21 April 2014

3[5]0 km Brevet around Mt. Fuji with Special Guest

What should have been a (relatively) easy 300 km Brevet turned into a real challenge as a result of weather.  No, it did not rain for the entire 300 kms.  No it was not sub-zero C.  But the weather was different, and worse, than forecast, and much colder and somewhat wetter than one would expect in mid-April.
350 kms including travel to and from the start point.  3000+ meters climbing, of course.
The forecast showed 10-30% chance of light rain most of the scheduled ride time along the course, with temperatures generally in the high single to mid-double digits.  Cool, but not cold.  Maybe a little wet, but not most of the time.  Almost ideal conditions!  And we would pass the coldest part of the course, high on Mt. Fuji, mid morning, keeping warm by climbing for several hours.  So I decided to get by with less than "mid-winter toasty gear", and less than "rain-storm wet weather" gear.  I just slipped a blade fender on the rear of the Ti Travel bike.

Special guest MOB joined for the last half of the ride after going to Fuji-shi, Shizuoka by train the night before.  We made sure he rode well ahead or behind me so as not to violate the Audax rules on assistance from non-participant riders.  I hope they will recognize my sincere effort to obey the rules -- mostly by being sure to climb hundreds of meters behind MOB -- and still credit me with completing the ride while trying to interest a famous foreign cycling blogger in the Japanese brevet scene.
The ride started and finished at the Konno Seisakusho (Cherubim) shop and factory in Machida.  Inside briefing due to the spitting drops of rain outside.
I hope to add some photos from MOB later, but for now let me report that it rained most of the first half of the ride, and the almost one-hour descent from Gotemba to Numazu in rain and 0~2 degree C weather was a real survival challenge.  It reminded me of Rainy Pass on Cascade 1200, minus the headwind.  With water coming up off the road and no front fender, my feet were soaked within the first hour or the event, despite shoe covers.  I was glad to have at least decent "Sealskins" gloves (almost waterproof ... much better than the "Sealskins" socks).  I held on desperately, resisting the temptation to hop in at a convenience store for soup or coffee, knowing I would only need to return to the wet descent and would be just as cold again after a few minutes.  I finally rested and warmed up at a family restaurant in Numazu, the bottom of the hill.
Pavement just starting to dampen 45 minutes before the start ... 
Umbrellas coming out ...
The other major challenge was the climb from Shibakawa up over the west side of Mt. Fuji, past Asagiri Kogen on local route 71.  From sea level to 1120+ meters.  At the top it was dry, but very cold and windy.  The roadside temperature showed 3 degrees ... a few hundred meters elevation lower on the mountainside.  MOB and I pulled in at a "Gusto" restaurant between Saiko and Kawaguchiko on Route 139 for a late breakfast.

The climb up Hinazuru Pass was shorter and the top was lower than I remembered, and the descent to/past Akiyama Onsen delightful.  Then the route took a detour down memory lane by heading south on Kanagawa Route 76, then lower Doshimichi, before joining the mid-Sunday afternoon traffic on the way back through Kanagawa to Machida.

Many more, and much nicer, photos by MOB here and here.
An example, the climb through Asagiri Kogen:

P.S. Joe Wein's report and much nicer photos are in the here in the TCC April thread.

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