26 December 2010

They Call Him Mr. Rindo

Mr. Rindo stops for a quick refuel during the wind-assisted return trip.

Merry Christmas!  (And Happy Hanukkah too.)

Christmas morning in Tokyo ... cold (around 0 C, or 32 F degrees) but dry, a "green" and not a "white" Christmas, like on the other side of the island of Honshu.  Not a national holiday here, just a normal Saturday with most people rushing to complete their year-end business before everything shuts down for 4-5 days around the New Year, plenty of trucks on the main roads.  So with some family activities planned for late afternoon and evening, and mid-day Sunday, there was no reason not to get up early and squeeze in a ride.  Ludwig was also of a similar mind.

I don't ride often with Tom S. or Manfred/Ludwig, since they usually go at a pace that is just enough faster than me to prove uncomfortable after the first 30-60 minutes.  But they each have cyclocross bikes for winter, with heavier frames and thicker tires, and now that I've gotten a bit faster, I can usually keep up on the flats.  It helps if, as in this case, they have ridden within the past day or two (Ludwig on Thursday) and so do not have completely fresh legs, and it also helps if I well-rested, also the case yesterday.  So the ride went fine.  Of course, Ludwig waited for me at the top of the steeper hills ... but he did not wait as long as he once might have needed to.

(NOTE:  For anyone to whom the following place names are unfamiliar, please see the Garmin Connect link/map at the bottom of the post.)

We met at 7:25AM at the end of the gravel stretch of Tama Cycling path, about a kilometer north of the Odakyu Line bridge over the Tamagawa.  We planned to do the Kobu Tunnel -- repeating my ride of last week -- but then, instead of returning over Wada (the "Ura Wada" climb), to try a "reverse Bijo Tani" -- a trip over the forest road (Rindo) that departs just down the valley from the base of Ura Wada, and climbs from around 200 meters elevation to above 650 meters elevation, then back down to meet Rte 20 on the back side of Otarumi; then the shorter, much gentler climb over Otarumi and down to Takao before the last leg home .. with a 2PM target and 3PM hard deadline for me.  The amount of climbing was boosted slightly by taking a different route -- Akigawa Kaido -- to Itsukaichi.  Some of this road, out of Hachioji, was a bit narrow and heavily traveled, but it gradually cleared up and the last 5-10 km were very nice, as it climbs a gradual slope then crests at a tunnel entrance.  It passes through the wide and little used tunnel and descends into Itsukaichi, and is a nice change from the usual trip up the Tamagawa and out the main road to Itsukaichi.

The sunlight helped to keep the cold tolerable most of the way to Itsukaichi.  But as soon as we started into the Akigawa valley and hit long, uninterrupted stretches of dark shadow, still just after 9:00AM, it got fricken' (or is that "fracken" or maybe "effing"?) cold.  I wished I had a face mask, even though I was working hard and climbing gradually.  Eventually, the steeper climb up to Kobu Tunnel seemed to do the trick, and the warm sun on the Uenohara side felt glorious.

Ludwig followed me down the descent from Kobu Tunnel and was just behind me at the bottom, but I did not hear him screaming for me to take a left turn onto a small road about 100-200 meters AFTER the turn off for the golf course hills, and I continued along Rte 33.  After climbing up most of the next gradual hill, I looked back.  No Ludwig.  The last time I was certain I had seen him was about 1 km before the bottom of the descent.  Had he flatted?  Crashed?  He had said he slipped on a descent riding his cyclocross Red Bull on Thursday, and had the scratches on his cycling wear to show for it, and he noted that the "Bull" does not handle as well on turns as his Canyon.  I turned around, went to the bottom and started back up the lower part of the climb to Kobu.  My phone rang just about as I got to the last place I was sure I had seen him.  .... He was already well on the way to Uenohara proper, on the other road, and we agreed to meet at a Daily Yamazaki on Rte 33 on the way into town.  Next time I will try his alternate route -- an older, quiet road just across the river from Rte 33 -- almost no traffic, and less up and down, probably, than Rte 33, which climbs well above the other road, then descends and drops down to cross the river, and climbs briefly into the town.
At the Daily Yamazaki on Rte 33 in Uenohara -- the rare convenience store that combines a decent selection, and comes complete with a nice wooden bench, and a view of Mt. Fuji!
A turn at the signal just after the Daily Yamazaki led us away from Rte 20 and over a nasty, short and steep little hill, past the Uenohara Junior High School, then over toward the base of Ura Wada.  We miss a turn and end up taking a footbridge and cutting through a field to get to a driveway to Rte 522.

