We made a stop at Shomaru Toge where Tom promised that I would see Shinjuku on this very clear day. One could see Tokyo, but interesting enough not the tall buildings you usually see such as Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills or the Positivo Empire Building. But instead one could clearly see the huge white roof of the Tokyo Dome.

We then returned and when descending from Yamabushi Toge I could barely escape crashing head on into a car coming up on the wrong side of the road in a blind corner. I managed to escape by changing suddenly direction to the leftmost side of the road towards the guard rail - and the steep slope downwards. Unfortunately (or furtunately) there was a gap between the road and the guardrail in which I slipped with my bike and then I managed somehow to fall on the road rather than on the guardrail. All impact was taken by my head which crashed on the road sidewards and then slided over the surface for some distance. I looked like William Defoe in Platoon.

Jacques was so kind to help me to get set and my bike was OK so I continued to ride carefully in direction Hanno and Ome. After having this fantastic Royal White pastry, Tom and me continued to ride home at high speed. I was tired, but I could maintain the speed until right to my home. I like this long straight stretches of high speed in the flats.

An interesting an challeging trip. Everybody at NFCC was very kind and waited patiently for me at the top of the hills. It is good to venture out of the usually tracks and surely Chichibu has some nice roads to offer.

Original from Tom

Michael and I decided to join Team NFCC for a short but powerful ride into Saitama Prefecture. At Sekidobashi we parted from David who was on his short "morning-only" ride. The "approach ride" along the Tamagawa CR direction Ome was at a very leisurely pace - much too slow for Positivo Espresso riders like David, I'm sure. From Ome we rode direction Okutama and halfway, we crossed Tamagawa for a short U-turn to ride into Saitama Prefecture. The weather was simply perfect and the roads were not too crowded - no dump trucks for a change. Just when my bottle was getting empty, we reached Arai-Fudo-no-Meisui for a fill-up of delicious spring water! There were many cyclists on the road besides us; looks like the Saitama area is more popular than Yamanashi. We tried to get a good picture of Kabukicho from the top of Shomaru-toge but the whole Shinjuku area looked quite hazy. The team doubled-back for a downhill towards Ome and Michael managed to barely escape death in a blind corner where he evaded an uncoming vehicle by getting in the roadside where he slipped. Cervelo and Campagnolo wheels were intact but Michael's neck looked a bit bruised... Back in Ome, Michael took me to that famous Aurore bakery (bakery chain concentrated along Keio/Odakyu railroad stations). I must admit the favorite roll tasted great! Michael and I parted from the rest and we rode back in real Positive Espresso fashion...reigning the roads at full speed!

5 comments:

David L. said...

Glad you had a pleasant ride. After serendipity allowed me to ride with Michael up the river to your NFCC starting point, I went solo via Takao/Otarumi/Rte 412 and Miyagase-ko, then to Yabitsu, down the other side and back a ways toward town along 246, and then fought a nasty headwind down to Hiratsuka Station where I could catch the Tokaido-sen to Tokyo station and my office. Lots and lots of cyclists out today and spectacular weather for a ride. Yabitsu at its best. ... after a few hours of work and one conference call only, I was able to ride home and enjoy dinner with family.

TOM said...

Sounds like your ride was equally sublime! This year I haven't been to Yabitsu yet but I would like to try out some new loops around it. Saitama is very nice too...once you get to the other side of Ome, there are plenty of new toges to be discovered. Let's go together one of these weekends.

mob said...

I uopdated this post with some stories, data and photos for your pleasure. I will also send this to the NFCC guys.

TOM said...

Mob wrote: Also I believe Positivo Espresso would never consider to ride upstream along the left side of the Tamagawa for say 15 km, then cross a bridge and go downstream for 10 km just to turn to the left into Chichibu. No,.....

Tom's comment: In reality and while waiting for the traffic lights to change, we were about to take the right turn over the bridge which would have taken us right to our Ikusabata entrance point, BUT someone decided to go straight ahead...we all did some yelling but to no avail. Then we thought, well why not...a few more kilometers won't hurt! The Tamagawa left-side approach is a lot nicer than the other side where there is considerably more traffic. For the coming summer months, I intend to explore the Chichibu/Saitama region in greater depth!

TOM said...

Mob wrote: Also I believe Positivo Espresso would never consider to ride upstream along the left side of the Tamagawa for say 15 km, then cross a bridge and go downstream for 10 km just to turn to the left into Chichibu. No,.....

Tom's comment: In reality and while waiting for the traffic lights to change, we were about to take the right turn over the bridge which would have taken us right to our Ikusabata entrance point, BUT someone decided to go straight ahead...we all did some yelling but to no avail. Then we thought, well why not...a few more kilometers won't hurt! The Tamagawa left-side approach is a lot nicer than the other side where there is considerably more traffic. For the coming summer months, I intend to explore the Chichibu/Saitama region in greater depth!