14 November 2011

Saiko 2011 - Race of Destiny

I knew it had to be a race of destiny, as the hand of God seemed to part the clouds and the sun shown down upon the start area at Saiko, as I neared the race registration on Saturday afternoon.

Mt Fuji from our lodgings.
Another year, another trip to Saiko for beautiful fall weather and foliage, a weekend at the mountain and a day full of exciting races.  Gunnar, Jerome and I stayed at the same well-outfitted, comfortable Sasuga cottage in Oishi, Kawaguchi-ko as Ludwig and I had last year, and cooked a riders' dinner of pasta, as well as sampling a number of the local products.  We could not find fresh local vegetables in November, so instead we sampled the products of a number of micro breweries, mostly dunkel (dark beer) and weizen (wheat beer).  Fujizakura Kogen; Fujiyama; and one more brewer whose name I've already forgotten.  All very nice, even the forgotten one.  I was looking for Baird Beer, since I met one of the managers there recently, but did not see any on the shelf in Kawaguchiko.

As for the results, EricinIkebukuro from TCC did well in the X-class in his first JCRC event, 14th place, with an average speed over 41 kph, and he should get a decent class placement.  I think we will see him again next year on the JCRC circuit. 
Only one "bike leaning" photo this year.
... and one "bike hanging" photo for good measure.

Gunnar, making a guest appearance for Ludwig, whose back is still giving him problem, easily hung with the B-class group for 49 out of 50 km, and was positioning himself for the final sprint ... when he got hemmed in between 2 riders, with someone cutting him off from the left and forcing him into a crash.  Fortunately, no broken bones, and it looks as if with a new derailleur hanger and some wheel truing the equipment should be fine.
Far right -  Gunnar with B class, after 2 laps, Jerome's finger pointing him out.

Broken derailleur hanger, blood on elbow -- typical race stuff, as Hiroshi looks on
Hiroshi made a good showing in 60km S-Class on his beautiful Colnago ... but was blocked by a crash in front of him within 3 km of the finish and so was not able to contest for the podium.  He passed Jerome and me driving home along Doshi michi in his very, very small car, and gave us a friendly "shave and hair cut, 2 bits" honk of his horn.
It's all good!

I enjoyed my C Class race, and managed to do well enough so I should not get bounced to D at least.  I stayed on the right/outside edge of the group the entire race, so I would be in the "lee" protected from the headwind as much as possible in the far side of the lake.  This worked well for the most part, and on the first 2 laps I was able to conserve energy and yet creep up the group so I was relatively near the front (no more then 20-30% of the way back, on the far right) when we hit the turn and the short nasty uphill 2 km from the start/goal.  Even though plenty of people passed me on the short uphill, I managed to keep in contact with the group each time and recover quickly.

Best team kit
On the last lap, on the penultimate turn on the far side of the lake, about 3 km to go, I was pretty far back in the group and went into the turn again on the far right ... but there were 2 riders directly ahead of me, and the front one slowed suddenly.  I hit my brakes to avoid barreling into the rider directly in front, and my rear wheel locked and skidded left a few inches.  Fortunately, I did not lose balance, and the 5-10 riders behind me in the group were all on my left, so no one hit me either ... but I had decelerated way too much and was off the back just as the acceleration started.  I hauled ass and caught the back of the group just before the hill, but was pretty much out of gas and lost contact again ... finishing about 100 meters behind the main bunch at an average speed of approx 40.4 kph.  I was 46th out of 60 who registered and maybe 56 who started, 52 of whom finished (or 94 out of 188 in the 3 C-class heats, measured by overall time).  This kind of racing requires repeated intense bursts of energy, and I top out far below the level it takes to do really well. 

Okay, maybe I was misled by the shaft of sunlight piercing the clouds on Saturday afternoon, and it was not a race of destiny.  But it was fun.

Jerome and I rode back to Tokyo, leaving Saiko around 3:45PM, as Gunnar would need to hop the train home with his non-functioning derailleur.  It was dark within an hour, as we passed Yamanakako. 
Only 100 km more to ride.


Manfred von Holstein said...

Congratulations again! Also nice photos. Catching Gunnar racing by at 45km/h is quite an achievement. I was surprised to identify the guy in the funny pink jersey who was competing head to head with me for the championship two years ago. He is still around... just more badly dressed...

100km back to Tokyo from Yamanakako in the dark. Wow. Was this what Jeremy had joined you for? I guess he was not registered for a race, right?

Greetings from my hospital bed in Germany!

David L. said...

The secret to catching Gunnar racing by ... lies in all the photos I snapped that are on the cutting room floor and that did not catch him. On the 3rd lap I did not even notice him go by, though I saw him on the 2nd and 4th laps.
Jerome had a company trip to Matsumoto scheduled on Friday afternoon/evening, so he rode out from Nirasaki (Yazaki-san's again) on Friday morning, rode back and up to Kawaguchiko on Saturday. ... then home with me on Sunday evening. I suspect that he is busy catching up with family after so much time on the bike the past 2 weeks ... and hope he will send along some more photos in due course.

David L. said...

Eric's video of his X class heat is up, with commentary -- pretty cool.


mob said...

I enjoyd the video very much - good quality and interesting comments. Well done.