03 January 2011

January 2 Ekiden Ride Report

After lunch at the Hakone Touge Michi No Eki -- nearly all the hard work done for today
The Positivo Espresso/TCC Ekiden Ride went off without a hitch yesterday, as no one got lost, and nearly all the riders reached the top of the climb and the finish along Ashi-no-ko 30 minutes ahead of the runners -- enjoying a welcome from cheering crowds (even cheerleaders), marching bands and everyone making noise to try and stay warm.  We were blessed with glorious, clear weather, dry roads and not-too-strong winds (that were at our backs on much of the ride along the Sagami Bay).

We received plenty of encouragement on the climb, with "gambatte" calls from some pairs of attractive, younger women (waiting for their real heroes) -- inspiring us to even greater than our usual efforts -- and the occasional "Fai-toh!" (fight!) from an oddly dressed Japanese guy.  The muscle-suited cyclist who had dismounted near the top of the climb took the prize.

The group suffered a serious schism in cycling doctrine at the Hakone Pass Michi No Eki.

One group, led by Ludwig, insisted that it would show disrespect to MOB Kraehe if we were to take Route 20 toward Atami Toge (MOB's "favorite road in Japan") in his absence.  They argued that Route 20 must never be ridden by P.E. in his absence, and opted to explore Route 75, the "Tsubaki Line".  Another group, referred to by some as "the renegades" (and by Ludwig as "the re-negates"), led by Dave and Dave, argued that we must ride Route 20, out of respect for MOB -- that he would have "wanted it that way" and would not want to deny us the pleasure of this spectacular stretch along the spine of the mountains of Izu, just because he is stuck in North Germany working on an antique road bike in the dark of winter.  No one thought it was worth calling MOB at 5AM local time to figure it out. Just about the only thing that anyone could agree upon was that the descent into Atami from Route 20 was "a b****", could cause excessive wear on brake pads, and was to be avoided if practical.

So we split into two.  Ludwig's group went back down the bumper-to-bumper, extremely tedious (their words, not mine) road the short way back to Ashi-no-ko, then onto the Tsubaki-Line.  They report that Tsubaki Line was worth this minor inconvenience, is a GREAT cycling road, and some of the photos bear this out.  The TCC reports and links can all be found here.

I joined the renegades, who I had been riding with most of the way since I was slow getting my gloves on and cleat covers off while leaving the Family Mart at Fujisawa, missed a red light and did not see the lead group again until Odawara.  The four of us headed up to the pass, then cruised down Route 20 -- spectacular views as always.  After the traditional brief stop at the entrance to the Izu Skyline, we headed West down Route 11.  This was a really, really, really nice descent -- lots of curves, not too steep, emerging from forest to see a spectacular vista to the West or a valley to our side, and only a couple of cars coming up the hill for the first 5 km or so.  We realized that anyone going from Atami to Numazu takes the OTHER Route 11, which skips Atami Touge, goes through a tunnel and only rejoins our deserted road near the bottom of the hill.  Hard to imagine that any other route could have equaled this one!

Then we enjoyed our own short slog through traffic jams on the flat area, up to Mishima Station, where we acquired the necessary provisions (beer, unagi-flavored "Pretz") to enjoy a quick shinkansen trip back to Tokyo.  My Garmin data/map is here.  Some photos, mostly from Ludwig, a few from me (click on them to see in full size):

The start -- Otemachi/Marunouchi Area of Tokyo early

Too many traffic lights early on.

The Fujisawa Stop -- where I fumbled my cleats and gloves and lost the lead group.
Lots and lots of Japanese cyclists this year ... mostly slower than us, and apparently a huge group that rides slowly AFTER the runners.  I got the pleasure of driving several to complete exhaustion who tried to hang with me on the flat.
Beautiful weather, as usual!

The road turns gradually up.

Andy W, Travis, James M and Mike (photo by Ludwig), waiting for the rest of us at the finish.
Mysterious broadcast-related equipment at the Michi no Eki.  Might have something to do with all those live TV shots from trucks and motorcycles during the Ekiden.
Dave & Dave at lunch -- are those potato chips?

Mr. Rindo and others who did not grab one of the chairs at the table, and so whose legs were maybe a bit numb by the end of lunch.  I thank you for your sacrifice.

Andy and Shane (a/k/a "new Dave").

A motley crew.

The view from our lunch spot.

The traditional stop at Atami Touge.  "We have conquered Izu!  Already 1/20 of the way down the peninsula."

Looking back from Atami Touge.

On the climb of the Tsubaki Line.

I think they went up there -- ahead.

Yes, definitely climbed another hill for a better view, and proof that James M. (a/k/a "MacGyver") topped 1000 meters.

The usual heavy traffic on East Izu roads ...


Manfred von Holstein said...

David, thanks for the nice report and putting the photos to good use. With your imaginary scene from the Michi no Eki, you are now stepping firmly into the shoes of MOB - looks like we have found a worth successor who can keep up the humour in cycling blogs...

Glad you liked the descent from Atami Toge. I have done this once the other way round, after a race in Shuzenji. You should judge for yourself by doing the Tsubaki Line at some point, but I would venture to say the Tsubaki Line beats it all...

James said...

Dave, I w ould love to know where this "MacGyver" nick name comes from????

David Litt said...

MacGyver -- I thought the reference would be obvious, but I guess maybe it is (U.S.) culture specific/confined, or maybe just from before you were of age, so let me explain.

I was thinking of the 1980s U.S. TV hero's knack of jury rigging solutions from everyday items to some of the more complex life and death situations he would face, and your comments on things mechanical, going back maybe to these posts:





See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGyver

("known for his inventive use of common items")

Best regards,
One of the Daves

mob said...

Wonderful. I wish I could have been there.

Thank you for not calling at 5 AM.