29 July 2008

In the clouds

With my family in Germany, I was planing a suicidal tour with Tom last Saturday in preparations of the races in Nariki, Shuzenji and Shiobara. However, all proposals coming from him were not suicidal, but a combination of different kind of tortures followed by suicide: Akiyama, Hinazuru, Suzugane ... if these three words come up in an IQ test and you are asked to name the logically following words, my idea would be Waterloo, Iwojima, and Stalingrad. All this followed by another ascent up to Matsuhime from Sarubashi. So after exchange of some e-mails we decided to go our own ways. The climbing performance level between us is just too big. Two weeks ago climbing up Dozaka, Tom was almost falling off his bike because of boredom, while I was in the process of melting away. Small lumps of myself were already scattered along the road and what was left was ghastly white and looked unhealthy.
The only hill I would ever climb again would be Dogenzaka, I thought then.
So, the logical conclusion was, that we do things independent from each other where we are clearly at different levels, and that we do things together, where we perform about the same. Concerning the later both of us came spontaneously to the conclusion that drinking beer at Ishikawa brewery should not reveal significant gaps in performance. So we opted for different ways to the same goal.

I left the house rather late and started to ride along the Tamagawa. It has been a long time since I rode on the right side (Kawasaki side) so I took the road to Noborito, then crossed again at Fuchu. I met another fast guy and pulled him at 37 km/hr along until the bridge after Y-Park. Then I took it easier until I reached the 7-Eleven at Itsukaichi. It was hot. Very hot. So I just bought some supplies and started the approach to Kazahari. I know that I would be slow and that I could not go for another Togebaka record, but it least I wanted to go in one stretch up to Kazahari Toge.

I was already slow from Honjuku to the Y-cross, surprisingly the road to Uenohara was closed for repairs. I was also slow from the Y to the deserted toll station. And even slower up on the road to Tomin no Mori. On the other hand, I never had the feeling that I wouldn't make it. My legs were feeling strong and steady, I just didn't hat the capacity to go faster because of the heat. I passed Tomin no Mori and went higher towards Kazahari. Later when I checked the records, I found out that only one time before I made the complete climb up to Kazahari in one go. The road was still dry, but I could hear already the sound of thunder from the mountains and I was wondering how the weather would be on the other side. Above Tomin no Mori everything was already hidden in the mist. Soon I was enveloped in the mist and the road became slightly wet. There were the usual amateur car and bike racers and at one time after taking a sharp corner at perhaps 10 km/hr, I heard a sports car approaching from behind and then the sound of screaming brakes.

This can make me quite nervous. Because you hear the sound of brakes and then you are from behind. Or not. I was not this time, but I had the strong desire to hit the driver. Preferably from behind, with a long piece of strong wood. Anyway, soon I was on the top and as the weather as getting worse, I started the descent to Okutama immediately and without a break on the top. But as soon as I had started, it started to rain heavily. No way that I would make it in this conditions down.

So that's why after loosing about 100 m in elevation, I turned back and climbed Kazahari again from the other side. Once I was on top the road was still dry. "Lucky", I thought the rain is moving in from Okutama and the high mountain is preventing the rainclouds to move on to Itsukaichi. So I started again the deccent to Tomin no Mori with the intention to take a break there.

I was soooo wrong. In fact, I was in the clouds when I was on top of Kazahari. And there is no rain in the clouds. And I was below the clouds on both sides of Kazahari - and there was a lot of raindrops coming out from the clouds. So I should have stayed in the clouds? Good idea, if to stay dry would have been my only goal. But it was already pretty cold. And there was a more urgent and pressing goal: To stay alive. A big thunderstorm going on and very close to me I could hear:


Which is Japanese, in English the thunderstorm sound would have been :


So I ignored the Tomin no Mori area and went on with the descent. The rain was getting harder. Just when I turned a corner, I could see a garage belonging to a farmhouse and I brought the bike to a stop and entered. It was a nice and cozy place - compared to what was going on outside.
Outside the raindrops came down in big splashes and the drain was not able to keep up with the downpoor of water. Inside I found some old newspaper, laid them down on the ground, unfolded my bike bag and took a short nap. I have no idea how long I slept. Gradually the weather was getting better and after a while I continued to Itsukaichi and then along Mutsumi Kaido to the Ishikawa Brewery. Speed was good and I felt well.

Tom and Nishibe-san, who decided to ride with Tom today where not there when I arrived. I asked the waitress if we could sit outside, as insider the temperature was close to 0 degress and anyway we were pretty sweaty and so we would scare away the other guests.

After 10 minutes Tom and Nishibe arrived and we had some nice beers. Ishikawa is a micro brewery and they offer quite some nice types of beer. We also had some good food to eat. Tom asked what the "pasta dish of today" is and the waitress answered "something with octopus". So I asked if we could have the "pasta dish of yesterday". Or tomorrow, whatever. Also we asked if the beer of today has something to do with octopus. So we had a great time and lots of great stories were told.

When we had soaked up enough beer we started the 50 km trip home. Tom turned a fast wheel on the Tamagawa and Nishibe and me were following in his draft. At one of the S-slopes to ascent to higher levels I crossed between some pillars and I didn't notice that between two gutters on the ground a gap has opened. My front wheel got stucked and I fell down. The bicycle was OK, my ellbow was bloody and a flat front tire was quickly exchanged with the help of Nishibe-San and Tom.

We then continued and at one point we have lost Nishibe and I was alone drafting behind Tom. I said goodbye when Tom was moving away from the Tamagawa towards home and when I was app. on the other side of Noborito on the dirt road I had another flat tire. And no exchange tube left. I had no choice but to pack up my bike, walk to Noborito station and take the train home.

I was pretty exhausted when I was home. But it had been a good day with some interesting things happening. Nothing special, just a good day.

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