08 January 2009

Cold Fever Ride

I don't like getting out of my warm bed early in the morning on a cloudy winter day in Yokohama. Or any other city. If I had knew, that I would be in my bed again 13 hours later, would this have changed my mind? No, because out of this 13 hours, I would have been on the bike for 11.

Ludwig and me met at Tamagawahara bridge, our new meeting point at 8.30 AM and discussed where to go. Doshimichi to Yamanakako was one idea, Kazahari Rindo another. We were in the middle of a heated discussion [as usual] when I looked down my bike and noticed that I did not only forgot to bring my water bottle, but also my bike bag. So we had to come up with something that would bring us home on the bike or at least close. We decided then to go for Tsuru and Tawa as this was a new road for Ludwig and one I have not taken since summer [when I went there with Tom, Nishibe and Laurent on my failed approach to climb Odarumi].

We had some headwind at the Tamagwa and did not progress too fast. So it took some time until we reached Aurore bakery in front of Ome station where I had my traditional breakfast of Royal Milk Bread, delicious as always. Then we decided to make a turn over the bridge close to the house of Ryoko & Stephen and continued on the right side of the Tamagawa towards Okutama lake. Immediately we encountered a group of three bikers [brands of the bikes as well as crank types unknown] which were not exactly slow but no match for us. In order not to be overtaken by no means by these guys we speeded all the way to Okutama and then we made the climb to Okutama lake which went pretty well. We saw the first snow of the season on stretches of the road in the shadow.

A had my Assos Fugu jacket on which is that warm, that I was profoundly sweating inside and I carried more water up the hills in my jacket than I do normally in my water bottle.

A longer lunch break at a non-traditional restaurant was followed by a trip along Okutama lake where we passed by the david J memorial traffic light and continued to the village of Kosuge, the startpoint to four famous passes: Matsuhime, Tsuru, Imagawa and Daibosatsu Pass [大菩薩峠]. Has somebody been up there? We asked a guy at the local grocery store if it is possible to ride up there, but he said "No way!"[道がありません] which of course doesn't mean anything to us. Something for a MTB?


TOM's comment: Congratulations Michael & Ludwig...that is a long ride for the mid-winter season! As to Daibosatsutoge, I attempted this one last Summer and confirm you cannot cycle up there which is a pity as it would be a nice alternative to the sometimes boring Yanagisawa. As you can read in my blog, I did the South-side approach where you can go all the way up and cross a ridge called Kamihikawa-toge 上日川峠 and then descend down to Yamato/Sasago. Excellent little road! As you go up, you can see on your righthand side those viaduct bridges leading to Enzan.

Actually I pondered the idea of buying a MTB after the excursion to route 76. After thinking for a while it became more than clear to me that in fact I do own a MTB, my Cannondale Bad Boy and I just need to buy a new set of MTB wheels, as I have now small 23C road wheels mounted. So I can get a MTB for about 40 - 50k JPY and start to explore the trails of Okutama - great. A new set of wheels will also not raise any suspicions at home of overspending as a new bike will most certainly will.

We started the climb up from Kosuge and for a moment we were thinking of riding out to Matsuhime, but the thought of riding back from Otsuki on route 20 let me state a definite "No". After we have reached already elevation 800, we lost about 100 meters and then the rather steep climb to Tsuru started. I have never gone up that way before, the road is partly like an Autobahn and partly very steep. The whole route is in a valley and it looks somehow desolate and dark with only scare vegetation.

It reminded me of a place in South Tyrol where I went skiing with my parents when I was a kid. We were mostly skiing in a village called Taisten [or Tesido in Italian], which was on the top of a hill and fairly sunny, but sometime we went to a village in a nearby valley called Santa Magdalena which was in the shadow of the nearby mountains, always freezing cold and people used to be poor and grumpy. I always thought: Why are these guys there not moving to the next valley, Spain or California when life is so miserable there that one has to revert to and name places after catholic saints, perhaps to find some consolidation after death. Well, I guess it is the same reluctance that prevents us from marrying at the age of 20, buying a compact crank at 45 or shopping for adult pampers at 75.

We made it to the top and the following ascent on Tawa is much shorter than I had in mind. Then we followed the road to Uenohara and continued on road 20 to Otarumi where Ludwig made his attack and left me far behind. However, at Takaoguchi around 4 PM, Ludwig took the train home while I continued my punishment, partly through the dark.

Below you can see the MapMyRide Map, resulting from Ludwigs Hollux GPS recordings, and below that you see my CICLO data. Clearly one can see the Otraumi peak to the very right of Ludwigs MapMyRide, whereas I continued after the said peak (at less than 3/4 of the distance) and added another 55 km to this ride. I reached the Tamagawa in the sunset and the starting point of Tamagawahara bridge in complete darkness. Finally, after another 20 km through urban Yokohama I was home after an eleven hour trip of 195 km distance. I have not done many longer trips, except for Itoigawa and Shimoda in the summer and for sure I have never done a ride of similar distance during the off-season (November to February). But somehow it was a good training for the upcoming race on Saturday.

In the evening I had fever, agne and was basically I complete useless human being which could not provide any service whatsoever for my family. But I guess that is OK if it is for the sake of a higher purpose. Whatever that may be. Perhaps waking up in the morning in Teneriffe and joining the Astana team for a 3.000 meter ride?



1 comment:

TOM said...

You guys seem to be in the saddle every day lately! I can only envy you. I answered Michael's question about Daibosatsutoge in the post. I'm happy to read that Ludwig seems to be reveling in all the hill climbs of recent. Michael, who says you won't have enough time to train for Kusatsu?? Too early in the season?? but there are still 4 months left! Come on!...at the pace you're going you'll be in perfect shape!