27 September 2009

Silver Rides

The extened "Silver Week" is now finally over and a lot of riding has taken place. It started exactly one week ago.

On Sunday Ludwig and me met in Ome, had breakfast with "Aurore" the French mistress of the equally French bakery which is beloved by everybody and headed out in direction Chichibu. We tried to find Tom's new road but had initially some problems. Not sure, neither Ludwig nor me are efficient explorers of new frontiers and we use google maps for the way to the toilet in our house.
The matter was complicated by the fact that a Japanese rider tried to draft with us. When we let him do some work in the front he drifted against the curb in a right curve and almost fell just in front of me. That was enough: we increased the speed and almost had him completely exhausted when we noted that we had lost the way.But then we found the road and it was beautiful indeed. No traffic, lot's of up and downs and a beautiful view into the main Chichibu valley leading to Yamabushi pass. After lunch a TT up to Yamabushi and a lunch at Shomaru we went down on the other side and up to Karibazaka. Many riders were out there and we continued along the green line to Sadamine pass, then took a turn North and went up the backroad over Kayunita pass to Nihongi. Boldly we decided to go further and discovered some new passes, such as Samugami, before we finally arrived at Nagatoro, the famous gorge which is mentioned in every sightseeing pamphlet about Saitama (although there aren't many).

From there onwards we rode further North and rode over Mase pass, a somewhat harder than expected climb before we finally arrived at this Shinkansen Station which is supposed to actually have a meaning. Somewhat. I am talking about Waseda-Honjo.

A nice ride and something more of Chichibu discovered.

The next day I rode to Shibuya to register for the Cycle Messenger World Championship. An event which is tailor made for me. I realized this when I came to the registration bar: I was the only guy with a road bike and also the only one who demounted by moving the right leg over the rear wheel. Everybody else swings the right leg in front, get somehow ride of the hands and the handle and turns the leg over the handle bar. Still much to learn. I checked for the jerseys but they were sold out already - only S size left. Also the XL t-shirts were gone. At least I got a free snicker bar. The registration was chaotic. David also wanted to register, but despite the fact that he went there two times he couldn't in the end.

My ID card was still in the made but I had to leave as I wanted to visit Positivo with my son and choose his new bike. We made a v
ery reasonable choice (I hope). I would have loved to make the less reasonable choice.

On Wednesday Graham, Michael and me met at precisely the same spot in Ome and rode out in direction Chichibu again. WE took the fast run route this time. I "pushed" Michael over Yamabushi, staying behind him and applying psycho-terror tactics in order to make him fast over the hill. That worked pretty well and he made it in about 20 minutes up.

After a fast run on route 299 and the Laurent/Dominic/mob 7-Eleven on road 140, we continued until the intersection with road 37 and made a turn to the North. From there onwards we found the perfect point to follow our main tradition "the pointless ride".

You see, every time Michael, Graham and me are riding out, perhaps also in a group with other riders, we are obliged to do at least one stretch to an obscure location which involves heavy climbing and does not serve any other purpose than to arrive at this point for the sake of arriving at this point. We started this tradition this year, when I volunteered to show James, Michael and Graham the entrance to the incredible steep climb up on Mitake mountain, completely forgetting that the road to the entrance is already longer and steeper than anything we normally climb anyway.
All of them were very favorably impressed and our bold undertaking and my leadership skills were the topic of many conversations made when the rest of the tour led the group up to Kazahari Toge in great pains.

So this time we decided to make a pointless climb up to Tsuchizaka Toge, a nice 700 m high pass connecting West Saitama with the Eastern Democratic Republic of Gunma-ny, famous for strong winds and tough women (Angela Merkel, and some 100 kg female hammer throwers, shot putter and discuss virgins).
As the border was tightly controlled by tough women that hide so well that they were not seen AND this was our pointless ride anyway, we went back where we came from and rode further North to enjoy a fast lunch at a "michi no eki".

Michael and me took a new Keirin "0,00%" beer and when we tasted it we found out that was something missing. It was not only the alcohol but also any hint of taste similar to beer. I found also out that Graham is the other person in Japan who has read Julian Barnes. He is also the only person in Japan who has read "Peeling the onion" by Guenter "Waffen SS" Grass in a simplified English version.

And when we continued to ride and I wanted to shoot a photo, I was stil so dizzy by 0.00% of alcohol, that I forgot to un-cleat the leg I wanted to stand on and felt flatly on the road, much to the amusement of Michael who continued to tease me about the lack of alcohol resistance for the rest of the ride.

And then we made it to Nagatoro again. Beautiful and serene it is indeed. Actually it is so quiet, that almost all tourists who come there fall asleep immediately as we can see in the photos below.
Also Michael, Graham and me took a nap and we woke up when we were kissed by a beautiful prince. But this is a different story. Again, a fast ride over Mase pass, one of my new favorites and then further on to Waseda-Honjo where we took the Shinkansen home, had a real beer in the train and made it home well in time for everybody's mongen.

The following two days were stuffed with commuting 41 km to the university and doing a training ride for the track race event of the CMWC at the Tsurumi river close to my home.

And then on Saturday I rode to the Keio Kaku and wanted to take part in the CMWC race there. The usual bunch of gaijins and Japanese messengers was already there: more tattoos could be seen than on the bodies of the Kansai chapter of the Yamaguchi-gumi, piercings enough to supply raw material for the great leap forward in China and haircuts like I would have had if I would been 20 today. Fine.

Then they didn't let me register because I was on a road bike. You can read the whole ordeal here on their blog site where I vented my complete frustration which these guys who are as flexible as the Hamamatsu police officials when I asked for my driving permit in 1998. OK, they are dressed differently, but the concrete in the head unfortunately remains the same.

Luckily David was there so I didn't felt so alone and after we have watched the TT event we decided to ride out on Onekan, have a coffee and talk about our favorite subjects: International Law and Jerome.

I was still so angry that I decided to ride to Takao and try to achieve a good time at Otarumi, which I did - first time below 14 minutes despite the wind plus with a heavy rucksack on the back.

And as I was still angry I thought that I could also add Yabitsu on top of this, so I continued. I started the climb at precisely 5 PM and when I made it to the top it was already pitch dark. Strange noises in the Forrest, wild animals and "warumono" cracking through the underwood ... alone almost as scary as Sasago tunnel.
Then down on the other side - very slowly in the dark and right into a big matsuri at Hadano. Luckily the famous bento capitol of the world was still open and I had an excellent Oknomiyaki for 240 Yen.

In the end it was a beautiful day. Or a beautiful night.
So what's next : Yokohama endurance race on Saturday !

1 comment:

Manfred von Holstein said...

It has been a nice ten days of riding for me too. Discovering new passes in remote Chichibu and the beautiful Nagatoro gorge with Michael was fun.

It felt great riding all the way to Karuizawa (http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/kanto/914125371301525894) - OK, it's just 200km and the elevation gain is within what we do on more demanding rides (2,500m - two tunnels are exaggerating the data on mapmyride).

And finally two days ago I did route 152 all the way from Chino to Hamamatsu (http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/chino/381125401939156098). Short report and reference to who I got the idea from are here: http://www.tokyocycle.com/bbs/blog.php?bt=73