03 June 2011

Monster Ride

Near Fujino, after Bijotani
Well, on Saturday I stayed close to town as planned, and rode Onekansen, N. side of Tsukui, then climbed Bijotani, the Uenohara golf course hills, up to Kobu Tunnel, down the Akigawa and home again.  145 km and about 1750 meters of elevation.  The GPS is here.

The weather was gorgeous, even a bit on the hot side.

My legs were tired from the start -- probably the result of commuting on the Powercranks last week.  They really do make my commute into a bit of a training exercise, even without trying much to push the pace.
Tsukui-ko, North Shore -- lots of green in June

The golf course hills -- I last stopped here with Jerome and Didier in winter


Sunday I caught the very early train to Enzan, was on the bicycle a little after 8AM, and climbed!

I made a rookie mistake while waiting to change trains at Nagatsuda, and drank a bottle of "Lemon Water" from the vending machine, different than what I normally drink when I ride.  I compounded the error by getting some food I usually don't eat at the 7-11 en route to the base of the climb in Enzan.  Something did not agree with my stomach, and the next few hours were not comfortable, and my time was noticeably slower than when I did this with MOB in 2009. 

Still, other than a toilet break at the public facilities at the Crystal Line turn off for Yakiyama, at least I did not have any problem climbing, and made it without a "foot down".  Odarumi itself is only 36 km from Enzan, but 1950 meters elevation gain -- about like the Stelvio, but with some flat sections that allow you to catch your breath. The Stelvio is relentless. Odarumi relents, a bit, with the dip in the road at the dam on the Kotogawa, around 1500 meters elev just befroe the Cyrstal Line turn off, and again for a long stretch through a highland at between 1700-1800 meters elev.)

At Odarumi, with two of the waiting taxi drivers (a third took the photo).  They ferry the hikers up and back from Enzan station.  The road opened to traffic on June 1 this year.
 I saw one group of 5 or 6 road cyclists who were descending as I climbed.  And on the lower slopes I blew by two riders, on a hybrid and a folding bike, ... but otherwise, no roadies at all on Odarumi (or pretty much anywhere else on Sunday).

At the top, I had vegetable curry at the Odarumi Hut -- a little way up the hill from the pass, close enough so I could wheel my bike there.  When I finished, the sky was ominous.  As I left the parking lot for the descent (with vest and arm covers on now), I could see what looked like rain clouds BELOW me.  With no real rain gear, I feared a cold, wet descent and an early train ride home.

Fortunately, when I got to the Yakiyama/Crystal Line turn off, no rain had fallen and it was a lot warmer, 800 or 900 meters lower, and my stomach was no longer churning, so I pushed on.
The Crystal Line -- mile after mile of roads like this -- high enough to be cool in summer ...

I climbed up to Yakiyama Pass, then up to quite nice Otome Kogen (Otome Highland), back up over 1700 meters, then descended to about 1150 meters, where the road crosses a river called the Arakawa (... which seems to be flowing South toward Kofu, and so cannot be THE Arakawa).  On the descent, I was in haze, almost mist, and low clouds, with Gunma-like rock formations visible across a gulch.
View from the Crystal Line -- a Gunma-like crag
Then it was another climb back up to 1700 meters, to Tokusa Pass, then down again toward the road to Shiokawa Dam ... but at 1325 meters elevation, I veered away from the downhill and stayed on the Crystal Line, climbed again, up to 1525 meteres, to the entrance to the hike to Kanayama Kogen.  There was a nice cafe/restaurant, with hikers sitting outside on a deck, and I consulted a waiting bus driver briefly about distances and elevations.

... then I pressed on.  I had been riding for 7 hours, but only covered 80 km (about 50 miles).  Then again, I had climbed over 3000 meters - about 10,000 feet.
Finally, Nagano -- fast stretch ahead
So it was down again, 300 meters, fast on a wide clear road, then a climb up to Shinshu Pass, almost 300 meters up, then down into Kawakami mura.  We had passed there on last October's Brevet -- I remember hearing more Chinese than Japanese spoken at the supermarket, reflecting the many migrant or immigrant farm workers.

