24 October 2009

Hombeline et Thomas

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I have been approached by two French students from my class at university before the long October weekend if I could make some suggestions for a nice bike trip.

Well, being a demanding teacher providing new challenges fro my students, I suggested that they should ride out along the Tamagawa to Ome and continue to the Okutama reservoir where another nice road would took them over Matsuhime pass (1.250 meter) to route 20 and then, back over Otarumi to Takao and home in Roppongi. Nothing special, something we can do easily in a day on our bikes after having trained all year long.

Little did I know that they were attempting to make this tour on single-speed mama-chari. Without any training.

So when I came back to class after the weekend and met them I was very surprised that they made it and I was even more surprised that they were physically able to attend class after they have made it.

Please keep in mind that they came to Japan only at the start of September, speak almost no Japanese, had no maps, no previous cycling experience and acquired mama charis for a sum we pay when riding out and return from rides for a Shinkansen ticket.

The trip started pretty early in the morning and first rests were made along the Tamagawa.
So slowly they moved towards Okutama on day one of their journey on their steel frame single speed bikes - has cycling ever more pure?
Then, arriving in the rain in Okutama with no idea where to stay and believing that shelling out 8.000 Yen per person for a pension room would be pretty outrageous (after all, you can get a mama chari for this money), they decided to knock on the houses of the local inhabitants and asked them if they could stay the night there. Finally somebody showed pity and transported them and their bikes to a pension where they were allowed to stay.Thomas showing clear signs of physical (the left cheek !) and psychic (the eyes !) stress from the trip. While Hombeline looked like "Girl with pearl earl ring" from Jan Vanmeer in Japanese surroundings (see above).

But in good mood both of them continued to the reservoir the following day, up Matsuhime and down to Otsuki where they spend the second night.
And as planned they rode all the way home on route 20 to the Tamagawa and then back to Tokyo on day three.

Some days later they became the first ever honorary members of the Positivo Espresso Team and owners of some rather cheap pairs of orange cycling gloves.

Life is lending us amazing stories and I am thankful that even if I cannot live them, I can write about them.

5 comments:

David L. said...

Michael:

Great that they actually did it! They definitely deserve the P.E. orange gloves award.

As for me, work this weekend means no real riding. Given timing on this project, I am getting a bit worried about the next two weekends (Motegi, Saiko), but will do my best, and should have a clearer view by mid-week.

Best, David L.

Manfred von Holstein said...

This is quite kawaii. The most amazing part is that they found places to stay without paying... And of course doing relatively steep and long slopes like Matsuhime in single gear. Presumably without knowing how much more they had in front of them - maybe that's the trick! And finally going down Matsuhime on an unstable mamachari is quite amazing.

Maybe for the sake of training we should all train on mamacharis, so doing a race on a road racer will feel like an easy sanmpo ride...

Anonymous said...

Very impressive. While in no way wishing to detract from the achievement, one of the bikes looks like it has a rear derailleur in one of the pictures.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Good catch! So Hobeline is the true hero!

mob said...

Thanks for the note. Hombeline told me that she went on a single speed and I was assuming that the same was true for Thomas - my mistake. They couldn't have done it without each other, both of them earned my respect.