22 April 2010

Ludwig, the Last

Ludwig I. was king of Bavaria in the 19th century and contributed greatly to the city planning of Munich. His wedding is said to be the start of the "Oktoberfest" tradition. His grandson Ludwig II., much better known as the "mad king" squandered money unscrupulously and built many castles which now greatly contribute to the touristic value of the state. His tradition is continued by Japanese public works. Ludwig the Last is not related to any of the above (although one may argue that he posses a similar level of obsessions as his famous predecessors), but is the unofficial name of the perhaps last ride Ludwig (Manfred) and me did together last Sunday.

It was awful cold when I left the house at 5:20hr in the morning and arriving at the Tamagawa I found the view obscured by ground fog and frost. Almost a scene from autumn days. Ludwig was cyclo-crossing while I opted for the bare Cervelo without bottles, bags, lights but with new Shimano Ultegra rear wheel and 11/28 cassette.
As I needed to be back home by 12:30 hr, we headed out fast along the Tamagawa and later Asagawa in direction Takao through an increasingly thick fog. Until I realised that my glasses had fogged up and the weather was not as bad as it seemed to be. Then, we made a turn on Jimbakaido and headed out for Wada; when we made one more turn suddenly the sky was blue and the temperature very pleasant - great. So we speeded up for the entry of Wada where we wanted to time-trial up.

I had prepared myself well for this; firstly I thought that Ludwig would pull me up, secondly I had a 34/28 gear to bring me through the hard times and thirdly I spend 30 minutes at the very nice toilet hut with heated toilet seat at the bus stop before the start of the climb to get rid of any excess weight which was still lingering in my bowels.

Off we went and Ludwig speeded ahead, but at least I could still see him some 20 - 30 meters ahead so I thought that I would be doing good. But somehow I was out of shape, the road was also slippery from the rain and snow and perhaps a 34/28 gear is just too easy - in any case I arrived only a minute later than Ludwig on the top but still did only a time between 20 and 21 minutes. Which is OK, but not really great after investing 40.000 Yen for a new wheel.

Perhaps next time a will try an enema to further reduce weight.

On the top we met Steve from TCC who rode up from the other side and was scheduled for hanami at Shinjuku Gyoen in the afternoon. I think it is a very good idea to go there after the cherry blossom season is over, as it will not be that crowded any longer.

We went down on the other side and continued back along route 20 where we made a stop at the Seven-Eleven before Sagamiko Station. Here we met some Japanese riders, two out of three on Cervelos and we asked them if they would know a road between route 20 and Tsukui lake after having crossed Otarumi in direction Takao. One of them was introduced as "quite kuwashii" but he had no other suggestions but to go on 412/413 (..yawn..) which is anyway before Otarumi from this side, or to go up Otarumi (if we desperately wanted to do so) and ride down again the same side and then take 412/413
(..yawn..). Sorry guys, but in order to qualify as "kuwashii" in our opinion, you must do better than this.

So we time-trialed up Otarumi from the Sagmiko side and again Ludwig went ahead but I was able to draft for about 2/3 of the time before we saw James and Yair riding down in the opposite direction. Again, I did a 17:34 min time which is OK but not great.

Going down the other side, we saw at least 30 - 40 riders going up: two larger Narushima groups, one group of Aqua guys in blue and some more individual riders. Clearly the good weather and the cycling boom in Japan has enticed everyone to leave the winter pillows behind and try some hills.

Ludwig and me, following our tradition to explore at least one new stretch of roads every ride out, wanted now to cross over to Tsukui lake riding some uncharted rindos and trails we have found on Google map the day before. So 2/3 of the way down we took a right turn and rode up a small road until we came to a charming hidden love hotel consisting of many small bungalows. Some meters up the road we met an equally charming hiking group of old ladies who we asked what the best way to Tsukui lake would be. They were definitely "kuwashii" and advised us against going up this rode but to turn back and take the next road branching off from route 20.
Which we did and that brought us to one of the famous Ukai restaurants, Toriyama which we hesitated to approve for PE as it seems to be rather expensive and does not stock Weider jelly packs. Some hundred meters further up the asphalted road stopped and became a rather nice dirt trail which then became a not so nice dirt trail and continued to become a rugged, slippery and poorly drained, dirty dirt trail, hardly fit for road bikes. Ludwig slipped and crashed just in front of me and then I went in front and crashed as well, so we decided to walk up part of the way. Actually, almost all of the way. On the top we had a nice view on Shiroyama lake and then we came to a small temple where we had an even better view of the Tsukui lake from a very new angle.Finally we rode down another dirt track to the main road at Tsukui, where I went ahead to Hashimoto and jumped the train home and Ludwig did some more riding as recorded in his own account:
After MOB had left for Hashimoto station, I cycled up to the Shiroyama reservoir lake. At the power generation plant, I saw a map that indicated one could walk all around the lake, and much of it looked like it was a paved road. I was delighted - I knew the lake from hiking by it at the opposite side, and had hitherto thought there was no access road around it. Actually MOB thought so too, and had noted that it was an exception to my observation that in Japan dam lakes always have access roads all around them.
I rolled down to the dam and crossed it on a widely paved road, frequented by hikers and a sports club of youngsters running around the lake in pairs. So far so good.

But as soon as I had crossed the dam, I found myself on a hiking trail which forced me to push or carry the bike. Can't be that long I thought. Well, it turned out to go on like this basically around the entire lake, climbing up probably 150m above the lake. I had to climb up and down many long stairs, and even where there were no stairs, it was mostly impossible to cycle.

There were plenty of hikers, and of course I drew their full attention - a biker on a hiking trail, how crazy... Yes, and that's a bit how I felt too.

Eventually I got close to Misawa Toge which MOB and I had crossed only a few hours ago. I found a gravel road that led down towards the lake and from there on was able to sit on my bike again continuously. I arrived back where I had started 45 minutes earlier. This had been much harder than I thought - and carrying a bike for most of the time made it harder than normal hiking.

Back down at the first conbini, I was debating whether to seek out other mountains, but with all the hiking, I had lost my rhythm and didn't really feel like doing another excursion.

I headed home instead, taking the Tank Road (with a small detour through the park) and its full extension (which I find more interesting than the Tank Road itself), and then the roads through Tsurukawa, Noborito on to Setagaya Dori.

Early on I passed a slower rider in full gear on a road racer. He felt slighted being overtaken by a crossbike and tried to pursue me, sitting in my draft. I shook him off pretty quickly. But now I was in racing mood, so kept cycling the full bit home at high speed and relatively high heart rate. That compensated for the early finish.

144km with 1900m BBiT climbing (this time possibly close to the true climbing due all the hiking which my Ciclo doesn't capture well).


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