I hit 75 kph without trying on the straightaway descent into Kawakami mura and, lacking maps, dipped too far down into the town and so added another 125 meter climb up to Route 140, then followed Rte 2  and Rte 140 to Sakudaira for the train home.  As with Tokyo-Itoigawa, at least I felt like I had some left "in the tank" on the last stretch.  Over 3550 meters climbing in a 145 km ride.  Not quite as much as the monster I had hoped for, but perfect all things considered.  GPS is here.


Beautiful weather predicted for this weekend, partly sunny, highs in the mid 20s (C).  And still 3 weeks left before Transalp, so time to go all out climbing ... all out, that is, subject to family and work. 

If I can get to sleep early tonight, I'll ride early both days, plan for a two-thirds day Saturday, a full day on Sunday, and go alone unless anyone wants to tag along (just let me know).  Jerome is planning to do another 600 km Brevet in Kansai with Yutaka -- spectacular course around Wakayama and Mie Prefectues, the Kii Peninsula, Ise, etc.
On Saturday I will stick relatively close to town -- one or more of Wada Pass, Kobu Tunnel, Tsuru Pass and/or Kazahari Pass, Imagawa Pass -- not all of them but at least some combination.

On Sunday, I need to get onto bigger hills.  If I can get a very early start and hop the train from Tachikawa to Otsuki or Sasago, then I might try this: 

-Sasago Pass,
-Kamihikawa Pass,
-Odarumi Pass, lower half (to Yakiyama Pass),
-then new territory for me, another pass along or near the "Crystal Line" over to Shiokawa Dam,
-then up over Shinshu Pass, down into Kawakami
- ... then I would be in the middle of nowhere and head North down the valley to Sakudaira to hop the Nagano shinkansen home,

Or, after Kawakami, I could add Umagoe Pass (Nagano Rte 2) before the long descent down to Sakudaira.

Or loop back South over through Nobeyama and Kiyosato and down toward Kofu for the train home from there. 

Or maybe I can skip Sasago and/or Kamihikawa, and instead get all the way up to the top of Odarumi, or  tack something else onto the end (Mugikusa Pass via Rte 299)?

The possibilities are almost endless. 

A return from Sakudaira via shinkansen is probably faster than return from Kofu via Chuo Line.


Manfred von Holstein said...

So what did you end up doing? The higher altitudes probably got rain this afternoon... I assume you did not attempt to complete your "base plan". I know all the climbs of your route - and they are no small feat. 6,500m of climbing - this would be a new record for anyone here, for a day ride.

Tom and I did our own bit of climbing yesterday. More on his blog.

mob said...

Very impressive rides. In particular the second one led to many place new to me, what shows that you have enlarged your action radius substantially. You will be in excellent form for the Transalp, no doubt.

I did 390 km in four days, including a trip into the closest mountains, the Harz area. Will post tomorrow.

David L. said...

... I got a report back from Jerome. He rode well into the 600 km Brevet, suffered through heat on Saturday and, along the nice coastline of the Kii Peninsula, fairly heavy traffic, then needed to drop out on Sunday mid-day to return to Osaka for some business.

Also, over at James in Japan/Jimmy from Shinagawa a nice brief report on the Karuizawa Gran Fondo -- they were probably 4 hours ahead of me on the shinkansen back to Tokyo, so that explains why I did not see any bicycles when on the train passing through Karuizawa. Also lots of other great stuff -- James Bowthorpe ("great beard"), broke the record -- around the world in 179 days via bicycle, and joining Race Across America (RAAM), starting June 15. ...


Manfred von Holstein said...

It's actually amazing I basically never encounter any cyclists on any of these rindos I am taking. People seem to stick to what they know and what is easily accessible - but not necessarily all that interesting, at least after taking it the nth time.

The route you took, David, is really nice, and there are even more very interesting rindos and roads in the mountains above Kofu. I strongly recommend climbing through the Shousenkyou (just below Arakawa Dam - and yes, this is a different Arakawa).