14 April 2009

A 1.0 on the open Wada Scale

Yesterday, when I was climbing up Yabitsu and I was going steady and fast despite some headwind, enjoyed the ride and crossed bridges named "Hell swamps" I wondered: Why are some climbs so easy and some are so different to complete? And the suffering has nothing to do with the distance, the elevation difference and the average gradient.

So I came up with the idea to setup a new unit , which gives a better idea of climbing pain. THE OPEN WADA INDEX [OWI]. An Open Wada Index of 1.0 describes the pain inflicted on oneself while arriving on top of Wada Toge after making a decent effort to chase one's personal best time. This is of course a highly individual index, but I guess it serves well to compare other climbs to one's own experience of Wada Toge. Which after climbing many mountains in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chichibu, Yamanashi and Shizuoka, is still one of the more challenging climbs the Kanto area has to offer.

The index is open, because all climbs that are harder than Wada can be rated with a number higher than 1.0 and there is no upper limit for this. A typical Saturday ride by Tom, including more than 250 km of distance, more than 10.000 meter of climbing and passing through various strictly forbidden tunnels, roads and forest fires would perhaps score as high as 30 on my OWI scale, if I ever would be so foolish to undertake such madness.

Here is my OWI rating for some of the more common mountains and hills on our weekend rides:
  • OTARUMI TOGE : 0.80 Not a difficult climb but one has to be faster than 15 minutes and the rest of the pack. Every time. [Takao approach]
  • JEROME'S HILL : 0.82 Even faster. Full power from the start to the end not giving up. I am even more exhausted on top then for every other climb. [Itsukaichi approach]
  • TOMIN NO MORI : 1.10 A very long climb with a very frustrating straight stretch close to the end. [Itsukaichi approach]
  • YABITSU : 0.50 This is not a climb. This is like a weekend spend on a river. {Miyagase approach]
  • MATSUHIME : 0.95 Long, but not unreasonable from Okutama. The approach from the other side would be more in the range of 1.2
  • ATAMI TOGE : 2.00 Rode down yesterday and wondered how I could ever went up this one. An ongoing nightmare in 2005 with Juliane and David.
  • KOBU TUNNEL 1.10 The last climb is OK, but going through the golf club hills is doubling the inflicted pain [Uenohara approach].
  • YANAGISAWA 1.45 Long, long, long through the deserted landscape of Okutama. Not sure why, but not so attractive to me [Okutama approach].
  • SHOMARU 0.85 The first two kilometers are always killing me but once I have found my rhythm this goes quite well. The end is also always more far than one thinks. [Hano approach]
  • HAKONE 1.60 Still and after all the years, one of the most difficult climbs I know, also due to the traffic congestion and the gradient [Odawara approach].
As one get better, faster, develops more stamina, the OWI does not change if the roads are regulary experienced. If not the memory is playing tricks: One of the hardest climbs I regularly did was a small hill on the coast of lake Hamanakako close to Hamamatsu, where I rode my 60 km laps in 1998/99. This must have been a climb of perhaps 30 meter elevation gain, otherwise the lap was more or less dead flat. But still, this hill was killing me, so thinking back about this time, I would easily award it with an OWI of 1.0 or more.

But last year I was riding in Hamamatsu just for fun and I didn't even notice the hill.

So, what are the Toge of Kanto with your lowest and highest OWI?
MOB experiencing an OWI of 3.0 in front of an enthusiastic crowd at one of his first solo races ever in Ashigara [dead flat course].

2 comments:

Manfred von Holstein said...

This is a nice idea, though my own ratings would differ quite a bit. For starters, I really like Wada and cannot give it a rating that would suggest difficulty or toughness. At less than 20 minutes, it is of reasonable length and very nice going up a lovely forest.

For me, the ultimate nightmare are climbs on roads with heavy traffic. And long climbs that I do when I'm already pretty exhausted. Anything else is nice. And I like long climbs when the landscape is beautiful and I don't feel like having to put up another best time. I refuse to do a time-trial on Yanagisawa - it is just too nice to be spoilt by one's ego.

TOM said...

Wada is a perfect benchmark for measuring the degree of pain when climbing other toges no matter if they are longer of shorter. Imagawa for instance, although a bit shorter, would in my opinion be rated a 1. Matsuhime from Saruhashi-side, I would give a 2.2, Suzugane from Saruhashi-side is only a 0.4 in my humble opinion.