03 November 2013

Gando Toge! 厳道峠

Jerome and I headed out around 8:15AM on a beautiful early November morning, without any set route plan.  When we got to Tamagawahara bashi, the light was red and so I suggested we head across the bridge and continue out Onekansen Doro, the first time in quite awhile.  We saw lots of cyclists, especially on this stretch.
After a quick trip out Onekan and then along the Tank Road and Machida Kaido, we were just about to turn onto Route 413 when we saw a familiar face and bicycle.  The bicycle was a Cervelo R3 SL with Lightweight wheels, impeccably maintained and clean as usual.  
The rider was Laurent, on a last training ride before next week's 210km Tour de Okinawa.  
The river along Doshimichi at Ryogoku Bashi
We rode together around the north side of Lake Tsukui, and decided to head up Doshi Michi.  At a rest stop at the 7-11 before the first real climb of Doshimichi, Laurent suggested that Jerome and I might want to try Gando Toge -- a new route for both Jerome and me -- though Laurent could not join as he needed to head back into town more quickly via the Route 76 loop.  
Too many cars and motorcycles on Doshi, as we try to turn into the rindo entrance
We found the entrance to the rindo (forest road) and were glad to leave Doshimichi with its heavy holiday car and motorbike traffic.
Rindo entrance for Gando Pass -- within a kilometer of the fountain where people fill water bottles
I remember Laurent once telling me that his favorite climb is Nokogiri, a relatively steep grade with plenty of rocks and debris on the road surface.  The south side of Gando also started relatively steep and with plenty of rocks and leaves on the road surface.  Within a kilometer of the entrance, I rode over some sharp gravel and heard a hissing sound.  A flat tube, and worse a nice slice on the sidewall of my tire. I fitted a folded 1000 yen note inside the tire at the tear and managed to inflate a replacement tube without it protruding through the slice.  A few meters further, the road became much clearer, and stayed that way all the way up.

The climb took us from 500 meters elevation at the entrance up to 800 meters elevation at the pass, with the grade usually in the 9-10% range.  So much easier than Nokogiri or Wada.
At Gando Pass
Then it was a nice descent to the north, ending up at Akigawa Onsen. 
We headed back in along Pref Routes 35 and 517, then 76, to Fujino.  We made one wrong turn and ended up at Fujino Onsen, a day hot spring that seemed teeming with visitors on this Sunday in the middle of a 3-day weekend.  The hot spring building looked nice, and we stopped to eat a snack on the benches in front. 
Fujino Onsen
Unfortunately, the views of nearby mountains and river were largely blocked by the huge hospital/nursing home facility just down the hill.

Then it was out onto Route 20, over Otarumi (with a stop for ramen at the pass), down past Takao and on the roads through Hachioji and home!

A classic Positivo Espresso ride, over 140 kms and a few good climbs, as well as a new route, discovered by Laurent and passed along to us.  Thank you, Laurent!


mob said...

Nice ride. I climbed Gando Toge only once with Ludwig in winter times:


Anyway, I just wanted to ride how envious I am, seeing all these mountain roads and you guys in short sleeve jerseys in November.

David L. said...

Hi MOB: Thank you for the comment. Jerome and I were hoping this post would inspire a former regular Tokyo rider to pipe up and announce that he had indeed climbed Gando Toge in the past ... though we were betting on Ludwig or perhaps Tom!
Yes, November/December are probably the months when Tokyo has the best comparative advantage for cycling over Bremen.

TOM said...

Nice ride! Sure, I have climbed Gando several times but never from the Doshi side. It was Hiroshi who taught me this really nice and quiet road. Hope to join you guys soon...missing the invitations!