05 June 2013

600km Okitsu Classic

The last two Kanagawa Audax events I have attended had very small groups of riders.  Last October's 600km Brevet had only 9 finishers and 13 DNFs, as the mountainous course drove away most potential entrants, and Saturday night rain in Nagano punished those who tried it.  Then last month, plenty of riders signed up for the the 400km "Okitsu Classic", but the weather forecast was grim enough to persuade many riders that they would be happy just to stay at home.
Surfers visible at Omaezaki coastlne -- reminds me a bit of California along the PCH
So it was a bit of a shock for Jerome and me to show up, a few minutes late, for the pre-ride briefing on Saturday at 530AM, and walk into a room of nearly 100 people, including riders and staff, and a number of familiar faces.  Maya Ide and Haruyo Kinomiya, who entered the Cascade 1000 last year in Washington State, and many other Kanagawa regulars.  
Just over the next hill at Omaezaki, looking toward the Hamaoka nuclear reactor and a Vestas wind turbine farm.  The woman rider in the photo is Yume-san, who I met when I helped with a tire change before PC1.   This was the last I saw of her ... as my pace was slower than normal with stiff muscles and high humidity.
The course did not disappoint -- easier than last fall's 600km, and with some very nice stretches.  

Most notable was the 100km+ mountainous stretch along route 473 then route 151 in Shizuoka, Aichi and Nagano, through Sakuma and Niino and on into Iida.  Nice river valleys and mountains, with low traffic even on a Saturday afternoon.  I had not ridden this before, but would love to do so again.
Tenryugawa, from the Eastern shore
I had ridden along the reservoirs of the Tenryugawa, back a few years on a trip from Chino to Hamamatsu, along the Akiba Kaido.  That time, I found the never-ending reservoirs monotonous, the tunnels unpleasant, and was looking for an alternate route the next time I ride the Akiba Kaido.  This time, I got a completely different perspective, as we took a small local road along the East side of the reservoirs, bypassing the tunnels and the traffic, and most of the time riding in the woods.  Very nice. 
More Tenryugawa
I started the event with VERY sore ribs and right side of my chest -- from a minor fall off the bike last Wednesday,.  I warned Jerome that I might not be able to ride ... but decided to do so, even if not as quickly as him.  I had some pain the first few hours, until my muscles relaxed in a stretched out position on the bike, and again at the very end of the ride, and took it at much more relaxed pace than I would like, but was otherwise fine.  Jerome zoomed ahead, reaching Tenryu (136kms) several hours ahead of me, resting at a hotspring ("kenko land") in Shiojiri as I struggled through most of the night with only brief meal-time and road-side naps, and then finishing hours ahead of me.
We veer off the main river and head up Route 473 into that valley

A tunnel on Route 151 as we start to gain altitude
The last 40% of the route was familiar territory, from Matsumoto back to the Shizuoka coast via Shiojiri, Fujimi, Minami Alps and the Fujikawa, with a few different twists than last month ... but the weather cooperated this time and the ride was pleasant.

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