09 May 2010

P.E. Rules, Revisited

Today's Sunday ride ... was a bit too much for me.  Either I'm still recuperating from last weekend's Brevet, or I'm not yet in my fighting shape, or the warm weather got to me, or most likely some combination of the three.

James M. had planned a 250 km ride out via Takao and Rte 20, over Matsuhime from the South and the back via Kazahari.  He wanted to go at his "training speed" -- I'm not sure what that is, but it is fast, and not really consistent with a social ride. 

Michael H., Jerome and I joined James, Yair, Clay and Jules from TCC at Tamagawahara-bashi, Nishibe-san at Sekidobashi, and Fumiki and Steve (from TCC) at Takao.  The weather was gorgeous, even hot*, and the pace was fast out to Takao.

*As you can see from the photo, Jerome took full advantage of his exception from the P.E. Team Rule No. 9  today to wear his "short shorts".

Jerome and I decided to head instead for Sasago, over Sasago Pass and then on to Kamihikawa and Yanagisawa -- an even more ambitious a program (likely to meet Tom going the other way), if at a slower pace and with plenty of optionality for people to bail and take the train or an alternate route back.

Nishibe-san made it to Fujino, then said he would head back -- via Wada, I think.  When I caught up with Yair and Michael H. at Uenohara, Yair was about to turn around and head back for Shinjuku, having done his work already as powerful domestique for the lead group.  Jerome and Steve were waiting at the far end of Uenohara and continued on with Michael H. and me for Sasago.  We did not see James M., Clay, Jules or Fumiki again -- they presumably turned off at Sarubashi.  There was remarkably little traffic on Rte 20.  Perhaps the "my car" drivers were already tired out from sitting in GW traffic jams and decided to stay home, while the trucks were off because it was Sunday?

I was a bit worried going through Uenohara -- wondering if the Uenohara curse of near-misses, crashes and mechanical trouble that haunted Michael O.B. K. in recent years will get passed on now that he is in Germany.  Fortunately, no one had any problems today.

I fell behind Jerome, Steve and Michael H. on the climb after Uenohara to Yanagawa.  They waited at the entrance to Otsuki and asked if I wanted to stop.  "Yes," I called as I passed, "but at a convenience store." 

I went ahead in search of one.  I quickly passed a Daily Yamazaki on the wrong side of the street.  Then after a few minutes another Daily Yamazaki also on the wrong side of the street, at the crossing in front of the station.  Nothing for a few kilometers until, on the West side of town, a Lawson, also on the wrong side of the street.  No P.E. approved Seven Elevens on this stretch.  I left my bicycle out front so that the other 3 would see it when they passed.  The Lawson is not just any Lawson.  It has the best, most beautiful feature that is missing from 99% of the convenience stores in this part of Japan.  No, I don't mean a "western style" toilet.  I  mean a bench on which to sit and eat your food and drink your drink.  It seats almost 3 tired cyclists (the 4th must take photographs or sit on the ground), and is in the shade during the late morning.  Accordingly, we were happy to declare an exception to P.E. Team Rule No. 20 for this Lawson.

I had very good memories of climbing first Sasago then Kamihikawa one day last Spring, but it was not to be today.  I quickly fell behind the others on Route 20, and again on the old road climb to Sasago Pass.  By the time I arrived at the top, it was clear that today was not my day. Michael H. took a last photo of Jerome and Steve, in case it is needed for a search and rescue operation on Kamihikawa, and he and I headed back for Otsuki and the train home (he had a board meeting at his tennis club late afternoon).

The trip back to Otsuki was downhill and fast, despite a headwind.  We parted ways at Tachikawa and I rode another 23 km home, making it about 150 km for the day.  (If Jerome and Steve actually did Kamihikawa and Yanagisawa, and Jerome rode all the way home, he should be well over 250 km, which was James M.'s original target).  Jerome?  Steve?  James?


Jimmy Shinagawa said...

"Either I'm still recuperating from last weekend's Brevet, or I'm not yet in my fighting shape"

Erm.. after 600km last weekend perhaps, just maybe, there is a small chance you are recuperating.. I do think the added heat today would have taken its toll.. it takes a while to acclimatize as we all know..

Looking forward to seeing you on the next ride.

stantopia said...

Well. Kamihikawa was HARD ! We met Tom coming the other way at the bottom of Sasego Toge before we stopped at the 7-11 just before the start of the climb. Left there at 1pm, and arrived at the top of Kamihikawa 2:30pm. Stunning scenery, but did I mention it was HARD ? Many thanks to Jerome who pulled me up the entire climb, shouting out various encouraging altitude calculations ("half way there!", "one more Sasago to go!" etc) as we got higher, but even he was almost broken by the surprise sneaky downhill section just before the top ("holy shit, now we have to climb this again?!?"). I knew I didn't have it in me for the next bloody climb up Yanagisawa, and as if to confirm this my front tyre punctured just as we started the descent - phew ! I let Jerome go ahead, loaded with my remaining power bars & gels - he would need them more than me, as I'd made my mind up to get a train from Enzan, while he still had another 115km (?) to go, including Yanagisawa...!
I do hope he got home alright ---


James said...


