14 October 2013

Nokogiri! Kazahari Rindo!

On Sunday morning Jerome and I headed up to the Positivo Espresso Oume base.  We met Stephen and, after a breakfast of fresh persimmon from the garden, grapefruit, bananas, yogurt and rolls (Juliane would have been proud of us), we continued up Yoshino Kaido and Route 411.  It was a beautiful morning in Oume, the air clear and crisp ... the next forecast typhoon still 3 days away.
The Oume Base
We made the left turn just a kilometer past Okutama Station and were onto the the Nokogiri climb. Stephen and I attacked, out of the saddle, for the first few hundred meters, then all 3 of us settled in for the 6.7km, 597 meter elevation gain category 2 climb.  We each climbed at our own pace, Jerome suffering from Friday night (into Saturday wee hours) entertainment with junior colleagues.  Stephen crested first, with me just 15 seconds or so behind.  Jerome followed up -- incredulous that he was 6 minutes 30 seconds back.  As he said "no spring chicken".

At the top, Stephen and I waited amidst a large group of men setting up some tents and covered areas that appeared to be a checkpoint for a 70 km. trail running event -- must have been scheduled for the next day (today as I write), Monday, Oct 13, which is a holiday and "Sports Day" in Japan, as trail runners like to go along the crest to the west of Mitake-san, passing Nokogiri-san en route.  Some of the men had "finisher" t-shirts on, while others had "staff" shirts on.  One of the "staff" was smoking a particularly harsh brand of cigarette, the smoke immediately bothering Stephen and me as our lungs tried to recover capacity from the climb (and Stephen from his Friday night red-eye flight HK to Tokyo).
My climbing bike at the top of Nokogiri, at the trailhead.

I was very glad to have my lighter-frame bike (the Canyon), outfitted with compact crank and SRAM WiFli rear cassette and Ultegra 6600 series long-cage derailleur.  I could climb the steepest parts in 34-32 front/rear gearing -- as forgiving as Jerome's triple setup.  This allowed me to stay in the saddle and spin, standing up only for a change of muscles/pace.
Warning -- Don't slip of the road on the South side descent!
Then it was down the south side of Nokogiri, a quick stop for curry at the "Hinohara Woodie House Mura", which seemed to have a good business -- fully rented cabins -- at least this one long weekend.  At the bottom of the climb, we debated whether to try Kazahari Rindo, one of the toughest climbs in Kanto ... or maybe just try the much shorter Chaya (teahouse) climb.  Of course, we opted for Kazahari Rindo!

Jerome and Stephen went ahead, much more aggressive on the approach than I.  They waited at the start of the really steep section, the sharp "V" intersection.  From there, I pulled ahead.  Stephen stayed with me for the first kilometer, as we climbed at 15% or more grade.  But he was riding a bike with, at best, 39-25 gearing.  Almost impossible for this climb, especially the fairly long 18% section up to the Hinohara Mushroom Center.  I went ahead, alternating between spinning and standing, and was up it before long.  Not surprisingly, with this gearing, he needed to dismount and walk for a bit, and Jerome did the same, if only to shift his derailleur into the lowest gear by hand.

I was pleasantly surprised that I did the climb only a few seconds slower than in late April 2011, well into my Transalp training ... and this on the second big climb of the day.  As I waited at the top, I talked with a spirited group of Japanese "ojisan" cyclists who had climbed from Okutama-ko on the main road and were suitably impressed that I had done the rindo.  They were even more impressed when I mentioned that Kazahari Rindo x2 equals the Mortirolo!

A classic Positivo Espresso ride on a beautiful day.  Over 2000m of climbing in total and 170 kms+.

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