31 August 2013

SR FUJI 600 / 2nd Attempt / Failed

After the 1st failed attempt to reach Takao in 52 hours due to unsufficient preparation & wrong timing, I was obsessed about it & decided to give it another try before David return to Japan (I was really upset not to be able to join him for LEL & positivo traditional summer training camp in Spain / See David previous blog)

After spending 4 days at Stephen paradise resort located in Oume, I decided to give another try even under such a hot weather. I started from Takao station on August 20th / 18h00 and rode back to Stephen chalet (on the course) to spend another night before the big challenge. As I was a bit nervous & the weather very hot, I enjoyed a good dinner with many beers & went to sleep early planning to wake up at 4 am the next morning....

As it was too hot I decided to sleep outside but forgot to bring my alarm clock... & woke up 2 hours later. As a result I left Stephen place at 6h30 under an already hot I should say suffocating & humid weather (already around 30 degrees). It was so hot that I needed to stop again at the magic fountain before Yamabushi climb where I sept another 2 hours...
I felt much better & cruised at a good speed until Fujioka where I had some chinese food before the climb to Karuizawa. briefly stopped at Megane bashi. By the time I reached Usui toge it was already close 2pm... 
The climb towards Karuizawa went smooth despite extremely hot weather & traffic jam. I was wondering why I could not see any other cyclist but soon understood that because of extreme weather conditions all Japan cyclist might have decided to stay home. 
Next climb - 8 kms to Kusatsu - was much harder as I was getting tired & dehydrated. My dream of enjoying a good italian dinner in this winter famous ski resort ended up with an Izakaya style one... the only restaurant opened after 8pm...

After leaving this Ghost City which I recorded as Dead City, I attacked the long climb up to Shirane Pass. I cycled through the ropeway start where I had a nice sleep during my 1st attempt & finally reached the top at 22h28 after a short rest mid course in order to change batteries & enjoy the view. By this time the temperature had dropped to acceptable levels

I really enjoyed the long descent in the darkness even if I could not go as fast as usual (was worried about animals suddenly crossing the road or stupid tanuki zooming on my front light), 
I finally met some colleagues (mountain bikers) at the next PC where they were sleeping deeply.

Since it was getting late I decided to stop & slept outside a circle K convenience store. I felt aslept soon after finishing a beer & woke with day light. Even the light rain could not wake me up....
The climb towards Sugadaira (18 kms) was really exhausting because of extreme temperature again but I fortunately found another magic fountain where I could cool down just before reaching the top.
Another long descent toward Ueda & next PC.

I felt strong until I had to start climbing again toward Utsukushigahara visitor center where I had to stop for fresh food (make sure to order their fresh juicy tomatoes if stop by this place). 
I had to stop many times & even rest 30 mn before reaching the top.
 I cycled through the Venus Line Roller Coaster & of course stopped at Watanabe & Watanabe wada pass inn. By the time I reached Shirakabako it was already 4pm. As I was exhausted I decided to spend the night in this other Ghost city. I found a nice hotel around the lake which was offering a all you can eat / drink dinner. I was respeeting my plan for a light meal / drink when I bumped into a nice couple of retirees whom I had seen at Utsuhigahara Visitor Center. As they discovered I could speak Japanese we started exchanges views (& drinks) about Japan. I finally went to bed at midnight wondering if I could make good of my commitment to start at 3 am<. Guess what? I could do it & soon attacked Mugi Kusa pass. Thanks to the altitude & early hour, weather was cool. I could reach the top before 6 am.

Everything was going smooth until I reached the bottom of Nobeyama when I started to feel really hungry. I had no food since previous dinner & could not find any convenience for the 60 kms between Shirakabako & Nobeyama (CVS opening hours around Shirakabako are regulated as they are located in a National Park - from 7 am to 7 pm) & all other CVS along the road seem to have gone bankrupt. Fortunately I finally found a CVS in Nobeyama as I was worried I would faint... A french man always needs to eat.
I could feel the heat striking back as I was descending from Kyosato (30 kms descent) heading towards Ashigawa. This part, with Chichibu to Fujioka road, is the most unpleasant part of the whole trip as you do not know weather you re in the country side or city. 
Happily the next part up to Kawaguchiko was much nicer although quite long & steep. After a brief stop before reaching the tunnel to Kawaguchiko where I enjoyed local strawberries with mugi cha I zoomed down to Kawaguchiko & Yamanakako

Another short stop at Yamanakako Positivo official 7/11, I headed toward sagamihara along the famous  Doshi Michi road & reached the final destination by 18h00. 
As a result it took me 72 hours (20 hours over the deadline) but I made it to the goal...

I swear I will try again (probably with David mid september) & make it within the time limit (52 hours) prior to challenging the deadly SR 600 Japan Alps with more than 12 000 meters of climb.

1 comment:

David L. said...

Hi Jerome:

Thanks for the report!
This SR600 is not really doable in 52 hours in the kind of hot weather we have had lately. But it is a beautiful course, and the Nihon Alps one looks just as spectacular -- crazy to include Norikura on a 600km ride. ...
I had forgotten about the cafe at Wada Pass on the Venus Line -- Watanabe & Watanabe! I will need to try to plan to get there during business hours.