04 October 2009

Sunday ride to Nagano

Jerome, Nishibe-san, Tom and I had a successful ride out Rte 299 and then to Saku-daira, where we enjoyed a late lunch and then hopped a 3:34 Shinkansen for Tokyo. ... Read about it all ... and see the photos ... on Tom's blog. Or see his Garmin Player GPS log of the trip.

Though Tom's blog is very comprehensive, I had a slightly different perspective at some points ... I did not need to wait at all at the top of Jukkoku Touge (十石峠), and so did not get cold, or enjoy the opportunity to converse with the elderly couple and their talking dog.

Also, maybe it was the very early start (5:30AM departure from my house), or maybe it was the fact that we had already gone 130 km and over two of the passes when we started the Jukkoku climb, but I felt weak and plodded up pretty slowly, despite the reasonable grade. At least I made up for it on the other side, averaging 40 kph on the 18 km stretch from the pass (1351 m elev) to the junction with Rte 141 (approx elev 750 m). In the end, I logged 185+ km and 2600 meters or so of climbing ... barely farther than my trip to Honjo Waseda, but one more good climb.

1. We avoided the big box stores and chain eateries along Rte 141 South of Saku, taking local Rte 2 through various small towns and past farms about 70% of the way from the junction with 299 to the Saku-Daira shinkansen station. The last 30% on 141 was not pleasant. This area is one big suburban sprawl, without much of a center--kind of like Kofu or Matsumoto enjoyed on the Tokyo-Itoigawa run, if a little less dense.

2. I still need to find a better way through Chichibu City. We stayed on 299 all the way this time, and as Ludwig had said it is not particularly nice until past Ogano (about 10 km to the west), though this did save a few kilometers and a few hills compared with taking Rte 140 (also not pleasant) and connecting via Rte 37/297 as I did last week. Next time I will try local Rte 209.

3. Also, for future reference, there were 3 7-11's on Rte 299 after the middle of Chichibu City, 2 after crossing the Arakawa. The "last convenience store" was a "Save-on" shop at the corner of Rte 299 and Rte 37. And there some tourist lunch options, including a cafeteria at the "Dinosaur Center" just a kilometer or two west of where 299 meets 462, after Shigasaka-touge. The town hall had a large glass window and a very large skeleton of a dinosaur -- worth a stop next trip?


Manfred von Holstein said...

Nice ride! I'm with you regarding Shigasaka Toge and Jukkoku Toge. The former is not a particularly long climb, but it is not exactly a walk-over. And the latter can definitely be quite gruelling - it's a total of 900m all the way up, and the wind tends to be blowing against you. I have painful memories of the only time I have done it - but admittedly that was after cresting Haccho Toge at 1,300m rather than Shigasaka at 700. That's also why my trip ended up being 222km rather than your 185km.

I was also slightly unlucky with the weather in the morning of Sunday and had to cycle in slight rain to the start of the Shiobara race. With the start of the race, it stopped raining though and the rest of the day turned out to be a mix of clouds and sunshine, always dry.

I somehow didn't feel that great during the race. Had the feeling I was fighting with a slight cold. Managed to keep up well with the peleton until the start of the real climb, when half of the field passed me. I caught up with some later (and actually overtook quite a few riders of the higher classes that had started ahead of the D class), but somehow struggled to put in maximum power and keep my heart pace above 170. Ended up being 20th in my class, though the time itself was not that bad: 2.5 minutes of Tom's time last year, and he made 14th back then. The competition is getting stronger...


Then I used the opportunity to explore rural Tochigi, riding through two famous onsen villages, cresting Yamao Toge on the way towards Nikko and then taking a deserted valley towards Utsunomiya, going as far as I could until I hit complete darkness and took a Tobu train back home.


Amazingly beautiful landscape, especially on both sides of Yamao Toge, with kouyou in full progress at such high altitudes. Really worth seeing. The only disappointment is the huge damn they are building in the valley leading up to Yunishiyama Onsen. Massive autobahn construction, and it is sad to see what beautiful nature will fall victim to being flooded.

Unknown said...

The ride over Jikkoku-toge into the Saku Basin with David and Jerome speeding past me on that last straight stretch was absolutely the highlight! Will take that route again and am curious to try that Haccho Pass Ludwig took. Perhaps this can be looped in one day without rinko-ing. Ludwig, btw, congratulations on beating yet another record of mine at Shiobara! (did you skip the TT of the previous day?)

Manfred von Holstein said...

Tom, indeed, I did not do the TT the previous day as this year it was purely voluntary and gave no points. I don't just do races for fun...

If I had done the previous day, maybe I would not have been as fast as I was.

Incidentally, the bad "feeling" that started in the race has developed into a fully blown, heavy infection that is not getting better. I won't be able to train for the 72km race in Gunma in ten days, and maybe I won't be able to start...