04 October 2010

Beautiful Brevet

This Saturday Jerome and I joined the Kanagawa Oct 2 400km Brevet from Numazu to Karuizawa and back.

400+ km.  4870 meters of climbing (really).  23 hrs 57 mins.  Please click through to "View Details" via Garmin Connect:


Completed in just under 24 hours, with many stops, including a steak dinner at a family restaurant in Saku, Nagano (complete with after dinner nap); too many brief rests slumped over my handlebars in the dark on the middle of the last two long climbs, completely exhausted; and 30 minutes or more passed out in a 24-hour McDonalds on the Southern edge of Kofu, Jerome and I the only customers other than a group of attractive women in the smoking area who looked as if they had just gotten off work at 2:45AM Sunday from one of the local establishments.

There were some familiar riders -- a few from the Chubu 600; Tsuchida-san from the Saitama 300 km event in March, the ex-Keirin star who rode with a much younger guy (perhaps his son? protege?) as an assist; Daisuke S. from the Positivo Catteni club team; Jose, a Philippine expat who Jerome and I met just 2 weeks ago in Oume; and some of the Kanagawa organizers.  We rode the last 75 km with an English speaking Brevet-crazed freelance software engineer from Kobe, Moriwaki-san.  He did the Cascade Pacific 1250 km this summer, an identifying tag from the event still attached to his seatpost, as well as a series of three 1000 km Canada events (one day off between each in the series!), and said he had done a German 1000 km Brevet in a prior year, starting out of Munich.  And no doubt he would have zoomed ahead of us, but for the fact that he waited with Jerome 30+ minutes for me at Lake Shoji-ko after the last long climb, and he must have been saving himself for next weekend's Chubu 1000.  All that, plus a mechanical problem (dying bottom bracket) that required him to make an unscheduled repair stop at a bicycle shop in Saku.

As with last time, Jerome had not registered and was an "unofficial" entrant.  He did commit to the organizers that, next time, he will register in time and pay the modest fee.  He had a late meeting at work that went to 11PM on Friday evening, and so went straight to Shin Fuji on Saturday morning, planning to meet me 25 km into the ride or so.   We missed our rendezvous, as I got through the first 25 km very quickly -- a tailwind making it possible to zoom down the coast line at around 40 kph without undue effort, and Jerome stepped into a family restaurant for breakfast.  In any event, I continued on, knowing he would catch me somewhere up the Fujikawa. At least he did not need to wait for me until we were well over 100 km into the ride.  Then he waited at the top of (or down the other side of) each hill, each wait longer than the last.

As with other events longer than 300 km, there is way too much to put in a blog entry at 1AM.  A few highlights:

1.  The climb to Shinshu Toge went through some beautiful country.  Somehow I was expecting stark, harsh terrain (like the approach from 411 to Kamihikawa), but there were nice farm villages and valleys, and even some downslopes to mix with the climbing from Nirasaki (360m elev) to the pass (1460m elev).  Most of the gradient was reasonable - just a few km of 10%+ climbing near the top.

2.  The "surprise climb" of the trip was from Saku (low point 670 m elevation) to Naka Karuizawa (1003m elev).  I somehow was hoping that the turnaround point -- 60% of the way from Saku to the center of Karuizawa (well, the Shinkansen station), would be at the same elevation as Saku.  No luck ... and plenty of slow, suffering riders to witness after we started back down the hill.

3. We saw the sun rise over Mt. Fuji as we passed through "Asagiri Kogen" - Morning Mist Highlands.  A beautiful site ... the scene not captured on film, as I was at that point descending at a good clip and has zero energy to stop and take photos.

4.  This was a really well-thought-out course, especially compared with the Brevet at end of August.  The Fujikawa was very nice, the route out through Minami Alps/Nirasaki avoided much of the "sprawl" of Kofu, and travel on "main roads" -- 141 from Saku back to Nirasaki, 20 through Kofu, and 358 up to Mt. Fuji -- was mostly during the dark of late night and very early Sunday morning, when traffic was almost non-existent.  ... until buses, cars and trucks started roaring up Rte 358 before 5AM Sunday.  Our only suggestion to the organizers was that they try Rte 2 instead of Rte 141 between Koumi and Saku on the outbound leg, as the truck traffic on 141 can be heavy.  Also, the course had the benefit that all of the hard work is done before the last 50 km, which includes a 30km+ downhill stretch that starts just after passing Motosu-ko.

The view North while crossing the Fujikawa on Rte 300, 75 km into the ride

The view South.

The view West.

8 comments:

TOM said...

Beautiful pictures again! You guys are really hardcore, incredible!

This is one experience I haven't had...cycling all night in the dark! I'd love to try it once but I'm afraid I would get lost with my below-average navigating skills. Do the Burube people still work with those "cue sheets" or do they also provide downloadable GPS maps?

Am saving pocket money for the new Garmin 800 about to come out....

TOM said...

Beautiful pictures again! You guys are really hardcore, incredible!

This is one experience I haven't had...cycling all night in the dark! I'd love to try it once but I'm afraid I would get lost with my below-average navigating skills. Do the Burube people still work with those "cue sheets" or do they also provide downloadable GPS maps?

Am saving pocket money for the new Garmin 800 about to come out....

David L. said...

Tom:

In good weather, the night cycling is great. Yes, they still work with cue sheets in Kanagawa. Some of the other groups offer downloadable maps. Then again, when the directions are, "turn left onto Route 141 and proceed for 70 kilometers to Nirasaki" the navigation is not difficult, as long as you can read the Japanese cue sheet and signs.

