02 March 2010

The Honeythieves

After the rained-out weekend I met with Ludwig yesterday at Hashimoto to do a short but climbing-intensive trip over some new roads in the Route 20 / Doshi area under heavy police surveillance.We started on time at 7:30hr in front of Hashimoto station and tried a new shortcut that eventually brought us to the North Tsukui lake road. I wanted to show Ludwig my new discovery, the NORTH TSUKUI LAKE TRUNK EXTENSION which is very silent but in rather bad shape as you can see in the photos. But it has all the ingredients of a wonderful road: Three huge barriers which are shouting at you "Climb over me, please!", complete lack of any human activities, landslides, and great views. And all of this very close to Tokyo.
From there on we road to road 20 (the origin plan included to ride up Bijotani but I thought that wouldn't be a good idea in winter, given the conditions of the road).

Ludwig thought about a nice shortcut from road 20 to Akiyama, but we were stopped by some construction works. We tried to convince the guys there that it would be OK to let us pass, but we couldn't. In the end they were helpful to show us an alternative road which brought as to Akiyama as well.

We then started to climb Kando-Toge (not Ganda-Toge, it seems) which Ludwig has done already once from the Doshi-Michi side and Tom has reported out first in his heartwarming-story about the honey farmers of Doshi who in the 18th century cut this path into the rock with their bare hands in an effort to get access to the free market economy in the villages at road 20. Only to get raided by corporate M&A lawyers on the pass who forced them to integrate their operations into huge Doshi Honey conglomerates, lease the assets to dubious investment backs and sell the not performing bees as sub-prime collateralized debt obligations to the local pension funds. Oh sorry, I come back to cycling now.

The climb up covers about 500 meter elevation difference and the pass is about elevation 800 meters plus. On the top we were greeted by snow, a very much different scenery to the first signs of springs at Tsukui lake.


I wanted to pee, but because of the honey thieves the whole area is still very much under remote police surveillance. I found the only possible place to pee only after some serious thinking (please enlarge for maximum effect).
Mount Fuji was now clearly visible between the mountains and after riding down on the other side, we continued to Doshi Michi, and then to road 76 and Makino Toge which I also had climbed only once last year.

After that we continued to Miyagase lake and started to climb up Yabitsu as the cul de sac of the day. When I started the clock, Ludwig said "We don't do a time trial, do we?" And I answered: "No, but I don't want to slog up as well" So we started pretty fast, kept steady and after we saw another cyclist in front of us we went even faster. After 20 minutes I lost Ludwig who was speeding ahead and I went up my own pace. I wasn't that good but also not too shabby when I reached the top where Ludwig has waited already for 4 minutes, probably setting a new Togebaka record (which needs to be entered on this blog).

The descent was rather fast, although I was careful on the site of my crash some weeks ago. But I reached more than 69 km/hr on the stretch after the donuts slope which was good enough to reach Hadeno station on time and take a train home.

Incredibly, the whole ride was only 111 km long, but with almost 1.800m of climbing it was pretty intensive and a good start into the week.

Off to Germany now any minute.

6 comments:

TOM said...

Another wonderful ride there!

Small correction if I may:

厳道峠=read as GANDO-TOGE (厳しい道!). This is actually a relatively new name; in the past it was called "Nusutto-toge" (盗人 or Robber's Pass - poor honey farmers!) but as Japan tried to become more civilized following the Meiji Restoration, today's more "political-correct" name got adopted. It is a shortish but tough and grueling climb indeed (especially from the Doshi side!)

Manfred von Holstein said...

Tom, I also thought it was Gando not Kando but then there is a sign at the entrance from Akiyama Kaido which has furigana on top of the kanji and clearly says kando, not gando.

TOM said...

Not surprising. With place names, often two or more versions co-exist; even the locals aren't sure!

Another good example: 本宿 next to Hinoharamura Village Hall (the T-jucntion where one turns left to Kazahari) can be read as Honshuku, Honjuku, Motoshuku, etc. The latter is how it is written in romaji at the bus stop, presumably the "official version" ?

Nothing is official in this country, especially when it comes to names!!

mob said...

Glad that I checked my e-mails when arring at Narita. Personally I find "Gando" the better sounding word, but as Ludwig wrote, the small Katakana signs on the signboard indicated "Kando Toge".

The climb from Akiyama is rather pleasant, comparable with Matsuhime or Karibazaka in terms of length, elevation and slope.

Shortly after the pass, two different roads are leading down towards Doshi-Michi; Ludwig and me opted for the less steep one (left)which didn't looked that brutal. Perhaps Tom is refering to the other one which branches off to the right.

TOM said...

Have a safe trip Michael. I have taken both "branches", the one going down to the left and the one you guys took to the right. Both hit Doshimichi below...bnot so far apart as a matter of fact. Anyways that doesn't change the name of the pass above, whether that be Kando or Gando, whatever. I do suspect though some (honey)thief stole the "tenten" originally attached to the が....

TOM said...

Forgot to mention, wonderful picture of MOB urinating against the surveillance camera. Now that is sacrilegious!! Deserve to be added to our "Espresso" slideshow.