The climb to Bijo Tani from Rte 522 side is varied, with some traffic on the lower stretches -- mini postal delivery vans, onsen food/supply deliveries, a short steeper stretch at the bottom followed by some gradual, almost flat (in comparison) sections.  Eventually, you pass the last onsen and farms, and get to a stretch where the road turns directly into and up the hill.  The pavement changes from the usual smooth dark asphalt to a coarse surface of cement with embedded rocks in a lighter shade.  I've seen this road surface before -- on parts of one of the nasty, steep roads from Agano (Rte 299) up onto the Green Line and Takayama temple in Chichibu, and on the steeper parts of the climb to Nenogongen.  This is the road surface used when cars would otherwise slip and slide downhill, or maybe when asphalt would droop and slide down out of the mold before it hardened.  I associate this concrete with grades well above 10%, and this was no exception, as we gained 70 meters elevation in about a 500 meter stretch.  Ludwig waited for me at the top.  We dismounted at the gate and continued onto the closed Rindo.
At the top of he nasty little hill in Uenohara, before the climb toward Bijo Tani.

Near the top of the climb to Bijo Tani -- nice vistas to the West.

It seems like only yesterday that Knotty was asking "What's a Rindo?"  (林道 Definition: a "forest road" -- in contrast to a National or Prefectural road; sometimes behind a chain or gate to keep out unofficial traffic, totally ineffective at keeping out cyclists.  Often, as in this case, reasonably well-maintained and paved the entire way).  I'm convinced that Ludwig deserves another crown.  In 2009 he was "D" class champion, this year I declare him "Mr. Rindo 2010."

These forest routes expand the ride alternatives in our area dramatically.  They have no (or very little) traffic, offer great views, and nice training opportunities (especially steep climbs).  But just looking at a map does not really tell you whether you will find a beautiful, deserted, paved road, or a gravel road covered in rocks from a landslide.  This requires some patience and experimentation.  For a few of Mr. Rindo's posts, see here, or here, or here.

The descent down the other side to Koshu Kaido (Rte 20) is deserted, behind the gate much of the way, but lacks any of the gradual flatter stretches -- relatively steep the entire way.  Only try this if you have plenty of brake pad left.  Road construction has been completed on the steepest stretches since I rode this with MOB back in 2008, so there was only a little debris to avoid on the descent.

Compared to last weekend, almost an hour shorter "elapsed time", but 13 km more/24 minutes more on the bike -- so 1:20 less resting time, and an additional 300+ meters of climbing.  And a much zippier climb the 2.8 km up to Kobu tunnel. -- the only section where I got a directly comparable split time.

7 comments:

Manfred von Holstein said...

Thank you for the kind words, and company, David.

I really like these winter rides. Far less traffic in the mountains, crisp air with nice views. Of course not the time to push up the hills too hard, to save one's lungs for warmer times. This limits a bit what one can do in winter, and so I'm happy to do more social loop rides than I usually do, even if it comes at the expense of exploration. Yesterday, we were still able to combine both.

The first photo of you climbing comes from that short, steep (12 percent) pass between Uenohara and the two convenience stores we usually frequent after coming down from Wada. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have a name, but is worth adding to our Wada routes, providing for an alternative to the golf course hills.

Bijoutani is the name of the last onsen up that valley from the Fujino/Wada side. It looks quite nice, but also old and I cannot figure out where the actual onsen is. I also wonder why there can be so many onsens in this valley but never a scent of sulphur... The highest point of the rindo continuing beyond Bijoutani Onsen is 100m altitude meters below Myouou Toge (明王峠). MOB and I hiked this up on my only other trip over this rindo, which was also the virgin ride for my cyclocross bike.

mob said...

