04 April 2010

The Wild Sheep Hunt

Yesterday, Tom rode the giant Yanagizawa Loop, consisting of the climbs to Yanagizawa, Kamihikawa, Sasago, Suzugane, Hinazuru und some other minor ones. Today, David, Jerome and me did the same loop. Almost.

Well, at least that was the plan, when the three remaining Positivo Espresso founding members gathered at Tamagawahara-Bashi at 7:30 AM. The (former) Tamagawa bicycle path, now a major walking path for the hanami-crazy, was full of people so we decided after a while to ride the normal road up to Ome.

Which brings me to the discussion about the Tamagawa path and the recently added obstacles (see for example here). Honestly, I don't care. I don't even want to put the argument forward that riding along the Tamagawa is boring and not very challenging and that I have been there a hundred times. Yes, all true but not of general interest. The point is, in my opinion, that the sum of total obstacles doesn't increase too much, if some fixed obstacles are added to the enormous number of moving ones.

There were simply not that many people
when I started to ride along the Tamagawa about ten years ago: people, people with dogs and bicycle riders on the path. It was a fast and simple way to get out of metropolitan Tokyo. But by now, this has changed dramatically: too many moving obstacles. Even if the speed bumbs will be removed, that wouldn't change too much.

So, riding the (normal) road to Ome was comparatively much more pleasant and we were speeding towards our target like a fusillade of human bullets shot from an AK-47. Or perhaps more like a set of RPGs, given the shape of our bodies.

And so we arrived in Ome in 2 hours and 5 minutes - from my home in Yokohama that is. It cannot be done faster (today). And after a short break at Aurore bakery, we continued our fast ride towards Okutama and further up to the Okutama lake, without any longer breaks. This was the first time that I did the stretch between Ome and Yanagizawa in one go and as you can see on the right side this has now become the CHO TOGEBAKA (cho, in the double meaning of 長い and 超える), given the distance and elevation conquered. This is the mother of all Toge Baka (so far).

Now, when we made the turn at Okutama lake, Jerome was shouting from the top in front of me. Actually he told me, that we should wait for David who was further behind. But I didn't understand that properly, plus I didn't saw Jerome waiting, so I was assuming that he would be still riding in front of me. Now, as I don't wanted to be beaten up Yanagizawa, I accelerated and went quickly around the lake, supported by a nice tailwind. No sign of Jerome. "Jesus", I thought "He must be in really good shape." So I tried harder and exhausted myself completely on the climb. No Jerome came into sight. I had this vision that I was so slow, that David would overtake me with double my speed from behind.

So I run up Yanagizawa at full speed; until 200 elevation meters before the pass when I finally was convinced that Jerome must have been behind me. And I had run out of power. The climbing started to become really, really hard after being in the saddle for almost three hours. All the houses up there are deserted and all the curves looked alike and finally, well, there was the final one and I arrived at the restaurant on the pass which was also luckily opened. Jerome wasn't there.

I had a bowl of Soba, when Jerome arrived about 10 minutes later. We waited for David, who joined us after further 30 minutes, looking pretty wet and exhausted. In the moment he entered the restaurant, Jerome and me got up from our chairs in good, old Positivo Espresso tradition and said "OK then, let's go!".

But the truth was, that I was also pretty much done and I wasn't fully hydrated and recovered after some days of sickness last week.

So I made the following proposal: "We can do now Kamihikawa, Sasago, Susugane and Hinazuru, so about 34.786 meters (BBiT) of climbing plus an estimated 6.732 km (BBiM *) of distance, or we ride down to Ensan (now Koshu, by the way) and jump into an Onsen." Surprisingly enough, all of us opted for the Onsen visit, so we mounted our bikes and made the fast run down to Ensan. There it was pretty hot. The sky was blue, the thermometer showed 17 degrees and after all the cold weather before, we suddenly didn't felt in the mood any longer to linger in hot water.

So we rode the Fruit Line to Route 20, climbed up again and then took a right turn up to the haunted Sasago tunnel. We took it really easy, at least David and me, while Jerome was frolicking around in faster speed-hemispheres.

Shortly before the gate we met a woman who asked us, if there would be an old hotel further up the road. No, only a haunted tunnel with transparent octopuses living in the vaults. Later David said, that we should have taken a photo of the women in order to check if her body and face would show-up on the print, then perhaps she was only an epiphany of a Fox deity.

The old Sasago Tunnel was filled to the ceiling with maximum horror as usual.

Here we can see David and Jerome, still not suspecting anything, while entering the tunnel from the Ensan side.
And here we see David and Jerome and me coming out on the other side, after we have experienced pure terror in it's most terrifying form in the darkness inside.On top of that there was also a strong wind and it was extremely cold inside the tunnel. And the weather on the Otsuki side of the tunnel was about 10 degrees colder than on the Ensan side.

So we made a fast run down to route 20 and almost froze to death. Then we made another superfast run down to Otsuki station on route 20 which was even more fun. And then we had a superfast express train from Otsuki home; all in all it took me less than 2 hours from arriving at Otsuki station to the door of my house.

A very nice trip with 167 km distance and more than 2.500 meter climbing (mapmyride checked). Could have been warmer, though. The last two rides (Chibchibu and this one) were some of the coldest rides ever. I enjoyed reading about the other rides on the weekend by Ludwig, Tom and the large PE group as well. It is good to know that so many activities are going on and there are so many groups to join.

Notes: I wrote this post yerstday after the ride, but didn't had the time to edit it and include the photos. So, please take this as an addition to David's post on the same subject.

(*) BBiM : Blind Believers in Me

No comments: