17 May 2009

Kazahari Rindo (forest road) Conquered*

If you had not heard, Jerome and I are training for Transalp; he just returned from 2 weeks of eating and drinking his way through France and Senegal, and we were looking for mountains!

Not just hills, but mountains! STEEP mountains! The kind of mountains that Tom and Ludwig write home about.

We headed out up the Tamagawa early Saturday, under dark skies.

By the time we got upriver as far as Fussa City our plans were a bit up in the air because of the threat of rain (it turned out to be only a few drops, but looked ominous at the time), and some serious jet lag for my returned teammate.

Instead of Matsuhime or Yanagisawa, we thought prudence the better part of valor, and eventually decided to head up Kazahari.

Kazahari Rindo -- I had never been on it before. It is truly in the "lost valley" of the North Akigawa -- I had not been even on the lower reaches of that stretch yet this year and forgotten what a picturesque setting the valley is. More North Akigawa, please! The only problem -- and the reason it is still undeveloped -- is that there is NO WAY OUT.

No way out, that is, unless you count the crazy route up the Kazahari Rindo, with grades of 15-18% over long stretches, and a fence blocking all traffic (except foot and bicycles) at the top; or the other, poorly maintained, partially closed and also very steep road over Nokogiri-san ("cross cut saw mountain" -- just as ugly a hill as the name would suggest) and down the other side to Rte 411/Oume Kaido. Nokogiri is one of Laurent's favorite climbs, but the only time I did it, my tires were slipping treacherously on the rough, damp surface on part of the climb where the road had poor drainage, and on the descent I sat on my brakes so hard that my front tube overheated, causing a flat.

Anyway, others have written plenty about Kazahari Rindo in the past, and I did not have my camera along, so let me suggest you visit Ludwig's and Tom's posts.

I was a bit concerned about trying this hill with my 53/39 crankset, rather than the compact 50/34. At least, on the descent, I would have my tubeless tires and would not need to worry about flat-due-to-overheating.

The good news, Jerome and I made it through the Kazahari Rindo with NO PROBLEMS. We did not even walk on the steepest section. The road surface is smooth and well-maintained the entire way, even on the section between the fence at the top and the "kinoko center" (mushroom research center?), and we might have broken some records.

We are ready to claim the "reverse polka dot" jersey for Positivo Espresso!

THE END

*Our full route from Fussa was: continue up the Tamagawa to Oume, then Yoshino-Kaido to its terminus, then Oume Kaido (411) up to Okutama-ko Dam and along the lake to the far end, ascend the back side of Kazahari on the normal road with about 100 motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts going through their paces, DOWN Kazahari Rindo (YES!!!! Conquered!!!!) and the North Akigawa, back to the Tamagawa and home. Average moving speed of around 27 kph for the entire ride, and an even 162 kilometers or 100 miles.

We passed a TCC contingent (Deej?) on the North Akigawa, just below the entrance to the Rindo. Hope they had a nice climb.

5 comments:

TOM said...

Almost ran in it! Very entertaining story David. I wish you and Froggy a splendid time doing the transalps.

By the way, next Saturday is Itoigawa...my starting time is 6:00. Anyone interested in riding along (for free)?

Juliane said...

David - maybe you don,t need that compact crank after all ;-)
Yesterday Juliane and I found a guy out riding with one leg - he had a very high tech false one - titanium and carbon fibre - amazing!
We're just off for some more mountain training - well Hindhead anyway. Closest thing to a mountain near London!! David

David L. said...

David J.: Have you thought about getting one of those oxygen deprivation tents that mountain climbers sleep (live?) in before they set off for the Himalayas? It might help compensate for the lack of mountains around London. Otherwise, I guess you could continue escaping on weekends for exotic locales.

Tom: My schedule is still up in the air for next weekend, so I am not in position to organize the "ride along Itoigawa" training camp. Michael and Jerome are out; I hope Ludwig and James are still interested, maybe Stephen and others ?? ... but my schedule is still in flux with some risk of work/non-work conflicts.

Anyway, if I join, I would hope to leave my home really, really early (before 4AM?) rather than spending the night in Hachioji/Takao area, and to ride out ahead so that with a 6AM start you would probably pass me somewhere on the climb toward Sasago (or even beyond??). But I don't know how far I would go ... no way I would get from my HOME to Itoigawa. I would probably stick to a one-day ride with train back, though I suppose if others do the planning it could turn into an overnight -- I was thinking that at Chino, just south of Suwa, we could turn West and take Route 152, then route 361, then route 19 - nakasendo, ending up in the kiso valley (would be great to get to an onsen early/mid afternoon, bath, eat and drink, sleep early, and ride back on Sunday via Route 299/Chichibu? ...

Manfred von Holstein said...

David, I'm not sure I understand - did you do Kazahari Rindo uphill or downhill?

I was also struggling with the weather. Started out in Otsuki for Sasago Toge which was fine. Then up Kamihikkawa Toge - this time no police that kept me away, but instead the occasional rain drops. After that Yanagisawa Toge and that's where the rain drops became more intense. Wanted to add another one or two passes above 1,000 meters, but by that time it was clear that anything higher than 400m meant riding through rain drops or even constant rain. I was out of the drizzle only in Okutama. Finally the rain caught me again in Ome. Hoping it might stop I went on towards Hamura, then decided to give up and hop into a train. Just as I was seeking out the train station, I sleeped on one of these nasty metal covers in the road and crashed my bike shifter down into the road (and my right arm too). Fortunately no harm done other than a bruise on my arm and the right shifter out of position but otherwise undamaged. But the shock was big enough not to continue riding even though the rain had stopped by the time I reached the station.

Anonymous said...

Hello David!

Yes, that was me and fellow TCCers Travis (YellowGiant) and David.

For some reason, your presence prompted me to giddily shout "Allez! Allez!" as you passed. Something I have never said before in my life. Must have been your majestic figures as you rolled, godlike, down from the mists.

Our ride was immensely enjoyable and fatiguing. And I accidently set a new personal best time on Kazahari-rindo (from the vending machines, not the turnoff).

Glad to hear you conquered the rindo -- it's indeed a challenging climb.

We should organize a joint TCC-Positivo ride one of these weekends!

Deej