28 September 2009

In the path of others who have gone before ...

After visiting the Keirin track on Saturday to watch Michael's non-ride and enjoy some of the sprint event, and then traveling up and back the hills of Onekan-sen on my fixed gear track bike to get to the Starbucks at the very far end with Michael, I had a good ride on Sunday, leaving early with Jerome, getting to Higashi Oume by 7:45, and then pushing on to Yamabushi. We parted at Yamabushi ... Jerome to return via Shomaru, a dip down to Rte 299, and a loop back South over the next pass along the same ridge as Yamabushi via local Rte 395, to get home by 1PM.
I had more time (though I needed to get home by around 6PM), and Jerome had lent me his fast NFCC wind-breaking vest so I could ride even in sprinkling rain on descents. I traced Michael/Michael/Graham's route through Chichibu City, onto Rte 140 and then cut North via local Rte 37. After a short cut via local Rte 297 and a connecting "rindo", I headed west on Rte 299.
I guess I should have realized it from all the blog posts by others, but Rte 299 west of Chichibu city is a delightful road, no trucks and almost no through traffic, gradually climbing to a pass at around 780 meters elevation at a short tunnel in the border with Gunma.
Rte 299 about 10-15 km west of Chichibu city. ... no danger of getting hit by a truck if you stand in the middle of the road and frame your photo carefully:

There were cyclists resting a both ends of the tunnel on the border, including a team of at least 8-10 riders putting on an extra layer for their descents.
It was almost Noon ... and a quick [mis]calculation suggested that despite having gone 125 km and made it here in good time, I could not make it NW to Saku/Sakudaira or Karuizawa and likely be home by 6PM, even with the benefit of Shinkansen ... so I opted for a shorter ride East/North East down Rte 462 to the now famous Waseda Hongjo station.

The valley is spectacular, until arriving at a reservoir that is at least 10 km long.

The reservoir and dam are spectacular in a different way ... but really do ruin what was probably once a very nice stretch of valley:

Honjo Waseda ... what more can be said. These photos are of the "main" North side of the shinkansen station (trains to Tokyo stop at 2:50, 3:50, [4:50]PM, for future reference).
I arrived at 2:20, with lots of time to buy tickets and pack my bike.
The South entrance ... is now closed. The women at the convenience shop inside did not even laugh when I remarked that this was a very "shizuka" shinkansen station.

Today's route map should be here.

I hope I will get a chance to do the full Rte 299 ride to Saku, Nagano this fall, before the weather gets too cold for Chichibu/Gunma/Nagano riding.


Manfred von Holstein said...

Not a bad thing avoiding Ogano on route 299. The road is relatively busy until the end of the town. It becomes very quiet beyond it, and it is a nice ride up Shigasaka Toge.

You could have just made it to Karuizawa and back home by 6pm. The other day I did Tokyo-Karuizawa - admittedly via the shortest possible route (http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/kanto/914125371301525894). I left home at 6:30am and was at Karuizawa station at 3:00pm. Even though I cruised around the town for half an hour and didn't take the first possible shinkansen, I was still home by 5:30pm.

BTW, a colleague had gone by car to Karuizawa the day before and it took him almost as long as me by bike - so crowded were the motorways and the roads into Karuizawa. There was a jam getting out of the town on Wednesday, the last day of the Silver Week holidays, and I couldn't get a place to sit on the shinkansen back (but for a 46 min ride to Omiya, that doesn't really matter so much).

David L. said...

Thanks, Ludwig/Wolfgang. You are a faster rider than I am, it goes without saying, but from your route map it looks like I probably could have gotten to Karuizawa and still made it home by 6PM. I was calculating a trip to Saku, and considered that the elevation of Jyu-ishi Toge was 1350, only 125 meters less than Yanagisawa, so the climb would be at least a 2 hour slog for me. I assumed that the road to Karuizawa would be very hilly and so take as long or longer ... but it does not look too difficult on your elevation map. I would love to do the Chino->Hamamatsu ride some day ... maybe next Spring.

Jerome tells me that he made a detour and visited Nenogongen on the way home, saw Tom, and then took the secret rindo.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Juishi Toge is indeed quite tough, as it is a 900m climb, with the last 600m being quite steep. Riding to Sakudaira is slightly longer than to Karuizawa, but only slightly. And the total elevation gain is very similar. Shionozawa Toge is relatively easy, because one can go through the tunnel which shaves at least 250m of the top. But climbing to Karuizawa is still a climb! About 700m straight up (but very nice, just as is Juishi Toge).

TOM said...

Count me in on your next Karuizawa challence David (I found a nice tiny rinko bag this time!)