I'm signed up for the Chubu 1000km ride this coming weekend. On Saturday, I was thinking "no way I can do this, recover, survive a week of work, take off Friday, and do that as well. But now, I'm thinking, a lot less hilly route, and what seems like a reasonably quick recovery for my body as of Monday AM... if I can manage any work conflicts, I'll do it. It would get me to 2800km of Brevets for the year, which might be enough to get me a spot for PBP2011.

Best,
David

mob said...

David, Jerome, very impressive. In particular if you will also ride and complete the Chubu 1.000 km brevet scheduled for the next weekend.

I like the picture of David in the restaurant as one could seen the prefectural road #9 sign glowing outside and showing the way to go.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Again an impressive achievement! David, you are clearly back in form!

I'm worried about the 1,000km though - despite your Norwegian blood. My longest ride (Tokyo-Joetsu dusk to dawn) has been 340km. I cannot imagine doing another two rides like this, in a row...

Are you sure you aren't overdoing it? Your heart rate dropped markedly over the 400km (as would mine) - clear sign of fatigue which should serve as a warning for another 600km!

I myself find that while I feel pretty good the day after a strenuous ride and feel fully recovered another 1-2 days later, this doesn't mean my cardio-vascular ability has fully recovered. It can take over a week for me to be able to get the heart-rate up to peak performance. I think even James has been reporting something similar on himself, so he avoids longer rides for over a week in advance of a race.

It's your life, but I wanted to at least have warned you! Definitely do not feel guilty or embarrassed should you decide to bail out early! In any case, the best of luck!!

Manfred von Holstein said...

On a different note, will you be relying on your Garmin for directions? Probably recommendable for such a long ride. Let me know if I can help by telling you how to load up the track onto the unit. It took me a lot of experimenting to finally figure out what works best.

Letting the unit just indicate the track on the map without giving you directions is BTW a way of extending the battery life quite markedly. If you take regular rests, you can probably recharge the unit sufficiently with your charger to never run out of battery.

David L. said...

Manfred:
Thanks for the concern and suggestions. Yes, my heart rate dropped--a clear sign of fatigue. Same thing happened on Transalp with each successive day over the week. But last week I got 3.5 hours of sleep Wednesday, if that, 2 hours of sleep Thursday night, and 5.5 or 6 hours on Friday. Not enough, and several major deadlines plus client/counterparties camped out all week in the office. So I was exhausted at the start.

This week, here it is Tuesday night and I feel quite well-rested from the past 2 nights and hope I can get 6.5 hours tonight, and at least 6 hours each of the next two nights. If I can, I will be good to go.

Also, the route is 2.5x as long, but probably 2x the total elevation gain, and much less in terms of "major" climbs. As long as there is not a big headwind, or rain storm, it is doable.

I loaded up onto my Edge 705 the GPS data in the form of gpx files from here (in 4 segments):

#1 一宮~金沢

latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/watch?id=4a51154e1fbad739bb3168a5f07d7f34

#2 金沢~七尾

latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/watch?id=d75a4ac96056c7c1cc4db3b903bc2a39

#3 七尾~伊那

latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/watch?id=1caa9f08a14d8cbe9fff3ce6f7862424

#4 伊那~一宮

latlonglab.yahoo.co.jp/route/watch?id=eec4c918f33e709ddbdc4fd17601e7c4

If you can suggest a better approach (i.e. if I should be using one of the other files instead of gpx, or putting it in a directory, or can just show the route on the screen as you note, instead of getting regular directions to turn a little to the right or left when the road curves, please email me the instructions direct.

Manfred von Holstein said...

David, when you load the gpx data for navigation on the device, you get asked whether you want to navigate the route or whether you want to display it (I forget the exact wording). Choosing navigating will result in very annoying frequent prompts at every slight turn of the road. This will also deplete the battery quite rapidly. Moreover, this works only for a certain number of track points after which the unit stops giving any prompts.

If you choose the other option, you get to choose in which colour you want to display the track, and then it shows up nicely on the map. You will not get any prompts, but I find that as long as you look at the map periodically, it is quite clear where to make turns etc.

If you want meaningful prompts, you need to create waypoints in Mapsource and upload these (through Mapsource). But this is not fool-proof, for the following reasons. The device will try to navigate you initially to the closest waypoint even if this is the end point, so it is important to set the first waypoint closer to your actual start than any of the final points (this only applies when doing a loop). Setting the first waypoint at the start point will confuse the device completely, and may lead it to directing you back home for a long time until finally giving up, or hanging.

The device calculates its own route from the waypoints, and this depends on what settings you choose on the device for routing. Invariably, the routing will be different from what Mapsource showed and what you actually intended. You can reduce the chance of false routing by setting many waypoints. However, if you plan to pass roads or tracks that are considered non-routable by the device, the device will try to direct you around them, which can have terrible consequences - of prolonging your route by a large amount, or even leading you to a completely wrong place, occasionally even a hiking track!

I have found the routing function unreliable almost everywhere I have been - with the only exception of the area in Germany where my parents live.

It can still be occasionally helpful by identifying bicycle paths or backroads that one didn't see on google maps when creating the track. So I have recently used both functions together: first displaying the track, then starting routing navigation. Finally starting my brain - this is still indispensable to make navigation decisions...

Oh, how do you create tracks? I do this with mapmyride. To download the gpx track, one needs to first save the ride, then access it through the saved link, to be able to download it. Otherwise downloading is not possible.

All of this has been the result of lots of experimenting. The Garmin manual is completely useless. And I have not found a good guide on the internet either. Hope it helps - and I would be grateful for any tips in return.