06 April 2013

Yamabushi/Shomaru ... Half-Fast?

Jerome has been very busy at work, and my work also has spilled into a number of weekends so it was for the first time in many weeks that we headed out together for a ride.  A major rain storm was forecast to start mid/late Saturday afternoon and go into Sunday, so we departed from recent tradition and rode on Saturday.

As we approached the Tamagawa, passing by the massive Tamagawa Rise condominiums south of Futako Tamagawa Station, we saw Ira Stevens and two women, Jan and Fumi, ready to start a ride.  I know Ira from the pool at Kinuta Park, where we met last year when I was training there and swerved into the wrong side of a lane, running directly into him and inspiring some mild invective.  He lives nearby and leads some of the "Half Fast Cycling" rides.  We were joined by two more riders (Chris and Barbara) up the river, and continued with them at a relaxed half-fast pace until they crossed the river to head out the Asagawa toward Hachioji area.
After a farewell photo, Jerome and I picked up the pace, a tailwind helping speed us toward Oume.  We were behind schedule a bit and the weather was threatening, so we bypassed Oume Station/Aurore Bakery and headed straight onto Nariki Kaido from Higashi Oume Station.  The area looked spectacular, with some sakura left and many other flowering trees and plants, the babbling brook at the base of the Tokyo Hill Climb course, and dry pavement, still.

We made better time than expected, and were up to the top of Yamabushi Pass, through the dip and up the short climb to Shomaru Pass.

We stopped at the Pass at "Okumura Chaya" for lunch.  We were the only customers in the place, and so were able to persuade the nice ladies there to step outside for a photo.  The older of the two said "obaasan de moushiwake nai, mo sugu 80 sai", roughly translates as "I apologize for being an old lady, I am nearly 80."  No apologies needed ... but the Japanese language lends itself to these sorts of statements.  Whenever you do not know what to say, best to apologize.

This view, of course, looks out to the East toward Saitama and northern Tokyo.  And that haze in the distance is ... not dust from China, but a line of rain clouds. Of course, it is the same view as once observed by the Showa Emperor and Empress Michiko, on an inspection tour of the realm.
We made it back down the hill and half way through Naguri before the line of showers hit.  Fortunately, the drenching rain lasted only 15-20 minutes, and had ceased when we emerged from the tunnel at Ozawa Pass and headed down the hill to Nariki.  The pavement was dry when we got back to Higashi Oume, but the real storm hit later on, and we slogged the last 80-90 minutes back in the wet.  The main storm brought a warm, humid rain, like the rainy season storms that come from the South in May, so we were not cold.  But the rain kicked up a lot of grime from the road, which seemed to end up all over me.

It was great to return to Chichibu and Yamabushi/Shomaru after far too long an absence, to get in a 150 km ride despite the rain, and to meet some of the Half Fast folks.

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