11 October 2011

Last Brevet of 2011

Sunday (into Monday), I joined the last Brevet of 2011 held by any of the Audax Japan chapters, the 400km Saitama Audax "Attack Miho".  It was just 2 years ago, in October 2009 that I tried my first Brevet ... hard to believe there have been more than a dozen since, and a fitting end to the year's Brevets.

I was able to circumnavigate Mt. Fuji, just as on that first Brevet in October 2009.  Also, the turn-around point, at Miho on the coast in Shizuoka Prefecture (home to a famous coastal pine grove, from which you get a spectacular view of Fuji, was just off of the East end of the "Strawberry Line" and the route of my first Brevet of this year, back in early January.  The weather was ideal, other than some wet pavement on the return, from rain that had missed us (but caught the fastest riders).

The 400 kilometers was probably 75% roads that I had traveled before, and about 25% new territory -- a good mix of the familiar and the new, with the comfort of knowing the climbs and not worrying much about if they would overwhelm me.  And the route we took around Mt Fuji included many roads I had ridden in August -- after comparison, I much prefer Route 469 along the South slope of Fuji in the dark of night in October to the same trip in the August noonday sun.  As usual, instead of taking the straightest distance between two points, a number of extra hills were added (e.g. Kobu Tunnel).  By the time I reached the top of Doshimichi, just over 100 km into the outbound leg, I had already logged over 2000m of climbing, and elevation gain for the full ride was in the 5000m (16,000 feet) range.

I recognize many of the Saitama staff and participants now, after 3 Saitama Brevets in the past two years, and also seeing and sometimes riding with their big contingent at PBP.  I am definitely in the lower 50% of these events in terms of my finishing times, whereas at the Kanagawa, Aoba or Shizuoka events, I'm in the upper 50%.  As usual, I started (too) fast and quickly got 3 hours "savings" over the time limit, and then was able to barely hold that margin until the finish.  I suffered a lot on the climbing portion of the return leg -- a mix of stomach problems and the usual fatigue, the former clearing up so that I could eat at least convenience store spaghetti or cup noodles at the last two checkpoints and get enough energy to complete and yes, enjoy, the ride.

And as usual, after a short nap in my car and drive home, I bathed and slept most of the day, awoke to clean up my gear and enjoy dinner with family, then slept again through the night, very soundly, and now feel that great post-Brevet sense of relaxation and serenity!

Jerome could not join, as he went to Kobe for the 25th anniversary ride and party of the Beeren cycling club there.  As usual participants asked me about his absence -- I think his shoeless 600km won him many fans.

We will be back next year for more fun!

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