03 October 2011

Super HC Up Toyo Tires Turnpike -- A Tradition Since 2010

On Sunday I joined the second annual "Super Hill Climb" event as one of six participants from TCC (Tokyo Cycling Club).  After a nice early warm-up ride to Shin-Yokohama Station, the Kodama shinkansen deposited me at Odawara after a trip of only 15 minutes.  Outside Odawara Station there were at least 10 Japanese riders taking road bicycles out of their rinko-bukuro.  It was only a few kilometers' ride to the start, and offered a great close-up view of Odawara Castle.

4 out of the 6 TCC riders finished in under one hour.

I was the slowest of the 6, finishing at 1:05:50, 296 out of 507 in the 40-49 group ("Road D" group).  But for me this was a very good time, within 9 minutes of Thomas and Travis, whereas on the similar climb last week of O-Toge, I finished within 20 minutes of Thomas and 18 of Travis.  And the 507 riders in the 40-49 group all looked like typical Japanese "climbers" -- very low body fat, pencil thin types, some tough as nails.

The route, up the "Toyo Tires Turnpike", a toll road usually normally closed to bicycles, involved a climb over 10 km from just above sea level (25m elev) to around 1000m elev., then 3.3 km of riding up and down hills along the top of a ridge, until one last uphill sprint to the finish.  There is plenty of 13% grade, and several kilometers where the average grade is higher than 10%.  I tried to keep a 10-11 kph speed even on the steepest stretches, and was pleasantly surprised that I could do so.  Including the up and down sections along the ridge, the aggregate ascent is close to 1100 meters, much more than the Ekiden climb up Route 1 in Hakone.

After a brief rest at the top, my real ride began.  Down to the lake -- Ashinoko -- and up and down small hills along its Southern shore, in heavy weekend tourist car traffic.  It took longer than I expected to get to Sengokuhara, the flat-ish area at the East end of the lake, where the tourists were parking and hiking among the tall grasses.
Hakone, Sengokuhara, looking toward Otome-toge

Then a short climb up Route 138 toward Otome Pass, through a tunnel, then down, down to Gotemba, and on the first plausible road I turned off of 138 and struck off to the N/NE through the valley toward the base of the next climb, Mikuni Pass, stopping at a convenience store for spaghetti and to check a map and make sure I could get to the climb without too many detours.

Mikuni was relentless, starting at below 500m elev and peaking at over 1150m elev, and much of the way 13-16% grade.  At least it was reasonably cool. I got off the bike once for photos and some water when the "circular" pavement pattern appeared.
The dreaded circular pavement pattern. The grade was already crazy below here.
Unlike most roads, it did not change noticeably when the circles appeared.

I dismounted a second time higher up ... and needed to walk 100 meters or so up the hill and around a bend to find a place where I could actually manage to re-mount the bike and clip into my pedals safely.
The clouds got darker and darker, but we had dry roads all the way back to town.
The Mikuni climb flattens out a bit the last 2 kilometers or so to less than a 10% grade.  At least now I've climbed it once, and can go back another time to try it fresh from bottom to top without a foot down.
I met Jerome, who had ridden out to Yamanakako, and we enjoyed a fast trip down Doshi Michi and back into town in the failing light.

Around 175km and around 2500-3000m of climbing.  At last I think I am fully recovered from PBP.


Manfred von Holstein said...

David, congrats again on your strong showing. Also, Mikuni must have been particularly tough having already gone full blast in the race. It's bad enough even otherwise.

I took it a bit easier on Saturday, but still managed to explore some new peaks (literally):


kanishk said...
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