As I had posted that this was a training ride I assumed that those posting interest in it were actually out to train and not coming on a Sunday social jaunt.

As it seems that P.E’s definition of a training ride is very different to mine I think an amendment to the P.E rules needs to be made.

TOM said...

Steve...I can't believe you two proceeded to climb Kamihikawa! Must have been quite hot with the sun in the back all the way up! Congratulations!

James M....yeah, I think next time you should advertise your ride plan in more legible words...plus, you have metamorphosed in a genuine racer no longer the Sunday social rider of before! Haha!

David L....that was brave of you to join a ride like this having completed a mammoth ride just a week before! Don't overdo it & take it easy until Itoigawa!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for today ride which once again was a lot of fun. As usual I had ignition problems & had to wait until the begining of Sasago climb, proper feeding at the 7/11 (bottom of Kamihikawa) and another warm up in the first kilometer in Kamihikawa (in fact Steve and I kept motivating each others with positive information such as - hey we have already climbed 50 meters, the first part is always the steepest,...)

Any way after we split at the top of Sasago, we had to shout in the haunted tunnel to scare away the witch. I was expecting to introduce her to Steve but we could see noboby...
We met Tom at the intersection of route 20 & Sasago road. He had just had lunch & was at the beginning of the second leg of the journey (he had already climbed 2500 meters). After a delicious lunch made of Pasta, we started to debate whether Steve would be able to climb. He soon made the right decision (he had no choice because riding back through Sasago tunnel was not very tempting. We therefore decided to climb together to prevent him from turning back. We enjoyed a really nice scenery which helped us forget about our tough time & suprisingly reach the top in less than 1h30. At the top while we were contemplating the view (we could see the wonderful turnpikes) I tried to convince Steve to ride up to Yanagisawa. Steve refused and both of us were punished by god: me for trying too hard to convince him; my bicycle fell down on the derailleur & I discovered later in the first part of the climb to Yanagisawa that I could not use neither 29 nor 27 nor 25. On his side Steve had a flat tire (He gently allowed me to go ahead due to the long road waiting for me). Although I suffered a lot in the climb it took me around 30 minutes to climb the 600 meters. I must tell that we I saw two nice ladies back in front of me, I had to show off... but was about to collapse a few curbs ahead - I was quite exhausted & needed food -
I stopped at the top of Yanagisawa for around 20 minutes & decided that even having already rode around 150 kilometers I should try to set up another record in order to avoid any marital issue. I set the objective at 4h00 for 120 kms. I made it in 3h30 with one stop thanks to a quiet headwind. I reached Okutamako within less than hour & then assembled all the remaining energy to meet the target. I arrived home, dead, after a 13 hour ride. but what a nice day & nice teammates (on the first part I was quite tired but understood that all of us were equally suffering so I decided not to show my tiredness & pushed to impress everybody)

The only thing I do not know if Steve returned home safely & wonder if we should post the photo & launch a search (he might have been attacked by the gay bear who is posted on a sign & tried to catch me while I was descending. It seems he had already caught a deer on the way up to Kamihikawa but let the crows enjoyed the food presumably because he smelt two stinking foreigners...)

Thanks again for the ride & looking forward to Itoigawa race

James said...


Very true,.. although I think using the word Epic, 200+ km and training ride all in the same sentance would have given an indication to what I had in mind... lesson learned :D

I'm glad that there was a large enough group/groups for everyone to get what they needed from the day.

David L. said...

I think James was entirely clear in what he intended for Sunday. I only was making a statement, not a criticism, in saying that his was not a "social ride" pace.

Just a typical "bara bara" ride and yes, everyone did get what he needed from the day.

Apparently CJ and Kevin headed out very early (6:10AM Takao station) and made it over Matsuhime and back to Oume in good time, ... so that CJ could come to our office and work.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Very impressive, everybody, esp. of course Jerome. I'm glad I wasn't with him when he launched his race back home from the top of Yanagisawa...

David, the only 7-11s on route 20 around Otsuki are in Sarubashi and on the way to the Sasago tunnel. You will have passed them. The new Daily Yamazaki near Otsuki station is decent, and so is the Lawson you visited. I have to confess I used two Lawsons and one 7-11 yesterday (in Gunma) and learnt to appreciate the Lawsons for the food and drink they offer (to me).

James said...


I didn't take it as critique.

Im really glad that everyone got a great ride and great weather. I still haven't heard from Fumiki though, I wonder if he is a sleep under a bridge on the Tamagawa???

Fumiki said...


Tamagawa washed out me to Pacific Ocean...

I'm eating my Madone frame to get carbohydrates.

from Juan Fernandez