06 May 2009

Umegaya Pass? Golden Week Traffic?

I remember Golden Week ("GW") for bizarre traffic jams like the one Michael mentions in his blog post earlier today, or this one that I encountered on the forest road up (and down) Wada Pass back in 2007 -- total gridlock, cars unable to pass, and once stuck in line unable to go back either, and the line getting longer minute by minute:

On Saturday morning, I did run into an unusual traffic jam heading out of town, about 60% of the way down the back of Otarumi Pass outside of Takao on Natl Route 20. I went by the line of cars and trucks, and was amused to find several road cyclists, Japanese of course, patiently waiting their turn in the line of cars. I realized it must go several km further, to the traffic light at Sagami-ko station or the entrance to the expressway, so I turned off at the bottom of the hill, cut over to Route 412 and took Charles' once secret route (Rte 517) on the hillside south of Sagami-ko. The GW traffic there looked like this:

Much better.

I've been taking advantage
of the work holiday and my kids' school schedule, until the rain came Tuesday afternoon and work returned today (need to run in to the office this afternoon). So far, my rides have been:

1. Wednesday -- "The Ride" over Yabitsu and Hakone Passes -- as fully documented in a previous post. 155 km and lots of climbing.
2. Saturday -- out past Takao/Otarumi, Rte 517, then back over Wada (ura Wada) and home. 135 km and one real climb.
3. Sunday -- recovery ride with my son Henry, by train from Chofu to Takao-san guchi, then riding over the hill and back home via Tsukui-ko/Yaen-Kaido ("the other Route 20"). 75 km. recovery, true recovery.
4. Monday -- Fast afternoon ride to Itsukaichi, up to and through the Koubu tunnel, and home via Uenohara and Takao/Hachioji. 145 km and one real climb.
5. Tuesday -- Out early, via Oume into Chichibu as far as Yamabushi Pass, then back to meet Stephen C. near the start of the Nariki/Tokyo Hill Climb, and together via his place (water refill) over Umegaya Pass, and with Stephen showing me the Southern entrance to the Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen climb ... before we parted ways and I rode home in gradually increasing rain. 150 km, one climb (Yamabushi) and a fair number of smaller hills.

None of these really worth its own blog post, but still a good set in total.

Henry celebrates at the summit of Otarumi, his biggest climb yet:

Some of you may (or may not) be wondering -- where is Umegaya Pass? I was asking myself the same question when Stephen told me it was his preferred route to Tsuru Tsuru Onsen ... as opposed to the forest road from Yoshino Kaido that TCC and Michael took (not sure if Stephen knows that way). As for Umegaya Pass, Stephen led the way up a climb that looked quite familiar, even in the darkening clouds. As we approached the top, it occurred to me that this little steep nasty climb from the North is what we call "Jerome Hill" when approached from the South. Mystery solved.


social budgie said...

I'm an ignoramus when it comes to road names. Do you perhcamce know the route numbers for Tsukui-ko/Yaen-Kaido?


David L. said...

Social Budgie:
Yaen Kaido is local Tokyo-to Route 20 (with a local, hexagon shaped mark). Not to be confused with National Route 20 (with an inverted, rounded pyramid/triangle shaped mark) a/k/a Koushu Kaido -- goes all the way to Koshu/Yamanashi and far beyond. That is why I referred to it as "the other Route 20" in the post. ... not to mention an intended reference to the 3rd Route 20 that runs between Hakone Pass and Atami Pass and is Michael K.'s favorite road. What I am calling Yaen-Kaido crosses the Tamagawa at the bridge just south of Y's bicycle shop -- one bridge NW of Sekidobashi (not counting the Keio-sen railroad bridge).

As for the Tsukui-ko (i.e. Lake Tsukui) area, we took Route 515 and 513 along the North side of the Lake these days. 515 is the narrow forest road. Both have hexagonal (local) signs. ... then you take National Routes 413 and 16, and various other small connecting roads if you want to make it slightly more pleasant, to get to the opposite end of local Tokyo Rte 20 (which becomes Yaen Kaido) after a few kilometers.
Best, David

PS I'm getting out early on Sunday. Need to be back early for Mothers' Day. Goodnight.