03 January 2010

Ekiden - The big bad ride that proved to be more big than bad

The big bad ride that proved to be more big then bad.

We had a good turnout and prompt meeting at the Tokyo station designated area. With lots of spectators ready to cheer us on and cheerleader squads lining the start we made our way through the streets of Tokyo. Unfortunately my father-in-law wasn't able to keep the speed of the rest of the pack and he was far behind by the time we got to the Tamagawa river. As I slowed to wait he finally caught up and the rest of the group was nowhere to be seen. We took the off ramp to the meeting spot at the first combini over the river but there wasn't any orange jerseys to be seen or anyone else for that matter. We thought maybe they had continued on and that maybe we would see them at another stop in a short while. We were wrong and so we decided to stop a few kilometers further to see what was happening. To my biggest mistake I didn't have anyone's phone number and I guess none had mine.
The racers soon passed us as we waited for signs of other riders, then they came, the pack of cyclist....my father-in-law retired at this point which was around Kawasaki...

Jumping in with the pack I looked for others that I knew but with no luck.
Further on I had a great view of the giant in the distance. I spoke to a few people in the large group and one said it was the best turnout of cyclist in know history of the event. The rest of the start group was never seen again except for three riders that were in the large group for a short time. Overall it was much like the description of various tours throughout Japan in that the speed was controlled by, well the race patrol cars in this case. Average speed was 15 to 17 kph. Not too much fun but that was soon to end as we approached the climb to Hakone. The climb was more then I expected but over all was great fun. I was impressed by my ability and speed that I was able to maintain for my fifth ride in 8 months. The descent to Atami was a challenge as well but I think it would be a great training ride to go from the ocean side to Hakone once the weather is better....any takers?

At the start of the descent...

Around some corners and this is what I saw...

Thoughts for the next big event such as this...
  • everyone has the others contact number
  • regrouping points where other will wait or not wait for the rest
  • better mapping points


Manfred von Holstein said...

Bryon, apologies, but we were running so late that we couldn't afford to wait and in fact when we ultimately did, it took most of our group out of the race.

I'm glad you made it all the way to Hakone and then Atami. Should be fun doing it in reverse direction. I have never climbed up from Atami, but have done it all the way from Shuzenji (after a race), coming up the smaller road that merges into route 20 just below Jikkoku Toge. I have great memories.

I've added a title and labels to your blog (thanks for posting!) and added my own report copied from the TCC site.

Cheers, Ludwig

Dominic H said...

Thanks Bryon. I'd be happy to ride with you up the other side but the road up from Atami is fiercely steep!

Manfred von Holstein said...

If you take route 20 rather than the one we usually take and which you took down after the Ekiden, the steepness is not so bad. Also far less traffic. Take a look at my Ekiden GPS trail to see what I mean:


Might join you if the timing is right - though generally prefer riding from home, esp. in winter, to maximise the riding time. It's just impossible to get anywhere meaningful by train before the sun rises.