Nice ride guys. Now that the road between Fujino/Bijotani and the top has been repaired, it makes sense to ride down towards Bijotani.

The actual onsen in Bijotani is hidden in a non-descript small building on the right side of the road up a small slope coming into the village just before the left turn to the river crossing with embankments but no actual bridge:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&om=1&source=embed&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=114271664828116296116.0004430d2c34bc277ff33

It would be interesting to ride up that road and see how far one could get.

Hiroshi told me about Bijotani some years ago, I did it once on my own and one time with David and time with Ludwig as he wrote, me on the Bad Boy and we continued to make th long climbs ultimately leading us to route 76 and Tanzawa lake.

I just read another mail from Ludwig - I wouldn't underestimate the number of rindos that still exist somewhere there and are waiting to be discovered.

Happy X-mas and a splendid new year on the rindo trails.

Manfred von Holstein said...

That link takes me straight to Tama Center...

Here is the link to the Onsen:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=35.637671,139.165599&daddr=&hl=en&geocode=FafJHwIdn39LCA&mra=prev&dirflg=w&sll=35.637828,139.167295&sspn=0.004831,0.006899&ie=UTF8&ll=35.638002,139.165975&spn=0.004831,0.010986&z=17

I have covered almost all rindos reachable from Tokyo, at least if you don't count dead-end rindos. I'm constantly on the outlook for more, searching hiking maps, googlemaps and satellite images, as well as taking photos when I pass rindo entrances. I know of a few that I still want to do, and probably a few more will turn up eventually, but I'm pretty sure I have done most. I just don't blog about them sufficiently to convey how many I have already "discovered".

Anyone challenging me to a rindo I have not done yet, or don't even know of??

David L. said...

Manfred:

Unfortunately, your Google Maps link is to Ryokan Hime-tani (Princess Valley Inn -- 旅館姫谷), which is a hot spring inn on the climb over the other side of the pass -- what I've called "Ura Bijo Tani" in the post.  Bijo-tani Onsen (Valley of the Beautiful Ladies Onsen -- 美女谷温泉) is on the route up from Koshu Kaido (Rte 20), with signage on Rte 20 pointing up the hill, and is on the right side as you climb, just above the Chuo Kosoku Doro. You can see the Bijo-tani Onsen marked clearly on Google Maps -- just a few hundred meters above the Chuo-Kosoku -- when you set Google Maps at the highest level of resolution.

A few more errors like that and the judges may need to reconsider your title as Mr. Rindo. Except that the title fits so well, they are unlikely to take it away.

Best,
David L.

Manfred von Holstein said...

You are clearly right - I should focus on exploring and leave the writing to others... I was mislead by the frequent signs to Bijoutani Onsen on the way out of the valley, which then stopped, so thought they had led to that place I indicated. But now that you say it I darkly remember they said something like 6km to go... Of course why anyone would have visitors take this (closed) rindo rather than going via route 20 is beyond me...

Anonymous said...

hey David ~ dont peak too early for transalp 2011! still six months to go! happy xmas and new year from positivo uk, J and D

David L. said...

And a merry Xmas and happy New Year to Positivo Espresso UK and each of its members!

I've got my Joe Friel book, and I'm reading about periodization and peaking, lactate thresholds and not overtraining, so I'll do my best to optimize my training and peak for Transalp. I want to start in Sonthofen this time 5+ kg lighter than last time, so I don't ride backward through the group going up the hill that first afternoon, and don't hold back MOB too much.

For now I'm just having fun -- Thursday will join the first leg of Froggy's crazy plan for a 2-day winter ride from Tokyo through Yamanashi, Nagano (really, really cold!), Aichi, Gifu and on to Kansai.

Then on January 2 the Ekiden ride.

Then on January 9 my first (200km) Brevet of the year.

Then in mid-January I will take a break to get the titanium pins taken out of my now-healed left elbow. So I want to have some base built up if I cannot ride mid/late January or part of February when the weather here is at its crappiest.