15 April 2009

COLOR

It is difficult to find a good book about a subject in which one is not interest at all. At least at first. One good example is "Playing the game" by Ian Buruma which is even about two topics I am not interested at all (cricket and India) and is nevertheless a very good book, another one is "Flaubert's parrot" by Julian Barnes (the life of Gustave Flaubert) . Next in line would be "Color" by Victoria Finlay, which is even a more fantastic book about a topic seemingly so uninteresting that one takes it for granted: colors and how one makes them to paint, dye and do other things with them.
Every year, when spring comes to Japan, I start to see some new colors of flowers and trees when riding out on my bike. Plum and cherry blossoms for sure, then later camelia (tsubaki), the arrival of Ajisai equals the arrival of the raining season, later than Higanbana and my favorite Kosumosu in autumn, meaning that the nice cycling days will be over any time soon. How could it possibly happen that I developed a feeling for that, being a true engineer by heart. Should I not adhere rather to the different shades of grey, defined by the volume of added fly ash and portland cement in bare concrete surfaces of slope protections?

Anyway, on Monday, when riding out colors in Japan were at it's best. I started at the Kan One from Tamagawa, where on the left side of the road there is this building which looks like it is experiencing severe kidney's disorders. Every time I pass by I want to take a photo, every time I don't want to stop and pull out my camera ... is there some way to make good photos while riding without stopping, any hints?
The tank road then was covered by a blanket of fallen cherry blossoms. Then, as usual I lost the way when I try to find the small road to the North of Tsukui lake and instead and by chance I ended up climbing to Shiroyama lake, David has posted about. This is indeed a nice climb and can be easily added to our Sunday routine as following :

MY MAP FOR 20 BEAUTIFUL KILOMETER THROUGH HASHIMOTO

I then found the entrance to the Tsukui lake road and continued along to Doshi Michi and Miyagase lake. After a short lunch at one of the better soba shops there, I started the climb up Yabitsu. The weather was beautiful, the roads were empty but there was a nasty head wind.
I desperately wanted to do a fast time up, which I did, but the best part was that apart from two stretches when the real climb starts, I could feel that I could hold the climbing tension. Especially the last part, from the tea house at the river to the top of Yabitsu was very good and I was exhausted but happy when I reached the top.

Without break I continued the descent to Hadano, then further boring 30 km to road #1 at Ninomiya, through Odawara and then further on to Hakone where I took the second break of the day. It was already 4 PM and I wondered if I should really climb up to Moto Hakone at lake Ashino or if I should give up. But hey, I have given up the idea to combine Yabitsu with road "#20 from Hakone to Atami so many times, that I really wanted to do it this time. Yabitsu and road #2, being the most beautiful cycling roads I know, and the combination of both surely must have been something similar to total cyclorgasm.
Alas, it turned out to be more of a combination of two favorite dishes from my childhood (cherry jam and pickled cucumbers). I was going up slow to Hakone, this took me more than an hour as my legs were heavy after having spend seven hours on the bike already. The weather stopped to be nice. No more blue skies, temperature dropped to 10 degrees and I had my wind breaker even on the climbs. Finally reaching the highest point of road #1, the surroundings were covered in mist. And it is different to climb alone than to have a huge support from the Ekiden crowd like in January.

No time for a break in Hakone, up to Hakone pass where the headwind was even more nasty. Instead of going 40 - 50 km/hr down road 20 to Jukoku pass, I crawled at 20 - 30 km/hr because of the blloody cold wind. Then down from Atami Toge to Atami. Seriously, every time I am going down and I start to have cramps in my hands from constant braking, I wonder how I could ever went up here. This is the OWI 2.0 killer hill, for sure.
I had dreams of arriving during sunset in Atami, but the weather was not like that. Hoped the Shinkansen home, which took, including baging the bike, less than an hour.

A colorful trip with many facets in the end.

3 comments:

James said...

What a great ride. This is a route I would love to try soon. Just need to get mentally prepared!

Richard said...

The start of that route on route 158 is just a long spit (perhaps a 10 minute ride) from my house, along what I am guessing you call the tank road. Is that the cherry-tree road that is only for pedestrians and bikes? The 'Machida' end of that road is right behind my house, in fact I walk on it to work every day.

Thanks for laying out that scenic path through the Hashimoto area, though, like you, I get lost every time I ride through that area. I ought to know better, as it is my backyard ....

mob said...

Richard,

Yes, the "tank road"is indeed the cherry-tree lined road only for pedestrians and bicycles.

One of you Japanese friends, Hiroshi
[http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/yo8661] a veteran riders of many years introduced this road to us and we will be forever thankful.

The name "tank road" comes from the story, that the area used to be owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and that the road itself was used for the testing of tanks.

Still today, a high explosive tank barrage on Hashimoto would have some positive impact on city planing.

Of course, Uenohara, further up road 20 is even worse because of it's ridiculous and random arrangement of hills and has been the subject on many posts here.

The combination of Kan One road and tank road is a very good way to navigate from the Tamagawa into the more pleasant parts of Kanto.
The road along the Asagawa to Takao is also not bad but has been taken too many times already,