11 April 2011

Hell of the North, Fog of the East

April 10, 2011 saw the 109th edition of one of the great events in all of cycling, Paris-Roubaix.  Johan Van Summeren, of Team Garmin-Cervelo, rode in a lead group, "beyond the peleton" as it were, and managed a solo victory as the race over the bike-busting, wheel devouring broken cobblestones and mud of Northern France lived up to its nickname as "The Hell of the North."

I had Paris-Roubaix on my mind as I headed out early on my Cervelo, complete with Garmin, and attacked the "pave" of Hachioji.  It was warm in Tokyo, even at 6:30 AM, with a forecast for sunny skies and a high temperature of 18 degrees C (approximately 64 F).  I figured I would try Wada Pass via the forest road, then Tawa, and Tsuru Passes via Uenohara and along Rte 18, then make a decision about where to go from Kosuge - Mura, whether Matsuhime, Kazahari, or maybe even Imagawa and Yanagisawa.  It would be, for me, a big day of training.  The sakura were in full bloom along the river and hillsides.

The weather, however, disappointed.  My sunglasses started to fog up as I climbed Wada, not from my breath, but just from the wet and clammy air.  My rear tire slipped on the grate covers and mossy sections -- a problem largely solved if I watched for trouble spots and remained in the saddle at key points.  I had brought glove liners, thin arm and leg covers, and a thin vest, but was missing a jacket, a warm cap, toe covers or winter socks.  Still, after the descent, in Uenohara at my first stop, I warmed a bit and figured it had just been early morning cold that I encountered on Wada, and surely things would warm up with the day.

So I headed out of Uenohara and then onto Rte 18 over Tawa and Tsuru Passes, again greeted by clouds, fog and cold, as well as a damp road surface higher up.  At the base of Matsuhime Pass, I considered making a right turn, heading down into Kosuge Mura, to the day-trip hotspring, then on to enjoy a quick lunch at Yakyu Tei and home via Oume.  That would have been a wimp out. 

Instead, inspired by the gods of cycling then preparing for the cobblestones, and Mario Cipollini's recent comments, I "manned up", turned left and made the climb, much of it in the fog. The temperature indicator about 100 meters elevation below the top of Matsuhime said 5 degrees C, with snow still on the side of the road in a few places. At the top, I stopped only long enough to slip on my bright orange vest -- glowing as if with radioactivity in the wet mist, and extremely useful in providing visibility to oncoming traffic.

The Matsuhime climb, in the clouds.

Back down at Sarubashi, the day was warmer, and I even saw some blue sky.  After enjoying a hot pot of "Houtou" -- a Yamanashi local udon-like dish -- I headed home via Sagami-ko, the "Hiroshi twist" along the N. edge of Tsukui-ko, One-kansen-doro, and the Kawasaki-side of the Tamagawa, seeing many, many more flowering sakura under cloudy, cool skies. 

A good training ride -- 210 km and 2800+ meters of climbing in all -- including some classic Positivo Espresso routes.  Now in order to get ready for Tokyo-Itoigawa and Transalp, I just need to ride faster!

1 comment:

Manfred von Holstein said...

David, nice ride and great photos! I was more lucky with the weather in England. 560km in gorgeous Spring weather. Links to follow.