08 January 2012

Kanto in January

Fuji-san from Otarumi
On Saturday, I agreed to head out with Jerome in the morning as he headed up to Yamanakako for a weekend with his sister, her family and a friend.  I decided to ride out to the area near Sagamiko and the base of Doshimichi, then return alone.  This meant I needed to decline the alternative of (1) a possible Miura loop with Tom S., and (2) a Saturday afternoon at the Keirin track in Kawasaki with Hiroshi and his club.  It is a rare winter day when I have three possible rides!

Saturday was a classic January Kanto riding weather, sunny and dry, above freezing but not much so.

Jerome and I were both feeling a bit sluggish at first, Jerome still recovering from the ride to Kansai at the New Year, me from exercise swimming at my local pool Friday  evening.  And we faced a moderate headwind on the first part of the trip, up the Kanagawa.  As on December 30, we headed out via One-kansen-Doro, and then the "tank road" and Machida Kaido, then around the South side of Lake Tsukui.  This time we refueled early, stopping at the 24-hour restaurant "Gusto" there.

We continued along National Routes 413/412, then veered left onto Pref. Route 517, the gem of a little road through the hilly countryside, with several small climbs, and to Magino where it meets Pref. Route 76 at a "T" intersection.
Self-timer ... not quite framed right.  Graffiti visible even on Route 76 at Magino!

A beautiful winter day -- looking NW from Pref Route 520, above the South shore of Sagami-ko
Jerome headed left to the South/toward Doshi Michi and Yamanakako; I headed right to the North/toward National Route 20 and Takao/Tokyo.

I made one stop on the return trip, at a little rest area in Obara, within a kilometer of the base of the climb back over Otarumi Pass and down to Takao.  There was a kind of exhibition, with lots of display of posters from previous "bunka no hi" (culture day) holidays, and the woman behind the desk asked me if I had visited the main building nearby "less than one minute's walk".  Indeed, I have passed it a hundred times if once, but had never gotten off the bicycle and taken a look behind the carefully tended hedge and impressive gate. The sign in front noted that it is free of charge, so the curious should not hesitate to enter.

What greeted me was a beautiful 200-year-old traditional building, used as a resting point by daimyo (feudal lords) on their way to and from Edo during the Tokugawa Shogunate.  The curator on duty explained that this rest-house was shared by The Takashima Han (a/k/a Suwa Han) and two other clans from the Nagano area. Another reminder that it is important to get off the bike once in awhile and enjoy the country one travels through!

Taking a leisurely pace the entire way, it was not the most strenuous of rides.  But then again, that was not the point.

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