26 March 2012

Le Velo Avec J.J. et DiDi

DiDi and J.J. at the rest area before the last climb to Tsuru Pass
Today we enjoyed a classic Positivo Espresso Spring training and fun ride on le velo.  The trip was just over 175km from my house, with the highlight being the trip up Yamanashi Pref. Route 18 from the Uenohara area to Tsuru Pass and beyond.  This road continues to be one of my favorites -- a climb through a quiet valley with a river that runs through it, and traffic limited to some locals and a very few people who need to get to and from Kosuge village on the North side of the pass.

We left my house at 8AM (actually, a bit later, as Jerome was running late), and joined James, Dominic, Shane and Tim for the ride out to Hachioji.  They were headed up Jimba Kaido toward Bonbori Rindo, while we planned to go via Route 20 and out over Otarumi.  We did not have a clear plan after that.  In classic Positivo Espresso fashion, the ride had been agreed at the last minute, with no clear goal except to go far and climb high, or at least higher than in the winter months.

Didier passes a motorcycle at the line -- hilltop finish.
At our refueling stop in Hachioji, I was able to chat briefly with Tim, who mentioned that he had been the Tokyo-based private equity coverage investment banker at a large U.S. based brokerage, before moving to the same group's commercial banking arm.   It occurred to me a bit later in the day that I met him in such capacity back in 2005, shortly after my arrival in Tokyo. ... somehow I did not recognize him with his helmet and Oakley glasses, nearly 7 years later. Not the first time I have not put 2 + 2 together when I meet someone in cycling garb after having known them in business (or vice versa).
I gave my best Euro-cyclist imitation today -- white jersey (PBP2011!), white shoes (Scott), white arm warmers and white bicycle (Canyon).  Assos cap and formerly white Assos bib shorts ...   But black leg warmers and flourescent green  shoe covers ruin the effect.
We were blessed with near perfect cycling weather -- cool, even chilly and windy at higher elevations and on the descents -- and blue sky, dry pavement, and the scent of Spring in the air.  The plum festival was on in Oume, even though the blossoms have not quite arrived yet because of the recent cold weather.
Instead of Route 18, we took an even-more-local road, bypassing Tawa Pass -- as shown to me by Steve T.  last year.  I told Jerome and Didier about the little old lady who always is out tending her field on the steep hillside below the road ... and she appeared on cue, and even responded to a wave and greeting!
A tailwind pushed us much of the way home down the Tamagawa.


mob said...

It s impossible to stop, when you get that feeeeelllliiiiing ... (le velo)

Steve T said...

David, my favorite road as well ! Very jealous, especially getting an acknowledgement from the mysterious old lady. Since January I've had flu, tonsillitis, an eye infection and a heavy cold (my current ailment) in succession and 180k bike rides seem a world away right now....whilst, I painfully realize, a particular 308k bike ride is only eight weeks away. Ah, the horror ...

Manfred von Holstein said...

Steve, gambatte! Itoigawa doesn't quite take you to the Heart of Darkness...