07 June 2009

Mt. Fuji Hill Climb 2009 -- Report

(David L.'s trip report)

The view from the top of the Mt. Fuji Hill Climb (5th stage -- top of the Mt. Fuji Subaru Line):

A great event again this year. This climb is only 4-5-6% grade much of the way, after some longer 7-8% sections during the first 5 km, and some shorter ones near the top (including the last 500 meters). Just in case anyone wants to check this year's time against last, the 2008 BGC team times can be found here . The 2009 official times should be posted in a few days (James - please let us know if you see them), but I think I improved from around 1:41 to the 1:33~1:34 range. Christopher D was up in approximately 1:28. Konstantin, who rode last year on a mountain bike, had a sleek Look racing bike this year and told me that he went from over 1:40 to something like 1:22~1:23.
As usual, the mountain did not show itself fully the day before.

But unlike last year, the registration was conducted without pouring rain, and we were able to walk around the exhibitors and find our good friend and Assos importer, David Marx. Stephen Coady and I each seized the opportunity to buy some essential items. And despite a discouraging email from Ludwig/Manfred when he decided on Friday morning not to join the event--something about how he wished us luck but it was going to be really shitty weather to be riding on Mt. Fuji and so we were all going to die from hypothermia--the view was spectacular from the staging area on the morning of the ride, and overall the weather was close to ideal.

*(I think this photo is worth the extra click to see it at full size -- it give the appearance of everyone and all the bicycles anticipating the attack on the mountain ... though in fact they are just looking in that direction to listen to the introductory speeches and usual warnings about riding safely, slower riders staying to the left, etc.)
Everyone was in good spirits, including a slim Michael H. and a very strong looking Konstantin. I'm not sure why Dominic is smiling, since he said he has not ridden in months ... but must have been staying in shape by other means.

Denis, who Stephen reports has taken a job in Hokkaido, and so will be cycling different routes for awhile.

David L., in his law firm's cycling kit.

Even the long line queuing for the portable toilets seems in good cheer, with a spectacular mountain view and sculpture.

Jerome and his son Augie, who wins the "youngest participant in the men's road race division" award ... or maybe youngest overall or youngest ever, since he is only 11 and the rules state that participation is only open to those 12 and up.

I raced back to the hotel (figuratively), packed my rucksack, and headed for Tokyo via Yamanakako and Doshi michi. I made good time, not stopping after the convenience store next to the hotel, except to fill my water bottle from a roadside source in Doshi, until I arrived at Hashimoto Station and hopped a train to my office, spent a couple of hours doing work essential to make Monday tolerable, then rode 15 km home for dinner.

Please add your thoughts.

(James K.'s report:)

"I attended for my third time. I can say that this event does not get old. It is very well organised every year, and with the bus trip up there and the nice hotel close to the shuttle buses I think we have it down.

I rode without my Garmin this year, thinking that a 'Zen' approach might be kind of interesting. I have absolutely no idea how I did and am looking forward to the official results with great anticipation.

Highlights for me were:
Chianti Fiasco.
Augustin's ride, truly impressive.
Konstantin flying past me - with three small Japanese riders tucked into his slipstream (they must have thought it was Christmas!) - after starting one group back.
Dominic's claim that it was the hardest thing he had ever done, delivered with a huge smile.
Chris (Orr)'s astonishing and continued ignorance of sunscreen.

Following my Kyushu exertions the other week I have been suffering with what I can only describe as some sort of tendonitis or repetitive strain injury behind my right knee. It was very sore over the initial stages of the climb, but became less so as the ride progressed. As soon as I stopped, it was back and so I decided to err on the side of caution and very sadly abandon the ride home. Need to get this fixed.

David 'The Pillow' Clinch took over the 'ride home' leadership responsibilities very well and led Dominic, Michael and Konstantin off to Tokyo.

Post ride comments included,
"Nice ride but still quite challenging" - Dominic Henderson
"Home at 18:05. Totally knackered. I weighed 2Kg less than on Friday!!" - Michael Hancock
"I'm bringing in a special seat cushion at work today!" - Konstantin Prodanov
"My calf muscles feel about 5cm shorter this morning!" - David 'Lube Boy' Clinch

Graham, Mark, Ono-san and I hopped on the bus and after a brief stop after Hachioji were dropped off in Tokyo around 2:30pm. Home at 3pm, much to the delight of my wife, daughter and dogs."

Jimmy Shinagawa.


Unknown said...

Even though I new the weather would be perfect on the day of the race, persistent rainfall on Saturday discouraged me from cycling up to Fuji Yoshida and I did't even feel to take the train so I ended up chickening out! Shame on me.

mob said...

Excellent. I wish I would have been there.

I was on my (mountain) bike yesterday for the first time since the accident. The left hand is still powerless and shaky but at least a start is made. Hope to join you guys soon.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Tom, I think I would feel like you if I had one of these larger bike bags. It must be a pain carrying them on the back while riding.

But there are options. Mine has the shape and size of a 750ml cycling bottle and fits easily into a bottle holder. Very convenient to carry. I recommend getting a special tool set to protect the rear derailer - doesn't weigh much and fits into the bag.

I'm not missing a second bottle - in winter I go entirely without anyhow and in summer the 1 liter bottle I have is plenty between pit stops.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the advice Ludwig...as a matter of fact, I do own one of those featherlight compact bags that fit in the bottle holder + that special tool set. I have used it some 3 or 4 times in the past and each time I managed to screw up the derailleur (probably bumping or getting bumped - those o-miyage-cum-coffee selling ladies can be nasty!). The alternative heavier bag with rear wheel attached is OK to take on the train in spite of the volumeness; it is as you point out, the heavy weight in the rucksack that I hate some much.

As to carrying a second bottle, I usually don't if I'm alone - only when I know beforehand that I'll be in competitive company, I take two bottles...

Manfred von Holstein said...

Yes, one needs to be quite protective of the bike on trains. My hit rate is much better - on the maybe 40 train rides I have done to date, the derailer got bent out of place on only one occasion - by a trolley pushing service lady. And with hindsight that was avoidable by getting a derailer protector so I could have put the bike standing on its back behind two seats rather than putting it down horizontally with the derailer sticking out into the alley.